Business Daily Media

Business Marketing

.

Training won't end discrimination, we have to hold people responsible

  • Written by Lucy Taksa, Professor and Associate Dean, Macquarie University
Training won't end discrimination, we have to hold people responsible

Efforts to address discrimination and lack of diversity in the workplace often focus on unconscious bias[1] and unconscious bias training.

While this sounds fine, it can be problematic in offering the perpetrators an out[2].

Unconscious bias is bias we are unaware of[3]. It is said to be outside of our control. Training to recognise it has become widespread. Starbucks recently closed[4] 8,000 stores in North America for unconscious bias training after one of its managers called police to arrest two African-American men who had been sitting at a table but not ordering while waiting for a friend[5].

But training to recognise something can also normalise it[6]. Unconscious bias training, in effect, side-steps accusations and blame, by creating the impression that everyone is biased, making it possible for people to avoid being accountable for their biases and biased behaviour[7].

Read more: Why short 'unconscious bias' programs aren't enough to end racial harassment and discrimination[8]

The concept of unconscious bias emerged from the field of social psychology during the 1990s[9]. It is commonly associated with an Implicit Association Test[10] that asks people to assign an adjective such as “pleasant” or “unpleasant” to an entire group, such as males or females or blacks or whites. The speed with which people assign the adjective is said to measure the strength of the association.

The test had reportedly[11] been taken over 17 million times by 2015. It has helped legitimise a link between unconscious bias and discriminatory behaviour, even while scholars question its assumptions and the reliability[12].

Of more serious concern is that it legitimises bias[13] by spreading the idea that most people are biased.

Read more: What's unconscious bias training, and does it work?[14]

The concept made its way to American employment discrimination lawsuits in the 1990s. The idea that it was possible to unconsciously discriminate removed the need to prove an intention to discriminate and increased the possibility of successful claims.

But Australian discrimination law has never required proof of intention. Here, it is illegal for employers to discriminate or allow harassment, regardless of what they intended[15].

Australian workplace health and safety laws operate on the same principle. It is illegal for someone with a duty of care to be reckless without a reasonable excuse[16].

Yet despite the workings of our law, Australian organisations have embraced the concept of unconscious bias[17] with almost as much fervour as the Americans, and are spending immense amounts of money on training to recognise it.

The goal of reducing discrimination is, of course, laudable. But attributing bad behaviour to unconscious causes deflects blame away from the perpetrators, and also away from the organisations themselves.

They can market themselves as “valuing diversity[18]” while blaming discrimination on employees and managers who ‘fail to learn’.

The alternative would be to actively use performance management and disciplinary systems to ensure discrimination didn’t take place. And to make sure the law didn’t permit it.

Authors: Lucy Taksa, Professor and Associate Dean, Macquarie University

Read more http://theconversation.com/training-wont-end-discrimination-we-have-to-hold-people-responsible-101035

Money Saving Tips When Selling Your Home

Putting your house on the market can be a stressful experience, especially when you’re worried about how much it will cost. But there are several ...

Property

Dr Warren Harmer: Pugs: What they can teach us about sales

I have 2 of the cutest housemates imaginable: pugs. Ernie is a 2 year old fawn with a slightly anxious but very sweet personality. Frank is a 6 mont...

Business Training

Why Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Pinterest is a growing social media platform that can deliver significant traffic to your website and new followers to your brand. With it’s steady gr...

Business Training

9 Reasons To Hire An SEO Agency in Sydney

Businesses across Sydney are now quickly coming out of lockdown. With 2022 just around the corner, it’s important that businesses adapt to the new...

Business Training

PRAHRAN WAREHOUSE SNAPPED UP

A private local developer has bought a warehouse at 35-39 Clifton Street in Prahran, reflecting the  renewed appetite in the post-lockdown climate f...

Property

Deep Blue Company marks 10 years of operation with major milestone of largest national market share

The Australian pioneer of digital conveyancing is now 20 times larger than the nearest competitor in the sale-to-settlement category following pla...

Property