Civil servants taught banned ‘diversity’ training – Telegraph
British bureaucrats have continued to attend publicly-funded ‘unconscious bias’ courses despite the government banning the controversial diversity training program in December 2020, according to The Telegraph. Whitehall has accused public servants of attempting to “subvert and sabotage” ministerial orders, the paper reported.
Citing “leaked” materials, the paper revealed that some 170,000 public servants have completed the course at a cost of £370,000 ($501,892) to the taxpayer. The training – which is billed as a way to address hidden prejudices – is apparently part of a “required learning” course about “inclusion” on the Civil Service Learning online portal.
According to The Telegraph, officials “must” complete four modules, which includes learning about how “stereotyping and unconscious bias can influence thinking and the impact this can have on work relationships and decisions.” The course apparently teaches civil servants about the importance of being “mindful and aware” of their biases in order to “manage” them – so as to “build a diverse workforce.”
One of the four topics covered is religion and ethics, which reportedly features a workplace role-play scenario wherein a Christmas tree is being removed for causing offense to non-Christians. The lesson urges officials to not make assumptions about religious practices, the paper reported.
The training was introduced as a mandatory requirement for all staff in 2014, but was ordered to be “phased out” in 2020 by then-Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office Julia Lopez after a government review warned of its potential “backfiring effects” and questionable effectiveness.
But the government admitted on Saturday that unconscious bias training continued to be offered, with an unnamed Whitehall source telling The Telegraph that it was “deeply disturbing” to see how the “Civil Service diversity industry” operated. The official added that the lack of ministerial oversight had let civil servants feel they could “subvert and sabotage a commitment a Cabinet Office minister made to Parliament.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers are reportedly expected to demand that the Cabinet Office ends “this costly and undesirable kind of indoctrination.” Likening it to “Fawlty Towers meets Whitehall,” Tory MP John Hayes told the paper that the “sinister” training had a “corrosive and corrupting effect.”
But an unnamed government spokesman said that it was “in the process of updating all our diversity and inclusion offerings” and maintained that “standalone mandatory unconscious bias training” had been removed in December 2020.