Unconscious bias is one of the ways we make sense of the world. We subconsciously categorise people instantly, before we even know them. And this can be very harmful, as it tends to breed conformity and a lack of diversity. We make unconscious assumptions about people based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic background and mental health amongst other things.
Can an unconscious bias awareness workshop help us identify these biases and stop them? Yes... and no (I know, it's a cop out). By itself, an unconscious bias awareness session might encourage people to think differently for a short time. It might make them aware of their decisions and why they make them. But to have a long-term impact on inclusion and diversity we need to do other stuff as well.
Laughology has been delivering unconscious bias workshops and successful diversity and inclusion programmes in organisations for over ten years. One thing we know that works in tandem with our sessions is a review of economic, social and governance procedures and processes. These reviews should identify systemic bias in recruitment, appraisals, bonuses, promotions etc.
Another element is effective conversations between managers and teams about the informal processes where bias could play a part. These could be selecting project team members, networking locations, organising events and choosing certain suppliers over others. Manager involvement in tackling bias is key.
A third element to increase inclusion is growth mindset. This is the understanding that with hard work everyone can learn, improve, and grow. Organisations with growth mindset cultures are more likely to promote on potential, giving a wider pool of people a chance. But it only works if managers are prepared to coach and develop their people. In doing so organisations will increase innovation and be more inclusive.
Here at Laughology we recognise that we have changes to make to be more inclusive and are constantly reviewing how we do things, how decisions are made and who is at the decision table. We are putting together a Rebel Boardroom; a group of people from a variety of backgrounds who will challenge the decisions we make and the way we think. It’s not enough to say you support diversity, you have to do something about it which is more than ticking a box to say, ‘yep completed the unconscious bias awareness workshop’. We must truly look at ourselves and the way we work, and have a culture open enough to challenge and admit that we could all do better.
To help get you started, we have put our top unconscious bias blogs and case studies together for you to read and over the next few weeks will be sharing further information. Get in touch and ask us a question, we’ll do our best to answer it.