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Unconscious Bias Training

Sean Badley
Peter Bagi

By Sean Badley, Senior Facilitator, and Peter Bagi, Learning Designer,
1 January 2024

In these training sessions, employees learn how to challenge their own biases for a more inclusive workplace.

Unconscious bias training is growing in popularity, as employees call for organisations to challenge systemic bias and build more inclusive workplace cultures. Unconscious bias has an insidious, negative effect on people’s sense of belonging, access to opportunities, and day to day work experience. It can be related to culture, ethnicity, age, ability, location, gender and sexuality, and it leads to feelings of exclusion. Disrupting implicit bias has distinct benefits for organisations, such as a healthier, functional workforce, a more compelling EVP, and increased attraction and retention of talent.

Learn more about unconscious bias in this short 3-minute video.

Program Purpose

The purpose of this program is to help organisations find and challenge existing unconscious biases and develop initiatives to improve inclusion. The future of work is about eradicating unconscious bias and supporting employees to understand each other’s differences and work effectively as a team. This means developing empathy, an appreciation for different needs and perspectives, and implementing practical strategies to improve inclusion.

Working with organisations across Australia, we know the value of an unconscious bias training program and how essential inclusion is to future business success. Here are some reasons why organisations will benefit from removing all forms of bias and encouraging positive behaviour change:

  1. Rise of ‘human skills’: More and more, organisations are helping employees develop both technical skills and soft skills to help navigate diverse workforces. Employees need to understand the value of diverse teams and embrace underrepresented groups. This means representation across ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, age, and ability.
  2. Purpose-led business: Younger generations of employees are seeking organisations that are committed to purpose and are progressive in areas like diversity and inclusion. With purpose and strong commitment to ‘people, planet, profit’, organisations have a significant competitive advantage and a more compelling EVP. Organisations that demonstrate conscious awareness of important social issues will be more attractive and retain their people for longer.
  3. Increased use of global talent: Hybrid working has opened up more opportunities for teams to work across the globe with people of different demographics. Organisations are no longer restricted to local talent pools and can explore their options with digital connectivity being a key driver. Bringing in global talent means it will be even more important to understand the impact of bias and engage in diversity training and inclusion initiatives.
  4. Increased connectivity: Because different groups of people are now working cross-functionally in virtual meetings and online collaboration, an understanding of how to balance a range of personalities and perspectives is important. Teams that are diverse have distinct benefits when it comes to different approaches to problem solving and breakthroughs for innovation.
  5. Leveraging diversity in talent pools: Organisations that understand how to work with neurodiversity and can support people with disability and their accessibility needs, benefit from a more diverse talent pool. This brings in ‘thought diversity’ and helps organisations think about ‘universal design’ and how to build products and services that appeal to the broadest range of people and their needs.

Overall, an organisational focus on eradicating unconscious bias can help leaders reinvent systems and introduce strategies to embed inclusion. With Unconscious Bias Training, coaching sessions, and support from Thinka’s video collection, teams can work toward building a workplace of belonging that is free from racial bias, gender bias and other biases that exclude people and limit opportunities.

Program Benefits

With the help of Unconscious Bias Training, skills that learners can put in place to build an inclusive culture include:

  1. Advocacy: Advocacy is important to raise awareness of inequities in the work environment and challenge them. When minority groups are given access to opportunities, are included and feel a sense of belonging, organisations benefit and every individual benefits. With skills in advocacy, individuals can feel safe to ask for what they or their team needs and bring issues and unconscious bias to light. This allows ‘diversity of thought’ to flourish. 
  2. Collaboration: Employees who can appreciate different needs and perspectives are better able to collaborate with co-workers. Employees with well-developed communication skills know their audience and use an appropriate manner, tone, volume and body language. They also actively include all people in conversations and decision-making. 
  3. Empathy: Finding ways to relate to other people’s experiences and the emotions they are feeling, gives team members a better insight into their co-workers. When this happens, there is more opportunity for connection and collaboration and this in turn means they’re more likely to support each other to achieve outcomes. 
  4. Relationship management: Employees who seek to understand other people and appreciate their differences, are better able to maintain healthy relationships. Team members who apply an inclusion lens to interactions by responding in respectful ways to what people need, build longer-lasting connections. This also has a positive effect on team member mental health. 
  5. Leadership preparation: When employees are well-versed in the concept of unconscious bias and actively contribute to a positive, inclusive workplace culture, they increase the likelihood of being promoted into a leadership position. This gives them greater control over their career journey and helps them access more opportunities.

With unconscious bias training helping to embed behaviour change, organisations are likely to see reductions in exclusionary behaviour and promote the value of constructive, supportive relationships.

Program FAQs

What is Unconscious Bias Training?

Our Unconscious Bias Training is specifically designed for employees to understand the damaging effect of unconscious bias and how it can impact everything from access to opportunities to task assignment to performance reviews. This course aims to provide participants with the strategies, tools and resources to challenge unconscious bias in workplace systems and culture and promote more inclusive behaviours. Our experienced facilitators have worked with many Australian workplaces and will share case studies and stories to help participants follow-up on lessons learned when back in the workplace. We can connect the program to your exisiting DEI metrics or work with you to design an evaluation approach that helps to measure change.

Why should my organisation offer Unconscious Bias Training?

Being part of Unconscious Bias Training helps teams put inclusive practices in place, leading to a greater sense of belonging and job satisfaction. It also helps participants break down barriers that might hold them back from fully admitting to their biases, while keeping it safe for people who experience bias and exclusion. Employees are encouraged to safely learn from personal reflections and in small groups – where the goal is to uproot unconscious bias, recognise where it has come from, and challenge it.

Who can attend Unconscious Bias Training?

This program is designed to be broad and influence organisational change so new, inclusive frameworks can be built. Both leaders and teams can do Thinka’s Unconscious Bias training either together or as separate cohorts. If both leaders and teams do the training together, the small group work can be designed so each group can feel safe to express their real views.

We also have a specific Inclusive Leadership Program that is just for leaders to build skills in leading teams with diversity and inclusion lens. Unconscious bias training can also be integrated into a more generalised leadership program as a specific workshop topic or as theme across the program.

Is Unconscious Bias Training only available in person?

Unconscious Bias Training can be delivered in-person or as online training; depending on the organisation’s set-up. It is typically made up of strategies, discussions and a series of activities to support moves to build an inclusive environment.

The training can be complemented with coaching sessions with a Thinka coach. Coaching plays an important role in challenging old behaviours and helping participants build new inclusive mindsets. The organisation can also choose to support the program with a mentoring initiative, made up of people committed to DEI transformation.

We have also delivered this training as a series of webinars and as online training courses (eLearning modules or video learning), for businesses who are hybrid and dispersed across geographical areas.

Program Case Study

‘Lead for Inclusion and Belonging’ Program with Carsales

 

1. What was the objective?

Carsales was forward-thinking and launched a ‘work from anywhere’ initiative when Covid-19 began. This program was designed to support leaders to consciously champion their team members through the new challenges of being a consistently-moving team that could work fully remote, hybrid or from the office.

Carsales wanted a bespoke program focused on inclusion, belonging and high performance to support this new change. They wanted to engage their leaders with a framework they could use with their teams and actively apply inclusion and belonging strategies to uplift engagement and results.

2. How did we do it?

Thinka designed a unique three-hour virtual workshop that would be rolled out six times across the organisation.

Due to the workshop’s length and the topic’s depth, the content needed to be interactive, informative, and practical. Each session would be made up of 25 participants from various sectors within Carsales, including its incubator programs; so, the workshop needed to create an environment of psychological safety quickly, as the group may not have worked together before.

The workshops included understanding bias, overcoming the challenges of working in a hybrid environment, knowing how to be an advocator and what challenges can stop us from being our most supportive selves. A key part of the workshop was focusing on the future leadership need of being an inclusive leader, and how this is a key skill moving forward in their careers.

3. How was it integrated and what were the results?

In addition to the workshop, Thinka created a ‘Leader Meeting Pack’, which included a guided meeting plan, tools and assets that any leader could pick up and utilise with their team. The language and visuals in the assets were all in Carsales’ branding.

The learnings from the workshop, along with the Leader Meeting Pack, allowed the participants to feel supported in driving initiatives focused on inclusion and belonging. There was a consistently positive response post-workshop from the leaders. Carsales consequently engaged Thinka after the roll-out to design a workshop on ‘Inclusion and Belonging’ aimed at their team members.

Example program

Workshop 1

Raising awareness of types of unconscious bias and their impacts.

  • Explanation of the types of unconscious bias (e.g., affinity bias, proximity bias)
  • Activities for participants to identify and explore their own biases
  • Debriefing and commitment-setting to disrupt bias and start the change

Workshop 2

Going deep and investigating systems and processes to make deeper change.

  • Revisiting the types of unconscious bias and identify systems and processes at risk.
  • Design ways to change systems and processes for equity and fairness.
  • Build a communication plan to roll-out these changes across the business.

    PROGRAM Outline

    Delivery Options

    In Person Program

    In Person

    Virtual Program

    Virtual

    Key Outcomes

    1. Participants understand the types of unconscious bias.

    2. Participants recognise unconscious bias in their own behaviour.

    3. Participants review current systems and processes for bias.

    4. Participants identify strategies and actions for change.

    5. Participants design a comms plan to roll out to the business.

    Possible Inclusions

    1. Activities

    2. Guest speakers

    3. Tools for application

    4. Assets (e.g. eLearning, video)

    5. Coaching

    6. Participant management

    7. Consulting on change management

    8. Comms plan design

    9. Meeting packs

    10. Follow-up support

    Target Audience

    Business-wide or a specific learning audience

    Our in-person delivery option maximises opportunities for robust conversation, experiential activities and intensive group work. This is no ‘death by PowerPoint’ experience – our facilitators are skilled in presenting and leading immersive experiences that get the most out of people. Supported by multimedia, attractive takeaway pages and practical strategies for using back on the job – this in-person approach is valuable for building strong bonds and bringing people together to collaborate.
    Q
    Our virtual delivery option breathes fresh life into the online experience with its almost ‘radio show’ feel. Our expert facilitators use a combination of multimedia, questioning techniques and break out activities to target micro-skills – with a focus on application. Supported by an online platform hosting custom-built materials, participants can be assured of lively, dynamic sessions that have a distinct bias to action. Going virtual keeps program sessions succinct, sharp and focused on targeting particular skills in a dynamic way.
    Q
    Unconscious bias training can be rolled out to a whole business or can be tiered to meet audiences, e.g., team members, leaders or executives (as each audience will have a different level of responsibility with regard to actions and managing change)
    Q