Unconscious Bias At Work

There has been plenty of research to show that we all view things differently. We make instant judgements, sometimes life saving, sometimes dangerous, sometimes prejudiced and sometimes inclusive. These instant judgements are unconscious and based on our experience. We all make them and we cannot erase them.

What do you feel when you look at me?

What do you see when you look at me?

What do you think when you look at me?

What judgement are you making about me right now?

On this workshop you will learn how those judgements impact on your decision making and how those judgements can sometimes create difficulties. We will enable you to recognise any negative impact of unconscious bias within you and your organisation and to develop a strategy to eliminate that negative impact. You will learn more about the implications of unconscious bias, how to recognise it in yourself and others and to develop techniques to overcome it.

Decision making influenced by unconscious bias can be a costly mistake. Recruiting the wrong staff because we were influenced by how they “fit” can cost thousands in lost productivity and re-recruitment. Promoting or not promoting someone based on unconscious bias can upset a balanced team, lead to performance management issues or even grievances, disciplinary action and legal cases. All of which can damage productivity, morale and hit the bottom line. This workshop aims to minimise those costly mistakes and maintain your organisation’s reputation.

 Course Aim
To develop understanding of how unconscious biases impact adversely on decision making at work; and to suggest practical strategies to counteract those biases
By the end of this training course, delegates will:
  • have explored how common biases including affinity bias, confirmation bias and availability bias can result in poor quality decisions at work;
  • be able to explain how equality law applies to adverse decisions arising from unconscious biases;
  • have seen whether their suggestions to counteract bias work in practice by participating in “forum theatre” with professional actors [no role play required].

“Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.”

Augusto Boal

What will you learn

“Our standard programme offers both the relevant theory and practice brought seamlessly together. Participants will learn the theory, reflect on their own biases, understand their impact and observe how “good practice” plays out in reality.”

Unintentional Discrimination

Defining unconscious biases at work including affinity bias, confirmation bias and availability bias. See these biases in action in the context of…


  • recruitment & promotion
  • discussions about performance
  • discretionary decisions

Law & Unconscious Biases

  • overlap with equality law
  • unintentional discrimination
  • examples from real-life cases

Counteract These Biases

  • Challenging assumptions
  • See the person not the category
  • In groups and out groups
  • Workplace culture: what challenge is likely to have the most impact?
  • Process & progress
Minimising the impact of biases is important not just for ethical reasons. It helps avoid costly, time consuming legal risks developing. The impact of unconscious biases has been recognised by the Supreme Court in a race discrimination case – the logic of which is relevant to all types of discrimination:
“All human beings have preconceptions, beliefs, attitudes and prejudices on many subjects. It is part of our make-up. Moreover, we do not always recognise our own prejudices.”
“Many people are unable, or unwilling, to admit even to themselves that actions of theirs may be [racially] motivated. An employer may genuinely believe that the reason why he rejected an applicant had nothing to do with the applicant’s [race].”
“After careful and thorough investigation of a claim members of an employment tribunal may decide that the proper inference to be drawn from the evidence is that, whether the employer realised it at the time or not, [race] was the reason why he acted as he did.”