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!

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