We all have unconscious bias that affect our everyday decisions and they don’t just disappear when we go to work. That’s why unconscious bias training is so critical for creating an inclusive workplace. Consciously Unbiased has DEI training specifically for this purpose, and we’ve broken down the key points that differentiate basic unconscious bias training from behavior-changing training that can make a real difference, But first, let’s get into what unconscious bias looks like.

What Is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias is the unintentional preference for or prejudice against people from a specific ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or social group that affects a person’s actions and/or perceptions. This may include unconscious decisions or actions, in addition to hidden influences on choices and behaviors that we believe are rational and based on factual and unbiased evidence and experiences. Unconscious bias can exist in organizations and groups, as well as influence individual behaviors and decisions.

What Does Unconscious Bias Training Do?

Not all unconscious bias training is created equal. The goal of these trainings should be to help employees become aware of unconscious bias without judgment and offer ways to interrupt their unconscious bias so it doesn’t impact their decision making, such as influencing who they hire or promote.

Recognizing And Counteracting Unconscious Bias

The most productive unconscious bias training will teach you to not only recognize bias, but also offer strategies for counteracting unconscious bias. Unconscious bias training in general is never truly a one and done solution. Taking a deeper dive into biased behaviors, including recognition of bias as it occurs in ourselves and others in our teams and organizations as a whole, can boost the effectiveness in counteracting unconscious bias.

Unconscious Bias Training For Employees Of All Levels

It’s important for unconscious bias training to include all levels of an organization, from top leadership to entry level employees. Leadership teams have the power to directly influence the policies that shape workplace culture and have the responsibility to act as role models for what true inclusion looks like. Because of this, providing training specifically for these leaders is crucial to DEI efforts. Also, companies are made up of people, so employees of all levels can impact workplace culture and should be trained on unconscious bias.

Why Shame Or Blame Won’t Work In Conscious Inclusion Training

Giving participants a safe space to unpack their own unconscious bias and take ownership of them in a nonjudgmental environment can be the foundation of unconscious bias training success. At Consciously Unbiased, we make sure to emphasize that everyone has implicit bias and it’s not something we need to make people feel guilty for. By relying on guilt as a strategy in unconscious bias training, we risk creating resentment and pushback to diversity training. Our unconscious training is so effective, because by not guilting people, it allows them to feel open enough to unpack their own unconscious bias without fear of judgment.

Unconscious Bias Training Should Be Interactive

It’s important to ensure that any training should be interactive in some capacity. Nobody likes to sit through a lecture-style presentation that leaves them feeling overloaded with information. According to a survey, 68% of people believe that interactive presentations are more memorable. For this reason unconscious bias training should include thought-provoking activities that inspire participants to commit to taking real action inside and outside of the workplace.

Benefits of Unconscious Bias Training

It is near impossible to correct an unconscious or learned behavior until it is acknowledged. After all, you can’t change something you’re not even aware of.

Conscious Inclusion Training Can Build Belonging

Making people aware of their prejudices makes corrective action possible. This is the biggest problem when it comes to unconscious bias. If left unchecked, it can hinder inclusion, inhibit employee growth, and produce toxic work environments. In fact, workers who reported experiencing workplace bias were 33% more likely to feel alienated, 34% more likely to withhold ideas and solutions, and 80% would not refer people to their employer, according to one survey. Proper unconscious bias training can help minimize this—leading to greater employee productivity and feelings of belonging, and a more inclusive environment.

Helps Facilitate Brain-Based Decisions

By participating in unconscious bias training, you’re empowering yourself and your organization with tools that assist you all in taking steps to reduce the likelihood of unconscious bias influencing their decisions. This allows you to make decisions with your brain rather than their gut, which can be more easily influenced by unconscious bias.

Lessons Unconscious Bias In The Hiring Process

When we confront our implicit bias and keep it in check, we can be more open to working with groups of people who may have different backgrounds and perspectives. This makes the workplace a more diverse place not just in terms of who is in the room, but in the ideas that are presented.

This openness can also lead to a more fair hiring process. Educating hiring managers and talent acquisition teams on sourcing talent and mitigating unconscious bias in the hiring process can be overall beneficial to the organization. According to a 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies researchers discovered that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean. The same study also found that companies in the bottom quartile for gender, ethnicity, and race are statistically less likely to outperform the average company in the data set.

How To Get the Most Out of Unconscious Bias Training

As with any learning, the way you approach unconscious bias training matters when it comes to shifting your mindset and, ultimately, your behaviors.

Have an Open Mind

Learning something new always comes with challenges. One way we can prepare is to intentionally listen to the new information without immediately looking for reasons or justifications about why it might not be true. It’s important to question new information and beliefs, but by making that your first impulse before allowing yourself to listen and absorb the information, you may be blocking key insights. Our personal unconscious bias can often hold us back in our understanding, so it’s important to acknowledge that and remember there’s always something new to learn.

Be Patient With Yourself And Others

Learning itself is a process, so give yourself and others grace and time. This includes providing the same judgment-free zone that others provide to you. We all learn at different rates, so instead of comparing ourselves with others, we should encourage each other when faced with difficulty. As Joyce Meyer says, “Patience is not simply the ability to wait — it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”

Apply Your New Knowledge Outside of Work

A lot of the unconscious bias training that we receive at work can also help us interrupt unconscious bias in your daily lives outside the workplace. We can always practice managing our unconscious bias and encourage others to do the same. Do your best to catch yourself when you find yourself relying on stereotypes and biases to form opinions about people or their beliefs, and take a moment to examine thoughts and check your bias. Here is a guide on some of the most common types of unconscious bias, and how to interrupt them.

Unconscious bias can impact who gets hired and promoted. Consciously Unbiased offers a Diverse Hiring Certification that educates hiring managers and talent acquisition teams on how to de-bias the hiring process.


Sara Munjack

As the Director of Content at Consciously Unbiased, Holly Corbett is fueling inclusion through storytelling to build a passionate community and creating experiences inside organizations to transform workplace culture.
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