Development Bank of Wales

Learning Workshops

Unconscious Bias Workshops

Context

Development Bank Wales (DBW) was established in 2013 by the Welsh Government, to provide Welsh businesses with financial support and access to development funding. There is a focus on micro businesses and SMEs, with customers offered the opportunity to strengthen and grow their business with loans ranging between £1,000 to £10 million. The bank also offers equity investment from £50,000 to £10 million for established businesses.

Prior to working with Eliesha, DBW commissioned an external Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). The recommendations of the report resulted in a series of actions, including the commissioning of specific training to raise awareness amongst all Bank staff of unconscious bias and its potential impact on their funding decisions.

Requirement

Following discussions with a number of potential suppliers, DBW contracted Eliesha for the design and delivery of learning to help them achieve their workforce development objectives.  After a number of planning conversations, the Bank produced the following set of requirements for Eliesha to meet. The training need to:

  • Be delivered in an interactive group setting in order to facilitate discussion and understanding about discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, and biases, how they affect decision-making, and how to overcome them
  • Be positive and constructive, to enable a culture in which people feel comfortable to raise issues without fear of retaliation
  • Cover all eight protected characteristics – and nuances between them (e.g., the wide range of issues facing different types of disability, intersectionality, etc.)
  • Be aimed at reducing the negative impact of biases and unwanted behaviours
  • Include practical tools and techniques
  • Be delivered to staff across all roles (both client/non-client facing staff)
  • Include content about why addressing unconscious bias is important internally, as well as externally with customers

Solution

To satisfy the objectives of DBW, Eliesha set up sessions across the country, providing a detailed insight into unconscious bias and the impact it can have in the workplace. The sessions themselves were designed to be highly interactive and engaging. They had a focus on facilitating discussion and understanding of discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, and biases, how they affect decision-making, and how to overcome them.

Our trainers were briefed directly by the client on the background and objective of the project and were tasked with creating safe spaces that would enable delegates to challenge their knowledge and explore the topic areas with confidence and honesty. This being particularly important given the nature of the topic area covered. The programme was delivered across a number of office locations:

  • Cardiff (c140 staff)
  • Wrexham (c15 staff)
  • Manchester (c14 staff)

To support the learning and continual professional development of the participants, Eliesha offered all staff access to 3 relevant pearls of wisdom® microlearning videos from our Equality and Diversity category. A 12-month licence was provided to access these 3-4 minute videos online. The films explained basic theories and knowledge of each subject area, so as to maximise time spent with the trainer and colleagues in the training room. Before the workshop, delegates were provided with the following pearls of wisdom®:

Making these available for participants to access in a way that fits with their work demands prior to the workshop enabled the trainer to explor critical topic areas more easily, confident in the knowledge that the participants had been provided with the opportunity to become broadly familiar with a topic beforehand. This made the learning more interactive, time effective, and digestible.

“Challenged myself and my approach” – Workshop Attendee

Outcome

Discerning between a delegate’s perceived understanding and an actionable understanding of unconscious bias is of course difficult to quantify in the short-term. The proof of such progress is naturally something that will manifest with time, however, in the case of DBW it is important to consider the wider requirements of the organisation.

As an arm of the Welsh Government, DBW has taken the critical steps to understand unconscious bias and to build an appreciation for the impact it can have not only on their customers but also their staff. Wrestling with such a barrier to decision making and organisational effectiveness can in and of itself display an openness and desire for significant change.


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