Beyond "Color Blind": Navigating Unconscious Biases in Your Network

Tania A. Ibarra, CPA
July 8, 2019

Imagine a colleague proudly sharing their diverse network, then declaring they're "color blind." Huh? You might raise an eyebrow, just like a Latina millennial I recently spoke with. While having diverse connections is great, it doesn't guarantee complete neutrality. I've even caught myself treating people differently within my own network, like never inviting a non-Latinx friend salsa dancing despite knowing they love it!

Here's the thing: "color blind" doesn't erase unconscious biases. These hidden preferences, shaped by our experiences, can impact how we interact with colleagues, even within seemingly diverse networks. So, how do you respond to such comments?

Step Up: Curiosity, not Correction

Our experts at Step Up: Equity Matters suggest understanding the other person's perspective first. Ask open-ended questions like, "Can you tell me more about what you mean by 'color blind'?" or "Have you considered that you might engage differently with different friends?" Remember, you're not obligated to educate everyone. If you're not comfortable, send them Melody Hobson's TED Talk on "being color brave" with a note expressing your interest in exploring their comment further.

Beyond "Color Blind": Building an Equitable Workplace

Imagine a workplace where "color blind" isn't just a phrase, but a reality. Where interactions are genuine and equitable, regardless of background. It might sound utopian, but it's achievable. By acknowledging the limitations of diversity alone, and actively seeking to understand and dismantle our own biases, we can create a space where everyone feels valued, respected, and heard.

It starts with curiosity, open communication, and a willingness to learn and grow. It's not about judging or pointing fingers, but about creating a safe space for dialogue and collective progress. So, the next time you hear someone say "color blind," don't shy away. Use it as an opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation, share resources, and nudge us all closer to that equitable workplace we all envision. Remember, even small steps can lead to big changes, and together, we can build a more inclusive future where everyone can thrive.

Ready to take the next step?

Check out our Resources for Action, designed to equip you with the tools to navigate bias and promote equity in your workplace. Together, let's move beyond "color blind" and build a truly inclusive future for all.