We all have biases. Raised awareness and training can help reduce biased behavior and build diversity and inclusion.
Studies and research on bias have revealed that all of us have bias. It is often deep-rooted and stems from the messages and input we have received throughout our lives, starting in childhood. 1
So why try to reduce or eliminate bias at work? When bias starts shaping decisions and behaviors within the workplace, it can have a negative impact to the organization and its culture. The good news is that training programs have been shown to mitigate bias in the workplace and increase diversity.2
Diversity Builder has learned which techniques work best when bringing bias training programs to employees. Our trainers take and evidence-based approach starting with scientific study results and findings. From there our trainers share ways to be more aware of bias and how to address it when it arises at work.
The individual, social, and structural learning that shapes a person does not change once they arrive at work. Recognizing that all people have unconscious or implicit bias is the first step of becoming aware of its influence. As we consider how bias impacts our choices, cultural change and shifting societal attitudes play a role in understanding appropriateness in the workplace. Bias often extends beyond race and gender. Recognizing bias helps employees understand what shapes their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about another person or group of people.
Does Unconscious Bias Training Work
The top questions about bias training we receive are:
- Does it work?
- Is it effective in changing behavior?
- What is the best long-term strategy that does work?
Research shows that there are four criteria that contribute to learning programs that work.3
- Initial awareness of personal bias
- Understanding how bias impacts workplace decisions
- Creating a feedback culture for joint accountability
- An ongoing learning program that includes review, evaluation, and actionable plans
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Stereotyping and Discrimination
Common misconceptions and stereotyping open a space for discrimination when the unconscious become conscious. Often employees do not recognize their biases naturally; intention and practice are required.
One major impact of bias training is transforming thoughts by talking openly about stereotypes, implicit bias, and prejudice.
Transforming Workplace Conversations
Turning uncomfortable conversations into a space of trust and learning is how the trainers at Diversity Builder breakdown misconceptions and lessen the stigma surrounding bias issues. Creating an environment where feedback is valued and welcomed and help establish peer accountability and contribute to more inclusive communication and behaviors.
Where Bias Appears
Many organizations experience bias in:
- Employee Meetings
- Casual Conversations at Work (water cooler talk)
- Vendor Interactions
- External Work Functions and Events
When bias is prevalent in a workplace teamwork suffers and individual performance can decline.4
The key to bias is understanding where someone else is coming from and reconciling your own beliefs and opinions. Additionally, bias is always in flux and understanding individual perception and self-management is key to successful training. Bias affects evaluation of individual and team performance, the ability to manage people, and in hiring practices.
Ultimately, bias training opens dialogue about the ideas and actions that may be hidden for many employees. It is recommended that companies evaluate past issues and policies related to suspected bias, to uncover areas of improvement.
Reducing bias in the workplace requires:
- Creating a Standardized Mentoring Program
- Establishing Ongoing Learning
- Evaluating Anti-bias
- Implementing Programs for Change
Strategies for Success
Changing unconscious bias into conscious understanding is actionable and can be used to establish employee and manager accountability. Initiating an evaluation program helps to track impact and change in employee actions and behaviors. When assessing the collected data, it is important to understand that major change does not happen at once, and adequately adjusting expectations to celebrate incremental success should be the goal.
What Sets Diversity Builder’s Curriculum and Facilitation Apart
Diversity Builder’s curriculum designers consider an organization’s challenges and goals when creating content. Every webinar and instructor-led training course is designed for individual organizations who need customized solutions to enable growth and innovation. Real life examples are incorporated into each workshop. Diversity Builder tailors the PowerPoint slides and facilitation of bias training for each company to promote positive and impactful outcomes. Bias training should be refreshed continually for the long term, through multiple sessions. The impact of bias is so significant that it is beneficial to incorporate it into an organization’s diversity and inclusion vision.
1 Rebecca A. Dore, British Journal of Developmental Psychology
2 Olivia Nelson, “Potential for Progress: Implicit Bias Journey to Make Change,” Joseph Wharton Scholars, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
3 Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases by Paul Slovic and Amos Tversky, Cambridge University Press
4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Amanda Pallais, Dylan Glover, William Pariente