The NFL wants to use virtual reality to combat workplace discrimination

The NFL has started to dabble in virtual reality geared toward the fan experience in the past few years, and now the league is prepared to explore how virtual reality can help the league improve in other ways. According to a report from USA Today, the NFL will work with Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab to use virtual reality for workplace diversity training.

The idea of using virtual reality to combat workplace discrimination might sound strange at first, but a closer look at what virtual reality training would entail actually seems like it could be helpful. The virtual reality empathy demo is supposed to work by helping a person get as close as possible to experiencing life as a minority -- it's the old adage of "don't judge a person until you walk a mile in their shoes" in living color.

In one of the training scenarios described in the report, the virtual reality goggles place the user into a scene in which they are an African-American woman who is being harassed by a white person. The NFL reportedly will use the technology to help train its staff members and players.

Troy Vincent, the NFL's vice president of football operations, told USA Today he was impressed by the institute's virtual reality demos after he visited the lab with commissioner Roger Goodell last summer.

"VR can deliver on real social issues that allow people to be better," 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 USA Today report claims the virtual reality demos are a way for companies to seek an alternative to more traditional workplace diversity seminars, which often prove to be ineffective. According to the Stanford lab, virtual reality could be more effective for users given how realistic situations experienced via virtual reality can seem. Since virtual reality goggles are now much more affordable than they had been in the past, it seems like now is a good time to at least give the alternative technology a try.