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We are more biased than we think

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Sitting ready for our Unconscious Bias training I am wondering if I needed to bring the pen and paper I now have at the ready. I fully expect to be nodding along agreeably with our trainer, tutting and eye rolling as tales of bias are relayed to me, “oh goodness, how awful, what prejudice” I’ll mutter in disgust. I am, in short, prepared to be told things I already know and more so things that I would certainly never do. Still despite this ‘confidence’ I’m eager to see what our unconscious bias training has in store for us, in what can only be a good thing to roll out across the business as not everyone can be as self-aware and empathetic as me after all.

 

Imagine then my horror as example after expertly placed example is laid out in front of us exposing our every day, commonplace bias. “Imagine your journey to work” encourages our trainer, “you get to the ticket barrier what sort of person is there?” Immediately we have a picture in our minds, we share our pictures – they are all the same! This vision expands to include imagining the person who served your coffee, the people on security at your office, those on reception, until my commute to work is so heavy with expectation I’m wondering what further there is to be exposed.

 

Unfortunately there is plenty and what is very apparent is the ease and regularity of which we fall into these patterns. This is not been outed as a secret racist, misogynist or homophobe; this is the constant, harmless seeming bias that governs our choices and preferences every day. With the light of bias being shone into both mine and that of the training group’s unconscious, we examined what we could be missing from these unconscious biases; what has this cost us we all muse? The vision of opportunities missed and benign assumptions made on behalf of colleagues, clients and candidates alike is not only motivation to be a better person but a real business reason to address our unconscious bias. So what can we do to challenge our own bias? Here are the pointers Investigo compiled after our training;

 

  1. Become a spokesperson for inclusion.
  2. Be open about your biases and encourage others to reflect on their personal biases.
  3. Have coffee or lunch with someone outside of your immediate circle - find just one new thing about them - it builds affinity!
  4. Attend an event outside of your comfort zone, for instance a women’s networking event, an LGBT event or a talk on black history month.
  5. Challenge biased decision-making, i.e., assumptions about an employee’s wants and expectations, for example, women returners.
  6. When on a conference call or in a meeting, ensure you invite everyone to contribute to the discussion. Listen for who is dominating.
  7. Think of good role models in the business. Use these stories to challenge traditional viewpoints, for example, on the commitment of part-time workers.

 

For further information on Unconscious Bias training with the ENEI or to discuss how your business is tackling it’s D&I policy, contact us at contactus@investigo.co.uk or click here: bit.ly/2n2Brqe to watch our Fact File on Unconscious Bias

Gemma Bell
Posted by Gemma Bell
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