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Unconscious Bias webinar viewed 2300 times

14 February 2019

Hundreds of lawyers have now watched the NZLS CLE limited unconscious bias in the workplace webinar.

The webinar has been viewed 2300 times, sometimes more than once by individual lawyers.

Lawyers can still access the webinar, which was introduced in 2017, as part of continuing legal education.

Undergoing unconscious bias training is one of the key commitments of the Law Society’s Gender Equality Charter, which aims to improve the retention and advancement of women lawyers.

What is Unconscious Bias?

Generally biases are shaped by a person’s social environment, background and personal experiences. Some biases are conscious, such as choosing to hire individuals with a certain amount of experience.

If someone has an unconscious bias, it means they’re unaware of their preferences and think they are acting objectively. Many different characteristics such as height, physical appearance, gender, ethnicity and age can be subject to unconscious bias. Working arrangements can also be affected by unconscious biases such as negative preconceptions about flexible work. Unconscious bias affects multiple areas in the workplace, including:

  • the recruitment and promotion process
  • performance ratings
  • tasks assigned to employees
  • bonuses and benefits
  • the culture of a legal workplace

While often unnoticed, research has shown that unconscious bias is just as harmful if not more damaging than overt bias. A recent study published in the Lancet highlights how gender bias holds women back in health sciences. Basically, the findings reveal that when equally qualified men and women are compared, and their potential evaluated, men get the advantage.

It may come as a surprise but this article published on Forbes suggests that unconscious bias favours men at work.

The New Zealand Law Society would like to achieve at least 30% of the legal profession being covered by the Gender Equality Charter by April. Currently, there are 110 charter signatories.

Signing up to the Gender Equality Charter enables legal workplaces to make a public statement of their commitment to improving gender equality and inclusion. Charter signatories are part of a community committed to improving gender equality and inclusion that will lead, develop and share best practice for the benefit of the legal profession. To sign up to the charter or to find out more email womeninlaw@lawsociety.org.nz

Last updated on the 16th September 2019