Unconscious Bias Programs

What is Unconscious Bias?

An implicit stereotype is the unconscious attribution of particular qualities to a member of a certain social group. Implicit stereotypes are influenced by experience, and are based on learned associations between various qualities and social categories, including race or gender. Individuals’ perceptions and behaviors can be affected by implicit stereotypes, even without the individuals’ intention or awareness. Implicit stereotypes are an aspect of implicit social cognition, the phenomenon that perceptions, attitudes, and stereotypes operate without conscious intention. The existence of implicit stereotypes is supported by a variety of scientific articles in psychological literature. Implicit stereotype were first defined by psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji in 1995.

Explicit stereotypes are the result of intentional, conscious, and controllable thoughts and beliefs.   Explicit stereotypes usually are directed toward a group of people based on what is being perceived. An example of an explicit stereotype would be that all adolescent girls like to play with dolls and makeup.

Implicit stereotypes are associations learned through past experiences. Implicit stereotypes can be activated by the environment, and operate outside of intentional conscious cognition. For example, we can unconsciously stereotype all pitbulls as being dangerous. This stereotype may be associated with one event that we may have seen in the past, but the source of these associations may be misidentified, or even unknown by the individual who holds them, and can persist even when an individual rejects the stereotype explicitly.

Diversity Australia has delivered many hundreds of educational sessions to pre-eminent organizations around the world.  Awareness education is the foundation for any kind of transformation to occur.  We believe that education is the foundation, organisations must also launch strategic communications and explore structures and systems that keep culture locked in place for lasting change to occur.  The core objectives in our work on “unconscious bias” are to get participants to do the following:

  • Examine their own background and identities, so that they can interact more authentically with co-workers, customers and the community.
  • Explore how the brain functions, so that they can recognize unconscious bias as a natural function of the human mind.
  • Expose patterns of unconscious bias so that they can navigate their impact on their decision-making processes.
  • Confront their own internal biases so that they can practice conscious awareness in their lives.
  • Identify organizational leverage points so that they can mitigate the impact of unconscious bias in interactions, processes and structures.
  • Practice strategies and tools so that they can create transformational systemic change in their organization.

Unconscious Bias in Succession Management

Succession management is perhaps the most important calibration that senior leaders engage in. It is a process rife with bias, especially when leaders support candidates that they know, like, and with whom they have much in common. A word or two, or even a look, can discourage one’s colleagues in perhaps less of a power position to support an alternative path.

This workshop either encompasses the core of unconscious bias, and then focuses on this critical decision process, or can be a targeted workshop. Offering this just prior to succession management reviews has been shown to be a powerful impetus for unexpected decisions.

The workshop will identify how to look for code words, interrupt patterns in process, garner the support of one’s colleagues to mitigate bias, and provides a platform to practice those skills.

Beyond Diversity: Unconscious Bias Foundations Course

Everyone knows that all human beings sometimes feel more comfortable with some people and not with others. We all get “triggered” by exposure to different kinds of people. Unconscious perceptions govern many of the most important decisions we make every day and these perceptions can potentially have a profound effect on our personal and professional lives.

This Diversity Australia workshop provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of “unconscious bias” on our personal beliefs and professional behaviour. In this session, participants will participate in “The Big Decision,” an experiential learning exercise that exposes hidden beliefs and attitudes toward others in the context of talent management. This new higher level of engagement requires an increase of awareness, introspection, authenticity, humility, and compassion in all people. Most of all, this change will require better communication and a sincere commitment to action. Other key takeaways from this session will include a deeper examination of how unconscious bias develops in our minds, where those frameworks come from in our life experience, and the overall impact that “unconscious bias” could have on your bottom-line. We introduce the PAUSE model, and 6 steps for mitigating unconscious bias. Please note the 2 hour version of this course does not include The Big Decision simulation.

Unconscious Bias Webinars

Led by senior consultants, the Diversity Australia unconscious bias webinars are customized to meet our client’s needs and where they currently reside within their unconscious bias organizational journey. These highly interactive webinars may be used to lead dialogue sessions, introduce subject matter, offer more education or complement an existing Diversity Australia solution offering. These webinars can be either live or pre-recorded. The substantive content can be customized for individual clients to include any specific managerial skill related to building an inclusive organisation . Note that these named topics can also be delivered live in a workshop format.

Sample topics recently delivered via webinar:

    • Unconscious Bias and Performance Management
    • Unconscious Bias and Recruitment
    • Unconscious Bias and Succession Management
    • What is Unconscious Bias
    • Cognitive Biases in Decision Making
    • Unconscious Bias and Innovation
    • Leading Inclusive Virtual Meetings

Cognitive Biases in Decision Making

We are all subject to cognitive biases in our decision-making. These, coupled with leader’s tendency to be over-confident in their ability to make decisions, is a formula for making decisions based on the past, familiarity, emotions and comfort.

This engaging workshop builds on the foundational unconscious bias workshop, and asks participants to reflect on recent decisions, analyze them for cognitive biases, and create a strategy for making more grounded decisions moving forward.

The benefit of this inquiry are to make decisions that support the business strategy rather than keep leaders comfortable, drive employee engagement and connectivity and build strategic mindset of leaders by freeing them up from decisions which can be pushed down. This workshop also introduces a decision accountability model that brings clarity to the decision process.