Equality and DiversityNews

Ministers questioned over failed unconscious bias training

There initiative has even produced ‘emerging evidence of unintended negative consequences’

Criticism has been tabled over the recent announcement of a failed government initiative that provided unconscious bias training, according to the Guardian.

A ministerial statement released last Tuesday (15 December) revealed that there was no evidence backing the training’s success in changing workplace attitudes to prejudice on the grounds of race, sex, sexuality, and disability.

Julia Lopez, a junior cabinet office minister, highlighted in a statement that “there is currently no evidence that this training changes behaviour in the long term or improves workplace equality in terms of representation of women, ethnic minorities or other minority groups”.

She added that the training has instead produced “emerging evidence of unintended negative consequences”.

The statement has in turn resulted in academic backlash, with research questioning the government’s decision to scrap the unconscious bias training without devising alternative plans to combat prejudice.

Patrick Forscher, the psychologist who conducted the review of the training studies, told the Guardian: “I support the idea of scrapping unconscious bias trainings and redirecting the funds toward defining clearly the problems that they want to solve in the civil service related to race/ethnicity.”

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary at the trade union Prospect, added that despite the continued need for a “debate as to the effectiveness of unconscious bias training”, the lack of an alternative initiative is “not acceptable”.

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