- Mr Mosaku said unconscious bias training could not overwrite internal biases
British companies are ‘wasting’ millions on diversity training, according to the founder of an inclusion consultancy.
Buki Mosaku, founder of DiverseCity Think Tank, claimed that many companies were sinking money into ‘well intentioned but fundamentally flawed’ strategies around equality, diversity and inclusion, and unconscious bias training.
He said that programmes designed to eradicate racial bias were ‘futile’ as, in his view, humans were hardwired to be biased, citing a body of neuroscientific research.
Mr Mosaku suggested that schemes aimed at teaching white staff to check their privilege were ‘doomed to failure’ – and urged leaders to consider bias ‘multi-directional’.
‘The only effective way of dealing with sensed racial bias is to call it out then and there, asking the non-confrontational question ‘I don’t understand?’ to get to the bottom of the perceived prejudice,’ he said.
Mr Mosaku’s company offers services to top firms including JP Morgan, Sky TV and Aon, as reported in The Telegraph.
‘The only effective way of dealing with sensed racial bias is to call it out then and there, asking the non-confrontational question ‘I don’t understand?’ to get to the bottom of the perceived prejudice,’ Mr Mosaku said.
As employers look for ways to make their workplaces more fair and just, unconscious bias training has emerged as a popular way of teaching staff to recognise their latent prejudices.
However, not at all are convinced it fulfils its purpose. A 2019 meta-analysis of 490 studies involving some 80,000 people found UB training did not change behaviour.
Another review of more than 700 companies revealed that after undergoing UBT, Black employees could end up less likely to progress in the workplace.
Mr Mosaku echoed the sentiment, warning that schemes had ‘at best made extremely slow progress and, more honestly, got us nowhere and made things worse’.
In 2020, the government also announced plans to phase out unconscious bias training in the civil service after concluding ‘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’.
The report also states that there is ’emerging evidence of unintended negative consequences’.
Mr Mosaku is the founder of DiverseCity Think Tank and the author of ‘I Don’t Understand: Navigating Unconscious Bias in the Workplace’
A statement read: ‘This government is committed to levelling up opportunity for everyone, no matter what their background. We are also determined to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.
‘To meet those ambitions, we must ensure that policy and advice on equality is evidence-based, and is delivered in a way that means we can respond quickly to new insights.’