One year after creating the Human Equity, Access, and Relations (HEAR) Commission, the City of San Gabriel held its first Implicit Bias training session for all city staff and employees.
By Chasity Jennings-Nuñez
Just as the HEAR Commission was the first of its type in the San Gabriel Valley, the City of San Gabriel is the first to require employees in all departments and at all levels to attend Implicit Bias training. This was one of the first recommendations of the HEAR Commission. The 2-hour, in-person training was provided in four separate sessions on April 12th and 13th. The thirty to forty employees in each session were divided into small groups and assigned to teams that promoted interactions between the departments. The training encouraged participation and discussion with guided activities.
The training was required for City staff, but optional for Council and Commission members. San Gabriel Mayor Tony Ding, Councilmembers Denise Menchaca and Carina Rivera, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the HEAR Commission, Chasity Jennings-Nuñez and Viki Goto, attended training sessions. Rivera shared why she felt it was important to attend. “As the city evolves, we should too. [This training] is very important so that we continue on a path to serve our city equitably and with respect for all.” Nancy L. Matthews, of NLM Consulting, was hired by the city to facilitate the training. Matthews, who self identifies as a White, lesbian, female began the training by defining implicit bias, then led the group through a series of activities that showed how addressing biases can result in actions that foster a more diverse and inclusive environment.
San Gabriel, like many cities in the SGV is “majority, minority” with ~ 60% of residents identifying as Asian and ~25% as Hispanic or Latino on the 2020 census. City employees interact with residents daily and this area is a critical piece of Human Resources training. City of San Gabriel Human Resources Director, Edward Macias shared that he has been working to implement this type of training since his arrival 3 years ago. “I am very proud of our organization for taking the lead to understand implicit bias and the adverse impacts it can have on our public institutions. The purpose of this training program is to increase our awareness of implicit bias at the individual and institutional level, to encourage a diversity of experiences and ideas within our public institutions, and ultimately to facilitate decision-making processes within our public institutions that result in more effective and equitable public policies and programs for the community we serve.”
The plan is to offer this training every two years, and to build on it with additional education that promotes cultural competence, equity and understanding. Macias said, ” We have taken the first step, of many more to come, in our endeavor to be better.”
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