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Government to scrap unconscious bias training

16 December 2020

The government is scrapping its unconscious bias training for all civil servants in England.

The training was designed to help people to recognise patterns of discrimination or prejudice they may not have been aware of. The government alleges there is no evidence to suggest it changes the way people think about discrimination, and that it may backfire and create more hostility towards demographic groups which face discrimination. It is urging other public sector employers to end such training too.

The Junior Minister, Julia Lopez MP, who oversees work in the Cabinet Office’s Equalities Hub which includes the Disability Unit, has released a written statement on why the training is being withdrawn.

The statement says:

“There is clearly a role for training to support a more inclusive workplace and Civil Service, evidence also suggests that even the broader category of ‘diversity training’ as a standalone exercise can undermine such efforts if it appears to be a “tick box exercise”. The Civil Service will therefore integrate principles for inclusion and diversity into mainstream core training and leadership modules in a manner which facilitates positive behaviour change. This new strategy will be published in the new year, and will reassert our commitment to being an inclusive employer with a stronger focus on engaging measurable action.”

DR UK Head of Policy said: “The withdrawal of one scheme without the introduction of a new one shows a lack of commitment to Disability equality. It would surely have been better to have withdrawn this scheme after the implementation of the new, as yet to be announced, proposals. The government’s actions towards Disabled people this year have shown that it has a very long way to go in embedding a culture of inclusion.”