5 learnings from our International Women’s Day Unconscious Bias Training

“The question isn’t whether we have bias; it’s a case of which bias we have.” –Pete Dyson

This week, we hosted Burst Your Bias Bubble – a morning of Unconscious Bias training which has previously been run internally for our leadership team hosted by Ogilvy UK’s Pete Dyson, Senior Consultant in the Behavioural Science Practice.

Following the training was a panel discussion moderated by our own Shelina Janmohamed, VP, Ogilvy consulting, including a fabulous line up of speakers:

Nadja Bellan-White, Executive Partner, Ogilvy and WPP Unilever Team Lead
Charlie Craggs, Trans activist and founder of Nail Transphobia 
Nova Reid, Diversity Consultant
Joyce Kremer, Creative, Ogilvy and President, SheSays London 
Pete Dyson, Senior Consultant, Behavioural Science Practice

The panel encouraged us all to be introspective, and bring our underlying biases to the surface, so that we can best address them.

Our biases lie in our fast and automatic decisions made without conscious awareness.​ They may be shaped by personal background, context, culture and social norms, but it is only by acknowledging their existence and their implicit effect on us that we can start to face up to them and reverse their effects.

We finished the bias and training session with a point of summary from each of our panel speakers. Here’s what they had to say:

1- “We must have the curiosity and courage to challenge and self-interrogate.” - Nova

One of the most challenging aspects of addressing unconscious bias, is first admitting that it exists, and then holding ourselves accountable for our actions. Having the courage to admit our inherent biases is the first step to working to fix them.

2- “As people, we have a duty to stand up for each other. Everyone has to help their fellow people, and work on being allies to everyone in our community.” - Charlie

A key theme that emerged was the idea of collective responsibility, and as Charlie says, the more powerful, positive voices we can gather together, the harder it is for inequality to exist.

3- “We have to be allies. Fighting this bias is everyone’s responsibility. We must create a community around the issue that will then build momentum and create change.” - Nadja

From a position of seniority in WPP, Ogilvy and with networks across the world, Nadja is a champion for equality and change. But as she says, true change comes about through collective action, and with the power of a community behind a strong message.

4- "Work out what your biases are and try and start open and transparent conversations with your colleagues and friends about what their biases are. If we could all be less afraid of admitting we have them, and simply work together to openly address them, we can start to make progress.” - Pete

Facing up to what is in front of us is crucial in moving forward, so as Pete says, we should work with those close to us, and convey the idea of a personal responsibility, and hold our friends to account.

5-“We should start by addressing the imbalance of male vs female parental leave, which I believe in many ways is the route of a lot of the imbalances we see in society.”Joyce

As President of SheSays London, Joyce was behind a campaign which urged those in our industry to directly email their CEO, demanding changes in equality. Changing deep rooted gender inequalities will breed change, and encourage us not to simply accept the way things are.

From the training and panel discussion, the key theme that arose was the message of carrying forward #EachForEqual into our daily lives, and championing the concept of collective responsibility. Through that, we can grow comfortable in holding each other accountable for our actions, and start refute the deep rooted inequalities that exist in society.

Here’s a short video from our employees on how they are driving gender equality.