Unconscious Bias Course Builds ‘Gender IQ’

Unconscious Bias Course Builds ‘Gender IQ’

Unconscious bias is one of the most important and most difficult problems organizations face in advancing diversity and inclusion. At CEB’s ReimagineHR event in Miami in September, D&I leaders identified it as a key challenge that many leaders and HR practitioners are still learning about. At Fortune, Laura Cohn points to a new online training course developed by UN Women’s HeForShe initiative in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers that aims to raise awareness of unconscious gender bias and improve participants’ “Gender IQ”:

The course starts with a video of Elizabeth Nyamayaro, who heads the UN’s HeForShe campaign, talking about the reasons behind the program. In the video, she notes that every day, women and girls “are denied basic human rights—we need to do something about that.” It then goes on to explain that the session will not only help you see how unconscious assumptions mold gender norms, roles and relations, it will help you understand the costs involved.

The program takes you through a series of interactive exercises (like the true/false test) on automatic associations and queries about the percentage of women in the global workforce, interspersed with videos in which experts talk about gender identity in today’s terms and throughout history. It also shows videos in which young men and women talk about their favorite toys and activities growing up. The program graded me on the individual assessments, but—interestingly enough—gave me no final “IQ” score.

PwC developed the course to use in-house, but the firm may also roll it out to clients. A number of companies—such as Lockheed Martin, Google, Facebook and Coca-Cola, to name a few—have developed similar gender bias awareness programs. … PwC says it’s making its course voluntary for its employees—a move that may help prevent the kind of backlash seen in the academic studies. It’s also designed to be educational (the course offers anecdotes from women of various backgrounds talking about their upbringing), rather than just offering proscriptive rules for behavior.