The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Daily Microactivities Can Help Build Habits Around Diversity and Inclusion

A common way higher ed institutions strive to enhance diversity and inclusion is by enrolling employees in training on the subject. In a recent CUPA-HR webinar, presenter Amanda Felkey pointed out that one of the drawbacks to training is that humans tend to forget new information after we learn it if we do not regularly apply it. Felkey is professor of economics; chair of the Department of Economics, Business and Finance; and chair of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program at Lake Forest University. She added that, depending on the content, if the information we learn does not reinforce what we already know, we forget it even faster.

For diversity and inclusion, this means that people who do not believe they have biases to begin with will not likely remember the content presented during a training session about unconscious bias.

According to Felkey, one evidence-based alternative to diversity and inclusion training is using commitment devices. During her academic research on behavior change, Felkey discovered that commitment devices may reduce time inconsistencies and help change individual behavior to create new habits. ProHabits is one such tool. The platform allows participants to select a habit track and engage in daily microactivities to help build habits in a specific area. A follow-up message at the end of each day checks the user’s progress. The platform allows participants to view their team members’ progress toward their daily commitments as well. This social accountability element incentivizes individual completion of daily tasks.

Felkey explained that commitment devices not only prime our thinking for the day, they help us tap into our slow-thinking to form new habits and reprogram our intuition through exposure, enhanced familiarity and habit formation. A commitment device, or any tool that identifies and measures bias, is just one of the six building blocks to creating new habits in Felkey’s inclusion habit model. To learn about the other stages of the habit-building model and Felkey’s research around diversity and inclusion, watch CUPA-HR’s on-demand webinar “The Inclusion Habit.”

Other habit-building and inclusion-focused resources:

CUPA-HR’s 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge (Free participation for individuals or teams. Registration required.)

Building a Successful More Inclusive Search (E-learning course available for individuals and teams)