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Gender Equality - the curious case of unconscious bias

Gender Equality

An unconscious bias in our Equality and Diversity course has just been pointed out to us by a client! How could this happen? More importantly, why is it not a surprise that it did?

Unconscious gender biases or stereotypes have been found by many researchers. A male is seen as a leader, a protector and ambitious and a women is seen as kind, sensitive and supportive. It’s been found that this is due to the fact that our minds get used to seeing certain images (e.g a mother caring for a baby or a man with short hair). These images are then used to ‘quickly’ recognise and categorise new information; this fundamental creates the basis of our cultural stereotypes as we learn these images from the external stimuli we are exposed to. Even if you are a leader in equality, this bias looms unconsciously until CONSCIOUS action is taken to shift your default way of thinking. Even Google has been accused of unconscious bias in its own operations as over 79% of its managers and engineers are male. Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo are not far behind.

A client pulled us up on our colour decisions within our Equality and Diversity course; specifically in the section where we talk about gender bias and we have male and female silhouettes:

screen shot

As you can see, we’ve fallen straight into the unconscious bias trap by colouring the woman as pink and the man as blue. We have six key corporate colours, and when creating our courses, we like to use our corporate colours on the animations so the iHASCO brand is present throughout our training.

There was no intentional bias when our creative team did this, other than choosing two of our corporate colours. Since having this pointed out to us we have changed the colours. But how can we make sure this doesn’t happen in the future?

Being aware of the unconscious bias will certainly help, but prevention requires relearning the biases the social world we live in has created and create alternative associations by actively rebuffing stereotypes and undertaking training, especially if an unconscious bias is present in your workplace.

Equality and diversity is all about treating people fairly and with respect, no matter what their differences may be.

Our Equality & Diversity training programme looks at how we behave at work and how our behaviour may affect those around us. It addresses unacceptable behaviour, stereotyping and discrimination as well as introducing characteristics protected by the Equality Act - suggesting ways in which to build a more supportive, harmonious workplace. 

Unconscious Bias Training

Take a look at our new Unconscious Bias Training courses! We have courses dedicated to both management and employeeswhich look at ways of reducing unconscious bias from happening in the workplace. They are both CPD approved and you can get free trial access today! Additionally, we offer a Menopause Awareness Training course.

Unconscious Bias Training