Bias training often is seen as a waste of time and resources since there often are no quantifiable outcomes that demonstrate the value of the training. The unrealized rising expectations of diversity training can be demoralizing to the participants and fail to fulfill the organization’s reason for providing the training. Unconscious bias (UB)—also known as implicit bias and cognitive bias—training, if done well, provides the opportunity for managers to delve deep into the neuroscience of the inherent nature of their biases and those they manage, and learn how UB can hinder or enhance the overall success of their organization. Check out this previous Best Practices article on UB Training at: http://pubs.royle.com/publication/?i=215708&p=64.
Unconscious bias training should provide exercises that help participants experience the emotions associated with being on the receiving end of negative or positive biases. The experience should create action plans for incorporating behavioral changes into the managers’ work responsibilities, including hiring, promotions, salary increases, developmental opportunities, giving visibility, and other areas where managers make a difference. Behavioral changes are created during the action plan phase that can be implemented into systemic company policies governing key programs such as recruitment policies and performance reviews.
PERSONAL ACTION PLANNING PROCESS
UB training begins with a focus on a Personal Action Planning Process that creates a customized roadmap for managers to address unconscious bias and gain traction for creating sustainable practices to help others succeed. It is through the practice of the new skills developed during the program, and their resulting action plans, that managers will alter the future of their organization. A key focus of this training is to help managers learn to help others bridge differences through improved coaching and collaboration skills. Application of skills can be as simple as seeking out the opinions of others, paying more attention to underrepresented group members at meetings, and thousands of acts that promote a genuinely more inclusive environment.
The action plans should focus on individual and team actions to be taken as a result of the program. Following the Personal Action Planning Process, the training program should reinforce action planning enabling the trainee to:
Align personal objectives and development plans against the program’s key learning.
Establish personal actions and timelines reinforcing the training session outcomes and likelihood for follow-up.
- Identify metrics for achieving the participants’ action plans.
Based on hundreds of successful UB training programs, here is a sample of potential measurable outcomes:
- Larger pools of diverse qualified candidates
- Expanding the talent pool through innovative outreach initiatives
- Development of the best talent through bias-free evaluations
- Increased creativity and innovation across various departments: marketing, product development, IT, analytics, finance, etc.
- Lower turnover rates and longer retention rates
- Greater equity in salaries for women and other underrepresented groups
- Higher engagement scores—noted internally and externally via social media such as Glass Ceiling
- Increased memberships in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
- Greater co ntributions ofERGs to the bottom line
- Managers joining ERGs for groups different than their own
- Decreased lawsuits related to personnel complaints
- Increased profits in various sectors serving diverse populations in product sales and services
- Improvements to application forms and interviewing processes that reduce bias
- Corporate communications focusing on how to identify and mitigate UB
- Designated phone lines where employees can confidentially leave comments about a particular policy or occurrence
- Monthly employee/manager/other department (executive/HR) group meetings to review and discuss key concepts and develop new ways to value differences
All of these metrics are directly related to the company’s competitiveness. Creating and sustaining actions, policies, and mindsets that affect the above noted tangibles is the goal of this training.
During the training program, individual and team action plans can be shared with a peer coach or team members. After the training, participants should be encouraged to share their applications, challenges, and best practices through internal communications and social media sites established for this purpose by the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) office. Successful applications and best practices can be communicated across the organization to improve overall awareness of the importance of UB and the organization’s commitment to inclusion.
DEVELOPING MINDFUL MANAGERS
Conducted by Level Playing Field, the Corporate Leavers Study of more than 2 million employees and managers who voluntarily left their job due to unfairness found that such turnover cost corporations more than $64 billion. A UB program such as the one described above will help an organization develop a cohort of managers who are mindful of their biases, and who will, through their actions, create an inclusive environment where all present and future employees feel welcome and enthusiastic about contributing to their company’s future success.
Please share your unconscious bias experiences and your insights for future columns with me at: Ngoodman@global-dynamics.com.
Neal Goodman, Ph.D., is president of Global Dynamics, Inc., a training and development firm specializing in globalization, cultural intelligence, effective virtual workplaces, and diversity and inclusion. He can be reached at 305.682.7883 and at email@example.com. For more information, visit http://www.global-dynamics.com.