Embracing Unconscious Bias Training

Embracing Unconscious Bias Training

BY NANCY NAZAR

Employees are reflective of the communities they serve. What’s more, research shows that gender and ethnically diverse teams have improved performance compared to those that are not; and where diversity of thought is valued, employees have greater feelings of inclusion. When company leaders exhibit behaviors, such as open communication, accountability and unbiased decisionmaking, their teams have higher feelings of inclusion. Higher inclusion scores can also be linked to increased team effectiveness and job performance.

For organizations, ensuring that all your employees feel they belong and are valued should be a priority. This is where Unconscious Bias in-person training comes into play. Following are five helpful tips for developing an Unconscious Bias training program.

1 IDENTIFY TOP TEAM PERFORMANCE DRIVERS

If you have a Research & Advisory team, conduct in-house research to identify the top drivers of team performance. For example, our own team found that Inclusion and Trust were the top drivers among Rogers Communications employees. This finding uncovered the opportunity to bring the Unconscious Bias conversation to our leaders first and then to the rest of the company.

2 INVOLVE ALL DEPARTMENTS

Assemble a truly collaborative and multi-disciplinary team of different experts in-house from different departments, such as Research & Advisory, Inclusion & Diversity, Organizational Effectiveness, Leadership Development, etc. When designing this type of learning experience, make sure to create a psychologically safe environment where people can be vulnerable, open themselves up and share their own unique experiences.

3 TAKE A TOP-DOWN APPROACH

Have your senior leaders begin the sessions and share their experiences. Take a leaders-teaching-leaders approach, so that the tone is set by them in an effort to rally everyone behind this effort.

4 FOCUS ON THE ENDGAME

Your ultimate goal should be to not only link the conversation to each person’s life, but also to business outcomes and customer experiences. Thus, your design principles should first include grounding people in non-judgemental facts, using neuroscience to show why it affects us and how Unconscious Bias is a natural outcome of how the mind works that can be both helpful and harmful. Second, ask them to bring in their own lens and experiences to the table and identify how they may have been impacted or affected other people by Unconscious Bias. Third, focus on why it matters to them by discussing your people processes (i.e., talent and performance reviews, hiring, compensation), day-to-day interactions and customer interactions, allowing participants to bring in their own experiences once again.

Because this is experiential, don’t expect everyone to walk away with the same learning. It should be intended to lead to transformational learning by helping people construct new concepts and take away their own conclusions.

5 CREATE AN ACTION PLAN

After the session, encourage participants to create a personalized action plan and provide them with tools to help them avoid making biased decisions during talent and performance calibrations. Also, provide them with guides to have open dialogue with their own teams and continue promoting the conversation company-wide.

Next, measure the impact of your program by tracking completion and learner satisfaction, as well as the longterm impact in your engagement and inclusion indexes. Lastly, track employees’ feelings of inclusion by incorporating different questions into an engagement survey and continue to expand your reach to more employees.

By establishing Unconscious Bias training within your company, you’re on your way to creating a more inclusive culture for all.

— Nancy Nazar is Senior Vice President, Organization Development at Rogers Communications.

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