England’s cricket stars are lectured on ‘workplace banter and inappropriate non-verbal behaviour’ by firm that offers ‘experiential actor-based unconscious bias training’ amid Twitter racism row

  • Stars forced to attend them since March as they’re lectured on workplace banter
  • The Professional Cricketers’ Association enforced the sessions on all its players
  • London-based business management consultants EW Group was running them
  • They’ll have been advised about ‘banter and inappropriate non-verbal behaviour’

England cricketers have been subject to months of bizarre woke unconscious biasing training as bosses try to stamp out racism in the sport.

Stars such as James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Joe Root have been forced to attend the workshops since March as they are lectured on ‘workplace banter’.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association enforced the classes on all county and international players ‘as part of a zero-tolerance approach to racial discrimination’.

London-based business management consultant firm EW Group was running the courses and its website gives a gist of what the England stars had to go through.

They will have been lectured on ‘issues such as workplace banter and inappropriate non-verbal behaviour’ during the sessions.

They are also likely to have been subject to an ‘experiential actor-based unconscious bias training’ lesson, which the company gave an insight into on its web page.

One bizarre clip shows two actors placed in a lift as they play out a sexist scenario in the workplace while the clients enter the training room.

Despite attending these courses for months, England cricket has been plunged into crisis in recent days after the emerging of players’ historical social media posts.

Five of the country’s top athletes are under the spotlight for racist, homophobic and sexist posts they shared online up to a decade ago.

Anderson, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and an unnamed player have been outed – while Ollie Robinson was booted from the Test squad for his from when he was just 18.

Despite attending these courses since March, England cricket has been plunged into crisis in recent days after the emerging of players’ historical social media posts. Pictured: Anderson

Five of the country’s top athletes are under the spotlight for racist, homophobic and sexist posts they shared online up to a decade ago. Pictured: Jos Buttler

James Anderson, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan (pictured) and an unnamed player have been outed – while Ollie Robinson was booted from the Test squad for his from when he was 18

What IS ‘unconscious bias’?

‘Unconscious bias’ is a term used to describe when people make assumptions about others without realising they are doing so.

It is mostly associated with the ‘woke’ movement – while critics dismiss it. 

The University of California, San Francisco, claims ‘everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups’. 

Edinburgh University says it can result in people being treated unfairly because of their gender, ethnicity or disability. 

‘Workplace relationships experts’ Acas say unconscious bias sometimes stems from stereotypes. They give the example of assuming someone with tattoos is unlikely to follow rules.

The term has only recently entered common discourse, but is already prompting corporations to implement specialist training for staff.

MPs were also invited to undergo unconscious bias training – although some refused. 

Critics argue the training is nothing more than a corporate box-ticking exercise. Dr Frank Dobbin, Harvard University social sciences professor, argues that compulsory diversity training simply doesn’t work and can often make things worse.

EW Group launched its new ‘major’ programme with the Professional Cricketers’ Association in January, with it getting underway in March.

The firm, which has worked with the BBC, the Met and Transport for London in the past, delivered the workshops to all pro male and female players in the country.

The PCA said it was to ‘raise awareness of cultural differences and unconscious bias specifically in the context of racism in professional cricket.

It said it would ‘address issues such as workplace banter and inappropriate non-verbal behaviour’.

It added the ‘education’ would also look at ‘cultural awareness’, micro behaviours, unconscious bias and ‘non-inclusive behaviours’.

One of the drills EW Group uses in its lectures is the ‘experiential actor-based unconscious bias training’.

Its website says it uses ‘live actor-based workshops’ with ‘intelligently scripted scenarios to highlight what so often stays hidden in the workplace.

EW claims this allows clients to ‘experience the realities of unconscious bias first-hand, up close and personal’.

An accompanying video shared on the firm’s page highlights what happens during the ‘experiential actor-based unconscious bias training’.

In it, two actors are placed in a lift as they played out a sexist scenario in the workplace while the clients enter the training room.

One is a white, male manager and another is a woman who is asking for a promotion after just coming back from maternity leave.

Their conversation is made so the trainees can hear them and is painted so the white boss is in the wrong.

The group is asked to discuss what the man did badly – after it is revealed they are actors – before they re-work his approach to make it more acceptable for EW.

The video is an example of what the company does during this training but it is not clear if the England stars were given the same scenario.

The PCA signed up to EW’s workshops after launching a survey last year asking players about racism in the sport.

The findings said 92 per cent of cricketers thought their employers produced an environment that allows all cricketers to flourish.

And just 23 out of the 173 who took part in the study said they had experienced racism in the sport.

But from the few that said they had, 45 per cent said it had been directed by another player, while 39 per cent it was from fans or on social media.

On the intent of the racism, 62 per cent said it had been disguised as banter, while 70 per cent said they wanted more education for players in the sport.

One bizarre clip shows two actors placed in a lift as they played out a sexist scenario in the workplace while the clients enter the training room

PCA Chief Executive Rob Lynch said in January: ‘After a thorough consultation process, we are delighted to work with EW Group to deliver a new player education programme as we continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to racism and discrimination in cricket.

‘We were very impressed by EW Group’s understanding of the key issues, and the organisation has an excellent track record of working within top-level professional sport.’

EW also has the backing of some players in the sport, with Derbyshire all-rounder Anuj Dal labelling it ‘outstanding’.

He told the Cricketer after his team’s online session in April: ‘Ours was outstanding. Fantastic. Really well run by EW and very easy to interact with.

‘We had such engaging conversations both as a big group and also when we split into mini-groups.

‘It was great to hear people’s thoughts and they spoke up about how they interpret things.’

EW Group was set up by Jane Farrell and Annie Hedge in 1992 and came from the idea firms ‘would only excel when they fully engaged with diversity’.

The two former teachers said on the company’s website they wanted to ‘bring an inclusive approach to workforce and leadership development’.

Their office was based in King’s Cross but they moved to Farringdon in 2018 where the ‘energy and entrepreneurial spirit in the building just rubs off on everyone’.

EW Group was set up by Jane Farrell and Annie Hedge (pictured) in 1992 and came from the idea firms ‘would only excel when they fully engaged with diversity’

Despite attending the lectures for months, the national team is facing a crisis over the digging up of years-old tweets from some of the games top players.

Anderson deleted a post telling Broad he had a ‘lesbian haircut’ amid the fallout from Ollie Robinson’s previous posts.

The fast bowler removed the message from February 20, 2010, which saw him mock his Test match teammate.

It came after the 38-year-old said yesterday he has ‘changed as a person’ from a decade ago.

Anderson said the squad had still been attending the ‘racism workshops’ as the side tried to ‘help improve ourselves as people’.

He also said Robinson has ‘got the full support of the team’ despite the England and Wales Cricket Board suspending him for racist and sexist tweets when he was just 18.

Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler were also dragged into the social media storm last night as further unsavoury historic tweets went viral.

Buttler said ‘Well done on double 100 much beauty batting you are on fire sir,’ to Alex Hales in August 2017.

Messages from Morgan and Brendon McCullum to Buttler the following May, saw the former commenting ‘Sir you’re my favourite batsman’.

And Kiwi McCullum adding ‘Sir, you play very good Opening batting,’ also came to light.

It is understood those tweets have been deleted in recent days, although it is uncertain when Anderson’s was removed.

England fast bowler Stuart Broad is pictured in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on February 26, 2010, just days after Anderson’s tweet about his hair

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said last night it would take ‘appropriate action’.

Two England players in Rory Burns and Dom Bess have gone a stage further and cancelled their accounts.

It follows the suspension of Robinson by the governing body pending a probe into racist and sexist posts eight and nine years ago.

Robinson, who apologised privately to his team-mates and publicly, performed brilliantly on the field against New Zealand, but will not play for England this week.

Anderson, the leading wicket-taker of all-time at Test level, penned the post about Broad at 1.26am on February 20, 2010.

He wrote: ‘I saw Broady’s new haircut for the first time today. Not sure about it. Thought he looked like a 15 yr old lesbian!’

But it has since emerged the post had been deleted in the wake of the fallout over Robinson’s messages, though it is not clear when it was taken down.

Earlier yesterday Anderson was asked how carefully he had reviewed his own posts, which date back to 2009.

He said: ‘For me, it’s 10-11 years ago, I’ve certainly changed as a person. I think that’s the difficulty, things do change, you do make mistakes.

‘It’s something that we’re definitely going to have to look at. But again, if we educate people well enough, if we get educated enough, the language in those tweets doesn’t go out in the first place.’

Anderson, who has been part of the England side since 2002 and will this week become the most capped Test player, said players were also attending workshops.

He said: ‘It’s a difficult time. As players, we’re trying to learn from this really.

‘We’ve realised that it’s important to try and get educated around these issues, which we’re continuing to do with the ECB and the PCA (Professional Cricketers’ Association).

‘We’ve all been doing workshops before this series to try and help improve ourselves as people basically, to try and make sure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen.

‘Yes, we do make mistakes, everyone does and as people we’ve got to try improve and make sure this sort of stuff doesn’t happen and make sure people are aware it’s not acceptable.’

The swing bowler also said Robinson had the ‘full support of the team’ despite being suspended for his Twitter posts when he was just 18. 

The news comes after England player Ollie Robinson (above) was suspended from all international cricket after his debut Test for abusive tweets from a decade ago

Robinson’s tweets emerged after day one of the first Test against New Zealand last week

Robinson is facing a probe into racist and sexist tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013, which drew attention away from a strong international debut against New Zealand.

The tweets – posted when Robinson was playing second team cricket for Kent, Leicestershire and Yorkshire – were dredged up from 2012 and 2013.

Earlier he had attended the prestigious £24,750-a-year King’s School in Canterbury. Kent.

The Margate-born bowler, who is now 27 and has apologised, will miss Thursday’s second Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston and could face further punishment.

Anderson said yesterday: ‘(Robinson) stood up in front of the group and apologised and you can see how sincere he was, and how upset he was.

‘I think as a group, we’ve appreciated that he’s a different person now. He’s done a lot of maturing and growing since then and he’s got the full support of the team.’

His comments came after a second international player was revealed to have posted racist content online when he was a youngster.

The post, said to have been written years ago, said ‘your going out with a asian’ and three hashtags: ‘Asianthroughandthrough’, ‘hweolloo’ and ‘c****y’.

The offending tweet has now been taken offline by the player as the investigation continues

Fans today turned on the ‘Bible of Cricket’ (pictured: The annual cricketers’ almanack which Wisden is famous for) after its associated website Wisden.com unearthed the historical tweets from a current England star 

Fans turned on Wisden for ‘trawling through the Twitter feeds’ of England stars to find the post.

Wisden.com, which shares the name of the traditional Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack but is owned by a separate company and has separate staff, did not name him.

But it is believed he was 16 at the time the post was made. It was also reported other posts on the accused’s social media contained homophobic content.

Cricket fans turned on the prestigious sporting bible, accusing Wisden of ‘going woke’.

The author Ben Gardner had previously apologised over a weight-related joke about Sri Lanka bowler Lasith Malinga in 2018.

Despite EW’s claims, unconscious bias training is a heavily contested topic, with many experts arguing it does not work.

The racism report in March urged for unconscious bias training to be scrapped for employees and replaced with more effective practices.

The Race Commission recommended organisations and firms pull the plug on such sessions because they do not tackle disparities in the workplace.

It said the ‘intense soul-searching’ of some employers in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests has amounted to ‘tick-box exercises’ that don’t get results.

Instead it recommended funding is diverted to developing core skills that could benefit disadvantaged employees.

Whitehall departments phased out unconscious bias training following research last year that found it did not help stamp out workplace prejudices.

But many taxpayer-funded bodies such as the Met Police, the NHS and the BBC are still believed to implement unconscious bias training for staff.

Private firms also lay on sessions and earlier this year the chairman of KPMG resigned after upsetting staff by branding unconscious bias ‘complete c**p’.

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