Case Studies

unconscious bias education

Partnering with Ketchum, a global public relations firm, to educate all employees on Unconscious Bias.


Research clearly supports that diversity of thought in the workplace increases employee engagement and delivers better business results. Ketchum, a global public relations firm, wanted a deep partnership with a diversity and inclusion consulting firm whose approach would be well received by leadership and employees to implement customized Unconscious Bias training in the U.S. and U.K. The goal of this program was to create more understanding and awareness around biases to cultivate a more creative, inclusive workplace.


Cook Ross is supporting Ketchum’s vision to launch a customized Unconscious Bias education program for its senior leaders and managers that focuses on how Unconscious Bias operates in the workplace, its impact on an organization, and ways that leaders can model inclusive behaviors to mitigate it. The first to go through the training were the company’s CEO, Global President, and Global Leadership Council. Cook Ross and Ketchum engaged agency leaders who can most visibly set the tone and model behaviors for the rest of the company early on. Each training was approximately four hours, featuring scenario-based exercises customized for Ketchum to help employees consider ways to navigate different types of biases such as personality, assumptions about who looks like a leader and who doesn’t, distance bias for remote teams, gender bias, age bias, and culture fit bias. To expand the organizational knowledge of Unconscious Bias, Cook Ross is currently facilitating a customized four-hour Unconscious Bias Foundations course, which Ketchum has titled Mind Your Bias, for cohorts of local leaders and people managers. The specific focus of the program is on mitigating bias in collaboration, decision making and talent management.


Since January 2017, 270 of Ketchum’s leaders, managers, and employees have attended Cook Ross’ training in the U.S. across six of their office locations. 

Ketchum firmly believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion don’t just happen by accident. It requires a consistent, focused effort to be a creative environment where talent feels empowered to bring their whole self to work. Prior to working with Cook Ross, Ketchum created LaunchPad, a gamified selection process used to recruit entry-level talent, which brought in blind hiring. The Mind Your Bias training has helped Ketchum have real, open dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion. It has inspired continued innovative initiatives that mitigate bias in talent acquisition and engagement programs with the goals being to hire and retain more diverse talent.

The Mind Your Bias program also helped inspire the development of Ketchum and Fast Company’s Creative Echo Chamber study, which explores unconscious bias and insularity in the creative ranks.

Cook Ross’ training has had a profound impact on many of us as we lead forward.
Barri Rafferty

CEO & President, Ketchum

I’ve been working with Lenora [a Cook Ross Consultant] and Cook Ross for about half a year to implement and deliver Unconscious Bias training at Ketchum. Words cannot properly express how thrilled I am with Lenora as a facilitator of this content. She has created the space for people to process the material in an open and safe way and make real changes to the ways that they work with others and make decisions. The feedback we’ve received about Lenora has been endlessly positive, with colleagues saying that Lenora was extremely engaging, made them feel comfortable discussing sensitive subjects and helped them uncover their own biases.
Julia Dranov

Organizational Effectiveness Consultant, Ketchum

What our Clients are saying

Global Women’s Executive Development Program

Developing a global women’s executive development program for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.


One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by both market cap and sales, showed low levels of representation of women in leadership positions. Both, patients and the health professionals, needed to see a matching representation of women leaders. Increasing regulatory demands are being placed on global organizations and while legislation varies, and continues to evolve, more European governments are considering introducing binding quotas for the proportion of women on corporate boards.


Cook Ross developed a global women’s executive development program to increase the number of women in leadership positions at the company throughout the world. This program, designed to address issues women face when striving for senior leadership positions, included 3 in-person sessions lasting 3-4 days each. These classroom sessions were experiential to enable participants to replicate some of the situations they face at work each day, impacting not only the participants of the program, but also their teams, managers, and the senior management of the organization. Webinars were rolled out focusing on business and leadership topics including strategy and innovation, addressing gender dynamics in the workplace, talent development, and unconscious bias. In addition to external coaches, executives were given the opportunity to attend portions of the in-person programs, many of which were handpicked to serve as mentors to participants. Each participant was assigned to project teams tasked to solve contemporary, significant business problems resulting in an additional business benefit to the company. This program allowed for the increased visibility of participants and their strategic capabilities to executive committee members.


The full year program focused on innovation, strategy, talent management, executive presence, and other topics using executive partnered teams to solve significant global challenges, executive mentoring, and coaching. The company was awarded an Innovations Award for Excellence by Diversity Journal in recognition of the company actively addressing their women leadership gap. Cook Ross’ interventions achieved a number of impressive results for the company:
  • Sessions led or co-led by the pharmaceuticals division head and executive committee – 50%
  • Participants promoted onto a local/country or functional executive committee – 14%


Participants promoted to moved into new roles


Retention among participants 3 years after the program


Participants appointed as country heads or general managers

Conscious and Inclusive Leadership Initiative

Laying the groundwork for driving diverse and inclusive culture across a global Fortune 500 manufacturing company.


In 2013, Cook Ross began a partnership with a global manufacturing firm to develop a Conscious and Inclusive Leadership initiative, laying the groundwork for driving more diverse and inclusive culture across their global organization. Like other companies in the engineering industry, this client wants to ensure sustainability and innovation to maintain its competitive edge. They want to equip their leaders with the awareness and skills for mindful decision-making and inclusive behaviors to challenge unconscious biases and increase a diverse talent pipeline and a culture of inclusion.


In partnership with the client, Cook Ross agreed to support a training strategy to engage 1,200 key leaders across the globe, providing them with baseline skills to support the initiative. Our shared goal was to provide a shared language and framework because, for many of them, this education would serve as their first deep introduction to diversity, inclusion, and Unconscious Bias.

The rollout called on Cook Ross’ global consulting team to deliver culturally competent sessions consistent across all locations, yet appropriately tailored to resonate for the regional leadership groups. We worked closely with our main point of contact in the United States, the various points of contact in each one of the regions, and the leaders of all delivery locations to ensure alignment. This helped us gain a deep appreciation for national laws and customs, and the unique challenges and opportunities for each location, so that we could adapt our facilitation and educational goals. Delivered primarily in English, the Cook Ross team supported individual exercises and small group interactions in the locations’ primary language, working with local staff to translate linguistically and culturally, as necessary.

Hover over the map below to discover where we delivered training for this partner

Reinforcing a Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

Providing training solutions to reinforce a major American banking and financial services company’s diversity and inclusion strategy, and address pipeline challenges.


Since 2013, Cook Ross has partnered with an American banking and financial services company with an annual revenue of over $75 billion and over a quarter million employees around the world. The company initially asked Cook Ross to provide training solutions for senior leaders to help reinforce their global diversity and inclusion strategy. Later, they invited us to explore ways to address challenges in their talent pipeline related to the upper levels of company leadership.


After extensive consultation with company leaders, Cook Ross created Unconscious Bias training in two formats: in-person delivery and live (synchronous) virtual delivery. The training engagement began in 2013 with senior leadership – the CEO, his direct reports, and continuing through three additional management layers across several business units including Consumer Lending, Community Banking, Securities, and Compliance. Virtual training was provided across the country to business unit leaders.

To date, Cook Ross has delivered more than 200 hours of training, with significant additional time devoted to preparation and project management. Live engagements have taken place in seven U.S. states.

In 2015, at the company’s request, Cook Ross researched their talent review, calibration, and succession planning processes to look for bias vulnerabilities. Based on our research, and in close collaboration with the company’s talent strategy group, we designed a targeted learning solution to be delivered to senior executives and their teams immediately before their annual talent review meeting. The solution combines classroom training with case study review and group coaching in a live, two-hour instructor-led seminar. The seminar leaves participants with a clear set of ground rules for their talent review meeting, an understanding of the unique ways bias affects their leadership team dynamic, and a plan for addressing bias when it occurs in the meeting—all designed by the executive team itself with coaching from a senior Cook Ross consultant.


Executives report their talent review and succession planning conversations have taken on a completely new character. Candidates that had been stuck in the “ready in five” box for years are being evaluated in a new light, and more candidates from minority and underrepresented backgrounds are making their way into the upper levels of the company.

Several Cook Ross interventions are deeply integrated across the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. High satisfaction with the applicability of the course has been reported in qualitative and quantitative data resulting in a documentation of better decision-making in hiring and talent review. Cook Ross partnered with this client to focus on longitudinal outcomes to sustain long-term impact and return on investment.

The partnership recognizes the critical role of accountability and seeks to measure the ROI – Cook Ross has worked closely with our client to create a dashboard to help track retention and promotion impacts of the effort to decrease the impact of Unconscious Bias and other issues across business units.

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