How to Manage Your Unconscious Bias Training Program

It took a long time for this reality to kick in, but diversity and inclusion practitioners are coming around to the notion that mandatory unconscious bias training does not work. Some would say even optional unconscious bias training is not effective since it simply raises awareness of unconscious bias without changing the behaviors that cause unconscious bias.

Most studies show that the best way to confront unconscious bias in the workplace is through mentoring and network programs, diversity advisory councils, employee associations and having a chief executive officer for diversity and inclusion.

Those of us in the federal government understand that unconscious bias training is not going anywhere anytime soon. Why is that, you may ask– because bureaucracies are often inefficient and resistant to change.

This is where Emtrain comes in. It is an organization that provides empowerment strategies for responding to legal risks associated with workplace and sexual harassment, ethics and unconscious bias issues with a neat little model on how to frame your workplace’s unconscious bias training.

Make it Optional
Addressing unconscious bias has to flow through intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation. Folks have to want to get better at combating unconscious bias because they want to not because they are required to attend a mandatory training.

The hope here is to create a crowdsourced organic response to unconscious bias training where peer pressure influences the spread of the unconscious bias gospel as opposed to compulsory educational sessions.

Make it Personal
Diversity and inclusion consultant, Howard Ross has some recommendations on how to personalize your unconscious awareness training program. He recommends you admit you are biased. Once you make that realization, shine the flashlight on those things that make you biased. Push the bias into the conscious realm so you can do something about it. Make peace with the uncertainty that unconscious bias brings. Confront the pain and discomfort of your new reality. And lastly, make relationships with people who are different from you by identifying role models within those groups.

Make it Bottom Up
No amount of top down bureaucratic messaging will reduce unconscious bias. The discussion has to flow from the grassroots portion of the organization since they are located in the part of the workplace where unconscious bias raises its ugly head. The culture and climate have to be framed in a way that sustains an ongoing discussion on unconscious bias rather than a boring sermon on high that is dead on arrival.

When it come the unconscious bias training, make it optional, make it personal and make it bottom up. Who knows, you may perfect the next great model of unconscious bias training whether we are ready for it or not.

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