What’s your experience of bias training? Revealing and inspiring to find out more or a dip that leaves you lukewarm as another tick box exercise. The Google memo over the summer demonstrated the impact of people feeling coerced into bias training without really understanding why bias matters.
Bias is implicit in the way we make decisions, it’s the key to our survival but like anything to do with our brains, it’s complex and multi-layered. If you think about the numerous decisions you make every day from the moment you wake up, your biases come into play very quickly. Our pace demands that we move quickly, decide incisively and efficiently and keep going. But… and this is a big but… we are human beings. We need time to think, reflect and consider decisions – and not just the big ones, otherwise, we stay on autopilot and justify decisions after we’ve made them.
At best, individuals see bias training as an opportunity to ‘change how we do things around here’ and recognise there will be a shake-up around this. At worst, it can be a tick box exercise without any real attitudinal change and quick fix approaches may 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 literally not make any decisions at all. Organisations can’t use bias training as a quick fix to stand what is hard-wired in our brain. Any effective bias training is about a gradual process of mindset and organisational cultural shift.
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 and play to emotions.
- Recognise bias is core to our survival and remove the judgment 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.
- 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.
By Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj