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The impact of unconscious bias on LGB inclusion

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1 The impact of unconscious bias on LGB inclusion
Dan Robertson Diversity & Inclusion Director Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion

2 What is unconscious bias?
“Unconscious biases are our unintentional people preferences, formed by our socialisation and experiences, including exposure to the media. Unconscious biases are the result of our limited cognitive capacity; we implicitly and automatically both group and categorise people to avoid having to conduct completely new assessments for every new person. We unconsciously assign positive and negative value to the categories we use.”

3 Bias facts We ALL have them
They are triggered and enacted between 30 and 100 milliseconds They are often in our personal ‘bias blind spot’ What we see together, we wire together The brain is a formidable pattern matching machine They are automatic and rapid



6 Social categorisation Three mental processes
Social identification Social comparison Categorisation Our sense of self is based on membership of social groups We divide the world into “them” and “us” Known as in-group (us) and out-group (them). Tells us things about people Adopt emotionally significant in-group behaviours Tired up with our self-esteem. Critical to understanding prejudice

7 Explicit vs Implicit Social Bias
(Abrams & Houston 2006) Jones, P 2005 Implicitly 3000


9 Triggers When we are placed under emotional load such as stress, anger, frustration When we are under cognitive load such as making complex decisions When our emotional and cognitive resources are depleted

10 5 types of prejudice Aggressive prejudice: Open and explicit animosity, often backed up with violence Banal Prejudice: Implicit examples of less positive attitudes, which may be intentional or unintentional Benevolent Prejudice: Expressions of positive views that are not intended to demonstrate less positive attitudes, but which still produce negative consequences Cathartic prejudice: A view that is recognises as being less positive, (therefore unacceptable) that is justified and rendered acceptable Unintentional Prejudice: Attitudes or behaviours that unwittingly demonstrate an ignorance or lack of understanding

11 52% of gay men had experienced harassment
40% of lesbian, gay or bisexual workers were not out to their manager 46% never or hardly ever think it is acceptable for a gay man be to a primary school teacher 34% think the same for lesbians 35% think that gay men should not be hospital doctors 32% think the same for lesbians 75% of heterosexuals believe it is wrong to refuse a job to someone due to their sexual orientation

12 Affinity bias Affinity (like me) bias: leads us to favour people who are like us. Commonness leads to Comfort leads to Competence “He reminds me of myself at his age” Gender, ethnicity, social background, accent, nationality, sexual orientation and disability….etc.

13 I’ve known very talented bankers
that have, essentially been side lined or fired once it’s know that they are gay. If I came out at work it would be career suicide. I’d love to march in London Pride but as a deputy head of a London primary school I have be very carefully in case I’m seem by parents. I work in a very male dominated work environment. They often make comments about my sexuality. The legal sector has very traditional attitudes and ways of working. There are unwritten norms. Colleagues know I am gay but I think they’d rather I was wasn’t.

14 Higher earners find it more difficult to be open about their sexuality at work
There is widespread concealment amongst the British workforce When at work people modify their behaviour to ensure colleagues do not discover their sexuality

15 Bias control tips Positive Role Models Re-categorisation
Individualisation Get tested

16 Contact me: Dan Robertson Diversity & Inclusion Director
Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion /

17 Overview of key provisions Vera Bermingham Kingston Law School
The Equality Act 2010 Overview of key provisions Vera Bermingham Kingston Law School

18 Protected characteristics
Age; disability; race; religion and belief; gender; sexual orientation; pregnancy and maternity; marriage and civil partnership; gender re-assignment

19 Concepts in discrimination law
Direct and indirect discrimination Harassment Victimisation Positive action Equality duties on public bodies

20 Direct and Indirect discrimination
requires proof of different treatment between applicant and his/her comparator Indirect discrimination requires proof that the same requirement or condition was applied, for example......

21 Direct Discrimination
To treat someone less favourably than someone else has been treated (or would be treated) on grounds of the person’s sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age. An illustration of how the law operates can be seen in…………

22 Showboat Entertainment v Owens 1984
Former RRA Section 1 (1) (a) ..”on racial grounds” Note: Motive of the alleged discriminator is immaterial and there is no defence of justification (there is in indirect discrimination)

23 What does ‘less favourably mean?’
This means that there must be a comparison with another person. Example: Pregnancy Turley v Allders (1980) Hayes v Malleable WMV (1985) Webb v EMO Cargo (1991)

24 Indirect discrimination….
.. is less straightforward. This applies where a particular policy or practice, which, on the face of it appears to treat everyone equally, but which actually, in practice, leads to people from a particular group being treated less favourably than other people. Mandla v Lee (see below)

25 Griggs v Duke Power 1971(US)
employees required to have successfully completed high school and to have achieved scores on two professionally prepared aptitude tests standards applied fairly to white and black people alike Although disparity outside employer’s control - still liable

26 Mandla v Dowell Lee (1983, HL)
Race claim involving headmaster’s refusal to permit Sikh boy to wear a turbin. Sikhs constituted an ‘ethnic group’ Indirect discrimination

27 The Court held further that …
….intent or discriminatory purpose is irrelevant; it is consequences that matter tests used for hiring and promotion must be job related invalid practices, however neutral in intent, that caused a disparate impact upon a group protected by the act are unlawful

28 Indirect discrimination: ‘Justification’ defence
Provision, criterion or practice (PCP) must be objectively justified by a legitimate aim....

29 Public bodies - General Equality Duty
There is one General Equality Duty with a focus on output rather than input. The Equality Act (section 149) states that our General Equality Duty is to have due regard to the need to: eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advance equality of opportunity between different groups; and foster good relations between different groups Advance (used to be promote) Foster (used to be promote) - tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people from different groups.

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