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St. Louis companies, universities encourage leaders and employees to check their bias

People wait to enter the Check Your Blind Spot mobile museum outside the Express Scripts headquarters in St. Louis County on Monday, March 5, 2017.
Express Scripts
People wait to enter the Check Your Blind Spot mobile museum outside the Express Scripts headquarters in St. Louis County on Monday.

Dozens of people visited a mobile museum dedicated to educating the public about unconscious bias at the Express Scripts headquarters in north St. Louis County on Monday.

More than 350 corporate executives and university presidents signed a pledge to address unconscious bias in the workplace. Local leaders at Edward Jones, Reinsurance Group of America, Inc. and St. Louis-based manufacturing company Emerson are among companies who also signed the pledge.

Express Scripts Diversity and Inclusion Vice President Susan Stith said the event is an attempt to help people think about who they are and how they see others.

“The intent of today is to determine what your own biases are so that you can create and action plan to either mitigate or to help someone else,” Stith said.

“It’s about breaking down barriers,” she added later.

The inaugural event at the company comes at a time when people across industries are having public discussions about racism and harassment.

About 5,000 people work for Express Scripts in St. Louis. The Fortune 500 pharmacy-services company employs a total of 28,000 people. Nearly 70 percent of its employees are women, and almost 40 percent of people identity as an ethnic minority.

Visitors at the Monday event learned about unconscious bias through a series of videos and quizzes inside the Check Your Blind Spot mobile museum parked outside the company building at 1 Express Way. Ned Debary, CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Event Manager, said the audio visual tools helped people see how rapidly their brains take in information to make various assessments about a person or group.

“Our video here is about a 90-second video that really reinforces all the things that are rushing through your head when you’re working with someone and and how that affects the workplace environment and the work product,” Debary said.

Express Scripts chief officer Tim Wentworth, employees and local students visited the mobile museum. Jennings Junior High School eighth-grader Deron Titsworth said he learned more about how to treat people.

“What I learned is like, don’t read a book by its cover; actually read the book,” he said.

Washington University, Webster University and schools in University of Missouri System are few of the next stops on the unconscious bias museum tour.

Ashley Lisenby is part of the public radio collaborative “Sharing America,” covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This new initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Hartford, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Portland (Oregon). Follow Ashley on Twitter @aadlisenby.

Ashley Lisenby is the news director of St. Louis Public Radio.

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