Jury out on unconscious bias training

A new report looks at what works for diversity and inclusion.



The effectiveness of unconscious bias training is questionable and it may lead to greater observed bias in some cases, according to a new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The report, Diversity management that works, says that a perspective-taking approach which aims to raise awareness and empathy could be more productive.

It calls for the integration of diversity training into other D&I practices, an end to  one-off training scheme approach and a focus on continuous, blended [mixing online, face to face and other types of learning] training and a focus on perspective taking where people envisage the experience of others. It advises avoiding learning materials that suggest psychological biases are permanent as this can increase prejudice. It says training should be tailored to specific roles and people and that it should be regularly evaluated.

The report emphasises the need for better people data and more research, for instance, on the effectiveness of D&I strategies across contexts. It adds that, if targets are to be used to good effect, they need to be informed by good-quality workforce data on which groups are underrepresented.

The report also says employers should not jump to ‘best practice’ solutions “in blind faith”. It says “practices should be viewed as either more or less promising based on research evidence and their relevance assessed against the organisation’s context”.

It calls for positive action and a consistent, company-wide set of guiding values and principles on diversity and inclusion which can then be adapted for local contexts and it says managers at all levels need to be brought on board carefully and given some sense of ability to shape policy within a loose framework set by senior managers.

Meanwhile, a new report from Glassdoor finds employees are feeling increasingly pessimistic about the state of diversity at their companies, with 26 percent of employee reviews on Glassdoor speaking about diversity at their company negatively.

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