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Friday 18 December 2020

FDA criticises government’s “absolutely illogical” decision on unconscious bias training

The FDA has branded the government’s decision to scrap unconscious bias training for civil servants as “absolutely illogical” and has criticised ministers for making the announcement without producing any proposals for what will replace it.

Speaking to the BBC’s Politics Live, FDA Assistant General Secretary Lucille Thirlby argued that the FDA has not been provided with any of the evidence on which the government says it has based the decision, despite being a recognised civil service trade union. Thirlby pointed out that there is significant evidence of bias leading to worse outcomes for those including BAME civil servants and civil servants with disabilities.

In comments picked up across media outlets, including by BBC News and the Guardian, Thirlby asked how the government is now going to ensure people are not discriminated against: “It's easier to attack something than do something positive about it.”

Writing for Left Foot Forward, Thirlby called for ministers to get a better understanding of how workplaces operate rather than tinkering around the edges of diversity strategy. She made clear that the FDA and fellow trade unions “are always happy to talk to the government and debate the evidence, but the driver for change must not be an ideology that regards diversity as a gimmick that costs taxpayers’ money.”

She added that “if the government really wants inclusive and diverse workplaces and communities, they must come forward with the proposals to prove it.”

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