Beyond Unconscious Bias

Highly inclusive leaders are aware of conscious and unconscious biases and organisational blind spots and are prepared to act. They realise that teams and organisations have unconscious biases built in because they are comprised of people. We’re working in a context of conscious and unconscious biases that have been centuries in the making and in the embedding in our psyches. The first step is acknowledging that fact.

This step must be closely followed by the awareness that biases do not only create incidents of discrimination, micro-aggressions, groupism, and other detrimental actions. They also are key building blocks of your organisational culture. They are critical elements that inform how people see the world, themselves and others. They tell us how to think and condition our attitudes, our values and our behaviours. They talk to us of what is ‘normal’; they establish cultural and social norms.

So, we must go beyond unconscious bias and address these exclusionary cultural and social norms.

The starting point is not to simply implement programmes to train people on unconscious bias or diversity. Research with 3,016 employees across 63 countries, by University of Pennsylvania doctoral candidate Edward Chang, has shown that whilst these may influence some shifts in expressed attitudes, those changes did not result in any widely adopted behavioural changes.

This is not to say that training is not an important part of the equation; it is simply to say that on its own, it rarely works. Training needs to be part of an integrated, company-wide strategy that develops a culture of true inclusion; that develops a set of organisational cultural and social norms that engender inclusion.

The starting point of this process is to ensure your leaders are inclusive leaders who model those cultural and social norms. Our Inclusive Leadership Coaching will support your leadership team to become such leaders.

From there, having a deep understanding of the culture within your organisation will provide the information you need to address the cultural and social norms that inhibit and actively damage inclusion.

Our Inclusive Culture Research Service can provide you with the in-depth cultural knowledge you need to create a truly inclusive organisation.