Why Is Bias Training Not Working?

Aug 29, 2017 | Articles

Bias is a hot topic in the diversity and inclusion field, and has once again come under the spotlight with recent events at Google. Many organisations see it as a vital step in retaining diverse colleagues. But how useful is bias awareness in changing behaviours and attitudes?

The way we make decisions based on biases can be damaging in the office. Bias awareness training is the right thing to do. However, it needs to come with a big caution sign. Quick-fix approaches can leave participants more aware but powerless in what they can do to change behaviour.

Why does it matter?

We are exposed to hundreds of biases, that impact literally everything we do. So, building awareness needs to be specific. We can’t carry a list of all biases and check them off against how we make decisions, or how we act on a daily basis. If we did, we would not make any decisions at all. Organisations can’t use bias training as a quick-fix to what is hard-wired in our brains. Effective bias training is about a gradual process of mindset and organisational cultural shifts.

How do we deal with bias?

At Boardwalk Leadership, we use neuroscience and hard evidence to demonstrate how to unpick biases. We help participants understand the impact of implicit biases on decision making.

Biases work both ways – what we are drawn to and what we reject. We deliver bias training across different sectors and in different regions and find that participants really connect to the subject when we demystify the neuroscience. We don’t claim to ‘fix’ unconscious bias, but we help people understand how they need to behave to avoid acting on bias and build trust with their teams.

Top three bias training tips for organisations

  1. Share credible and factual information about bias. It’s too easy to pull out misinformation from the noise and clutter.
  2. Recognise bias is core to our survival and remove the judgement around biases. Become aware of your own biases, focus on how individual and group decisions are made and learn how not to act on your biases.
  3. Follow through after training. Create accountability within teams to call out biased decisions and make bias awareness a core theme within your company culture communications

If you feel like your bias training is not working or if you need a fresh approach, watch our video and get in touch.