Understanding and Dealing with Unconscious Bias in the Workplace - a facilitated discussion

Conflict Dynamics offers facilitated workplace discussion forums with the aim of giving employers and employees a “safe space” to identify unconscious biases at play in the workplace and to discuss how to overcome these biases. These forums are skilfully facilitated by subject matter experts with vast experience in the area of managing difference and harnessing diversity.

Outline

Rather than providing a lecture on what diversity is and how to manage it in the workplace, these discussion forums are based on the premise that, in order to understand how one feels about other people, you need to understand how you feel about yourself and where this comes from.  The discussion forum seeks to achieve the following three broad objectives:

  1. To raise awareness about diversity. Everyone knows about diversity in theory, but it is useful to actually put it on the table and concentrate on it for a few hours;
  2. To make the point that ALL people stereotype. Therefore the message is that not any one gender, race, culture, etc. has more work to do in this area than another – we all have the same amount of work to do to manage our unconscious biases; and
  3. To bring about a recognition that, before judging a person or a situation, it is important to test the assumption one is making.

The above discussion can be supplemented by briefly workshopping the following topics:

  1. Bias, assumptions, prejudice and stereotyping
    1. Unconscious bias and blind spots
    2. Measuring our bias and the bias of others
  2. Ways of countering bias
    1. Building rapport, body language, mirroring and matching
    2. Active listening skills
    3. Separating positions from interests
  3. Emotion in the workplace
    1. Recognising it
    2. Cultural differences in the display of emotion?
    3. Respecting and responding to emotion

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