Should unconscious bias training be mandatory for boards of directors? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Shefaly Yogendra, Board Director experienced with for- & non-profit, private & listed boards, on Quora:

Unconscious bias training is increasingly being used in corporate environments to sensitise managers and team-leaders to the deep-seated stereotypes, both positive and negative, that may be driving their behaviour towards and treatment of their subordinates and team-members, who are different from them in any way.

From participating in industry round-tables and closed door conversations held under the Chatham House rule, I find that it is unclear what companies do after such mandatory training sessions are delivered. It is not clear over what time frames any behavioural changes are expected to occur; how behaviour change may be tracked; and how such change may subsequently be either rewarded or challenged, depending on whether it became better or remained the same/ worsened. It is also unclear how, if at all, companies change their reporting procedures for employee grievances for managers, who have undergone this training. Some companies I understand are doing a regular drip-feed of "updates" on such training but the link with KRAs is often missing.

Knowing this gives me discomfort because it seems unconscious bias training is being used as a tick-box exercise, a silver bullet of some kind with unclear strategic follow-up.

If implemented for board directors, unconscious bias training as a tool may still suffer the same shortcomings if it is unclear if the "ok, training done, now what?" question is unresolved.

Such training may however make it more possible in board meetings, especially in well-functioning boards, to raise challenges and ask questions if the board's decisions look like they are coming from a place of unconscious bias. Poorly functioning boards are unlikely to benefit from the training in my opinion.

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