Slice of Life

Unconscious Bias – Is it as pervasive as we’re led to believe? 1

It’s 7.30 a.m. and a solitary figure, head bowed, collar up, fighting the wind and rain, drags a resource filled suitcase and trudges towards reception. The words of my own ‘stay at home’ mum ‘Oh darling, you’ve not had to leave the girls again have you?’ ringing in my guilt-ridden ears. But I’m here not because I need to be, but because I want to be. An anxious prickle hits me as I spy the uniform clad guard with, as it turns out, unnecessary trepidation. Their smile cracks and immediately my response system metamorphosises and I am able to brightly comment on the hideous weather and announce I’m here to deliver their training on unconscious bias.

What were your immediate thoughts of the figure dragging the suitcase? What picture do you have of my mum? In your head was the security guard male or female? Unconscious bias drives our interpretation of the world and our reactions and interactions with others, but how often do we give ourselves the time to stop and question why we make the assumptions we make?

I feel so lucky – I love my job! Working collaboratively with clients tailoring training programmes designed to meet the specific needs of their organisations. Facilitating the delivery of the sessions and working alongside individuals to support and sustain behavioural and attitudinal change provides me with an immense amount of satisfaction.

Having delivered Inclusion and Diversity training for the past 12 years one becomes accepting of the fact that we are bound to face a certain amount of cynicism, albeit from a small number of delegates, who sense this type of training is only in place to cover the company legislatively and ‘tick those boxes’. Our exploration into Unconscious Bias began 5 years ago with a project on Inclusive Leadership and how, as leaders, personal bias may manipulate and influence the decisions that drive the future of the organisation. We have since developed programmes that support colleagues at all levels of industry, helping them to understand how unconscious bias potentially filtrates interactions, permeates the core of a business and impacts on everything from the way we engage with our customers, to the difficult conversations we elect to have or the health and safety issues we decide to challenge.

By very nature of the fact unconscious bias is pervasive, natural and necessary it readily becomes tangible for all. For me, the most exciting part of our sessions is when, due to their experiential nature, I witness the light bulb moment. The moment when individuals recognise their own biases, behaviours and thought processes and the potential impact these might be having on the people they work alongside.

If you’d like to know more about the way in which we deliver unconscious bias training, the results we produce or if you’re interested in knowing more about how to test your own biases, please do give me a call, tel. +44 (0)1484 310234, or drop me a line.

By the way, my mum’s hugely supportive of my career and the security guard was female!

That’s Why I Do It!

Ed's Up LogoThe last few weeks sum up exactly why I set up Enact Solutions. Great people. Great clients. Great work that leaves me buzzing!

Here’s just a couple of examples.

‘Life changing’ is easily said, but I reckon our Ed’s Up show is just that. It’s small scale, very intimate, working close up with young people who have lost their way within formal learning. It connects. It really does. The youth workers at one of our recent workshops for Suffolk County Council told us about one young man. They hadn’t managed to get him to stay in the room for more than 10 minutes, not for anything. Ed’s Up, the actors, the plain speaking, the interaction, they all held him for 2 hours! Awesome. Will it change lives? Well, there are many factors at work, but we are very, very sure that this workshop reaches disaffected young people in ways that other approaches don’t. It gets its positive and hopeful messages across, along with very practical help and support. If that makes a difference to just one or two young lives, well that’s more than enough!

Seemingly in another world entirely (a galaxy far, far away), we’ve been working with a leading light in the F1 motor sport industry (one that prefers to remain nameless) on their new recruitment process. They want to do everything they can to ensure that when they expend time and money on finding new employees they get the right person, first time. In a couple of one-day workshops, we helped them introduce their new standardised approach to all of their managers, including getting very busy developing their Interviewing Skills with our professional actors in a range of realistic scenarios. It went very, very well. The client was delighted. We were chuffed!

That’s just two of the things we’ve been up to at Enact. Maybe they seem like chalk and cheese. Certainly it’s hard to see any obvious similarity between training managers in a corporate setting and our work with disillusioned young people in Suffolk. But there is one, as this Interviewing Skills delegate ably illustrates:

“I did my first training course in 1991 and have done hundreds in the interim… I can honestly say this is the best format of training I have ever attended. Most trainers have to drag information from a reluctant audience. By using actors and asking for observations, Enact ran a very interactive and valuable session.”

See what I mean? Using a drama-based approach gets through to people. It’s out of the ordinary and it works because it engages people like nothing else. Disaffected young people, busy employees, most everybody, it doesn’t matter. It gets people thinking, and feeling, and that makes it that bit more likely that it’s going to make a positive difference.

And that’s why I do it. I want Enact to make a real difference!!