Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Adriane Leithauser

Concerns with implicit bias training: Can Jesuit Business Education provide a solution?

In recent years, organizations, executive programs, and business schools have better recognized the role of bias as a stubborn obstacle for ethical reasoning. In response, there has been a greater emphasis on the role of moral psychology and behavioral ethics in business ethics education, which increased the call for programs involving implicit bias training. While this approach serves to help us understand that we are generally faulty reasoners who are also bad at noticing our biases in reasoning (“bias blind spot”) and may help us explain why organizations struggle with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, often too much weight is placed on “trainings” as a solution. There is little evidence that implicit bias trainings work, some evidence that these trainings cause more bias, and an argument that these trainings – especially those that use tools such as the Implicit Association Test (IAT) – may violate privacy. Yet these trainings persist. This paper will explore the research available regarding the efficacy of implicit bias trainings on individuals and organizations (in other words, do individuals become better reasoners and does that have a lasting impact on the organization, including but not limited to diversity at all levels of the organization and retention of employees from historically marginalized communities?) and address privacy concerns for using tools like IAT. I will then consider the role for business schools in responding to the issues raised by behavioral ethics that avoid defaulting to ineffective trainings and pursue the question as to whether a Jesuit Business School is uniquely prepared to respond meaningfully to these trends and offer alternatives for overcoming our biased reasoning.