Stratton Methodist Church

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Training - Unconscious Bias

Church Council members are asked to review the following training information on the subject of unconscious bias. This includes watching the videos below. If you have any questions please see Deacon Stephen Roe. 

Unconscious bias refers to the attitudes, beliefs, or stereotypes that people carry in their subconscious. These biases can affect decisions and actions without the individual being aware of their influence. They are formed by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences. Unconscious biases can impact a wide range of situations, from everyday choices to workplace decisions, and can lead to less objective decisions or discriminatory practices. Recognising and addressing these biases can help foster more inclusive and fair interactions and environments

Introduction to the Equality Act 2010

We are all Made In the Image of God

The Methodist Church in Britain’s approach to Equality Diversity and Inclusion is situated in theology, Methodist principles and practice and, above all, in the Gospels. We are all made in the image of God. However, there is a need for us all to understand equality law.

The Equality Act 2010

The Act came into being on 1st October 2010 and is designed to legally protect people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. At the time it was the largest overhaul of UK antidiscrimination law, ultimately taking significant legal steps towards creating a fair and just society.

The Equality Act seeks to recognise that people are different and need different approaches in order to allow them to flourish in the contemporary world. This underpinning principle is at the heart of the gospel imperative of justice, inclusion and loving our neighbour.

The Equality Act 2010 covers:

  • Employment and Work
  • Goods and Services
  • Premises
  • Associations
  • Transport.

The Act states that discrimination occurs when a person treats another less favourably than they treat or would treat others because of a protected characteristic. These ‘protected characteristics’ will be explored later in this document. Discrimination is generally unlawful.

Unlawful discrimination is defined as:

  • Direct Discrimination – treating a person worse than someone else just because of a protected characteristic.
  • Indirect Discrimination – doing something that has a worse impact on a protected group than on people who do not have that characteristic.
  • Discrimination by Association – treating a person worse because they are associated with a person who has a protected characteristic.
  • Discrimination by Perception – treating a person worse than someone else because they are assumed to have a particular protected characteristic (e.g. if a straight person does not get appointed to a job because they are assumed to be gay).
  • Discrimination arising from disability – a person with a disability who is treated unfavourably because of something connected to their disability where it cannot be shown to be objectively justified.
  • Victimisation – treating someone badly or victimising them because they have complained about discrimination or helped someone else complain.
  • Harassment – engaging in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

Protected characteristics

The Equality Act 2010, identifies the following nine ‘protected characteristics’:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

Although the law separates people into protected characteristics, in reality we all have multiple identities and each of us falls into more than one protected group.

When considering the protected characteristics it is essential to understand that they are not just about ‘minority or marginalised’ groups but instead about everyone. All people have an age, sex, sexual orientation, race etc. So the protected characteristic on sex is not just about women but men too.

We need to ensure that we are not viewing the Equality Act through our own stereotypes of who is included and excluded. Also, the fact that we belong to a group protected under the Act does not mean that we are incapable of discriminating against another group, or other groups similarly protected.

We all have biases, whether conscious or unconscious which could potentially lead to discrimination whether intentional or unintentional.

For more information on the Equality Act 2010, refer to the EDI Toolkit module 1.3 The Law or visit 

Slide 1







Types of Unconscious Bias and Micro Aggression

The following types of unconscious bias are important to be aware of and to look out for in our own behaviour and that of others. Noticing and acknowledging that these biases can be present can help us to minimise the negative effect of them on the choices we make.

  • Stereotyping Bias
    • A fixed thought or belief that many people share about a certain type of person or thing.
  • Gender bias
    • A preference for one gender over the other. This can change depending on the choice we’re making.
  • Conformity bias
    • When we behave similarly to others in a group, even if it goes against what we actually believe.
  • Beauty bias
    • The view that the most attractive person will be the most successful.
  • Affinity bias
    • When we warm up to someone we feel a connection to; maybe because they attended the same school or college, or grew up in the same town.
  • Halo effect
    • When we let one good quality about someone influence our judgement of them as a whole.
  • Horns effect
    • When we let one negative trait about someone blind us to their positive qualities.
  • Similarity bias
    • The natural tendency to surround ourselves with people who are similar to us.
  • Contrast effect
    • When we compare someone to the person they’re replacing, rather than how capable they are at the job they are doing. This can happen a lot in the recruitment and selection process.
  • Attribution bias
    • When we look for reasons behind our own and other people’s behaviour. We tend to think others are lucky when they do well; and when they do badly we think it’s due to their personality or bad behaviour. When we do badly, we tend to blame other people or outside influences.
  • Confirmation bias
    • When we look for evidence to back up what we already believe. We have trouble believing evidence that goes against our beliefs.
  • Micro- Aggression:
    • Micro-Aggressions are a set of unconscious (sometimes conscious) behaviours often seen in the work place, committee room or other formal or informal settings which say to an individual, that they do not quite belong and are not welcome. These very often take the form of insensitive comments, questions or actions which undermine confidence, questioning the right to belong, subtle insults or criticism, slights or insults often disguised as a joke or banter. The recipient of this type of behaviour will usually feel uncomfortable or hurt.
  • Micro-Aggression can include:
    1. Not inviting someone to speak or contribute in a meeting
    2. Not giving eye contact
    3. Being ignored
    4. Having your contribution to a meeting or task unnoticed
    5. Being talked over
    6. Having your authority undermined
    7. Having negative assumptions made about your competence to do a job role or particular task
    8. Having assumptions made about your honesty
    9. Having assumptions made about your citizenship or nationality
    10. Having stereotypical judgements made about your ability
    11. Persistently not saying someone’s name correctly – or creating new ‘acceptable’ names
  • Micro-aggression when left unchallenged can impact on an individual’s psychological wellbeing, confidence and performance over a prolonged period, and can lead to exclusion and alienation.

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