ScreenSkills launches unconscious bias training

A free online learning module designed to address unconscious bias in the screen industries goes live today as the next step in a suite of ScreenSkills resources designed to support achieving real change in the sector.

The training is designed to promote greater diversity and inclusion by helping screen professionals understand what unconscious bias is, how it might manifest itself at work and how to recognise and challenge assumptions they make.

It has been developed with support from the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds as part of its Future Film Skills strategy, the TV Skills Fund, with contributions from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, and ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund, with contributions from HETV productions.

The addressing unconscious bias: basic awareness in the workplace module builds on the 90-minute in-person training that ScreenSkills launched with the British Independent Film Awards three years ago to ensure their voting process was as inclusive and rigorous as possible. It was later extended to other voting academies and then to industry more widely. BIFA, currently with ScreenSkills support, continues to offer the more in-depth training. 

It forms part of a suite of resources aimed at improving inclusion as well as broader issues around creating a fair and welcoming workplace in film, television, animation, VFX and games. More than 1,500 people have taken online learning aimed at tackling harassment and bullying since it was launched last year. Future modules will also include inclusive hiring practices and mental health.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills CEO, said: “If we really want to build an inclusive workforce, we have to embed the change we want to see. That includes giving people the tools to do the right thing and challenging the way the industry recruits and treats the people who work in it.

“We all carry bias within ourselves unconsciously and that needs to be acknowledged if we are going to make progress. Helping everyone in the industry but especially those with the power to change it – whether hirers, heads of production, producers, directors or commissioners – understand their assumptions and implied associations is one building block to helping our industry become more representative of society and encompass a wider range of experience in our story-telling.”

The module is recommended for anyone currently working, or thinking of working, in the UK screen industries. It concludes with a short test and those who achieve at least 80% correct answers may download a certificate of evidence of their learning which it is hoped that everyone in the industry will want to have as one step to change.

People working in the screen industries make content that reflects the experiences and shapes the thinking of audiences. If unconscious biases go unchecked, there is a risk of only working with people from similar backgrounds and limiting the influence of other people. This affects what our audiences experience on screen and also whether the industry is viewed as an accessible and attractive place to work.

Raising awareness of unconscious biases helps reduce their impact. However, it does not eliminate them. This module explores theory as well as strategies to help tackle their impact at work. The lessons learned can be refreshed or extended through further development and training.


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