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FCA sticks to bias training despite govt 'phase out'

In December 2020, Julia Lopez, then parliamentary secretary, published a written statement on unconscious bias training, referring to earlier work done by the Government Equalities Office. 

She wrote: "Earlier this year, the Government Equalities Office commissioned the behavioural insights team for a summary of the evidence on unconscious bias and diversity training.

"Titled ‘Unconscious bias and diversity training - what the evidence says’, the report highlights that ‘there is currently no evidence that this training changes behaviour in the long term or improves workplace equality in terms of representation of women, ethnic minorities or other minority groups’.

"It also states that there is emerging evidence of unintended negative consequences."

As a result, Lopez stated: "In light of its findings, ministers have concluded that unconscious bias training does not achieve its intended aims.

"It will therefore be phased out in the civil service. We encourage other public sector employers to do likewise."

Bradley added: "The government was correct “there is no recognised way of assuring the quality of unconscious bias training”. Additionally, there was “no conclusive proof that it changes behaviour or improves workplace equality in the long term”.

This is just another example of why the FCA should be answerable to the government on their use of spend given their incongruous actions and unwillingness to apply a value to their senior leaders' and managers' time."

A spokesperson from Fos said: “The Financial Ombudsman provides training to staff on a wide range of issues, including diversity and inclusion.

"Our work involves being fair and taking into account different views and perspectives. The training we provide allows our staff to best help the people who use our service, whatever their needs."

An FCA spokesperson said: “As set out in our annual Diversity Report, we will be reviewing and updating our diversity and inclusion strategy in an evidence-based way.

"This will include our suite of diversity and inclusion training, and how we deliver training most effectively. We will publish full details of progress on all aspects of our plans in our 2021/2022 Annual Diversity Report.”

It is understood the FCA does incur specific costs on the unconscious bias training, which it reviewed in October last year. It is understood the overall cost of review and implementation was more than £3,000 plus with an annual cost of more than £600, including VAT.

Find out more: 

FTAdviser is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion across financial services, both for the financial health of the nation and the ongoing sustainability of the financial advice sector.

But as reported many times, D&I needs to be more than a tick-box exercise - it needs to be measurable, quantifiable and beneficial. 

Our latest winners of the FTAdviser Diversity In Finance Awards 2021 have demonstrated exactly that: how they have gone beyond training and 'box-ticking' towards making D&I part and parcel of their workplaces.