Insights

The Facebook Unconscious Bias Course is Outstanding And You Should Watch It. Here’s Why.

A week or so ago, Facebook put their unconscious bias course online (announcement blog post here).

The course is terrific.  Here are a few reasons why (and, no, I’ve never worked at Facebook, or have any particular view about the FB culture):

  • “One important thing… is that we all have bias.  It’s just part of the human condition”.  Lori Goler in the introduction.

This is a tremendously important, and fairly courageous, statement.  It cuts the foundation out from one of the biggest reasons humans get themselves into trouble: the notion that “I am right”.

Once we admit bias, and begin to become aware of it, we can be so much more subtle in our judgements about people, about business and about building great stuff.

  • Unconscious biases are there for a reason: heuristics help us make fast fight or flight decisions.
  • The course gets immediately into the guts of bias by showing five videos of people introducing themselves for a job, and asking the group to make a hiring decision.  Perfect.  We get to start immediately seeing how fast we make strong decisions, based on our biases, with almost no information.
  • “small things make huge differences” (about 8:00 into the “Introductions and First Impressions” video).   Right.   Three or four minutes here of simulating how a very small bias makes a huge difference over time.   If you watch nothing else, watch this: it’s a great illustration of how strong cultural direction can be based on a few, small but repeated behaviors.
  • the notion of “Bias Interrupters” is powerful.  These are small actions that can be taken both at an individual level, and an overall organizational level to make significant cultural bias change.
  • the whole “stereotypes and performance bias” presentation is awesome.  It covers difficult stuff with humor and smarts – particularly about women and race, but not exclusively (hey, as a guy in my 50’s in Silicon Valley, I have my own concerns).  Example: “we need somebody to speak Spanish – let’s go to Facilities”.  That’s harsh, and it’s delivered with grace and intelligence.
  • some of the examples of Performance bias are jaw-dropping.  Changing the name on a resume from “Heidi” to “Harold” produces a significant difference in how the resume is read (this is apparently an old study, but new to me):

Bias

  • maternal bias: adding “membership in the PTA” causes a resume to be 79% less likely to be recommended for hire:

Bias again again

  • the presentations are resolutely practical.  There are recommendations on what and how to change personal behavior and organizational approach.

Bias Ideas for Action

Bias- what to do

  • the end conclusion is a simple, and strong argument for making serious efforts to build diverse companies.  But the best reason – it’s just the right thing to do – is not overlooked either.

Diverse results

 

This is a great piece of work.  Take an hour and watch it.

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