A pilot training program was implemented in the county and made available to all employees on a voluntary basis. Currently, only the district attorney’s office has mandatory compliance training requirements.
Jeannette Johnson, the organizational development officer in the county’s human resources department, explained the purpose of the harassment and discrimination training.
“It reduces risk and possible penalties and creates a healthier work environment,” she said.
The training was provided through an online portal and the content was developed by Skillsoft.
County Judge Glen Whitley expressed his desire that the training include diversity and inclusion topics, and Johnson confirmed that courses about unconscious bias included topics regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Documents provided by the county describing an employee course called “Overcoming Your Own Unconscious Biases” state, “Part of understanding the role of unconscious bias in the workplace is admitting to yourself that you, too, hold biases. Once accepted, you can take an anti-bias approach to overcoming unconscious prejudice.”
”In this course, you’ll learn how to recognize your own unconscious and implicit bias and how they can fall prey to social stereotypes.”
The courses for county supervisors and managers also had a course about unconscious bias and one titled “Promoting Diversity and Avoiding Discrimination.”
The idea of unconscious or implicit bias can be found in the writings and presentations of people like Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of the book, “White Fragility,” who argues that most bias is unconscious and dangerous because it drives the behavior of an individual who is unaware of it. She also asserts that one must be anti-racist, believing that Western society was founded on racism.
John McWhorter, an associate professor at Columbia University, disagrees. In his recent book, “Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America,” McWhorter argues that anti-racism is hurting black communities and weakening the American social fabric by “infantilizing Black people, setting Black students up for failure, and passing policies that disproportionately damage Black communities.”
The commissioners court also discussed whether they could forgo defending a county employee who chose not to participate in the harassment and discrimination training. Whitley acknowledged that county elected officials could not be required to participate in the training, but if they refuse, he wants to be able to waive their defense at the county’s expense in case of a lawsuit.
The commissioners court instructed county staff to bring a proposal for annual training back to them for approval at the next meeting.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.