Gloucester (UK), December 2018 - The increasingly well-known eLearning supplier Engage in Learning has announced that it will be releasing a new course on unconscious bias in January. While Engage in Learning’s existing programme on unconscious bias is intended for managers, the new course is focused on helping all levels of staff to identify unconscious bias – and take steps of overcome it.
Kate Carter, Engage in Learning’s Operations and Marketing Manager, commented, "Unconscious biases are the deep-seated prejudices that encourage us to favour others who look, speak, or act like us and appear to share our values. We all have these biases – even if we don’t know we have them – and they can affect how we treat other people.
"We need these biases to help us make some sense of the world since, typically, our senses send around 11 million bits of information to our brain every second and our conscious can only process about half of this data. The brain uses the rest of his information to recognise patterns and make generalisations based on similar data from past experiences, which is useful because it can help us survive in the wild.
"These biases are based on what we can observe through our senses: from innate physical characteristics to someone’s name and from cultural values to the way someone dresses,” she continued. "Unconscious bias can become a problem if we use it to justify treating others hurtfully or without respect.
"This is especially true where staff deal with the public, customers, and stakeholders because customer service staff are the face of the brand. Their attitudes and actions represent the organisation on a personal and daily basis."
Kate added, "Other consequences of letting unconscious bias prevail in a work context include producing a less diverse – and diversely talented - workforce. Moreover, talented workers can be overlooked and discouraged from exhibiting their talents to the organisation’s benefit."
The new Engage in Learning course has been specifically designed to enable all customer-facing staff to recognise and challenge their unconscious biases. Using familiar, everyday scenarios, the course recreates situations showing bias in action, the effect that this has, and the ways in which this bias can be challenged to produce a more harmonious, productive, and satisfactory outcome.
When trying to prevent displays of unconscious bias or reduce the damage it does, it can help if you try your best to follow these tips:
- Recognise that unconscious bias exists and always tries to manifest itself in the guise of perceived (but incomplete) evidence, efficiency, effectiveness, and expediency.
- Realise that stress or tiredness tends to increase the likelihood of decisions being based on unconscious bias.
- Try never to take decisions when you’re stressed or tired – and, if you do, be aware that your decisions at these times can easily be influenced by unconscious bias.
- Take time to consider issues carefully, rationally and as objectively as possible
- Use only hard evidence to justify decisions - and record the reasons for your decisions
- Focus on people’s positive behaviour and not on negative stereotypes.
- In the interests of fairness, remove any and all information that could unintentionally bias a decision maker.
- Get to know a wider range of people as individuals.
In addition to the usual post-test at the end of the course to help cement learning, learners can take a special test within this Engage in Learning course. This test is intended to help learners identify their own unconscious biases, determine ways to eliminate these, and suggest how they can improve their overall attitude to customers and colleagues.
"Ultimately, this should benefit both the learner and their organisation," said Chris Horseman, Engage in Learning’s CEO. "Eliminating unconscious bias on a personal and organisational level should reduce tensions between colleagues; lead to a lower rate of staff absence; improve collaboration, productivity and, thereby, profitability; enhance reputations and brand value – along with a number of other positive benefits."
The new unconscious bias programme – along with Engage in Learning’s extensive, and extending, programme portfolio – will be on show at stand H05 at the Learning Technologies event in London’s Excel, 13-14 February 2019.