Importance of Unconscious Bias Training

by Mar 6, 2023

Everyone has unconscious biases, whether we acknowledge them or not. Bias, if recognized, might restrict your ability to connect with people or destroy existing ties. Personal preferences can impair work performance in all professionals, but notably in leaders and hiring managers.

Acknowledging unconscious bias as a factor that can lead to discrimination claims or societal inequalities, organizations have begun to provide unconscious bias training in an effort to assist employees, particularly managers and senior leaders, in recognizing their own unconscious biases and taking steps to mitigate or overcome them.


How biases damage our business and relationships!

Unconscious or implicit, bias in the workplace has been identified as a persistent force inside many companies that results in judgments that favor one group of people over another—not with intent, but quite innocently. 

Consider that the yearly cost of workplace prejudice is estimated to be $64 billion. This is calculated based on the cost of losing and replacing more than 2 million American workers as a result of injustice and discrimination. This figure excludes legal expenses, which occur when firms defend themselves or face fines when an employee’s biases lead to illegal activity.

The way we judge talent, performance, assignments, and promotions is influenced by unconscious bias. Here are a couple of such examples:


How does it affect teamwork?

Bias in the recruiting process and afterward inside office premises has long taken a toll on employees, particularly among workers who do not feel adequately connected – as if they had to work twice as hard to get half as far.

Employees that are subjected to bias actively disengage and minimize their contributions. 3,570 individuals, including men, women, African Americans, Caucasians, Asians, and Hispanics, were conducted. [6] They ranged in age from 21 to 65. They were also all full-time employees in white-collar jobs with at least a bachelor’s degree.

The following are the findings of individuals who reported workplace bias:

  • 33% are dissatisfied with their current situation.
  • 34% withhold thoughts and solutions.
  • 80% would not recommend their employer to others.


How does it affect bottom-line results?

While implicit bias has a considerable influence from the bottom up, it also impacts the top down. Many studies show that unconscious discrimination contributes to a lack of diversity in boardrooms and executive suites, which hampers performance and allows more diverse businesses to gain an advantage. According to McKinsey & Company’s 2018 Delivering Through Diversity study, organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to achieve above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile. For businesses in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity on their executive teams, the probability of outperformance rose to 33%.

These findings imply that unconscious bias is already present in your organization. Aside from the danger of litigation, noncompliance, and reputational harm, all of which may be disastrous on their own, unconscious bias has a direct financial impact on performance. It is costly and pernicious, influencing almost every aspect of shareholder value, from innovation and revenue growth to staff retention and engagement.


What is the value of training people leaders in unconscious bias?

To begin, Carla Pollard-Stewart, senior HR director at healthcare technology firm bswift, stated that unconscious bias training begins with addressing individuals who are different than you with greater openness and empathy. “It allows us all to temper our biases so that we can all appreciate and learn from one other’s differences in positive ways,” she added.

Unconscious bias training is essential for leaders, especially given the vast range of viewpoints and ideas prevalent in a workforce. This training can assist us in bringing forward and identifying our preconceptions, allowing us to better prevent them from interfering with or playing a part in critical decisions we make on a daily basis in the workplace. The knowledge we get from working with people from various backgrounds is essential to our personal and professional development.


Training and education are the keys to overcoming bias. 

Fostering workplace diversity entails more than just having a diversified staff. It also necessitates efforts to create a more inclusive workplace where all individuals, particularly those from marginalized groups, feel at ease and appreciated. Leaders who get practical diversity training develop the habit of thinking about inclusion and how they can take measures to make the workplace more inclusive for all.

For Civility Partners, diversity and inclusion provide us ample opportunity to build a diverse workforce that brings the diversity of thought and perspective, resulting in more incredible innovation and high-quality client service. We offer three different pieces of training to equip you with diversity and inclusion concepts.

1. Virtual Diversity & Inclusion Literacy Training: 120 minutes (up to 100 participants)

This training will allow all employees to have shared language and definitions and create a culture where brave conversations are less risky.

2.  Virtual Diversity & Inclusion Action Training: 120 minutes (up to 20 participants only)

To equip the D&I Committee with practical tools to apply diversity and inclusion lenses in everyday work for hiring, promoting, selling, and marketing decisions.

3.  How to Recognize and Combat Unconscious Bias Training: 120 minutes (up to 20 participants only)

At Civility Partners, we believe that everyone is a leader. Our two-hour virtual training helps you design an environment of collective accountability and advocacy instead of waiting for the senior leadership team to create change and inclusion.


So, Is Unconscious Bias Training Effective? 

Yes, but only if it is part of a long-term, deliberate effort to foster a welcoming workplace culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our courses provide a simplified user experience, including unconscious bias training activities designed to engage all of your staff and assure student understanding by measuring progress at each stage.

Ultimately, it is critical for today’s businesses to use the proper tools and resources, such as unconscious bias training, to build a work environment founded on tolerance, creativity, and a commitment to organizational success.

When it comes to DEI, language matters…and it’s constantly evolving. Are you using the right terminology in your organization? Download our DEI Terminology Cheat Sheet and see how you stack up.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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