Overcoming Unconscious Bias Sasha Scott & Damian Jenkins
You can change your filters • A change in your own circumstances, or new experiences, can realign what your brain pays attention to • They can also alter the way it responds to different cues
Steps to take • Be alert to bias – AWARENESS • Practice retraining your brain – MINDFULNESS • Bring about practices that prevent bias affecting an outcome – RESOURCEFULNESS
Acknowledge your biases • Starts by understanding that we all have biases • Actively look for biases in your decision making process • Questions where the biases came from • Learned from experience? • Does the bias apply to all people of that group? • What can you do to move beyond the bias? • This is a slow process but gets quicker
Awareness • Take an implicit bias test (Harvard Implicit Bias Test) • Identify how you learned your biases • Individual workbook questions up to and including page 4. [5 minutes. Go!] • Beware your defensive nature • Now recall situations in which you will have sought out your kinship group (Page 5)
How might you respond to someone from a different kinship group? • Attempt question on Pg 6 • The outcome of interviews and appraisals can be highly influenced by biases
Mindfulness • This means dissecting your decision making CONSCIOUSLY • Try question on page 7 about people who are overweight • What did you come up with?
Ask yourself • Take any one of the adjectives that you listed • Does that word apply to all overweight people? • If no, why do you hold that bias? • Would it be better to see the individual rather than the characteristic? • If you do this in your daily life it will allow you to pause and be objective
Question yourself • How many people do I know that conform to this bias? • How many people do I know that do not conform to this bias?
Finally for this booklet • Look at the last page • In groups of four allocate the words in the box to the faces • What do you notice?
Most people notice • That, within their groups, people wanted to attach words to different faces • For certain words you were more certain about which face to attach them to • This demonstrates several of the concepts we previously learned about
These concepts are: 1. Ambiguity exists when you have no experience of a particular group of people. When this is the case you resort to schemas to make their decisions. These may be wildly wrong. 2. Some biases are very strong, because of hard wiring. The old, but fast, brain is making these decisions for you.
Unconscious brain links trustworthiness to up-arching eyebrows and neutral or smiling lips • If you exaggerate these features you get a happy face • If you invert these features you get an angry face
Resourcefulness See the individual • Study participants viewed photos of unfamiliar black and white faces • Brain response measured • Shown faces again. This time given some personal information about individual
Resourcefulness – be positive • When you come to think critically of some one STOP. • Are you critical because of the way they look or their behaviour? • Could you be misreading that person? • If you had to say something positive what might it be?
Endorse Micro-affirmations • Provide little acknowledgments of people’s contributions and accomplishments • Give public recognition: commend people on the spot • Provide an ear or a shoulder when needed
Changes to your organisation • Encourage others to take an implicit bias test • Discuss your results • Have a frank conversation about they way you currently view people based on their age, gender, colour, religion, sexuality. As a team decide which views are reasonable and which you should challenge
Reframe the conversation • Don’t do this because of some legal necessity • Don’t talk in terms of discrimination • Instead get your message out in terms of fair treatment and respect • Do it because it is the right thing to do • When people get angry/revolt ask them to stop and question why that is their response
Challenge • Other people’s treatment of people from minority groups • Negative language and stereotypes: if you don’t know a lesbian how can you know if the stereotype you talk about is real or not? • Language really does matter – don’t diminish the effect you have on others
Create • A culture of acceptance • If there is one bisexual man in your unit his fitting in depends on how open to diversity your unit is. It is NOT based on how hard he tries to fit in. • Opportunities for people of different kinship groups to interact and debunk myths
Celebrate • Your unit’s diversity and the Army’s diversity • Advertise these groups proudly. Don’t leave promoting diversity groups to the one of two ‘diverse’ individuals • Acknowledge people’s work in inclusivity and diversity when writing their reports: make it something you take seriously when reviewing who should go forward for promotion • Get messages from the CO that are positive and welcoming – not legal speak.
Scrutinise • How you perform your MPARs and reports • How you decide who goes forward for courses • Does your unit use the same formula each time? • The language used in performance reviews (perky, flamboyant, nice, aggressive, loud etc.) • Yourself for biases when performing appraisals
Commission services • Get in house training • Address stereotypes • Promote an understanding of unconscious bias • Provide tools for relearning biases
Gauge your successes • Anonymous, in house surveys • Are you treated differently based on..? • Have you had negative experiences because of..? • Do colleagues interrupt bad behaviours? • Does the CoC actively promote diversity? • Don’t rely on complaints or lack of them
Enacting policy alone is a key element of failure Gay male soldier receives positive feedback because people worry about having frank discussion about shortcomings. Lack of opportunity to grow reflects in average grades. He approaches his OC to ask what he can do to promote. Problem solving approach Risk management approach OC document interactions. May seek advice from RCMO/RAO because of fear ‘gay card’ may be played. Average grades used to explain lack of promotion. No obvious growth areas identified. Soldier stalls. OC reflects on unconscious biases. Realises previous appraisals have not highlighted areas for betterment. Realises this was from fear of ‘being hard’ on soldier. Distributes new assignments and helps guide him through. Grade improvement and potential for promotion gained.
Unconscious Bias Tool Kit • Eliminate your own biases • Provide a work environment that is welcoming • Do not put onus of diversity onto the few individuals who are different • Offer meaningful work and honest feedback to everyone • Provide mentors • Be mentored • Foster cultural awareness: ensure staff interact with people from minority groups • Change ‘necessary diversity training’ (MATT 6) to interactive training that allows between-group mixing/interaction • Ensure those who manage careers are truly on board with E&D • Reward people who make a commitment to E&D
Help people be themselves 10 things you can say to someone who comes out: 1. Nothing - It’s fine to take a moment and take it in before you respond, so you don’t blurt out something you don’t mean. But eventually you will have to say something 2. Thanks for trusting me enough to tell me 3. I’m listening and here if you want to talk 4. It’s really great that you’re being true to who you are 5. I don’t know many gay people, please let me know if I do or say anything that offends you. I wouldn’t want to say anything that upsets you 6. I’m not sure what the right thing is to say, but I want to be here and supportive for you 7. How can I support you? 8. Are you comfortable with other people knowing, or do you want to be the one to tell people? 9. Have you come out to anyone else? How’s that been? 10. Cool. This doesn’t change how I feel about you. Hope we’re still going for that drink on Friday night?
Top 10 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Comes Out to You 1. You’re one of them? 2. That’s immoral 3. But you’ve got children 4. You’re just confused 5. You can’t be gay, you used to have a boyfriend/girlfriend 6. Have you tried talking to a professional about this?, maybe they can help you 7. It’s probably just a phase 8. But you’re so pretty, lots of men here like you, you don’t have to be a lesbian 9. What? You’re gay, but we go to the gym together. Does that mean you’ve been looking at me ‘that way’ all the time? 10. How long have you known you were … you know?
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it.. • Within the next two weeks, identify personal behaviors that are consistent with bias and commit to deliberately changing at least one of those behaviors. • Pursue strategies in your work setting that will encourage others to undertake behaviors that are inconsistent with bias. • Display counter-bias material at work.