State employees in Michigan will be required to enroll in “implicit bias training” as part of an executive directive signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Aug. 5. The directive also recognized racism as “a public health crisis,” citing the disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths among residents of the state’s Black community.
The directive requires current state employees to participate in and complete the training by the end of the year. In addition, newly hired state employees must enroll in the same training as part of the hiring process and complete it within 60 days. The training’s goal is to help employees understand the unconscious preferences people make in racial matters and its everlasting effects on others.
Seeking equity in health care, creation of advisory council
In other directive-related matters, Whitmer enlisted the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to collaborate with other state departments, reviewing data, creating policies and actively communicating and advocating for communities of color. A major goal focuses on equity in health care.
State health officials reported that the rate of COVID-19 cases among Michigan’s Black residents is more than three times as much as White residents. Also, the death rate from the virus is four times higher among Blacks than Whites in the state.
In a related issue, the governor also signed an executive order creating an advisory council of Black leaders focused on implementing policies geared toward preventing discrimination and racial inequality in the state. The group is known as the Black Leadership Advisory Council.