Bus tour asks bank employees to "Check Your Blind Spots" on diversity

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A nationwide bus tour made a stop in Green Bay to give people a reality check when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

CEO Action's "Check Your Blind Spots" unconscious bias tour is making 100 pit stops across the U.S., marking its 50th here in Green Bay with Associated Bank employees.

“It’s giving people the opportunity to explore their unconscious bias. The thing is we all have unconscious bias, it affects us all,” said Mischa Lewis, a tour coordinator with CEO Action.

“They are our snap judgments we make about someone’s personality, characteristic or potential and we don’t realize they color our decisions.”

Lewis said the tour bus gives people a safe place to explore their own unconscious biases using interactive technology.

“We hope our guests take away more of an eye-opening experience that will change their perspective and the way they act, as far as their behavior, to be more inclusive,” said Lewis. “It is important to be aware of unconscious biases because they affect us all and the best way to create a better and positive change for our society is to become aware of these situations, these decisions we make about other people without realizing it. It’s a start.”

For Bob Kapla, an IT director with Associated Bank, the experience was eye opening.

“Some of it is subtle. It doesn’t’ need to be overt. It’s just a subtle discrimination,” said Kapla. “I am from northern Minnesota, until I left and joined the army, everyone looked like me so it is easy to make assumptions. I am hoping that if everyone makes a little difference, thinks a little differently, cuts a few less corners, than it will pile up and become a compounding effect and we will all think a little differently at the bank.”

Ritika Singh, director of diversity and inclusion with Associated Bank, helped organize the tour and hopes her employees take these lessons beyond the office walls.

“Even a simple thing like sitting on an airline seat and people walking down aisle and wondering who will sit next to you, biases may come into your head, which is really checking our blind spots,” said Singh. “There’s so much more to do, we have come a long way in making this commitment and taking conscious targeted actions around advancing diversity and inclusion, but we also know there’s a long way to go and this is a journey we are all on together.”

“I think one of the videos said we process 11 million bits of information a second, and we only use 40, am I using the right 40? Am I cutting cognitive corners and shorting myself and the bank, I don’t want to do that,” said Kapla.