News Analysis

Implicit Bias Training: Is It Right for Building Professionals?

With equity on the minds of many in the green building community, some are looking to bias training—but it might not be as effective as you expect.

Implicit biases—the unconscious assumptions we make about people based on their gender, race, physical ability, and many other factors—don’t stay buried. They lead to adverse decisions and behavior that we don’t even recognize as sexist, racist, or ableist. Implicit bias is particularly dangerous in situations ripe for violence, as when armed police officers are interacting with a person of color. But it’s also a scourge in relatively tame circumstances—like when Black people are hanging out in a Starbucks.

And the building industry is far from immune. Look around any architecture or engineering firm, and you’re likely to see mostly white, mostly male faces. Professionals in the construction industry are also predominantly male and white. (See more about the statistics in Re-Forming the Building Industry: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.) These skewed workplaces are, in large part, an outcome of implicit bias. Then there’s the building projects themselves. Most of the time, the voices of marginalized stakeholders are not even sought out, let alone heard and honored, which can lead to community harm. (Find case studies of projects that have attempted to overcome these problems in Equity in Design and Construction: Seven Case Studies.)

Published October 5, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, September 28). Implicit Bias Training: Is It Right for Building Professionals?. Retrieved from