Unconscious Bias Training

Why unconscious bias training is essential for innovative organisations

Renee Kapuku, Creative Digital Programmes Manager, Supa Network


Bias and discrimination in many organisations are often actively not tolerated. Various organisations lead conversations on diversity and inclusion, with some having stringent measures in policy disallowing for such. However, there are still various discrepancies when we consider the diversity of many of our organisations. 

8% of the total director population in the UK is BAME, despite 14% of UK society being non-white ethnic groups. The gender pay gap is still very much in force, and women and people from various ethnic and sexual identities are finding it more difficult to access opportunities. Apart from open discrimination, one of the most overlooked contributers is unconscious bias. 

What is unconscious bias?

Bias can occur as a result of the perception of differences in gender, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, weight and more. 

There are two types of bias that exist - conscious (explicit) and unconscious (implicit) bias. Conscious biases tend to be more pronounced social biases that an individual is aware of and reflect in their work and engagement consciously. Unconscious biases are  social stereotypes about specific individuals/ collectives that form beyond conscious engagement. This stems from the individual’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorising. 

This type of bias develops at an early age, and becomes more pronounced as adulthood approaches. This has real world effects on behavior. For instance, unconscious bias can manifest in micro-behaviours - small actions and interpersonal engagements that can have an impact on the extent to which an individual feels included in their space. 

How does unconscious bias affect the labour market?

Left unchecked and mitigated, unconscious bias can have adverse effects on the labour market and many of our organisations. Unconscious bias can make it more difficult for individuals from specific demographics to access opportunities. This disproportionately affects women, ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and many other communities. This often translates into less workplace diversity, discrimination as it pertains to workplace promotion, and ineffective performance management. For example, women and individuals from ethnic minorities had less hiring rates and lower rates of workplace promotion. 

Unconscious bias means that employers overlook talented workers and favour those who share their own characteristics and views. The result is stunted innovation within the workplace, and makes it more difficult for organisations to create truly progressive and inclusive working environment. 

Mitigating unconscious bias

There are several ways in which organisations can mitigate the effects of unconscious bias:

  • Name blind recruitment: In order to ensure that individuals from heterogeneous backgrounds are not discriminated against due to assumptions of origin by name, name blind recruitment is a great way to increase levels of diverse when searching for new talent.
  • Wider talent pool engagement: Concerted efforts to engage different types of communities by partnering with authorities and grassroots organisations operating in these spaces can mitigate the effects of unconscious bias.
  • Policy and procedural development: Stringent policies and procedures which recognise unconscious bias and have actionable steps is a great way to raise awareness of this in the working environment.
  • Training: Providing regular up-to-date training for your leaders and team will ensure that unconscious bias is recognised and taken seriously is vital to building a vigilant and inclusive working space. 

Supa Talent offers a range of courses, programmes and resources for organisations interested in unconscious bias training. You can drop us an enquiry for unconscious bias training consultation here.

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