Unconscious Bias: Mitigating its Impact on Decision Making

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Course Description

This course helps participants explore what bias is, the impact it has on decision making, and what tools are useful to help shift awareness and create new, more inclusive, behaviors. Participants are encouraged to explore their own mental processes to improve their competence in disrupting their own biases before acting on them. This course offers tools for individuals and begins to explore how their company can integrate bias mitigation into its policies and procedures.

Course Objectives

  • Develop and create a shared mental model of what bias is and its impact.
  • Understand the mental and emotional processes that create bias within us.
  • Enhance your ability to connect within difference.
  • Develop mental and emotional skills to intervene on personal bias.
  • Begin to explore systems that can be leveraged to enhance inclusion.
  • Start building a culture of higher performance and deeper humanization.

Course Length: 1 day

Course Outline

  1. Introduction: What Is bias?
    1. Discussion: Define bias. List some of the impacts of bias you have experienced in life and at work specifically. What impacts does the research show?
    2. Understanding the Brain

“Possessing bias is part and parcel of being human. And the more we think we are immune to it, the greater the likelihood that our own biases will be invisible or unconscious to us!” (Howard Ross)

  1. Self-Compassion – Suspending self-judgement to explore our own biases as individuals and improve our skill at disrupting them.
  2. Identity and How it Impacts How We See the Our World

ActivityThe Identity Web.

Participants will explore their own identities and each other’s.

  • DEAL: Tools for Building Skill at Bridging Across Interspersal Differences.
    1. Discomfort

When we get more comfortable with being uncomfortable around questions of bias and people who are different from us, we learn about each other and ourselves.

Game: Pet Peeves

Discussion: how can we learn to stay when we really, really want to go?

  1. Exploring

When we go out of our way to experience people, perspectives, and situations that are different from ones we would naturally be drawn to, we create new neural pathways. Research shows that relationships with people who are different from us create greater acceptance of those differences.

Activity – Participants work in pairs to plan how they will find and enter Exploring situations.

  1. Acceptance

When we respect the fact that our biases are the unavoidable product of our brains’ functioning, we see how our own experience impacts the way we understand the world around us. No one is exempt from the bias process, and no one has all their biases under control.

Activity – Digging deeper into self-compassion.

  • Mindfulness
  • Self-Kindness
    1. Listening

We listen in two important ways:  we are open to feedback about our biases, and we credit the experience of people who are different from us, even if their experience does not match our existing beliefs or experience.

ActivityAm I really listening?

  1. Bias in the Moment: The ABC’s

Discussion: Using the ABC’s of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to disrupt our biases before we act on them.

Activity – Practice applying the ABC’s to scenarios.

  1. Action Plan

Activity – Participants discuss the following:

What kinds of important decisions do you make that are subject to biases?

What will you do to insure you’ll devote the time and energy needed to disrupt those biases?

What can [the company] do to help and support you in applying bias mitigation techniques to those situations?

How will we in this room advocate for those resources?