Open your mind - Albuquerque Journal

Open your mind

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Wearing virtual reality headsets, Michael Saavedra and Samantha Rawlins watch one of the video scenarios on unconscious bias that is part of the CEO Action Check Your Blind Spots unconscious bias tour on Thursday on the UNM campus. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

In everyday life, people may not realize they’re making judgments or assumptions about individuals’ characters, abilities and potentials based on such things as race, ethnicity or the fact that someone just had a baby.

Oftentimes, those conclusions – both good and bad – are the result of unconscious biases or blind spots that can narrow a person’s vision of others and potentially influence their behavior.

The CEO Action Check Your Blind Spots unconscious bias bus tour challenged UNM students to check “blind spots” for diversity and inclusion during an appearance on the main campus Thursday. The educational experience is designed to help people recognize, acknowledge and minimize any potential blind spots or biases they might have but weren’t aware of previously.

Linh Le, a representative with the tour, said participants use virtual reality and gaming technology to better understand unconscious biases people face daily.

“People learn about their unconscious biases and how it impacts their daily decision-making process,” Le said. “We’ve had some positive feedback about the experience, and what everyone has been learning and experiencing.”

The tour is designed to jump-start conversation about how to be more inclusive in workplaces, and allows students, local businesses and community members to join thousands nationwide to take action through the “I Act On” pledge – a personal pledge an individual can take to commit to mitigating any unconscious biases and act on driving more inclusive behaviors in their everyday lives. It’s accessible online at ceoaction.com.

Chance Hoover, a senior from Albuquerque studying organizational communications, was one of the many UNM students who checked their “blind spots” for diversity and inclusion.

“It opens up your mind,” Hoover said. “You sometimes go about your business not knowing about your biases, and overall thought about the world and diversity – sexual orientations and races. It was an eye-opening experience.”

Ryan Lindquist, director of UNM’s Student Activity Center, said the university tries to focus on events that promote diversity on campus.

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UNM students were challenged to check “blind spots” for diversity and inclusion during a Thursday event on the main campus. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

“We’re constantly looking for great events that can bring those learning experiences to our students in different ways,” Lindquist said. “This was a tour that we started looking at last semester to work with our students in those areas. We were lucky to come across this tour. It seems like it has been a great experience for students.”

Thursday’s event is one of many campus events focusing on diversity and inclusion this semester, Lindquist said.

Plans for the bus tour, funded by the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, a CEO-driven business effort to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace, include 100 stops across the country through 2019.

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