Unconscious Bias Training Exercises

27th August 2019

When delivered alongside a strategy of on-going stakeholder engagement with inclusion goals, unconscious bias training such as our e-learning is beneficial to businesses of all sizes and sectors. We’ve recently explored whether unconscious bias training works and how to make sure it meets your goals and expectations. One of the best ways to engage your employees in learning and development, and to make the content more memorable and useful is to make it as interactive as possible. In this article we offer some practical ideas for interactive unconscious bias exercises engaging people with unconscious bias as part of your training programme.

The Tag Game

Few people like to believe that they display bias in their personal or professional life. But in order to mitigate unconscious bias we need to start by admitting, and accepting, that we all have prejudices and misconceptions both conscious and unconscious. The important thing is that we recognise we have them and how they can impact on the decisions we make. This exercise is a great one for creating a safe, non-judgemental space where people can discover their biases and see how they affect their behaviour and responses. It is a great unconscious bias icebreaker.

The Tag Game involves participants placing a variety of different colour, shape and size badges on their upper body. The group is then encouraged to form smaller groups. There is no talking allowed at this stage and no instructions regarding what criteria should be used to form these groups. Once the groups are formed, instruct the participants to split and form new groups for a further four to six times. More often than not, you’ll find that the groups are formed based on the same shapes and colours rather than seeking out colleagues with different badges. Notably, the group rarely uses other criteria apart from the badges to form these groups. We particularly like this unconscious bias activity as it naturally opens up discussion about social categorisation and how we are predisposed to group bias. From there you can discuss experiences you have had relating to group and unconscious bias and talk about the benefits of diversity and how your business could become a more inclusive workplace.

The Circle of Trust

This is another excellent, and non-confrontational exercise for people to explore their  unconscious bias as well the behaviours and prejudices of their peers. Each participant writes down the names or initials of ten people that they trust who are not from their immediate family. The programme leader then calls out a variety of categories and classifications such as age, gender, accent, native language, profession, ethnicities etc. and each group. Each participant places a tick next to each person on the list who shares that characteristic with them e.g women place a tick next to all female people on their list. The group is then encouraged to evaluate their list and discuss it with the group. In most cases, the group quickly realise how little diversity is shown on their list of trusted people – that their Circle of Trust mainly includes people with backgrounds and characteristics that are similar to their own.

This implicit bias training exercise supports the basis of an honest, progressive discussion about how we form group bonds, how these bonds can unnecessarily exclude others and what steps we can take to extend our trust to people who are from different backgrounds or have different life experiences. It’s important to make sure that all group members understand and appreciate how common these biases are, and that they are not being judged. Unconscious bias is something that we have or have experienced. It is not unusual that our Circles of Trust are formed of people who we easily relate to but our working lives could be enhanced and our organisations more effective and harmonious if we are open to understanding our biases, how they impact on our decisions to support promoting inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.

Online training in unconscious bias

E-learning programmes are widely regarded as one of the most accessible, and effective forms of building awareness about unconscious bias in the workplace. At Marshall E-Learning we take pride in delivering specialist, customisable solutions for clients across the globe.

If you would like to find out more about our Unconscious Bias Training Programme, or any of the other e-learning courses we have available, please contact us today. You can also follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn to find out the latest news or to share your ideas on making unconscious bias training as effective as possible.

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