The business case for diverse and gender balanced businesses is incontrovertible. Yet there is something holding us back from creating diverse teams. Research has shown that it is the unconscious activity of our brains that interfere with our objective decision-making. Unconscious bias training requires sensitivity and meets resistance. Reactions to it can be emotional. “Not me… I’m not biased. I’m a nice person”
Bias can block success
But these biases which hold us back are rooted deep on our anthropological history that no longer have relevance in knowledge based 21st century economies and societies. No one is bias free and nowhere can it be more impactful than the work place. Here decisions are made every minute where unconscious bias creeps in undetected. So whether it’s in hiring decisions and processes, employee terms and conditions, promotion decisions and assignment allocation, the way meetings are held and run, it’s important for all managers and anyone in a position of influence and authority to be aware of their own biases.
This is not about trying to fix anyone or anything. It’s about creating a bias conscious culture where processes and practices are in place to facilitate business success. Unconscious bias can never be eradicated and all we can hope is to get to a position where we can consciously manage it. Unconscious bias training is important for everyone to create a better awareness of ways in which our brain can trick us into making decisions that are not objective. They may not be decisions that are not right for our business or even ourselves.
Unconscious bias training is a business issue
Unconscious bias training is not an HR issue. It’s a business issue. In the same way any organisation would offer training to improve anything that could be a barrier to business success, unconscious bias training needs to be treated in exactly the same way. Organisations should build unconscious bias training programs into their general onboarding and management development programs to create inclusive and diverse teams built on respect and trust.