The ongoing social movement in the United States — following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police officers — has sparked a global conversation about systemic bias. The corporate world is uniting against racism, and businesses are waking up to the embedded biases within their own companies, reevaluating just how diverse and inclusive their teams really are. With everyone’s mind on inequality, now is the time to take action to eradicate discrimination from the workplace.
Businesses know that they need to improve their company culture and leadership, but many do not know where to start. Starting is a multilayered process. While training alone will not solve the problem, unconscious bias training can be an effective first next step. It’s a way to begin the process by developing diversity competency and helping leaders gain clarity about how everyday human experiences impact company culture. But with the shift to telework due to the coronavirus pandemic, even this first step may feel difficult, and you may be wondering how to achieve the same results virtually.
The solution is to design for online learning. Instead of simply taking an in-person class and throwing it online, tailor remote education to maximize engagement and clarity. One way is to host your company’s training on a teleconferencing platform, where you’ll be able to share interactive content and split the class into breakout rooms to engage in deeper conversations. Breakout rooms are essential for learners to participate in effective, intimate conversations about bias.
Designing for online learning also means prioritizing engagement. To enhance the remote learning experience, you can use polls to gauge views, interactive presentation platforms to receive instant feedback, and fillable PDFs to structure individual or small group work.
Another option is to “flip” the classroom. There are plenty of resources available now so that people can engage in learning prior to class, saving the synchronous sessions for interactivity. For example, people could independently take the Harvard Implicit Associations Test to discover their own unconscious biases or watch an educational video, such as Stanford’s presentation on How Women Can Overcome Bias at Work. Once the class meets, there are many facilitated discussion tools you can use to inspire meaningful conversation.
Your organization may even opt for an anti-bias training that’s hosted completely asynchronously using new technology tools. The asynchronous content and self-paced format give people more flexibility to navigate their learning experience. It also provides a safe space for people to explore sensitive topics, allowing learners who may normally fear saying or doing the wrong thing a chance to fully participate.
We know this approach works. We have been doing it for years. Learning online is fun, it’s more flexible and has good outcomes. It’s all about designing for online.