Funders Explore Uncovering Hidden Bias

This past Wednesday, the Foundation hosted a briefing with Northern California Grantmakers as part of the Diversity in Philanthropy Series entitled Ultimate Fairness: Recognizing and Removing Hidden BiasesThe goals of the briefing were to understand hidden bias through defining it, to learn about  research studies that have examined biases within the context of education and social equity, and to discuss how the philanthropic sector can develop disruptive strategies to counteract it.  Presenters included our own Cedric Brown, Kapor Foundation CEO; Freada Klein, Ph.D., foundation board chair and founder of our sister organization, the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI); and Allison Scott, Ph.D., Director of Research and Evaluation at LPFI.

Hidden bias refers to the subconscious perceptions, stereotypes, and preferences that play out  in our society which result in unfair behavior. Hidden bias affects us on many levels–from our everyday interactions with others to informing the decisions that are made in organizational structures, through policy, and as was discussed, through grantmaking. The result of hidden bias are hidden barriers which are systematically put into place, marginalizing some while privileging others. How can grantmakers become leaders in counteracting hidden bias within philanthropy by contributing to leveling the playing field for all?

In 2011, the Kapor Foundation and the Level Playing Field Institute teamed up to present the Smashing Bias Research Prize. The prize entries and ensuing presentation highlighted the most exceptional and cutting-edge hidden bias research that exposed the biases and barriers faced by underrepresented groups in educational environments and workplaces. Bringing together academics, practitioners, and funders, this conference sought to create a new model for understanding systemic problems like hidden bias and building on innovative and effective approaches to tackling it. The Kapor Foundation and LPFI look forward to building with additional philanthropic partners on this work in order to develop grantmaking practices that ameliorate the achievement and opportunity gap. Stay tuned for more!

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