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DIFFERENCE

Disrupting Unconscious Bias: Recognising Evidence Based Cultural Intelligence and Inclusion

INSIGHTS: DIFFERENCE

Disrupting Unconscious Bias: Recognising Evidence Based Cultural Intelligence and Inclusion

Unconscious Bias (UB) Awareness workshops have been recommended as a panacea to the Diversity and Inclusion concerns. However, at Above Difference we’d like to offer you an alternative.

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“One theory is that if training tells us we’re all biased, we might no longer think we need to make an effort or that making an effort will make a difference. Afterwards, a participant might come away with a sense of relief: they’ve been shown that their bias isn’t really their fault at all. The eagerness to label all bias as unconscious could allow us to evade responsibility for the harm it causes.”

In December 2020, unconscious bias training was scrapped for civil servants in England because ministers said it does not work.

The government followed the data which says there is no evidence that it changes attitudes. It also urged other public sector employers to end this type of training.1

Sadly, we see instances of bias everywhere. How it manifests itself and the impact is important but expecting people to be aware of their unconscious and mitigate themselves, is not, actually, possible.

Take this recently updated academic paper which aggregates into one, 492 studies on the matter, with nearly 90-thousand participants.

It concludes: We found that implicit measures can be changed, but effects are often relatively weak… Procedures changed explicit measures less consistently and to a smaller degree than implicit measures and generally produced trivial changes in behaviour … Our findings suggest that changes in implicit measures are possible, but those changes do not necessarily translate into changes in explicit measures or behaviour.2

So, even if weak changes in implicit bias occur, they do not mediate downstream changes in explicit bias or behaviour, and if they did, they are trivial in nature. The recommendation from the author of the report: Do not try to change implicit bias… Instead focus on working around it. Target other inter group outcomes and teach folks to create procedural changes that prevent the influence of hidden biases.3

Add to this, the work of Alexandra Kalev, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University who found that not only that bad training doesn’t work, but that it can be counterproductive, so the targets set to improve diversity in leadership can, in fact, be reversed! She found that efforts to get people to suppress their stereotypes can actually work to reinforce them. Often, any positive change is weak and short term.

“One theory is that if training tells us we’re all biased, we might no longer think we need to make an effort or that making an effort will make a difference. Afterwards, a participant might come away with a sense of relief: they’ve been shown that their bias isn’t really their fault at all. The eagerness to label all bias as unconscious could allow us to evade responsibility for the harm it causes.

And many businesses might see the training as a complete solution to their discrimination problems: a quick fix. But although unconscious bias training opens the door to fruitful conversations about bias, by itself it won’t make you or your company any less biased than you were before.”4

Face-to-face UB courses, whilst good at helping people realise UB exists and how it manifests itself, it doesn’t focus enough about impact and still expects people to mitigate themselves and makes no mention of the requirement of processes and structures to change in order to assist with mitigation.

A report by the EHRC also points to raising awareness being useful – as I say, helping people realise what UB is part of the knowledge piece to open the conversation – but evidence for behaviour change is weak.5

And yet another report, the ‘Diversity management that works’ review found that while training did increase awareness of issues such as unconscious bias, evidence of attitude and behavioural change among staff as a result of the training was less conclusive.6

Daniel Kahneman, the “father of heuristics” says it’s extremely difficult to catch yourself doing something unconsciously. When asked why you made a decision, you’ll convince yourself of a valid reason, when in reality your unconscious forced you to come to a conclusion based on your bias and short-cutting of information, a cerebral process of which you’re completely unaware. And yet the conscious decision-making process, which you do control, is “who you think you are”.7

Report after report after report shows, the repeated suggestion that we can, by being aware, mitigate our own unconscious bias is not correct. We must stop saying and teaching that. We need to put less store by the training and more by the overall structures and processes we need to create, implement and enforce to mitigate it. We must also put more effort into creating a culture of feedback where it’s ok to call it out other’s bias because a diversity of staff can see and feel it more clearly than we’d ever be able to in ourselves, and for the recipient of that feedback not to be defensive about it.

And, allow people who can see and feel them, to call out issues, and don’t then vilify them for it. (Image: The ‘Problem’ Woman of Colour in the Workplace)8

Above Difference would suggest you consider the most academically robust approach in helping with this mitigation, Cultural Intelligence (CQ). CQ is made up of four capabilities which when built on each other allow you to succeed in working and relating effectively with people who are different from you.

The first capability CQ Drive, your motivation to enter into work and personal situations with those different from you, can be hindered by your bias, conscious and unconscious, so being able to recognise the element of discomfort in yourself, challenge this and use the tools of intrinsic, extrinsic motivation as well as calling upon your self-efficacy, is vital. A CQ assessment helps you pinpoint where you are on this scale and that enables you to improve it.

CQ Knowledge, the second capability, helps you tackle bias by encouraging you to focus on growing what you know about those different from you.

The third capability, CQ Strategy is especially crucial when dealing with UB. It requires you to stop, think about what you’re thinking about and stereotype you might be holding, and check your assumptions. It asks you to be hugely self-aware. It means you plan before executing any behaviour in a situation with those who are different from you. As part of CQ Strategy we would agree you should put in place procedural changes that prevent the influence of hidden biases, as Professor Lai suggests.

Those high in the fourth capability CQ Action, have a broad repertoire of thoughtful behaviours to call upon, which means they’re less likely to act in a biased way.

Above Difference has, at its core, a fundamental belief, that an individual’s ability to decisively and intentionally create inclusive workplace cultures, can be developed, so diversity is recognised as an organisation’s greatest asset and all cultures are valued and respected. And that’s a very conscious credo.

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DIFFERENCE

Could CQ and Inclusive Leadership be the long awaited catalyst for change?

INSIGHTS: DIFFERENCE

Could CQ and Inclusive Leadership be the long awaited catalyst for change

Is it time to take a different and more radical approach to diversifying the colour of leadership in the public sector? What can CQ offer that hasn’t been tried before?

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To use the quote often attributed to Einstein, “the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”; doing difference differently relies on us approaching the whole issue from an angle we’ve not done before.

After the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, in the US, and the spectre of COVID had laid us bare to the echoes within social media, our lives were suddenly filled with the torment and pain of racial inequality.

Black Lives Matter has been a movement for many years following the numerous killings of Black people by police in the US. And the UK is not immune, as Black people are disproportionately more likely to die in police custody.1 However, the death of Mr Floyd resonated like no other, and the moment reinforced the movement.

As organisations began the soul searching into how to manage this out-pouring for racial justice, the other concerns of the under-represented, and the impact of ongoing Diversity & Inclusion work, also reared its head.

Just a quick scroll of a few pages on LinkedIn and you can see:

“It’s not one of the 9 protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act of 2010, but socio-economic status and how to promote greater mobility is quickly rising up the agenda of organisations…”

“Parents ‘see construction as a male industry’, says study”

“…while women of colour are “playing a crucial role in today’s pandemic, they are still disproportionately underpaid for their work, making it even harder for them to build a roadway to economic prosperity.”

Socio-economic progression has been identified as one of the government priorities; The emasculation of certain sectors should be possible in the 21st Century, but apparently not in construction; and, the overlapping of economics, gender and race is a triple hit, not only in the illustrated story, but across society.

And there’s more:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Our dignity is derived solely from our humanity. Not our race, sex or gender. Not our class, religion or abilities. Not any characteristic other than being human.”

“8 of the most LGBTQIA-friendly countries: Spain, Uruguay, New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, France, Taiwan and The Netherlands. It’s a disgrace (but not surprising) that the UK is not on this list.”

“When you’re Black and Disabled; what battle do you fight first?”

Indeed, what battle do you fight first? Those tasked with tackling these issues can find themselves asking: Black Lives Matter? What about Brown lives? And, where does discrimination towards those from SE Asian heritage sit? And, then disability, does this include invisible disability? What’s the difference between sex and gender? If we’re talking about being gay, does that exclude bisexuals? What does sexuality even matter at work?

Within that there are the more demanding questions around things like privilege and white fragility…

It is clear that organisations know they need to do something about – what’s variously called – D&I, EDI, DEI, Inclusion, Belonging, Diversity, however, all these seemingly competing agendas can become overwhelming. It’s enough to give many diversity fatigue, scream, run for a darkened room, curl up in a ball and wish it would all just go away.

But then, they have to do something; and people are bleating on, something about a dance and party, and others “what gets measured gets done!” and in order to create the perception of change they look at race over here, and gender over there and disability elsewhere, and start making tokenistic gestures, rather than taking meaningful action.

Don’t misunderstand, all of these needs are real and must be addressed, but when you know why you want change, and you know what those outcomes should look like, the question that remains is how?

How do you take action so that all of these matters can be tackled?

So, the next question to you is, do you want to Manage Diversity, or Lead Inclusion?

At Above Difference, we’re very much about the latter, because then you can do the How.

One participant told us that their time with us taught them “to view difference as an opportunity rather than a problem to be solved in some way”.

So, what is the how? Where are the opportunities?

Rather than beating people over the head for not hitting targets when told to achieve them, better is to provide them with a framework of skills to help with motivation, thinking, planning and action, which help them to move towards tangible success.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) does just that. It’s the capability to work and relate effectively with people who are different from you. Once you’ve done the self-reflection required to act appropriately, you can lead inclusion efforts that work, regardless of where the action sits in the social justice plan.

And that’s a game changer.

No longer are you running for the hills, or tearing your hair out – because there’s a paradigm you work through. It helps you address each and every one of those needs outlined in those LinkedIn calls for help. It’s a step-by-step process of addressing the change you want to see.

When we use Cultural Intelligence, we can take an over-arching approach to inclusion which tackles, not only the racial equality agenda, but the gender pay gap, disability rights, trans-lives, socio-economic mobility, the intersectionality of all of these, and so on.

This is radical, because to spend the time on introspection with the belief it will prove worthwhile on reflection, is not a place many are willing to invest in. But invest in it we must.

CQ is an academically robust proven methodology. When the CQ Center did their research asking what’s the difference between success and failure in today’s globalised multicultural world, the framework they developed was in answer to this, so why wouldn’t we all do it?

The outcome of leading using this approach is visible and invisible diversity working in energetic constructive conflict to produce the best most innovative results.

CQ is the spark. CQ delivers. CQ is the catalyst for change.

As Dr David Livermore, President of the Cultural Intelligence Center, says; “The world has increasingly grown smaller… but for those with CQ the possibilities for success are greater than ever. Cultural Intelligence enables you to thrive in any business environment – whether it’s across the world or in your own backyard.”

To use the quote often attributed to Einstein, “the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”; doing difference differently relies on us approaching the whole issue from an angle we’ve not done before.

And we promise you, if you use CQ, you’ll get a different result.

 

Categories
DIFFERENCE

How does your organisation feel?

INSIGHTS: DIFFERENCE

How does your organisation feel?

Emerging research demonstrates that having a diverse organisation or team is not enough.

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Having a diverse workforce won’t necessarily bring you the benefits all those consultancy reports say they will… in fact it may lead to a reduction in the bottom line… homogenous teams can perform better.1

And if you leave this article there, you’ll never know how you can leverage difference to maximise its value in your workforce.

You may have come to this website with various questions:

What’s the difference between Diversity and Inclusion? How do I improve my employee engagement with this? How can my bottom line be impacted by difference?

The short answer is, Cultural Intelligence (CQ).

The longer answer is this:

Diversity is a matter of fact. It’s the visible and invisible difference which encompasses us all and everything. But if diversity includes everyone, do we therefore conclude it means nothing? On the contrary, politics and economic ideologies have imbued certain identities with particular values and emphasis where are combination of some are – unfairly – socially deemed better than others. This is why acknowledging difference is so important; we can identify which identities are under-represented (e.g. black, female, disabled) and those that have no problem with representation (e.g. white, male, enabled).

However, working on this, and creating an organisation that reflects a diversity of populations is only part of the story. The benefits that difference and varying perspectives can bring can disappear if people don’t know how to relate and work effectively with each other.

“The predominant view of research on diversity is that it can be either good or bad but, in fact, in many cases it is both,” Randall Peterson of London Business School explains “Diversity is good because it gives you a different perspective, but it is bad because it makes it hard to work with each other because of the lack of social cohesion. Indeed, the power of the social cohesion problem seems to overwhelm the upside possibilities of sharing perspectives or having different perspectives on the same problem.”2

This, amongst other research, has repeatedly demonstrated that having a diverse organisation or team is not enough. You can’t simply concentrate on how your organisation looks in terms of visible diversity or acknowledging you have under-represented groups3. What you must also consider is how it feels to the groups who make it diverse, especially marginalised groups.

And, so, we come to the matter of inclusion. If Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is an act.

Inclusion is the environment where all difference is valued, respected and understood. Inclusion is for all, otherwise it’s not inclusion at all. We have to tackle all agendas pertaining to under-representation, not just gender, or race or age or sexuality etc. because this undermines the layers of identities people have, and the way someone might choose to identify themselves, may not be the way other, even the law, chooses to label them.

These, necessary conversations and knowledge building are vital to inclusion, but they’re not the answer to inclusion.

So, how? How do you create an inclusive organisation?

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) helps you enhance the lived-in experiences of all your workforce.

CQ is a quotient, a measurement, as well as an improvable skill, which is what makes it so uniquely well-placed to help you keep track of change.

CQ is the set of capabilities required to help you work and relate effectively with people who are different from you. Working above difference to create cohesion.

CQ is the Inclusion factor.

If Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is the act when CQ is unpacked.

To unpack CQ you should consider the research question that resulted in the quotient creation. What’s the difference between success and failure in today’s multi-cultural, globalised world?4 Great question, right? How to you determine who is successful and who will fail when managing difference and leading inclusion?

 

The answer when it came, from participant research across scores of countries and thousands of people, was you need four capabilities:

  • CQ Drive
    Motivation – do you want to behave in a new way to encourage inclusion?
  • CQ Knowledge
    Understanding – what do you need to know to behave in a new way to encourage inclusion?
  • CQ Strategy
    Planning, checking and awareness – are you thinking about what you’re thinking in order to behave in a new way to encourage inclusion?
  • CQ Action
    Behaviour – are you managing your speech, verbal and non-verbal cues to be inclusive?

Working on developing these four capabilities is what creates Culturally Intelligent individuals, leaders and organisations. The resulting impact is to get the best out of your diverse workforce where there is equity and innovative, bottom-line enhancing outcomes.

Organisations with inclusive cultures are 8-times more likely to have overall better business outcomes.5

If Diversity is a fact.

Inclusion is the act

when CQ is unpacked

with Equity impact.

When Above Difference works with organisational leaders whose CQ role modelling is crucial to organisational change, the outcomes are overwhelmingly positive:

“The model provided helpful building blocks towards action and provided an opportunity to consider one’s own CQ strengths and areas for development. I liked the concept of a CQ journey with opportunity for both personal, professional and organisational development”.

Having a diverse workforce won’t bring you the benefits all those consultancy reports say they will… unless you have an inclusion strategy underpinned with CQ.



1
Research by CQ Center, Developing Cultural Intelligence Workshop

2 Trust us: New research by Randall S Peterson sheds fresh light on how trust works in small groups, London Business School, August 2015 https://www.london.edu/think/trust-us-by-randall-s-peterson
3 Driven By Difference, David Livermore, 2016
4 CQ Key Research Question https://culturalq.com/about-cultural-intelligence/research/
5 High-Impact Diversity and Inclusion: Maturity Model and Top Findings, Bersin by Deloitte, 2017