As a woman at L.E.K. Consulting (who also happens to be a person of color), I am proud of our organization for putting a spotlight on, and celebrating, women and diversity.
Each and every one of us has a responsibility to improve our own behavior to ensure L.E.K. becomes a meaningfully diverse and inclusive organization over time.
With that in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you to spend approximately two minutes reading my key takeaways on How To Outsmart Your Own Unconscious Bias, based on an inspiring TED Talk by Valerie Alexander.
“Visualize three scenarios:
- You are late to catch a flight … you rush through the airport, you make it through security, you run to the gate, you make it down the jetway, you step onto the plane just as they close the door behind you … and the pilot steps out of the cockpit to say Hi …
- You get to your destination … you go to a local restaurant and you have the best meal of your life … at the table next to you is a couple happily celebrating their anniversary …
- The next morning you go to the biggest technology conference in the world … the CEO of this year’s hottest tech startup just took the stage to speak …
“Now, ask yourself, in your mental image:
- Was the pilot black?
- Were the married couple two men?
- Was the tech CEO a woman?
“The biggest stumbling block to achieving true equality is unexamined behavior … the belief that we are treating everyone equally, when in reality, we are not.
“When we stop and examine our own behavior, we can catch ourselves having different reactions to, and expectations of, people simply because they don’t look like us, or worse, because they do.”
Three practical tips for outsmarting your own unconscious bias:
- VISUALIZE situations before they happen. Whatever mental picture you get, change it. Open yourself to different possibilities.
- EXAMINE your own behavior. Ask yourself, is this how I would handle this interaction if this person looked like me
- NORMALIZE things that are currently unexpected (e.g., a female CEO, a black president) by consciously increasing your exposure to such things.
If you can spare approximately 17 minutes of your day, I highly recommend watching the TED Talk for yourself.