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Check Your Blind Spots mobile bus tour heading to campus

August 29, 2018

Traveling across the country to shine a light on unconscious bias, the Check Your Blind Spots mobile bus tour will stop at NIU.

A multimedia experience designed to help people recognize, acknowledge and minimize potential blind spots–unconscious biases that can narrow your vision and potentially influence your behaviors–the bus event will be from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 10 in the MLK Commons.

Huskies are invited to walk through the bus, watch a series of 2- to 3-minute videos, take part in activities and reflect on real-world experiences. Hosted by the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the event also will include food and refreshments.

NIU is one of 100 stops on the bus tour, launched this fall by CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion–a group of more than 450 CEOs and 12 million employees pledged to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. As a lead signatory, PwC invested $10 million to create the educational tour for the current and future workforce.

PwC has a strong relationship with the NIU College of Business, which helped draw the tour to NIU, said Vernese Edghill-Walden, chief diversity officer at NIU.

Upon hearing about the tour, she eagerly pursued it for NIU.

“It’s been a great opportunity to partner with PwC, given the work that NIU has been doing around diversity, equity and inclusion and social justice education. This opportunity seemed like the natural next step for us to be involved with the national campaign to address implicit bias,” Edghill-Walden said. “We look forward to continuing our work around implicit bias throughout the year.”

Upon launching the tour, Tim Ryan, US chairman and senior partner of PwC and chair of the steering committee for the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, said it will help organizations build inclusive environments.

“We’re seeing unconscious bias education become an increasingly critical tool for diversity and inclusion strategies, but not all companies are equally equipped to roll out the training,” he said.

Event organizer Tamara Boston, a graduate research assistant with Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, had a sneak peek at some of the videos featured in the mobile bus.

“The excitement from Vernese was contagious,” she said. “I was blown away from the first video.

“I thought about how I make snap decisions. Essentially, that’s what your implicit biases are. It’s all about how we have 40 million pieces of information, but we only use 40 to make a snap decision. We make a decision based on that 40 in an unconscious way. It’s to make us conscious of how we make decisions and maybe check ourselves on this.”

The theme will carry through to the Sept. 20 Unity Walk. Participants are encouraged to gather at 5 p.m. at the MLK Commons for remarks, followed by the walk at 5:45 p.m. and refreshments and a round table discussion at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ll create a challenge for participants to think about what you do before you do it,” Boston said, “and to take action. It’s a combination of awareness and action.”