Anti-Racism and Unconscious Bias Training

US Soccer player Rachel Hill declines to take the knee on the eve of a football game between the Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit on 28th June 2020.

Before reading these Frequently Asked Questions, please take a look at the legal disclaimer at the foot of this page.

Background

Here at the Free Speech Union we are receiving a growing number of queries about workplace “anti-racism” initiatives. Some people are unhappy with certain training programmes being implemented in the name of “anti-racism” or tackling “bias”. Others have been asked to express their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by their employer or their colleagues.

These individuals are concerned for a number of reasons. Some of them think the training programmes are based on dubious theories – such as Critical Race Theory – that ascribe collective guilt to white people about the slave trade and colonialism and ignore the progress that has been made in race relations in Britain over the past 50 years. Some have reviewed the evidence and found that diversity training can in certain circumstances make people more discriminatory, not less. Some worry that the premise of these programmes is that bias or prejudice is the sole cause of unequal outcomes between different groups, when they believe there are multiple causes of these discrepancies, of which unconscious bias is only one. Finally, some fear that they and their colleagues will feel forced into potentially divisive identity boxes as part of the training they’re being asked to do and there’s a risk their workplace may become “racialised” as a consequence.

These are all perfectly legitimate points of view, but many people are worried that if they voice these concerns – or ask to opt out of the training – then their job, career progression, reputation and workplace relationships will be at risk.

This set of FAQs offers information if you are dealing with such a situation in your workplace. We will be developing these FAQs in the coming weeks and months to address the evolving issues raised by our members.

We recommend that you join the Free Speech Union (FSU) before raising these issues with your employer. The FSU supports people in their right to freedom of expression and belief. We offer advice and advocacy for people who want to participate in these debates in an open, evidence-based way and may take up your case if you face penalties for exercising your lawful right to free speech. Sign up before you do anything else!

We did a good deal of research in the course of compiling this first set of FAQs, and one of the people who helped with that research, a journalist called Carrie Clark, has written up her findings in the form of a briefing paper. Carrie looked specifically at the Implicit Association Test, a diagnostic tool that sits at the heart of most forms of diversity training. It’s worth reading in full, but the short version is that this test has been almost completely discredited in the scientific literature since it was first devised in 1998. You can read a summary of Carrie’s paper here.