Why NASA spends nearly $75,000 on unconscious bias training

by L&D13 Jul 2016
NASA is spending nearly $75,000 to teach astronauts and other employees about diversity and their unconscious biases.

They have already hired a contractor to hold "dialogue sessions" about inclusion.

The independent US governmental agency is also adding a new curriculum to their “Diversity Dialogue Project”.

Documents released by NASA claim that the program is for employees to engage in a "facilitated dialogue process in an open, non-judgmental and comfortable environment”.

In particular, it's about improving personal growth through the processes of "listening, introspection, finding meaning, and building acceptance for differing perspectives".

The curriculum also tries to create a “culture of positive influencers who are empowered to use their privilege wisely”, reports the Washington Free Beacon.

The training firm IVY Planning Group has received $73,500 to provide four sessions at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The sessions go for four hours each.

However, the contract has a one-year option period, and might even add up to $151,900.

The main goal of the Diversity Dialogue Project is to “create change at Goddard through individual participant shift in thinking, attitudes, and behavior to promote greater respect and inclusion in the workplace.”

Further diversity and inclusion topics included in the training are: micro messages and inequities, race, gender, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, the business case for diversity and inclusion, and diversity of thought.

It will also focus on unconscious bias training and teaching employees about “the potential impact of our behaviors and (unconscious) biases in the workplace”.

Meanwhile, it was also recently reported that more than 33,000 federal agents and prosecutors in the US will receive mandatory unconscious bias training to prevent stereotypes and biases influencing their behaviour.

The training includes issues of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status.

The idea was to bring Justice Department employees in line with many American local police departments that have implemented bias prevention plans after a series of shootings of unarmed black men by white policeman.

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