Ross Clark Ross Clark

How to pass Harvard’s unconscious bias exam

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Like Prince Harry, I never knew I had unconscious bias until it was pointed out to me, but now it has been I know I will have to do something about it. Except that in my case that ‘something’ is not to moan to Oprah Winfrey about members of my family speculating on the colour of my baby’s skin. It is to dig a little deeper and ask: do I really have an inner Ku Klux Klan that is controlling all I do and preventing me from becoming a good person?

I had heard of unconscious bias training on many occasions – not least when the then Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez told the Commons that a government review of evidence had suggested it was ineffective and would therefore be phased out in the civil service. Actually, it seems to be taking a long time to be removed: more than a year after Lopez had made her statement, Civil Service Learning, which organises courses for civil servants, was still offering unconscious bias training. As for other organisations, it seems to be a booming industry. One company, for example, offers a one-day training course which ‘provides a non-judgmental approach aimed at understanding how unconscious bias operates in the workplace’. The cost is £795 per delegate face-to-face or £295 via Zoom.

Do I really have an inner Ku Klux Klan preventing me from becoming a good person?

Until last week I had never tried it myself, not least because I have never applied for a job in a public body or woke corporation. I then discovered that I could visit the Harvard University website and try for myself the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which lies at the heart of unconscious bias training. What’s more, I could do it for free, rather than having to pay £795.

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