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The above question is one that I am asked most frequently.
Many of you will recall last year the coffee shop, Starbucks, closed more than 8,000 of its stores in the United States to provide “racial bias” training for its 175,000 employees. Starbucks’ Chief Operating Officer, Roz Brewer, said the sessions would focus on “unconscious bias training,” a form of diversity education that focuses on the hidden causes of everyday racial discrimination. But does such equality, diversity and inclusion training work? Does the training change attitudes, let alone behaviour?
So, what does the evidence tells us? Let me point to four examples:
So, the picture is mixed but how many of us measure the impact of equality, diversity and inclusion interventions and training? My gut feeling from experience and speaking to many in the field is not many.
This then leads me to an excellent article titled ‘Designing a bias free organisation, Iris Bohnet. She argues that rather than run more workshops or try to eradicate the biases that cause discrimination, organisations need to redesign their processes to prevent biased choices in the first place. Interestingly she recommends the following:
Lastly, and perhaps crucially, much of the training and associated activities with equality and diversity training does not force us to look at the reality as it stands and really face the true picture of workplace exclusion and inequity. It allows organisations to feel like they are doing a lot whilst in reality very little changes.
To my mind, given the evidence at hand, we should consider focusing on organisational design through evaluation and data and on the environment through the use of behavioural science techniques to help make organisations more equitable and inclusive. In doing so we will be able to demonstrate better evidence-based practice
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