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Can unconscious bias Training lead to lasting behavioural change?

Coreen Nugent, Director - Opt for Learning

Discussions around the relevance of Unconscious Bias Training (UBT) rightly highlight longstanding issues with equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace, including the challenges of creating an open workplace culture and the limitations of the one-off training course.

Implementing better development strategies to inspire the meaningful and lasting behavioural changes that form the core of a diverse, inclusive, and thriving business is now a priority.

The post-lockdown workplace, a hybrid of in-person and virtual spaces, and new ways of working, has created the right moment and environment for a fresh approach where elements of UBT can be easily assimilated into all aspects of business development.

Well-designed, flexible, and engaging initiatives, slotted into regular team meetings and development initiatives, adaptable to all levels, and with minimal burden on workload offer the opportunity to explore UBT in a way that will allow the whole team to understand what is acceptable and why. It can also provide the opportunity to create a workplace culture that fully reflects company values.

Specially designed, with measurable outcomes in the wider framework of business plans, compact and energising activities exploring prejudice, discrimination and understanding different perspectives can be absorbed into all development initiatives.

One example, as we adjust to the hybrid workplace, could be a programme of short, structured, and engaging conversations and activities on the topic of banter at work. Returning to work after furlough, starting with a new employer during lockdown, adapting to new ways of working, the increased potential for stress and anxiety, may mean ‘office etiquette’ is unfamiliar terrain, with the increased risk that we might over-step the mark as we re-establish our rapport with colleagues.  Short activities, adaptable to any level of discussion, such as a basic starting point to get the conversation started or extended to a higher level to inspire workers to embody new behaviours can be easily absorbed into everyday working practices.

With initial expert support to design integrated and engaging development initiatives the business will see a return on the modest time and financial investments required which, in turn will create a more productive and safer environment for both the company and its employees to thrive.

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