Common challenges with unconscious bias training
Here are some of the common challenges associated with unconscious bias training:
- Some social scientists, researchers and psychologists are saying that there are “unintended consequences” in raising awareness of people’s implicit biases. For example, if you become aware that you are moderately biased against disabled people how might this shadow your decision-making affecting a disabled person (for example, will you promote them on merit alone?). The SEEDS model was created by the NeuroLeadership Institute for this purpose and is a core component of our training.
- Unconscious bias is deep-rooted in our psyche due to the neurological wiring of the brain and deep-seated socialisation in society. Therefore, unconscious bias training, which is usually a couple of hours is not enough time to change deep-rooted belief and value systems.
- It is well regarded in training circles that the Ebbinghaus “forgetting curve” means that training participants forget about 50% of their newfound knowledge an hour after leaving the training session. Therefore, if we want people to change their behaviours around implicit bias, then we need for them to apply their knowledge through action.
Our unconscious bias workshop solution
We have developed a 2-hour unconscious bias workshop which has been refined each time we’ve delivered it and we are receiving positive feedback about the sessions.
An outline of each training session is:
- An introduction to Toby to establish credibility and rapport with the attendees
- A presentation on what unconscious bias is and how it comes about (the neurological case and the social conditioning case).
- A presentation and subsequent discussion on the implications of implicit bias within the workplace. This includes case studies and encouraging training participants to identify real-world examples in their roles. In this part of the training we focus on the SEEDS model to discuss examples of such biases and the implications.
- A discussion on practical actions attendees can take to mitigate or balance out unconscious bias within the workplace. We revisit the SEEDS model to agree actions based on this framework. We discuss additional strategies including reverse mentoring/broadening your network and the need to address systems bias.
- All participants leave with a personal action plan to implement their newfound learning and practical steps they can take to address unconscious bias within their own teams.
All attendees receive a professionally produced training workbook which includes exercises from the training and other content that they can take away with them.
After the training each attendee receives a series of 'nudges' over email, which are small reminders of topics we discuss in the training and small tasks to help them further embed their knowledge and mitigate unconscious bias in their day-to-day work.
Why is this approach necessary?
This training has been designed to address some of the challenges above. Namely:
- It is not enough to raise awareness of unconscious bias - we must empower attendees to apply their new knowledge to their own team and personal circumstances.
- That this training focuses on making smarter and better decisions, however, it's also designed to enable you to build a more inclusive workplace in order to achieve your diversity goals.
- Session sizes are kept small (about 15 people) so that we can facilitate a deeper and more meaningful conversation and allow participants to formulate effective action planning.
What training participants say about our workshops so far
Since the beginning of this training being given, 85% of participants have rated our workshop four / five stars (very good or excellent). Furthermore, 81% of participants would recommend this training to their colleagues.
One participant has said in their feedback:
“I thought Toby was very insightful, having a lot of examples to hand to help us identify scenarios where unconscious bias can impact our decisions. I thought the atmosphere created was very collaborative and a safe space for people to throw out ideas.”
And another training participant said:
“I thought it was really well structured, a good mix of informative and interactive. Toby was great, really friendly, organised, had lots of examples which really helps, and practical tips which are always key to these sessions. He gave the right level of background and theory vs delving into more specific topics.”