unconscious bias training
beating unconscious bias
Extensive research shows that diverse and inclusive organisations outperform those that are not. At the same time, all employees have a right to a ‘fair go’ at work, They are entitled to a workplace free of racism, prejudice and discrimination.
Few people deliberately set out to treat others unfairly or aim to create a workplace without diversity. It is in fact often the unconscious biases that lead to choices that reduce equity and diversity.
- All staff members and particularly those in decision-making capacities and recruitment
- A half-day unconscious bias course gives a powerful introduction. Shorter and full-day options are available.
- Run at your offices or in a virtual classroom
Training goals are to:
- understand what unconscious bias is
- become aware of our blind spots and shortcut assumptions
- appreciate the benefits of reducing unconscious bias and increasing diversity
- improve decision making through conscious thinking and avoiding snap decisions
- develop ways of addressing unconscious bias
- develop an action plan on what could be done to reduce unconscious bias in your organisation.
Our facilitator will adapt the content and workshop style of this unconscious bias training course to the needs of the group. The following course program is for a full day workshop:
Introduction and workshop overview
Participants will review the agenda and will discuss their objectives when it comes to learning about unconscious bias. With an icebreaker, participants will look at occasions when they have experienced being a minority and how they felt.
Participants will discover that it is possible to consciously believe in equality while at the same time acting on unconscious prejudices.
They learn how as humans, bombarded with information, we leads to decisions being made, that are not based on rational thinking or scientific data but based on our experiences, habits and, previous encounters. This can have its upsides and its downsides.
Participants will explore how they can build their emotional intelligence, to change the way they act by the way they think. They’ll discover the power of making the unconscious conscious.
The group discuss how a decision-maker with the same point of view will make the same decisions which result in the same outcomes. This pattern and narrow tunnel-view or blind spot, needs to be shifted or expanded for a more balanced and healthy workplace culture. They will also learn about the beliefs cycle and how they can become aware of their unconscious bias.
Choosing your tribe
Research shows that due to our beliefs, humans tend to stick to what we know. Humans naturally gravitate toward an in-group: people who look alike and/or come from a similar background.
The group will look at how humans make decision-making easy for themselves by putting people in boxes so that they act towards certain people in a consistent way, even if this is not intentional or meant in an unkind way.
A tour around stereotyping and bias
We will take participants on a journey around bias, touching on the many types of biases there are, such as ageism, sexism, ethnic discrimination and racism and biases around beliefs and religion, disabilities, gender identity, marital status, national origin, political beliefs, sexual orientation, social standing and physical appearance.
Even smaller than a text message
The participants will learn what the term ‘micro-message’ refers to. These mini signals can work to either devalue employees and express an imbalance or inequity, or affirm their value and encourage staff members.
The thousands of often unconscious micro-messages we send amongst ourselves can range from being highly positive to highly negative. Being aware of the negative unspoken behaviour and calling it out can help prevent the damage this subtle discrimination can have on colleagues.
Stop, pause and notice
This training course is not about radical self-transformation but it aims to highlight to the participants how, if they can take notice of their inner biases, they can monitor and modify their outward behaviour to avoid sending negative micro messages or make unfair decisions.
As role models in the organisation they can help to execute a fair and inclusive workplace. This awareness very much comes downs to emotional intelligence and the various exercises the group will do to show them how we all have preconceived ideas, assumptions, usually automatic and unintentional which may control how we treat others.
Merit not instinct
Rather than making gut decisions or snap decisions, the group will look at how they may need to slow down their thoughts to make decisions in a more rational and objective way, most likely based on merit. They would discuss what that would practically mean for their organisation and how things are done.
Opportunity in diversity
The group will learn of scientific studies which highlight the advantages of promoting a diverse mix of people in an organisation, particularly in terms of creativity, innovation and better problem solving. Ultimately it is a proven fact that diverse companies are more successful in many aspects.
The partiy will also review how systems and processes in the organisation can make biased decision-making creep in and what they can do to make changes. They will for example look at recruitment processes, promotions and other decisions that impact on diversity.
Call it out
At one time or another participants will be the subject of deliberate or unconscious bias or they may witness it. So how should they react? The group will explore the boundaries of personal safety, assertive communication, reacting with emotional intelligence and ‘upstanding’ behaviour.
Addressing unconscious bias and evolving to a fully conscious organisation is certainly a work in progress and as part of this course the participants will be encouraged to discuss how their organisation can adjust to help this happen. There may already be certain means of ensuring a fair workplace but can they be improved upon? Participants will make a plan how they can beat unconscious bias in their workplace and personal lives.
Why is EQ important for unconscious bias training?
Unconscious bias is our natural human state – our instinct on how we act and react to certain things or people. This helps us deal with life efficiently rather than having to process everything we see individually. It is through our emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) that we can identify our biases and consciously slow down our rapid decisions to make fairer and more considerate evaluations of people and situations.
Discrimination in the workplace is often covert and subtle. It is the people with high EQ that will pick up on the seemingly minor snubs that a co-worker receives and be able to call it out in a tactful way. Leaders within the organisation require emotional intelligence for inclusive leadership. They need EQ skills to identify the need for diversity and lead to a fully inclusive workplace where even subtle instances of devaluing a colleague will not be accepted.
This unconscious bias training workshop builds the emotional intelligence to take full responsibility for the way in which we act at work, whether it is intentional or unintentional. It is only when people take that responsibility that they can act to beat unconscious bias.
"In order to create real change, we need to understand unconscious bias as a fundamental social justice issue that gives birth to all kinds of -isms in our society, not some standalone concept that is nice-to-know."
Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) - the capability of individuals to recognise and manage their emotions and those of others.
Being aware of the concept of EQ and then developing it is essential for employees, regardless of their role. High EQ is no longer an add-on but a ‘must-have.’
Unconscious Bias Training Providers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth & Australia Wide
What exactly is unconscious bias?
Think about how many choices led you to reading this sentence. First, you decided to search for training programs. You decided to click on this webpage, either straight from the search engine or after exploring some of our other workshops. You decided to scroll all the way down to find out more, either about our sessions or about unconscious bias itself.
How long did each decision take you? More importantly, did you actually make each decision consciously, or did you just do it?
Research estimates that we make approximately 35000 choices in a day. Some are pretty major, which require a lot of fact-finding, consultation, and deliberation. Others are so minor you probably didn’t notice there was a decision to make. Considering most of us spend seven or so hours asleep, cutting into our decision making time, this means we make approximately one choice every two seconds.
This is where unconscious bias comes from: our brains are hardwired to make mental shortcuts based on our previous experiences, knowledge, and the information currently available. Otherwise, we would need to stop every single time we were presented with a choice and start from scratch — we’d never get anything done!
Everyone has unconscious biases: the problem is when we do not interrogate this bias and allow it to take centre stage in our decision making. While some of us might be aware of what unconscious bias is and the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace, not all of us have the capability to recognise our own bias and how it shapes our thinking. This means that, without necessarily intending to, organisations may not prioritise creating an environment in which diversity and inclusion thrives.
How does unconscious bias impact workplace decision making?
Research shows that unconscious bias is present in every aspect of company culture and operations: recruitment, retention, work assignments, management and the feedback received, who is promoted (and who isn’t), how staff interact with clients and each other — the list goes on. So, while it is important that all employees cultivate an awareness of unconscious bias and diversity, the first to focus on for unconscious bias training are senior managers, supervisors, team leaders, and other people in your leadership teams.
Our biases are formed young and continue to develop as we grow, mainly based on parental influence and social conditioning. As we go through life, we constantly take in information; to avoid overwhelming us, our brains unconsciously sort this new content into patterns we are familiar with. This applies to people as well, meaning that we may unconsciously sort people into categories based on our preconceptions of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, religion, profession, and other factors.
Without being equipped with strategies that allow them to pause and consider their bias before making a judgement or decision, leaders run the risk of cultivating a homogenous organisation that stifles talent, growth and innovation. Often, we are drawn to people that are similar to ourselves, meaning it can be difficult to create a diverse team if we do not question this focus.
How can we improve diversity outcomes for a more inclusive workplace environment?
One session will not be enough to change the way that your leaders think about diversity and inclusion — nor is it intended to — but it will equip your team with the resources they need to start this important conversation.
The learning outcomes and action plan that participants will develop at the end of the course should serve as a roadmap for your organisation to reduce unconscious bias in the workplace, identify techniques to cultivate diversity and inclusion, and improve the overall organisation performance.
Whether you opt for an in house or virtual training program, it is vital that your leaders undertake this training to equip them with the strategies they need to make a real effort towards diversity.
Ready to make a start towards better diversity and inclusion in your organisation? Simply leave your name, email address and other details below and get an instant quote for our cost-effective unconscious bias training program (either in house or virtual).
How to find out if you have unconscious biases?
A good way to check your biases is to conduct an ‘Implicit Association Test’ or IAT. We usually ask participants to our courses to take the IAT of Project Implicit. Test your own unconscious biases.
Is unconscious bias training effective?
If you Google this phrase, you’ll find articles claiming that unconscious bias training is ineffective. It makes for a nice headline.
However, when you look closer into it, all these articles refer to studies that were done on ‘training’ that consisted of maximum one hour of self-paced learning. Well, we would say, ‘what do you expect?’.
You cannot expect ‘behaviour change’ around any emotional intelligence skill after a one-hour session in front of a computer screen. So, you can’t expect a change in unconscious bias after such as ‘training’ session. The self-paced unconscious bias course will build awareness at most.
Our unconscious bias training workshops are designed to immerse the participants. Participants in our unconscious bias workshops will learn to recognise their biases. We help them accept that they have them and at the same time give them practical strategies to limit their implicit biases. We also make sure participants identify with the people in our scenarios by building empathy skills (emotional intelligence) and by using case studies and examples that are relevant to our participants (FitzGerald et al., 2019).
It also means we recommend the group spend 3 hours or more in the training program, which gives us time to explore, probe and build the EQ skills to help our participants beat unconscious bias.
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