Unconscious bias training “a bit of a fad”

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A recently released survey suggests HR professionals have challenges ahead in terms of addressing discrimination in the workplace.

It found that less than a third (31 per cent) of organizations responded that they address the needs of a culturally diverse workforce.

Moreover, it concluded that many organisations fail to adopt “measureable goals and accountabilities” related to their diversity and inclusion policies.

Dimitria Groutsis, senior lecturer in the discipline of work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney Business School, told HRM that addressing these problems cannot be down to just unconscious bias training which in itself has limitations.  

“I think unconscious bias training has become a bit of a fad and a bit of a buzz word. It’s very fashionable training and development,” she said.

Groutsis added that raising awareness about particular ways of viewing the world is very important and she is not recommending that the training should be done away with altogether. Rather, the anti-discrimination training should acknowledge the conscious side as well.

Groutsis said that unconscious bias training suggests that we’re unconsciously creating bias when sometimes it can actually be conscious.
Women’s access to promotions and pay for instance are structural and systemic barriers which are much more than just unconscious bias, Groutsis explained.

Further, she argued that HR needs to be properly resourced to tackle the situation more effectively.

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