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NFL plans to use virtual reality for diversity training


Attendee Wei Rongjie wears a working prototype of his HoloSeer AR/VR all-in-one agumented reality and virtual reality headseat, January 6, 2016 at the CES 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wei says the HoloSeer headset has a 100 degree angle of view and is in the second round of Kickstarter funding. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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In 2015, the NFL began to fully embrace the use of virtual reality as a training tool for football. The league office now plans to expands the educational reach of VR beyond the football field.

Via Marco della Cava of USA Today, the NFL is currently exploring how to use virtual reality to train employees on how to understand harassment and discrimination.

“VR can deliver on real social issues that allow people to be better,” NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent told USA Today. “We’ll start using this as another teaching tool later this year. We want to be known as the best place to work.”

The NFL is working with STRIVR labs to develop the application of virtual reality beyond the field.

“Feeling prejudice by walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is what VR was made for,” said Jeremy Bailenson, who cofounded STRIVR labs with former NFL quarterback Trent Edwards and former Stanford kicker Derek Belch.

Typically, diversity and harassment training in any workplace entails watching videos or hearing from H.R. staff and/or lawyers about a long list of things that can and can’t be said and done in the workplace. An immersive experience that allows a person wearing a VR headset to experience bias, prejudice, and/or harassment from the perspective of the victim would be far more effective than sitting and listening to someone go on and on about hostile work environments and do’s and don’t’s during job interviews and the line between appropriate jokes and the kind of statements that will get the company an unwanted field trip to the courthouse.