Unconscious Bias Course

Challenge

Birkbeck University recognises the importance of diversity and the value that it brings. It believes that ‘education should be available to all sections of society, providing an inclusive working and learning environment for students and staff, so that all may develop to their full potential.’

The aim was to train the Senior Management Team in understanding their own unconscious biases and how these can affect their decision-making abilities. This was done by exploring;

  1. How unseen, unspoken and unaddressed dynamics can limit individual, group and organisational performance.
  2. How recognising and managing covert processes and unconscious bias will increase their effectiveness.

 

Requirements

  1. A highly qualified trainer in unconscious bias
  2. Two corporate PRP role players with knowledge on diversity training
  3. A PRP Facilitator with experience in forum theatre

 

Solution

The trainer gave a lecture on the background of unconscious bias; including what it is, why it happens, and how to avoid it. She also initiated some practical exercises and discussions for the delegates to see how unconscious bias could be affecting themselves and others at the university.

PRP role players simulated a scenario where a student met with a Professor to discuss some concerns she was having. The delegates viewed the performance and suggested ways in which both the student and Professor could have had a more successful communication without the influence of unconscious bias.

Afterwards, the delegates were split into two groups to engage in forum theatre. PRP role players performed three scenarios for each group. For each scenario, delegates volunteered to play one of the parts. This tested how they would react to real life situations that could happen in their careers. Each group then discussed what the delegate did well, and what they could improve on.

 

Results

All members of the Senior Management Team were able to gain insight into their unconscious biases and how to stop these from affecting themselves and others in their working environment. Going forward they will be able to make decisions without being stifled by previously-held assumptions, which will enhance the working lives of not only the participants involved, but Birkbeck University as a whole.