1. Baillie Gifford’s Unconscious Bias Group discusses how they are raising awareness of this area.

  2. Tell us about the Unconscious Bias Group

    The Group has six members and our main objective is to raise awareness of unconscious bias and devise strategies to proactively manage it. The Group was founded around 18 months ago and since then we have been learning about how we can be more aware of our biases, which is the first step towards mitigating them and encouraging open discussions.

    Unconscious biases are such that we aren’t aware of them, and tend to rise to the surface when we make quick judgements. These assessments reflect our own upbringing, cultural background, education and personal experiences, rather than the qualities of the person we pass judgement on.

    What initiatives have the Group introduced?

    Our initiatives have been largely communication based and have involved trying different approaches to get people talking. A small library was created featuring an array of diverse authors and subjects to gently tackle our biases. After staff have read one of the books, they are encouraged to write a short review of it on a post-it note. This has helped to kick-start people thinking and reading about unfamiliar topics and, of course, made it a talking point.

    We’ve also held two Consciousness Café sessions. These sessions encourage open and honest dialogue, where people can speak freely about their thoughts and feelings on a range of topics. It’s a place where everyone’s voice has equal weight and there is no right or wrong. These sessions tackle our biases by creating a safe space for discussion and allowing us to see the world from our colleagues’ point of view. Encouraging empathy and understanding in this way is a critical step towards tackling our inherent biases.

    Additionally, the Group has also organised workshops and taken part in events which encourage individuals to get to know colleagues out with their immediate network. This has involved a number of different activities, from breakfast sessions to board games at the end of the working day. Such initiatives help to bring different members of staff together in an informal setting, and helps to widen networks and broaden relationships.

    So far our events have been voluntary and that’s important – it’s not a topic that can be forced on people.

     

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    Taking a moment to pause before you make a decision or form a judgement can prove beneficial. That course of action helps you to become more conscious of why you think or feel a certain way, which means you’re likely to come to a more objective conclusion.
  4. Have you noticed any changes in the Investment Department and wider firm since a greater focus has been placed on diversity and inclusion?

    There has been a noticeable positive impact, especially in the past 18 months and the Group has been pleasantly surprised at how many people have been keen to get involved or suggest ideas to help us move forward.

    Overall it feels like there’s more of an awareness of diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias, not just in the Investment Department but firm wide. Transparency has certainly improved and across Baillie Gifford we are undoubtedly talking about it more openly.

    Are there any tools people can use to find out about their biases?

    The Harvard Implicit Bias Test is a great tool in helping you to identify where your biases lie. As the etymology suggests, the obvious problem with unconscious biases is that we don’t realise we have them. However, we all do, and being more aware of your biases helps you to pay closer attention to your behaviour.

    What strategies can people employ to address their unconscious biases?

    Taking a moment to pause before you make a decision or form a judgement can prove beneficial. That course of action helps you to become more conscious of why you think or feel a certain way, which means you’re likely to come to a more objective conclusion.

    It’s also important that we all feel comfortable pointing out the biases we see. Nobody is perfect and mistakes happen, so it’s important to be able to call out where we see unconscious bias happening to help those around us become more aware of their actions.