Archive for the ‘predjudice’ Category

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.

Read the article

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.

read the article

Categories: diversity, predjudice Tags: ,

How our segregated neighborhoods reflect our segregated workplaces

August 20, 2009 4 comments

PBS produced a documentary with a corresponding website titiled,”Race: The Power of an Illusion”.  This documentarywhere race lives details all the major issues surrounding race, it’s legacy, it’s origination, and the discrimination and predjudice that still exists today as a result of racial bigotry.

The current atmosphere in today’s business world is that the isms (racism, sexism, etc., ) are not the problem that they used to be.  Today, diversity practitioners (myself included) seem to moving toward unconscious biases as the basis for diversity discussions. ( In my opinion this is a good thing.)  However, it needs to be understood that the discussion of unconscious biases is a strategy to get to the much harder discussion of race, class, sexual orientation, and gender.

This is where the PBS website and documentary on Race can become a powerful tool.  Of particular interest is how the government through small  institutional discrimination set up a system which snowballed into significant advantages for the majority.  Unfortunately, because most don’t realize this history or dynamic they attribute minority poverty to a lack of group motivation and a disconnected culture.

This same dynamic can be applied to the workplace.  Historically company promotion, hiring, and development systems were set up to favor the majority group over minority groups.  In some instances these discriminatory processes were minor in their application but significant in their impact.  This relates back to my discussions of complexity science and it’s underlying architecture social network theory.  From the complexity science perspective simple rules originating from initial conditions can create long term and significant outcome differences.

In the case of the housing market most americans get a majority of their wealth from the ownership of their home.  This gives them an advantage against other groups who don’t have the same type of access to capital due to their lack of home ownership.  Subsequently, it is much more difficult to send their kids to college, pay for medical expenses, or live in neighborhods with a high level of social capital.

In addition,our organizations reflect this same “spiraling” dynamic as our neighborhoods .  Small initial advantages have mushroomed into deeply embedded systems that were built to give one group an advantage over another group.  These seemingly subtle advantages are hard to change because the continued repetition of the process has shaped the mental models and consequently the behaviors of those within the system.  As a result, a program like Affirmative Action that was devised to ensure every member was given a fair chance to succeed in the organization is alternatively viewed as an unfair advantage given to minority groups by those with little knowledge of the unfair advantage they enjoy by just being in the system. 

The ability of us to change society is I believe predicated on our ability to change the workplace.  Read the PBS link below and let me know what you think…

Where Race Lives

Expecting To Be Treated With Prejudice May Be Self-fulfilling Prophecy, Study Suggests: Why Giving Each Other the Benefit of the Doubt Works…

July 6, 2009 1 comment

19letters190A Science Daily article suggests that people who expect to be treated with predjudice may encourage a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In my book, “Diversity 2.0” this is notion of self-fulfilling prophecy is a central concept.  Thos of you who are familiar with the Placebo Effect understand that the two “effects” are indeed connected to the same neural circuits in the brain.  Basically, the self fulifilling prophecy and the placebo effect states that you get what you expect.  Which is why the idea of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt is such a simple yet strong way to actually change the way you and I see and interact with the world.  This research just backs up what we already know and when applied in the real world this simple law transforms everything.  Most importantly ourselves…

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