In today’s increasingly diverse world, it is vital to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace, not only from an organisational benefit point of view, with increased financial returns, but also from an employee satisfaction point of view.

Employing a diverse workforce isn’t enough; you must also provide your employees with anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training, including unconscious bias training.

What is unconscious bias?

Imperial College London defines unconscious bias as “a term that describes the associations we hold outside our conscious awareness and control.”

“Unconscious bias is triggered by our brain automatically making quick judgments and assessments. Our background, personal experiences, social stereotypes and cultural context influence them.”

Unconscious bias can severely impact the recruitment process, with research showing that hiring managers in the past tended to favour candidates similar to them.

Why should you provide unconscious bias training to employees?

Providing employees with unconscious bias training can be a great way to help them be aware of their own unconscious bias and take steps to reduce its impact on their decisions.

Training should be undertaken by a professional organisation, as it mustn’t be about blaming and shaming your employees but working together to allow everyone – including you – to confront their own biases.

Unconscious biases are just that, unconscious. So, people aren’t intentionally biased; they can’t help it. The training should help them slow down their decision-making process to allow their logical brain to kick in over their gut instinct.

What types of unconscious bias should the training address?

There are many types of bias that people may unknowingly have, including:

  • Age Bias – treating someone unfairly because of their age
  • Appearance Bias – people are discriminated against based on physical attributes, such as body weight, height or tattoos.
  • Disability Bias – where someone is disregarded for a reason relating to their disability
  • Gender Bias – the tendency to give preferential treatment to one gender over another
  • LGBTQ Bias – discrimination or prejudice against people who are, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning
  • Racial Bias – an assumption that members of specific racial categories have distinctive characteristics that make them inferior to others
  • Religious Bias – treating a person or group of people differently because of their particular religious belief

This is only a general overview of bias, as research has shown around 150 different types of unconscious bias, including accents, marital status, parental status, political beliefs, education levels, etc.

As you can imagine, increasing your employees’ awareness of unconscious bias and helping them better understand it should be an ongoing process – not done once and then forgotten. You should also monitor your recruitment process to ensure your hiring policies and promotion criteria align with your diversity and inclusion policy.

Agile Recruit can help you ensure your talent pool is diverse in cultures, experience, abilities, and skill sets. Please get in touch with us to find out more.

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