Unconscious bias training

FOI request reference: CAS-67326-S2B7S9
Publication date: March 2021

Some information provided.

Request and response
1) How many staff have undergone unconscious bias training over the last five calendar years? Please could you break down the number by year for 2021 (up to and including the end of February), 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017.

2017 – 24 staff (24 via classroom-based training)
2018 – 29 staff (11 via classroom-based training & 18 via CSL e-learning)
2019 – 49 staff (27 via classroom-based training & 22 via CSL e-learning)
2020 – 8 staff (8 via CSL e-learning)
2021 – 0 staff

2) How much money has been spent on unconscious bias training for staff over the last five calendar years? Please could you break down the figure by year for 2021 (up to and including the end of February), 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017. In each case where there has been expenditure on unconscious bias training, please could you state which company the money went to, how much, and the date of the payment.

All costs include VAT:

2017 – £2,415.60
2018 – £654.00
2019 – £1,188.00
2020 – no spend
2021 – no spend

3) If unconscious bias training has been provided to staff, please could you provide details of the format of the training is – its title, how many hours/days the training lasts, and any other relevant detail which summarises what it entails.

Unconscious Bias Training – 0.5 day course for managers (2017)
Identify instances of unconscious bias in the workplace and understand why they occur and the impact they can have.
Apply newly learnt techniques to identify, challenge, prevent and remove issues of unconscious bias in the work place.
Recognise examples of unconscious bias in your own behaviour and use the techniques to check any personal instances at work.
Ensure you are inclusive and fair in complying with employment processes, such as performance management and reward and recognition.
Unconscious Bias Training – 0.5 day course for all staff (2018 & 2019)
To increase your understanding about what unconscious bias is and how it can influence attitudes and behaviours.
Understand the impact of Unconscious Bias on decision making and different processes at work.
Have increased awareness of how to effectively challenge bias and inappropriate behaviours.

4) If possible, please could you provide a copy of any training material – documentation including, but not limited to, training packs, worksheets, fact sheets etc – distributed to staff as part of the unconscious bias training in any of the above years. Please note, if this is not possible, please proceed with the remainder of the request.

This information is exempt under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act. Please see the explanatory annex below for further information concerning this exemption and the public interest test.

We would further like to take this opportunity to add that the Civil Service is committed to maintaining a strong focus on diversity and inclusion. This includes deploying a range of evidence-based interventions, for example those relating to decision making and removing bias in the system; whether this is through updating training (for example to improve fairness in recruitment decisions), or creating new and different interventions (for example those targeted at working on creating more inclusive work cultures). We are also using data both to inform where bias may be occurring and to help eradicate it, for example in our approach to recruitment.

This approach also includes stopping interventions where the evidence does not support its continued use, as is the case with Unconscious Bias Training and we would encourage anyone who is interested in understanding this decision to read the recent evidence review undertaken by the Behavioural Insights Team, which was published alongside the Written Ministerial Statement on this. This will allow us to ensure that activity can be focused on those interventions which do make a difference in order to progress this important work.
Exemptions applied.

Section 43(2) – Commercial Interests
This exempts information which if disclosed would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any legal person or body.

Section 43(2) is a qualified exemption and we are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and must be release. In the FOIA there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.

The public interest has been concluded and the balance of the public interest has been found to fall in favour of withholding information covered by the section 43(2) exemption.

The release of this information would likely prejudice the commercial interests of the training provider. Although there is a general presumption in favour of transparency, in this case the balance of the public interest test is weighted in favour of withholding this information.