Archive for September, 2009

Does Diversity Help Baseball Teams Win Games? Rutgers-Camden Management Scholar Seeks an Answer

September 29, 2009 2 comments

multicolor people large network2A recent Rutgers research study has identified a new twist in the science behind diversity.  Researchers have determined based on analysis of Major League baseball demographic data that winning baseball teams have what are known as “demographic faultlines”.  In my Diversity2.0 language these are known as “cliques.”  What the researchers found was that to attract diversity most successful baseball teams had strong demographic cliques that provided comfort and support to new recruits from the same ethnic groups.  These demographic cliques were largely built around race, ethnicity, and language.  In other words these cliques were homogenous and were the very opposite of what most diversity practitioners preach.  The traditional diversity mantra is that groups primarily built around race or ethnicity outside of cultural celebrations are a negative thing.  The Rutgers research suggests something different.  It says that subgroups built around race or ethnicity promotes better functioning of the team because these subgroups improve communication and colaboration between team members. 

Workplace takeaway: The problem is not cliques built around race or ethnicity.  Instead, it is when these cliques purposefully exclude others who do not fit the respective clique profile.  For example, if you are par of a good old boys network that does everything it can do to exclude women.  Then you are wrong and you are doing severe damage to your organizational culture.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain…

September 9, 2009 5 comments

One of the aspects of Diversity2.0 is the focus unconscious biases as a universal condition that all of us are prone.   The article in the Scientific American, “Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain” is a well written piece that describes in detail how the natural condition of human beings is to unconsciously discriminate against others who are not like us.  But, the really fascinating things in the piece suggest that our bias can be based on the most irrelevant characteristics that you can imagine.  From the color of one’s jersey to the random appointment to a group who you have nothing in common with except to belong to that particular group.  Even after just a brief time with being associated to a specific group researchers have demonstrated that we will discriminate in favor of our appointed group over members of other groups.  And get this…in this instance the race, gender, ethnicity, and other characterisitcs that we think really matter in the end don’t.


Another fascinating fact about bias is that most unconscious bias is “triggered” by the situation or environment that a person can find themselves in.  We are basically animals who are guided by patterns of behavior and thoughts.  When one of these neural circuits is triggered by relevant conditions then a pattern of thought coded by emotion, and behavior result in the actions we take and the emotions we feel.

What this means for the workplace:  3 Things.  First, think about your workplace.  What triggers or conditions exist that spark negative emotions in you?  What sparks apprehension?  What fires you up?  A minute of reflection about these questions will help you better understand the type of actions necessary for you to take to stay connected and motivated in your workplace. 

Second, reflect on how you perceive a situation with your fellow employees and customers.  What you perceive as a slight could just be the manifestation of your own mind interpeting a situation to better fit your preconceived mindset.  In other words, what we believe often becomes our reality.

Third, understand that the most powerful thing you can do to reduce you unconscious biases is to give everyone the “benefit of the doubt”.  In other words, tell yourself that everyone is doing the best that they can based on the circumstances.  And your role is to reflect on what positive value you can add to improve the situation.

read the great article here

Diversity In Primary Schools Promotes Harmony, Study Finds

September 3, 2009 3 comments

For the first time, children as young as 5 have been shown to understand issues regarding integration and separation. The research confirms that the ethnic composition of primary schools has a direct impact on children’s attitudes towards those in other ethnic groups and on their ability to get on with their peers.

Obviously, starting kids at a young age on how to get along with others that are different can go a long way to making us better together.  Diversity is truly a value-added proposition.

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Categories: diversity, predjudice Tags: , ,

No Such Thing as Ethnic Groups…It is All in Our Head Study Reveals.

September 1, 2009 2 comments

090831212951A recent study from my favorite source the Science Daily reported that ethnic groups are a creation of our minds and not grounded in genetic reality.  What substitutes for what we think are ethnic differences are really the result of social rules and norms we have created to erect barriers between groups.  Probably as a way to promote the status of our own respective ingroup.  Which is wholly grounded in the science of evolutionary psychology.  The study also  stated that there is more genetic difference between the same members of an ingroup then there are between different groups.  In other words two European Americans may have less genetic material in common than a European and African American respectively.

What this means: This research suggests that our whole paradigm or perspective must change to meet the reality of the real world.  Just like our basic understanding of the world had to change when it was determined that the earth was flat.  So to is the need for a mindshift of our current mindset which promotes that skin color is a real source of genetic difference between people.   Leaders who get their followers to understand there is much more that connects us together than there are differences that tear us apart.  However, it is the differences if levaraged correctly that can provide the extra boost to excel past competitors.

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Categories: diversity, predjudice Tags: ,