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Unconscious Bias is here to stay?

I sometimes wonder why companies invest huge amounts of money in Unconscious bias training. True, it can help to uncover those thoughts we invisibly believe and are stored away in the deep recesses of our brain only to come out now and again when we least expect it.

Many companies believe this training is the be all and end all and will solve the issue.

But what happens when everyone goes back into the workplace, hyped up by the self-awareness with good intentions. I’ve seen the excitement and chatter post training on Bias, the hot topic at Company meetings, all to disappear in a few weeks, months or if we are lucky longer.

I recall quite a few years ago, when an external speaker came in to deliver a very short Unconscious Bias session at a Global Leadership meeting.

But our deep-rooted beliefs, those self-prophecies which we ultimately believe to be true are still there. It was obviously HOT TOPIC at the time and designed no doubt to prove that the Leadership took this seriously. Salute the fact that it was delivered top down. I recall the experience of being the only female of colour in that fifty plus strong leadership team. I also recall looking around, the uncomfortableness, and the squirming in the seats, mainly the white males. Something must have hit home. Were their unconscious bias gremlins coming out of the deep recesses of their brains? Were their unconscious thoughts actually become conscious, and they did not like it. I laughed silently inside.

What we need to be aware of is that our bias, which are deep-rooted beliefs, self-prophecies are still there. Created from life events, or a misconception of someone or a group of people.

We hold bias against a whole range of people based on race, religion, dress size, age, gender, how they talk, their height, the number of spots they have on their face, where they live and so on. Certainly not helped by the media and its portrayal.

BUT ultimately, Bias is hard to shift. Unconscious Bias training will not solve. It will bring the topic to the surface and open up awareness, but It will not help to

eradicate our deep held beliefs, until someone or something gives us a reason in thinking differently and why we are wrong to think that way.

Organisations today have a multi-cultural, diverse employee base, so why they don’t they do more in creating opportunities to learn and understand why people and cultures are the way they are. Use online collaboration and stories to bring different perspectives and cultures together.

Most of the time, we don’t even have an opportunity to learn more about or even engage properly with our bias, so we continue to believe what we believe as true. And in continuing to believe our bias, we focus more on what makes us different, than understanding and appreciating what makes us similar. Only then will we see a marked change in how we perceive others.

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