Major organisations address unconscious bias

Two major organisations, the BBC and the Home Office, have hit the headlines recently by announcing initiatives to address the negative impact of unconscious bias on their operations.

In an effort to ensure that BBC News and current affairs programming reflects the diversity of the audience it serves, senior management have been given training in unconscious bias. The intention is to reduce the incidence of recruiters taking on new employees 'in their own image' and increase the representation of ethnic minorities.

Research by the BBC Trust has revealed that some viewers and listeners find BBC News too 'distant' and 'formal' and feel that it 'fails to reflect the diversity of life in the UK today'. Subsequently, the Trust has insisted BBC management take steps to increase the number of ethnic minority faces in news and current affairs, both on-screen and behind the camera.

Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced a package of reforms intended to reduce the excessive and incorrect use of police stop-and-search powers. Police stop-and-search is a divisive issue, particularly among black and ethnic minority communities, with black people on average seven times more likely to be stopped by the police than white people.

Alongside a revised code of practice and increased transparency and scrutiny of police actions, the package of reforms includes unconscious bias awareness training in order to reduce the possibility of prejudice influencing officers' decisions. The reforms are seen as an attempt to help address public mistrust of the police in some sectors without the need to introduce formal legislation restricting police powers.

Hogrefe's Implicitly is the only commercially-available assessment of unconscious bias that links implicit bias to the likelihood of real world behaviours.

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