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Wheeling City Employees Begin Implicit Bias Training

WHEELING — Building and engaging in positive intergroup interactions will be the focus of city of Wheeling employees starting today, as they participate in implicit bias training titled “The Right To Be Different: How Implicit Bias Influences Our Perspectives and Decision-Making.”

Vice Mayor Chad Thalman explained that City Council unanimously approved a resolution at their Oct. 6, 2020 meeting that required employees complete such training that will begin Thursday.

“Councilwoman Rosemary Ketchum led this initiative that council supported,” he said. “The goal of the training, which is a blend of lecture and direct experience, is to prompt employees to explore how unconscious bias can impact decisions even from people with good intentions.”

Tammy R. Bennett, partner and chief equity and inclusion officer at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, will conduct the virtual training. Bennett explained “The Right to be Different” is an interactive, 90-minute implicit bias training that gives participants insights into deviations between their explicitly stated values and beliefs and their actual decisions.

“Everyone has bias,” she said. “Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes towards a particular individual or social group that differs from our own that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. Engaging in open dialogue about differences is a first step in mitigating the harmful effects of biases in the workplace and community.”

The sessions, which will be conducted several times over a span of two days, will allow participants to explore different social groups and underlying assumptions and stereotypes that influence decision-making; identify ways that unconscious biases create blinds spots that affect the way people see and respond to others; and identify de-biasing techniques to help manage and mitigate the negative impact, build cultural competence and promote equity.

Bennett is an experienced employment attorney who focuses her practice on preventive strategies, Title VII compliance and equity, diversity and inclusion training and consulting. In her role as the chief equity and inclusion officer of the firm, she serves as a trusted adviser to leadership in the design, implementation and management of the firm’s equity, diversity, and inclusion programs and initiatives.

Bennett consults with employers on designing strategic initiatives to curate equitable and inclusive workplace structures, cultures, and leaders and on effectively navigating change management. She helps employers transform cultures by adopting equitable and inclusive practices and policies, unleashing hidden talent by managing implicit bias, and delivering innovative solutions and outcomes by maximizing unique talent.

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