Breaking Barriers with the Canada School of Public Service

In 2020, the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) shifted to remote work with the rest of the world.

As the federal government’s lead on enterprise-wide learning, the CSPS provides a common, standardized curriculum that supports public servants through key career transitions, ensuring they are equipped to serve Canadians with excellence.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a priority of the Government of Canada and the CSPS worked with partners to create a virtual unconscious bias course for employees to better understand how their biases impact their professional and personal relationships.

So what is unconscious bias?

Unconscious biases are discriminatory habits, also known as stereotypes, about specific groups of people. These biases occur outside of conscious awareness. Unconscious bias training disrupts these habits by empowering employees to acknowledge and challenge the ways in which their brain works to standardize information.

In order for this training to stick, practice is key.

Once employees completed the training, how could they test their knowledge in a safe environment? How could they practice?

Challenge

CSPS approached Dialectic with this challenge, requiring an element of application to round out the course and provide the utmost value to their workforce.

“Change doesn’t happen on its own—it takes leaders who prioritize and invest in the well being of their team members, and it takes a whole staff to build a welcoming and affirming culture,” says Dr. Aaron Barth, Founder and President of Dialectic.

Dialectic’s DEI-focused microlearning platform for building inclusive behaviours, Learning Snippets, offers a variety of courses to suit DEI training needs. The sole purpose of the scenario-based approach to learning is to drive real behaviour change.

The Unconscious Bias Learning Snippets program is geared towards helping participants feel more confident when handling DEI situations and engaging in allyship. The scenarios are short, interesting and engaging, to be completed spaced out over time. By introducing participants to core concepts and skills they can use, they will be able to promote and champion inclusivity in their workplace, even in remote environments.

Results and lessons learned

For those that participated in the Learning Snippet program, what was the experience like?

The participants saw that the Learning Snippets offered value through real-world examples, enabling employees to put the abstract concepts into action.

To find out if Learning Snippets increased the participants awareness of Unconscious Bias and what to do when confronted with a situation where biases were at play, four interviews were conducted with members of the participant group to collect qualitative feedback about the impact of the Unconscious Bias Learning Snippet program.

Feeling more confident in addressing their unconscious biases, the group reported Snippets made an impact on their ability to apply their training to the workplace.

Participants in the Unconscious Bias Learning Snippets program experienced a significant positive shift in their motivations, attitudes and behaviours and were able to apply the concepts they’d learned in the virtual training to the scenarios.

“Snippets made me more likely to take action if I saw a colleague behaving in a biased way,” says an anonymous participant.

Why? Snippets help people practice—applying these concepts to real world situations so they can use them on a daily basis to build inclusive culture.

“The findings show participants demonstrated an organizational commitment to DEI,” explains Melissa Horne, Director of Client Experience. “Research shows that best, most creative ideas come from the most inclusive teams.”

Other notable survey metrics

Overall through Learning Snippets, CSPS created meaningful change in participants’ knowledge of DEI with virtually no impact on their productivity. Their workforce is now thinking about DEI in a different way, with a greater desire to learn more about DEI.

GO DEEPER

Does unconscious bias training actually work? Read more here. Ready to start your DEI journey with Learning Snippets? Get your free course trial of Inclusivity 101 and join our Sunday Snippets mailing list!

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Dialectic helps businesses and organizations improve the way people work, learn, and collaborate through person-centred design and the latest in social psychology, industrial organizational psychology, neuroscience, and behavioural economics.

Dialectic is based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

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