I decided late last year that if I was going to make my future profession from any form of coaching, I really had to – and wanted to - show up with my commitment to Equality and Diversity. Realising that I needed to take a proactive approach to my own unconscious bias, I undertook 4 months part-time study to pass my Level 2 in Equality and Diversity.
The course helped me to poke, prod and unravel some of my own unconscious bias. Those tendencies we have as humans to be suspicious of people who are "not like us". Our brain has a tendency to stereotype, which can result in injustice, conflict and discrimination. Stereotyping is used by the brain for efficiency. If we can cluster people into groups, then we are not so overwhelmed by information. Our brain will use any information it finds to define these clusters, things like the negative portrayal on social media or in the media will compound any negative depiction of minority groups. And hence it is ‘unconscious’, because often we don’t even realise we are doing it.
It would be easy for me to feel comfortable with my efforts, the hours of study I invested looking deeply into this subject. To proudly display my certificate on the wall for my clients to see, like a beacon of my commitment to treating everyone who walks through my door just the same.
But no, this just isn’t enough. The events of this week have shown this. I have added ‘white privilege’ and ‘anti-racism’ to my vocabulary. I have realised I have so much deeper to dig, and that this is a time for me to listen and understand more from those who have suffered. So my commitment to my future clients is not that I have ‘ticked the box’ for Equality and Diversity, but that I am engaged in the long and faithful work of awakening, and am open to things being more complex than they once seemed. This is the work.