Does Unconscious Bias Training Work?

Will this solution work?  This is the most important question you can ever ask.

One of the benefits of taking a science based approach to harassment training is that you not only can more effectively stop harassment and bullying, you can also improve your team diversity.  Harassment and discrimination suppress diversity. It's part of the mix of why creating diverse yet cohesive work teams is so difficult. 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission published a report on the effectiveness of unconscious bias training - looking at the actual evidence on whether they work or not.

It's worth reading but here are the highlights of the findings. Training can improve awareness of unconscious bias. But, if you want behavioral change – you need to have a behavioral training and finally – there is no difference in learning between online and face to face learning outcomes on this topic.

Regarding whether it was mandatory or voluntary. Mandatory training is more likely to lead to behavioral change AND – team trainings are effective because they help the team self reinforce the learning.

One of the reasons I feel ok offering online training, is because it's as effective as face to face training in this area.  See: Box 8. Comparing methods of delivery of UBT
(This study was rated at MSSM Level 3, ‘moderately rigorous’)
Google (2013) conducted an experiment in the US to evaluate whether their UBT
workshop met the training’s aims of increased awareness and understanding of
unconscious bias and motivation to overcome it. Participants were randomly
allocated to one of three groups: participation in a live workshop, online self-study
video of the workshop, or no UBT (control group). A self-report survey was used to
measure participants’ awareness and understanding of unconscious bias and
motivation to overcome it. Participants’ awareness and understanding of
unconscious bias and motivation to overcome it were significantly higher post-test
compared with pre-test in both online and face-to-face groups, compared with the
control group. Results persisted one month after the workshop. Notably, face-toface
training did not yield stronger effects than online training.

Bias reduction strategies are scientific, evidence based methods for decreasing levels of implicit bias (for example, challenging participants’ unconscious negative thinking by presenting positive counter stereotypic images). In their rapid evidence assessment Cornish and Jones (2013)
identify a range of bias reduction strategies from the scientific research:

● Discounting commonly held stereotypes using positive and counter
stereotypic images.
● Changing how an outgroup member is evaluated and categorised through the
use of evaluative conditioning.
- Here, participants are exposed to repeated pairing of images of
outgroup members with positive images but in a way that disguises the
purpose of the activity from participants.
● Increasing contact between different groups to change the level of threat
evoked in the presence of an outgroup member.
● Encouraging people to take responsibility for their implicit biases by using
cognitive strategies such as implementation intentions (if-then action plans)
and appropriate attributions for outgroup behaviour.
● Encouraging participants to choose valuing diversity freely rather than through
fear of external sanction, or choosing a multicultural, rather than a colourblind,
approach to diversity.

If you are looking for an online unconcious bias training - I offer one and it can  be bundled with other training programs to help staff not just become aware of their biases, but help them develop positive strategies and skills for dealing with differences so that they can overcome their biases.

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