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Whitmer’s ‘implicit bias’ training pushes Michigan health workers to admit bias, ‘get out of your comfort zone


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An "implicit bias" training session required by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encourages health care workers to admit they that are biased, and teaches them that Black people, overweight women and people with non-Western names are among those who face obstacles to success in America.

It also asks those participating in the training session to identify their closest coworkers and then describe their race, ethnicity and physical appearance in an attempt to make them realize that their choice of company in the workplace may reveal bias, and encourage them to "get out of your comfort zone."

These and many other elements are found in a course designed for health care workers who treat veterans in Michigan, according to a PowerPoint presentation obtained by Fox News Digital from a staff member who took it. The course is the result of an action Whitmer took in 2021 to require implicit bias training under the Public Health Code as a "condition for initial licensure or registration as well as license or registration renewal."

The PowerPoint lists several examples of how biases can impact the workplace based on identities and physical appearances. Employees are told that people with non-Western names have to submit 30% more resumes to stay competitive with job seekers with Western names, that Black Americans have a two to threefold greater risk of kidney failure, and that minority patients are less likely to receive pain medication than White patients.

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It states that women are paid less in America the more they weigh.

"In the United States and other Western nations, for every 1% increase in a woman’s body mass, there is a 0.5% decrease in pay," one slide states.

Additionally, it says companies tend to hire tall men as CEOs. "Specifically, 58% of male CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are over 6 feet (180 centimeters) tall. 14.5% of US males are taller than 6 feet," another slide states.

The "Unconscious Bias: Understanding Bias to Unleash Potential" training for the Michigan's Veterans Affairs (VA) office required a completed pre-test, attendance to a three-hour training session, and a course evaluation for employees to receive certification required to keep their medical license.

In another section, participants are directed to write down their identities and the identities of their closest coworkers to analyze how their biases may impact their performance.

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"On a piece of paper, list your 5 closest professional connections," one PowerPoint slide states before it asks participants to check boxes of their identities, which included age group, color, education level, expertise, family status, gender, national origin, personality, physical ability, physical appearance, political views, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation/identity and socioeconomic status.

"What do I notice about who I choose to connect with?" it asks. ""What did I notice about my network?"

Do No Harm, a group of medical professionals that works to "protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology," obtained the document from a VA medical worker in Michigan. Laura Morgan, the group's program director, said she has heard from medical workers across the country that diversity and bias trainings contribute to burnout in an industry with emergency levels of under-staffing.

Morgan said she quit her nursing job when she was required to take an implicit bias training.

"If you or I went to the emergency room, we’d want our care team to assess us and take action to save us," Morgan told Fox News Digital. "Not to stop at the point of decision-making and think, ‘I better not approach them until I check my implicit biases at the door.’ That’s just absurd."

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The Michigan presentation rejects the idea that implicit bias training creates division.

"FRAME: If I confront bias, it will just create more division," one slide reads. "REFRAME: When I effectively confront bias, I create a space where we are all valued and able to contribute our best."

"FRAME: If I understand my biases, I can fix them on my own," another slide reads. "REFRAME: Only when I cultivate meaningful connections can I see past bias and value the people around me."

Whitmer's rule, which took effect in 2022, defines implicit bias as "an attitude or internalized stereotype that affects an individual’s perception, action, or decision making in an unconscious manner and often contributes to unequal treatment of people based on race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, age, disability, or other characteristic."

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