Virtual reality exercises will not fix corporate racism

In 2017, while I work for a well-known media company, and I took a vacation to my home country, Nigeria. When I left, my hair was frizzy and smooth. When I got back, I had long braids. “Oh my God, I am the love Who – who! ”A white woman in the store said to me, as she entered without my consent. Another, wide-eyed, asked,“ How long do these take? So cool! ”And I proceeded to invade my inspection space. Neither woman seemed to consider her actions culturally insensitive – part of the hurdles that people of color suffer in the workplace. We learn to smile and keep her moving in those uncomfortable moments.

Corporations have long failed to handle such encounters. Instead, they rely on One size fits all Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training – stunning slideshows, blurry videos, and vague testimonials to finally sign off. Usually these are programs ForgettableAnd the It lacks evaluable effect, And the, Studies show, inactive. After the killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide outrage last summer, US companies have turned more aggressively toward these surface solutions. The companies were quick at that Prepare An inclusive work environment, flooding their social media pages with black and brown faces, glorifying allies, and placing them in a socially distant place. City halls to race.

However, recently some big companies are trying something new: virtual reality. What if, as the creators of virtual reality say, instead of slides on the impact of unconscious bias, companies could have employees Experience Distinguish themselves? By focusing the perspectives of people of color in digital simulations, tech companies claim they can help companies be more equitable and less reactive, and better measure DEI commitments.

This approach is a step up from cartooning in PowerPoint sets. But these problems run deeper than insufficient comprehensive training – and it will take more than advanced technology to fix them. There is no virtual world that can teach white Americans to see what they do not want to see in Reality Globalism; Let’s see that blacks exist outside of the racist stereotypes and atrocities against us.

Virtual Reality A tool for increasing ethnic understanding is not new. Emerging tech companies and established companies like Debias VRAnd the Point of viewAnd the skylight I am a man, And the Google: Virtual Reality Immersion Ethnic identity Explore the potential of mimicry to foster ethnic empathy. The dimension of humanity, measured in increments Dislikes CrimesNo less racist.

In 2020 a Report The one released by the International Data Corporation found that the demand for virtual reality experiences is increasing, and sales of VR headsets are expected to grow 48 percent annually over the next four years. Combined with the growing awareness of US companies of DEI’s shortcomings, this makes this an ideal time for tech companies to try again – it’s good business.

Practical labFor example, it is a new virtual reality-based platform that allows users to acquire identities from different ethnic and sexual backgrounds to counter prejudice. After beta testing with Zoom, Amazon, Google, Uber and Target, it officially launched in February. Founders say – Elise Smith, a black woman, and Heather Chen, a first-generation Chinese woman Pivotal experiences DEI training a program It is an immersive solution that bridges current learning gaps.

Sheen tells me that “the immersive nature of practical experience is about learning empathy” in a pragmatic way. “We don’t just give that moment,” Well, I had an overwhelming experience. “In the world of virtual reality, employees wear a headset. Someone else’s shape– a woman in a headscarf or a sikh man wearing a headscarf, for example – or who acts as a spectator in a particular scenario where part of the experience observes the reflection of the avatar they portray virtual Mirror. They interact and respond loudly to other avatars. Ultimately, there is a required evaluation that asks the employee to think about what they just experienced, hoping that over time the reflections will show a more empathetic user.

Courtney CogburnHe is a sociologist and professor of social work at Columbia University whom Shane and Smith consulted about the experiment, and is more skeptical of this approach. “The question mark for me is, is ethnic sympathy possible?” “I don’t think you need to understand what it feels like to be at the short end of that stick in order to see, evaluate, and disagree with.”

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