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Diversity, Inclusion and Bias

Greetings WAC community,

Who knows the explanation of things?  Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance. – Ecclesiastes 8:1

Attorneys are the least diverse of any profession.  I am an attorney and I need to take 15 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) annually to maintain my license with the Wyoming Bar.  On Friday I took a free CLE credit on line through the Wyoming Bar Association.  Thankfully, the American Bar Association and others are working on strategies for the legal profession to become more diverse.  That I believe is essential if we are to have a fair and just judicial system.  Since most attorneys and judges are white straight able-bodied males, that is who will be favored in the judicial branch of government.  The fact is that we tend to favor our own group.  But this was learned and the good news is that it can be unlearned.

The presenter, a black female attorney, talked about the advantages of diversity, all based on research within the legal profession:

  1. Increases cooperation

  2. Improves group performance

  3. Heightens critical thinking

  4. Improves productivity and growth

This is a slide that she shared:

As the chart shows, diversity is more than just race, ethnicity and gender.  But it takes more than diversity.  It takes inclusion.  The difference?  Diversity is inviting someone different to the party.  Inclusion is asking them to dance once they are there.

Obviously, this information applies to more than the legal profession.  We, as people of faith, should also address the implicit bias of which we are unaware.  Here’s some ways to “de-bias:”

  1. Increase intergroup contact

  2. Expose ourselves to counter-stereotype individuals

  3. Implement accountability structures – be called upon to justify our beliefs

You can take a test to discover your own level of bias at www.implicit.harvard.edu.  It takes about 15 minutes.  But I suggest more than one round.  I scored well on the first round, but then on the next exercise, I demonstrated that, yes, I do favor my own group in the instance given, as sure as I was that I had not!  We all have our work cut out for us.

And don’t just preach to the choir.  And remember:  the good news is that we can end racism and other bias.  We all benefit.

Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.

Blessings,

Chesie Lee

The Wyoming Association of Churches appreciates your many financial gifts for our justice work in Wyoming.  Click Here. Or you may mail checks to PO Box 1473, Laramie, WY 82073.

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