The Business Case

The Harvard Project Implicit Association Test (IAT) for racial bias was taken by over 3 million people across the USA, the UK and Western Europe between 2003 and 2016. Business in the Community partnered with Ken Clark from the University of Manchester’s Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) to analyse this data.

The infographic below profiles the most recent analysis. Click to enjoy the full interactive experience. 


Implicit Association test

Analysis of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) data from 2003 – 2016 highlighted that 18 to 24-year olds have the highest levels of bias of all age groups who completed the survey.

"UK top executives have the lowest levels of racial bias in the world.  However, a recent analysis of data from 2003-2016 indicates a negative trend increase in racial bias from 66% to 66.6%.  No matter how small this shift, it is important to understand that racial bias is not static and has to be continually monitored and employers must build a pipeline of inclusive leaders within their organisations They should also regularly monitor employee engagement through regular employee surveys, discussions and focus groups". Sandra Kerr OBE, Business in the Community Race Equality Director 

Graph depicting unconcious bias across Europe, US and UK

This graph plots the different results on IAT racial bias testing from 2003 – 2016 and illustrates a snapshot of the workplace and wider society across international geographies year on year from 2003 to 2016. Despite the graph showing a downward trend, it must be understood that continued action is required to maintain this momentum. 

Trends from Best Employers for Race 2017

92% of the employers in the Best Employers for Race listing provided unconscious bias training for their employees. The Best Employers for Race are clearly outperforming employers in the UK where Race at Work found only 49% ensured equality and diversity training was available and this fell to 7% when employees were asked about equality and diversity training for managers.

Only 23% of employers in the Best Employers for Race listing said that their line managers had diversity performance objectives. 

Further analysis of the Race at Work 2015 survey responses found that 41% of employees from BAME backgrounds said that they had a diversity performance objective.

Only 28% of employers in the Best Employers for Race listing said that they ensured diversity on their selection panels for promotions. Employee Network Groups provide a great resource for diverse talent who can be trained to sit on selection panels for promotions across the organisation

Take Action

Recommendations 5-7 from the Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review encourages employers to consider unconscious bias training and recommends free materials should be made available online.  In addition, the review recommends that mandatory unconscious bias training should be undertaken by employees at all levels within an organisation to address lingering behaviours and attitudes that act as a barrier to a more inclusive workplace.  The report also states that senior management teams and executive boards and those with a role in the recruitment process should go further and participate in more detailed training workshops.

Free resources to help you take action

There are many free tools and materials across the internet available for organisations to use: 

The Harvard Project Implicit Association Test (IAT)
This assessment tool can be used as pre-training assessment and employees should be encouraged to share and discuss their results.  The site also has tests on gender bias, age bias and covers issues linked to mental health. 
Take the Harvard Project Implicit Association Test >>

Royal Society short film on unconscious bias
An explanation of what unconscious bias is, how it can influence us in decision making and some actions that we might take to minimise its impact.
View the short film on unconscious bias from the Royal Society >>

Business in the Community infographics on unconscious bias
Business in the Community and University of Manchester’s Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) collaborated to produce a range of infographics in 2015, based on analysis of the data from the Implicit Association Test from 2003-2013.
View the infographics >>

Watch the suite of short films and download the graphic novels that tackle racial harassment, bullying and unconscious bias produced after the thematic review of comments from the Race at Work Survey by the University of Manchester. The multimedia presentations were produced in partnership with Business in the Community and recorded in the Equality, Diversity and Racism report
Watch the videos and download the graphic novels >>