By Rohini Sharma Joshi
Edinburgh, 22 June 2018
Each day, going about our day to day lives, we are exposed to as many as 11 million pieces of information at any one time but our brains can only simultaneously process about 40 pieces of information.
So how do our brains cope? What they do is they manage the information overload by applying filters - they let some pieces of information in and block other pieces out.
But that I think is really interesting is how the brain constructs those filters and how that has an impact on the way we see and treat people.
I believe its crucial that individuals and organisations across Scotland appreciate that, no matter how unbiased we think we are, we are likely to have unconscious biases working away and compromising our ability to live and work and lead other people effectively and fairly.
Fortunately, there are ways of identifying our own unconscious biases and learning how to root them out. Trust Housing Association has training programmes designed to help staff address unconscious bias by identifying triggers and practicing mindfulness.
It was good to see Starbucks take equality training so seriously, they shut their shops early and put 175,000 employees through a carefully designed training programme on “understanding racial bias”.
But what perhaps impressed me the most was that Starbucks executive vice-president for US retail, Rossann Williams was quick to point out that the training “isn’t a solution, its a first step.”
She’s right, we have to ultimately create a society where we no longer see ignorance resulting in devastating human cost. But she’s also right that appropriate training is an important first step.