USF Muma College of Business Certificate: Session 2: Stereotypes & Biases
[MUSIC PLAYING] Good evening. Good morning. Good day. My name is Moez Limayem. I'm the Lynn Pippenger Dean of the University of South Florida Muma College of Business. And let me tell you, I am so happy, so excited, so honored to see you back for the second week for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace certificate at the Muma College of Business of the University of South Florida that we are doing in conjunctions with Jabil and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And guess what? We are now more than 125,000 participants. Yes, almost 130,000 participants. And we-- I cannot say enough to thank the team who worked really hard to add all the people on the waiting list. But now we have to close the registrations. And don't give up. If you couldn't make it, we promise we will keep your email with us.
And then we will inform you as soon as this certificate and others are offered again. Speaking about emails, please make sure you add these three email addresses to your safe senders in your email systems-- usm.edu, academiacenter.org usf-tampa-ccsan.com. This will ensure that we will send you the emails and you will receive them. And again, we received so many feedback. And we understand feedback is a gift. And we appreciate your feedback.
And as Dr. Doreen MacAulay taught us last week, we are listening. And we are making necessary adjustments as much as we can, starting immediately. So talking about the feedback, let's see what we are changing starting now.
The first thing that we are changing is that many of you said that the chat is really just displaying very quickly and annoying some people, causing them to lose concentration. So I know it did it for me, too. So we listening to this. And we are hiding the chat, disactivating it on the YouTube channel. But please remember.
We want, we need, we value your feedback, your experiences, your comment. This is how we all can improve. So you can provide your feedback, and your suggestions, your experiences through LinkedIn at USF Muma or using Twitter, @usfdicertificate.
Also, one of the other changes that we will be making is for captions. We received a lot of feedback about captions. So we have very short-term solutions. But I promise you, we're working on other solutions.
So let's start with the short-term solutions. It is we provide the-- or we allow for auto captions through the LinkedIn platform. We have two platforms, YouTube or LinkedIn. They're exactly the same. The only difference is that LinkedIn also allows for auto captions. But also, we promise you, we are working really, really hard on providing transcription so that we can make this experience better for everyone who relies on caption.
And we will keep you updated. But you have my commitment. We're working really hard on this. Also, some other feedback, of course. The quizzes, as we mentioned last time, will be 30 minutes live after each session concludes.
So if we finish at 7:00 Eastern, 7:30, you will see the quizzes. Now, we received a lot of feedback that two weeks to take the quiz is, for some people, a little bit challenging. Guess what? Yes, I'm in a good mood, so we're allowing for more flexibility. And now we'll no longer impose the two-week deadlines. And all quizzes must be competed-- please remember, write it down-- May 19, 2021, 11:59 PM.
So you don't have to rush. You don't have the issue of two weeks. You have up to May 19 to take all the quizzes. Also, one more thing.
Please remember. I know we're all very competitive. We end up 100%.
You don't need 100%. You only need 70% on each quiz to be able to earn that certificate. And no need to retake the quiz if you have, already, 70%. Please remember that the answers to many of your questions can be found online in the FAQ sections at usf.to/diversitycertificate. We really appreciate your patience and understanding. And please understand.
Now, we're very close to 130,000 participants. If just 10% sends emails, one email per day, that is 13,000 emails that the team has to process and answer one by one. And here, I really appreciate your patience and understanding.
But I'm so grateful to a group of wonderful students from the USF Muma M3 centers who are working tirelessly in answering your emails, led by the wonderful colleague and Professor Cihan, who is our hero, taking care of all technical issues. And of course, a second hero, Miss Lorie Briggs, who is behind the scene, making sure that everybody is progressing and doing a good job for 130,000 participants. And please remember.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is a journey. We are on this journey together. And we are not arguing that we have the answers to all questions or solutions to all problems. We don't. We don't. Actually, a colleague of mine came to me and said, Moez, this is a really stupid thing that you are doing with this certificate.
It is controversial. It is very expensive. Where are you going to get the money from? You're going to be criticized on everything.
I looked to this friend. And I said, you know what? I've done many stupid things in my life. If you have any doubt, ask my kids and my wife. But if this is one of the most stupid things I've done, I really want this to be the best most stupid thing I've ever done. Because together, we're making a difference. And even though we don't have the solutions to all the problems, we have the passion, the energy, and the commitment to have all of us throughout this journey so that we have a community where no one-- no one-- is left behind.
And I really want to share with you something that I very much appreciate. You'd be surprised. Each one of us is a CEO. I am a CEO. You are a CEO. You might be saying, what? I am not a CEO.
No, you are a CEO. And your life is your company. We are the CEOs of our own lives, our own companies. So what do we do as CEOs? We hire people into our life. We promote people in our life.
And sometimes, we have to let go people from our lives. That's why we are the CEOs. And now I have a challenge. Please write it down.
I have a challenge for all of us, including me. And that challenge is, starting tomorrow, please reach out to a person in your workplace, if your students in your school or in your neighborhood, the person who is different from you. And the challenge is, really, hire that person to be part of your company, part of your life. And when I say a person who is different, it means different race, different gender, non-binary, different sexual orientation, transgender, disabled, different religion, different national origin, different color.
Or-- and this is important-- any other difference as you deem fit. You-- you know why you? Because you are the boss. You are the CEO. You make the decision to hire that person.
And now, also, based on your feedback, we wanted to give you a little bit of what is, what will you see tonight? So remember, each module will have three sections. And each section is really important for the overall goal of the module. So opening sessions, the second segment with a keynote, usually the opening session, is also a panel. The second one is usually a keynote speaker. And a special segment.
Now, remember, the overall goal of this certificate is to help organizations, individuals throughout this journey of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Today, we have a tremendous-- really, a great, great session. I think you would absolutely love it. The purpose, the goal, is to learn about stereotypes and biases. In the workplace, of course, we all have these stereotypes and biases.
So we will learn with these three wonderful colleagues-- Cecil, Tony, and Alexis-- how do we detect these biases? And how can we, in our organizations, in our lives, try to address these stereotypes and biases who could be really damaging and lead to discrimination and racism in many places? But first we will have our wonderful Dr. Alexis Mootoo leading a panel discussion with guests from different diversity, races. And they will share with us their experiences, but also their recommendations of what they would like to be seeing in organizations so they would not be discriminated against. And we'll, as much as we can, address racism. After that, we will have an incredible keynote speaker, Valerie Alexander, who will provide great information about biases. But before we go, I really want to share with you a great video that resonates so well with me-- and in a way, so compatible with the spirit and the objective of this DI certificate.
This video was produced several years ago by ad council. I really hope you will like it. Again, before I leave you with this video, thank you so much for being here. This is so exciting.
We have a great session for you. So long. And I will see you next week. Thank you. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC - MARY LAMBERT, "SHE KEEPS ME WARM"] (SINGING) And I can't change even if I try, even if I wanted to.
And I can't change even if I tried, even if I wanted to. My love, my love, my love, she keeps me warm. She keep me warm.
She keeps me warm. She keeps me warm. And I can't change even if I tried, even if I wanted to. My love, my love, my love, she keeps me warm. She keeps me warm.
She keeps me warm. She keeps me warm. And I can't change even if I tried, even if I wanted to. My love, my love, my love, she keeps me warm.
She keeps me warm. She keeps me warm. She keeps me warm. She keeps me warm. She keeps me warm. Love is patient.
- My heart doesn't see race. - Love has no age limit. - That's my best friend! - We are neighbors and best friends. - We all have different religions, but we have universal love as well. [KIDS GIGGLING] - I love my sister.
- Love is love. - Our family is no less than any other family. (SINGING) I'm not crying on Sundays.
Love is kind. I'm not crying on Sundays. Love is patient.
Love is kind. [END PLAYBACK] Thank you, Dean Limayem. And this video is beautiful.
But let's remember that it is five years old. And hearts have not embraced race, as we've seen in the last year, and certainly recently with the violent aggressions against Asian-Americans, and certainly with George Floyd's trial ongoing right now and the brutalities that Black people have suffered in history and have been showcased in the last year. So thank you for that video. But this is the point of this certificate, right? It is to, perhaps, go into this new direction or in a direction where we can see things equitably and in a diverse manner.
And so to start today, first, welcome to Module 2. This is Alexis Mootoo. I should have started with that. I have the great pleasure of hosting four wonderful people today.
We're having a panel. And we're going to be talking about stereotypes and biases in the workplace suffered by people of color and from a religious point of view. And please note that we will be addressing other stereotypes along in different modules. But today, for the 30 minutes that we have for this panel, we're focusing on religion a bit and also on race and sexual orientation in some instances. So without further ado, I would like to start introducing my first panelist, Opal Hudson. She is senior director of community and social relations for the Hillsborough County Appraiser's Office.
Welcome, Open. Next, we have Heba El-Tall. She is campus director for the Institute for Engagement and Democracy at Miami Dade College. Third, we have Donny Crume, who is a management to IT delivery and performance consultant.
And he's got 20 years worth of experience. And last but not least, I'm happy to welcome Miguel Hernandez, who is an associate dean of students at the University of California, Irvine. Welcome, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today for Module 2 and for sharing parts of yourselves with us today. So I'm going to start with asking you to tell me a little bit about yourselves beyond your job.
So Opal, how about you start? Thanks, Alexis. Thanks for having me here today. I am a biracial female who identifies as a Black woman, typically because there's not two boxes to check. But when there are, I check both. But I identify as a Black woman.
Thank you, Opal. How about you, Heba? Yes, I am a first-generation Arab American. I identify as a Sunni Muslim woman. And my parents are originally from Jordan and Palestine respectively. Thank you.
So how about you, Donnie? Similar to Opal, I was raised to check off Asian. My mother's from Taiwan. My father is actually a sandy, blond-haired, blue-eyed farm boy from Minnesota. So growing up, it was always interesting for me. But I had the luxury of growing up in the United States Air Force brat for 20 years.
And I'm looking forward to this session. Thank you. Thank you.
And again, last but not least, how about you, Miguel? Why don't you tell us about yourself? Sure, happy to. Aspects of who I am that are extremely important to me include my heritage from Puerto Rico. Another very important piece for me is this identity of being Latino in the United States within the context of our country. I would also say being a man. And I would include in parentheses flaws and all, my friends-- flaws and all. And finally, as I thought about our panel discussion today, another very important aspect of my identity is being a member of the LGBTQ community.
Specifically, I identify as gay. Thank you so much again for sharing of yourselves. It's very important as we are talking about stereotypes and biases through this module. So my next question is-- and I'm going to go to the order where I started, with Opal. I am interested to know what experiences you've had in the workplace, taking into consideration how you've identified yourself. Yeah.
Thank you, Alexis. Yeah, that's varying, of course. I have-- you, as a Black woman, there's a stereotype that comes with that as well, one being the angry Black woman.
So that is definitely a huge part of what you have to deal with on a regular basis or what I deal with on a regular basis. In fact, I actually just had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with someone, a colleague, who questioned whether I was angry with them because of an email response where, in the email response, I was just being truthful to a question that I was asked. So there's that kind of thing going on. And then also, you have the female aspect as well. So things that can happen or things that have happened to me, as far as, maybe-- I'm in a leadership position. So that comes with some duties, and responsibilities, and a demeanor as well.
But then sometimes that's looked at-- or comments can be made on, I can go home to my wife and be talked to you that way, or whatnot, when it's really just directional. It's really just, had a male said the same thing, it would not be that type of an issue. So those are just a couple things. OK.
And so I just want to follow up a little bit. When you state the angry Black woman, I find that really interesting. Because that is a pervasive stereotype with Black women. And so as a biracial person, what does that mean to you? And how does that impact you, considering some people could say that you're really not Black enough? Well-- I mean, that's another aspect. And it may not be just because of the industry that I work in.
I do need to say that I work in a white, male-dominated industry, and I have for the past 15 years. So keeping that in mind, I don't so much anymore. But I have, in my lifetime, then-- you're not Black enough, you're white. Or you're not white enough, you're Black.
When really, I'm just me. I'm just who I am. I was raised to be very proud of who I am. I was very fortunate. My father is Black Bahamian. My mother is white from Pennsylvania.
And I'm proud of them both. And they both raised me to be very proud of who I am. As far as the angry Black woman, I find it very offensive.
I find that being able to communicate is important, especially in the professional-- in the work environment. And I think that a lot of times, we end up in situations where we're asked questions, but we really want the answer that we want. As human beings, we do that. And so when we don't get that, then it's taken a certain way. So I just learned a wonderful phrase.
Thank you for understanding and appreciating what a strong leader I am. And I'm going to start using that. But it is. It's very offensive.
It's very offensive. It's very disheartening. And you feel like you are being dismissed from the conversation. And that is all about-- and that goes for the woman part as well. It's all about your emotions. When really, you were just trying to communicate professionally.
Thank you so much, Opal, for sharing. So Heba, I'd like to ask you the same question, right? So what experiences have you had as a woman who is Muslim in the workplace that you have found difficult? Absolutely, thank you for that question. Something that sticks out to my mind-- and I know I've had conversations about this before-- is that I'm aware that looking at me, people may not automatically think or assume that I am Muslim. It's very much a part of my identity.
It's who I am. I mean, I wake up every day practicing my faith and trying to practice the best ways of my faith. But a lot of times, when people learn-- and in the past, this has happened a lot. They learn that I am Muslim in the workplace by either-- because, maybe, I need some extra time for prayer. Maybe I have to take a holiday off because our holidays don't really tend to fall on the traditional days in this country. So I'm looked at like, you don't look Muslim.
And I always think in my head-- and I've become more vocal about this because I think it's important. These microaggressions or just implicit biases, there really is no way of correcting that unless I speak up in a respectful way, right? And that is the teaching of Islam, to be as respectful as possible and be as kind as possible. And so now, when I hear that, I get my answer back is, there is no one-size-fits-all for religion. You cannot look like a religion, right? And it's important to understand that I am of Middle Eastern descent. But it's important to understand that not every Middle Eastern person is Muslim, just like not every Muslim is Middle Eastern. There are different races, ethnicities, and all of that.
Another thing that really sticks out and really feels like a punch to the gut whenever I hear this-- or it's feedback from hearing that I am Muslim-- is that I don't act like a Muslim. And I know that this goes back to that omnipresent level of fear mongering that controls narratives of Islam. I understand it.
And a lot of times, maybe people have not invested in the knowledge about my religion. But I wake up every day practicing kindness because that's an important part of my religion. I wake up every day trying to be the best version of myself that I can be for my faith. That's my identity.
That's who I am. I pray. I fast when I need to. I'm Muslim.
And to hear I don't act like a Muslim hurts. And so I think these experiences, I've learned how to respond back to it in the best way possible. But I think it's important for people to remember that sometimes innocently having feedback about something that you may not know too much about, you have not invested that knowledge in it.
On the receiving end, it speaks volumes. And it's things you never forget. Because I have not forgotten that. Thank you so much for sharing. That is such a powerful way of expressing yourself and making all of us understand the stigma that is attached to your religion, that is completely out of turn, right? And so thank you.
So Donnie, so you shared with us that you're also biracial. I was really interested in understanding what your experiences have been as someone who is half white, half Asian in the workplace and if you've experienced any kind of stereotypes and biases that have made it difficult for you to feel comfortable in those spaces. Yes. Thank you, Alexis. Absolutely.
Let me talk about something else first real quick. You know, my father, he experienced it when he married an Asian woman in the '70s. And he can remember seeing how people looked at him, how people viewed my mother. And he knew that people would view his children that same way.
And my brother and I, we both favor Asian. But at the same time, I fully recognize I don't sound Asian to people. I fully recognize that sometimes, I'm in a privileged circle where people will look at me as a white male.
Growing up, similar to Opal when we talked about this previously, if there was only one box to check, my dad made sure I checked the Asian box. He wouldn't let somebody take that from me. He wrote a poem for me once dealing with the fact that I struggled in certain circles, where I was, if you will, the token white boy.
In other circles, I was the token minority. I've seen the same thing in the workplace at times. I've been part of leadership teams where it's all males, all seemingly white males. And there are inappropriate stereotype jokes, people sharing different things that they've posted, that they've seen all-- and not that they've posted, but they've seen online, videos. And it was conversations that occurred that, I think, if somebody was more, maybe, pronounced minority than myself or female, they wouldn't do that in that space.
And so I sometimes wonder, do they not recognize or see me in that light? And what I've also seen is vice versa. And it's actually applied to the same organization. A lot of the other, if you will, people that identify with other races, minorities, they would come to me. I was the sounding board because they did recognize that. They knew that I saw and I understood what was going on there.
And it's really tough, especially when you work in organizations that have a-- the way it's been explained to me, it's a cronyism-type atmosphere where the people at certain levels are appointed in and brought in. It can be very difficult when others aren't being heard. Thank you so much, Donny. And so Miguel, can you share what some of your experiences have been? Your identity is so intersectional. And it's fascinating to me.
And so I'm really curious to know what experiences you've had in the workplace. Absolutely, absolutely. I think a principle that guides my work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion comes from my Taíno and Arawak ancestors.
It is a practice that really connects commonly to First Nation native people in this country. It's the practice of storytelling. I believe that storytelling has the power to really change people's minds and people's hearts.
And so now, I'd like to share a little bit of a story with you all related to the topic of stereotypes and bias. On Saturday, June 11, 2016, I was a doctoral student. I worked full time. And the month of June is a beautiful month where things calm down. It was so exciting. And some friends invited me to go to Universal Studios.
And I was like a kid again. The park, I hadn't been in years. Rollercoasters, all of it-- ice cream, I was so excited.
And so we ended up spending the day in Orlando at Universal Studios. And it was a beautiful day. And throughout the day, we were trying to be what my college students tell me is grown. We talked about going out after the park and enjoying nightlife. And the conversation kind of went in and out of that idea for the rest of the day. By the time we got to dinner, the conversation dragged on.
And we looked at each other. And unfortunately, we had to admit that we were not as young as we used to be. And it was in our best interest to take the win of enjoying the park all day and head back home to our respective homes. Well, in the early hours of June 12, I ended up arriving back in Tallahassee. And that is the time when the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando began. I'll never forget the first phone call I got shortly after the shootings happened and began being reported.
It was from my best friend asking if I was OK because she knew that I had been in Orlando. Soon after that, I got calls from family, text messages from family, all hours of the night, checking in, saying, are you good? Where are you? What's happening in Florida? For many of my family members who don't live in Florida, geography doesn't matter. And so the fact that the reports were coming from Florida, everybody was in that place of crisis, for my family. And so what I want to share is that the next day, Monday, at work, the responses from leaders and managers ranged.
Some leaders and some managers checked in-- individually, personally, privately. Others didn't mention anything. Some managers didn't bring up the incident at all or the multiple connections that I had to this particular crisis related to being Latino, being from Puerto Rico, and being gay. I also noticed in the days after that first week on our campus that the LGBT staff from other units were checking in on each other because our leaders and our managers were not checking in on us. And so we had to do that work for each other and with each other. And the thing that stands out to me even today as I reflect on this is that many of my colleagues talked about this idea that the silence that came from supervisors, mentors, people we looked up to and respected and wanted to work for and learn from, added to the trauma and the difficulties of navigating that space.
Additional burdens related to this particular story included being in a role and in a position of responsibility where many of us who identify with the LGBT community had to organize vigils for the community, healing circles, dialogue spaces for our students, staff, and colleagues. That responsibility fell on our shoulders. And what I want to share with you all is that I was very proud to serve in that role. But what I still remember to this day is that my straight allies didn't show up. And that was hard. In terms of the concept of the workplace, probably 6 to 10 staff members in that particular organization-- most, if not all, have turned over shortly after that event because of how they were made to feel invisible and not seen.
And so it's something to think about. Our workplaces are not immune from the tensions occurring throughout society. Many of us bring our fears, worries, pain, microaggressions and macroaggressions that we experience, literally coming to work, on the way to work, even. And so one of the things that I want to share is that as a person of color, and with the various identities that we're talking about, I don't often share these burdens with leadership or management.
We have been socialized and trained to not share these burdens with others. And so when a person of color brings a concern to a leader or manager, you must understand the gravity and the importance of that experience and that opportunity. You have to understand that we don't make the choice to bring up issues that we're experiencing lightly.
And so your job, as a leader and a manager, is to take our concerns seriously. It's to listen. It's to create a space where we can express what has happened. Just finally, Alexis, I want to just share that for our Black and African-American sisters, brothers, and siblings on this call, for our Asian-American sisters, brothers, and siblings on this call, for my Jewish brothers, sisters, and my Muslim brothers, sisters, and siblings on this call, if your leaders have not taken the courage or the time to let you know, or to check in with you, or to express any concern, I need you to know that I care, that I believe that you matter.
I also need you to know that your family's existence matters to me and that I give you my word that I will continue to use my spiritual, social, political, and economic privilege to continue advocating for a positive, sustainable change in the workplace and throughout our communities. Thank you for hearing my story. Miguel, I can only say thank you. Because in listening to you, and to Donnie, and to Heba an Opal, and thinking about my own experiences as a Black woman who's proud to be Black and who understands my privilege because of my perceived lighter complexion or whatever else, I appreciate you making it clear that your experiences are similar to mine, are similar to Opal's, are somewhat similar to Heba's, to Donnie's.
And so I thank you. I thank you very much. And so this is a good segue right into my last question to you. So when you think about, what can people do? I mean, so Miguel said to listen.
And we'll talk about that more during the instructional piece of this module. But Opal, what do you think people could do in positions of leadership in your workplace to make your experience better and more effective? Thanks, Alexis. I just want to say real quick to Miguel, that was just the most beautiful thing.
Shame on you for making me cry on live video. [LAUGHS] I will get with you later on that. But I mean, I can really resonate with the feelings of what you were experiencing, although be it in a different aspect for myself. But that resonates with me beyond what I expected you have to deal with in this call or in this session today. So for me, Alexis, I think there's a couple of things, that I was thinking about that all day, what do I say? Or all week, or ever since I've known that I'm going to be doing this. And a couple of things came to mind.
And so one of the things that I think-- and I just think that in businesses. So I do a lot of different things. Not only do I work in my environment.
But I also volunteer for industry. And I'm on board. And so there's different aspects of how I see this whole thing kind of playing out. And so one of the things I think the businesses can do is, first of all, to slow down. Because we're in this digital age.
And I sound so old saying that. But where we want an immediate response, immediate response. I have to say something. My word has to get out there.
My whatever it is, right? We click, and we want it immediately. And this isn't something that we're going to get immediately. This isn't something that's going to change today because we're all here, sitting here talking about it. This is not something that, to those of us on this panel who have lived this life-- and same thing, I was I was born in 1970.
So that was not an era where you even saw many biracial couples and things like that. So I think that we need to slow down. And we need to listen. And we need to learn. We're just too quick to respond. So I think that's a big thing.
And then we also need to create a truly safe space. And we all need to start speaking up. And I say this as a Black woman.
And I'm not sure. Maybe some of the other panelists have this issue. But because I am who I am-- and it's not because I'm a Black woman. It's because of who I am. I am vocal. I do care.
I will speak out. I'm OK with doing things like that. Of course, you get labeled because I am also a Black woman.
So you get that label as well. But then-- and the same thing, as Donnie was saying, different colleagues will come to me. And my door can revolve. And everybody's got the same issue.
But everybody won't speak up. But it's twofold. Because I also understand that because there may not be an environment where you feel safe, that you can do that and everybody is vocal. And that doesn't have to do with race, gender, or sexual orientation, or anything like that.
But it does help, too. Because it can't always be that one person, and especially that person who may already be stereotyped and, maybe, unconsciously biased. Thank you so much, I appreciate it. Thank you. So what about you, Heba? What would make your workplace more comfortable? I have to say that I am in a workplace where I don't feel that, right? I don't feel that my voice cannot be heard.
I work for a very compassionate, empathetic leader. I work on a very diverse team that understands what it means to be inclusive and equity, right? But I do want to speak on behalf of what I do want to see in other workplaces that, maybe, I've worked for in the past, as well as individuals that may be feeling this that are on this call right now. It is that-- I've said this before.
And I'm going to say it again. It's invest in understanding. Invest and be cognizant of stereotypes, not just with Arabs, not with Middle East people or Middle Eastern descent, but also Muslims and also with everybody, right? Stereotypes that really fuel, power thinking in the most negative of ways.
And because of that, a lot of questions and a lot of defense-type of attitude, whenever it comes to, maybe, a Muslim asking for an extra five minutes maybe two to three times a day to pray because our call to prayer may fall in that time. Days that we may need off because of our holidays, the fact that if you're partaking in after-work-- for example, in an activity that includes drinking, understanding why a Muslim is not alienating themselves, but the fact that they just are not comfortable to be in that in that environment, right? Understanding and investing that time, it will make the workplace such a healthy environment. Your subordinates, your coworkers will feel safe. And having that open space to have that dialogue is important. So I just think that I'm so thankful that I'm in a workplace that I have that.
And even if that was not the case, I'm OK with speaking about something I'm uncomfortable with, right? But many people aren't. One thing that I do want to say on this call is-- I said this before, but I know that I don't wear a hijab, right? So when someone looks at me as a Muslim woman, they would not-- that's not a target, right? Because I don't wear it. So I want to also note that in the workplace, whether it's a new employee or somebody that just started wearing the cover, the hijab, make sure that microaggressions or the way that you're feeling-- don't simply judge someone based on their hijab in the workplace. Don't ask them these questions of why they do it or assume that they're oppressed because they're wearing a hijab. Ask intentional questions by investing in that understanding, of course, to make them feel safe. Because that, also, is another thing.
Because a lot of times, when you see a hijab on a woman's head, that's the only thing that you see and you don't see past that.. Thank you so much, Heba. And it's such great advice, and I appreciate it. And so in the interest of time, we're going to ask Donny and wrap this up in a bit. But so what are your ideas around how to make a workplace better for someone who is of Asian descent and wants to feel included and safe in a workplace? OK.
Thank you, Alexis. I think part of it goes back to what Opal was saying as far as slowing down. I like to believe our society has come a long way in my lifetime. But I certainly recognize we have a long way to go. And I don't think there's a shortcut.
But I hope that this session hopefully accelerates that. I'll give you another example from the previous question that will tie into this. Being somebody who was raised by a mother where English was her third language, I've been in situations.
I work in the technology sector. I work with a lot of people from Israel, India, China. And I've had people look at me as a universal translator. And there are people that react in terms of, well, they just need to speak clearer.
And there's other people who react in, I'm sorry, I don't understand. Because they know they're not as fortunate as I have, to be able to have that trained ear. And so going back to something Opal said, I think creating a safe space for those to try to figure out, how do they come out when they're not as familiar with somebody like me or somebody who is accustomed to somebody else where English is not their first language? How do they approach and speak to them? How do they how do they interact with them so that they don't offend them? I've seen people offend others or say, we don't want them presenting because their English is not as clear. So there's definitely a solution. There's much more. But I certainly recognize we have some time constraints.
Thank you, Alexis, so very much. Really, I appreciate it. And Miguel, you started off with the solutions. And so I deeply appreciate it. I honor all of you for being transparent and sharing of yourselves.
It is moving to me. I feel blessed and really fortunate to have been able to talk with you and to have you share these experiences. Because your feedback is going to help so many people understand that they're not the only ones.
And so thank you so much. And I wish you a great rest of your day. And I appreciate you very much.
Thank you so much. Thank you. Bye-bye.
So now, without further ado, I am very, very, very fortunate to introduce you to our next guest speaker. Her name is Valerie Alexander. She is a renowned author.
And she wrote Happiness-- as a Second Language. Welcome, Valerie. And thank you so much for joining us for Module 2. Thank you.
You're on mute. [LAUGHS] Yeah. It's so funny because I hit Unmute right before I started speaking. That's OK. [INTERPOSING VOICES] It's an extreme honor to be here. And it's fantastic to follow that panel.
Because so much of what was already said has reflected the things I'm going to be talking about. So let's go ahead. I want to get my presentation started today so that we can dive right into bias, brain science, and stereotypes, or how I learned to stop making my coworkers feel like the other. So one day, one hot day in Los Angeles, long before any of us ever heard the words social distancing, I was at Starbucks, meeting with my bookkeeper. We sat at one of those big round tables in the middle because it was so crowded.
And we were there a long time because I don't do my books very often. And various parties came and joined us and left. And one party was a woman with her three children. It was a little boy who was 9 and the little girls who were like 6 and 7.
And the little girls were so adorable. They were both trying to sit on the same stool next to mom. And then at one point, they looked up and they noticed that my bookkeeper's hair is purple. And they were enthralled.
So we got to have a really fun conversation with them about purple hair, and their favorite colors, and what books they were reading. And then they got up and left. And I turned around to my bookkeeper. And I said, I am so curious about that little family.
And she said, I know. But both of us know better than to ask any of the questions we had about that family. Because you see, the mother was white. She was clearly white. And the three children were Black. So I want to ask you, what kind of questions does that family get asked every day? In fact, I'm going to launch this as a question.
If you can either go to that tinyurl.com/speakinclusion, or with your phone, scan that QR code. That will open up a poll where you can answer that question. What kind of questions do you think that family gets asked every single day? And it is very important that you participate.
As you're typing, you might have figured out by now that this, right now, this talk is not a check-out, check-your-email, play-checkers-on-the-side experience. It's time to opt in, to lean in, to get your whole body and brain into this. Because your participation is required for us to make progress-- for your company, your community, and this whole world to become more open and equitable. None of us can opt out. And I promise.
If you opt in now, you will experience evolution in a way you never imagined. So hopefully, you've been typing this whole time. Hopefully, you got the URL to work, or the QR code opened up the poll question for you. And you've had a chance to type furiously. Some people can't type while someone else is talking. So I'll give it 10 seconds for everyone to finish typing the questions that family might get asked.
And we'll close the poll and look at the answers. What questions do we think people ask that family, that mother and those three children every day? Cihan can you share the answers from the poll? This is going to show up as a word cloud. And the way the word cloud works is the words that showed up the most are the ones that we see the biggest. So of course, adopted, Black, mother, father, children, nanny. Because these are the questions that are asked of that family.
Are you the nanny? Where is their father? Are they adopted? Did you adopt them? Whose kids are they? And if, by the way, this is your lived experience, I would invite you-- if you're one of the platforms where there's chat, if you're on LinkedIn or if you're using that #usfdeicert hashtag Twitter, share with us some of the actual questions your family has been asked in this situation. And we have to think now about what message that sends those children. What message does that send to those children? And again, if you're on LinkedIn, right now, you can go ahead and drop it in the chat. I'll be able to see that, as to what message gets sent to those children. Someone asks the question, are they adopted? Are they yours? Where did you get them? Where did they come from? Is the father Black? What is the message that is sent to that children? Someone wrote, why are you here? And we're seeing the messages are things like, you're different. You're not the norm.
You don't belong. It doesn't matter why the person is asking. It doesn't matter what their intentions are. The message is the same. And that message is, you are the other. It's the same message an Asian job applicant born in Texas gets when the manager asks what country he's from, or the scientist who is always asked to explain the behavior of the members of her religion by her lab director whenever they're in the news, the person in the wheelchair when a random stranger just starts pushing them without being asked-- which happens a lot more than you'd think.
Is there a difference to that person in the wheelchair between the person who just wants to be helpful and the person who sees them as helpless? When it comes to biased behavior, your intentions don't matter. The only thing that matters is the outcomes your behavior creates. And there are people who think of themselves as so unbiased and pure of heart that, of course, they could ask that question or make the comment. That wouldn't have a biased outcome. Do you think it sounds any different to a 6-year-old who has already been bombarded with messages about her skin color, and her hair, and so many other aspects of her being when the question comes from somebody with a good heart, who's curious, as opposed to somebody who is judging her based on her race? People with good hearts but curious are the ones who say, well, I don't even see color.
If you use the phrase, I don't see color-- or let's just say someone else in your life uses it-- I strongly encourage you to remove it from everyone's vocabulary. First off, it's a complete lie. You do see color. Nobody sat at that table and didn't notice that that woman was white and the three children calling her mommy were Black.
But when we claim not to see color, we deny the lived experience of every person of color. We have to see color in order to embrace the beauty of diversity and do the work to ensure equality. Now, other phrases that are the same as, I don't see color, include things like, you can be Black, white or purple. It's all the same to me as long as you've got the money. Tell that to the family trying to buy a house in a neighborhood where the police are called when they tour that house with their realtor.
People say, it doesn't matter what anyone looks like as long as they can do the work. Tell that to the 110-pound woman applying for a job in a warehouse, who is fully capable of doing the heavy lifting. Or, I just want the best person for the job.
And I know a lot of people just went, what? How is that bias? How is that problematic? There is no deciding who is the best person for a job without the beliefs of the decider coming into play. And all kinds of unexamined, unintentional implicit bias shows up in those measurements. When symphony orchestras were 90% male, the panels who ran auditions said, we can't help it. The men are just better musicians. But since auditions now take place behind a screen, hiding the identity of the auditioner, more than 40% of vacant seats in symphonies have been filled by women.
Do women just play significantly better when they're behind a screen? Or do we get a more equitable outcome when the bias of the examiner is taken out of the equation? If you have a human brain, you naturally have bias. If you're taking notes, please write down, I have a human brain. Therefore, I have bias. If you watched my video prior to this, you'll understand why that is. You'll remember that your brain automatically triggers the release of cortisol, that's the stress hormone, when you encounter anything or anyone you aren't expecting. So let's take the shame and judgment out of what we're going to talk about.
Everyone with a human brain has bias. And we have to admit it openly or we're never going to be able to address it. If you are feeling judged right now, that's the feeling I hope you can lose. We move forward a lot faster if everyone stops leading with protecting themselves and their positions. Take a deep breath. Deep breaths dissipates cortisol and drop your defenses.
Be open to hearing things about your brain, and your company, and your community that have room for improvement. The biggest room in any house is the room for improvement. Today, I'm going to share tools you can use to outsmart your brain, to outsmart your unconscious bias both in yourself and in your company.
The fact that you're here means this is something you're striving to get right. So here's the first bit of discomfort for me to share in a session in which there's going to be a lot of really good discomfort. Because nobody grows inside their own comfort zone. There's no right.
It's not a checklist. One person's, I'm OK with that, is another person's, I'm offended. And that's because races don't have feelings. Genders don't have beliefs. Sexual orientations don't have opinions.
People have feelings, and beliefs, and opinions. Right now, think about your gender. Take five seconds to really drop into yourself and think about your gender. Is there a belief you hold that is held by every single person who identifies as your gender? What about your nationality, your sexual orientation? If not, then why do we think that's true of anyone else? Seeing someone as a representative of their entire group instead of as a unique individual is a form of stereotyping. If you know that you hold a fundamental belief about an entire group of people-- and here's an easy test. If someone from that group does something and you think, typical, catch that.
That means you hold a belief about an entire group of people, whether positive or negative. If you hold a belief about an entire group of people but you can get yourself to see just one person, just one individual from that group as different from what you believe about the rest of them, then guess what? Guess what? That is so much worse. Don't do that. That's as dangerous and damaging as any other form of bias.
That's thinking of somebody as one of the good ones. And it's awful. When you think that way, they have no freedom to fail. And when you take that away, you take away creativity. You take away innovation.
You take away attempts at success. Thomas Edison said, I never failed, I just found 10,000 ways that wouldn't work. How many people in your world don't get 10,000 chances? How many don't even get two? How many of us even know that the carbon filament that makes light bulbs work was actually perfected by Lewis Latimer, the son of escaped slaves who worked for Edison but shared none of the wealth or fame generated by this invention? Why isn't my power company called Southern California Latimer instead of SoCal Edison? And one last point-- the person you're judging based upon a single aspect of their identity knows that you will hold your failure against everyone else who shares that aspect of their identity. This is called stereotyping syndrome. And it's a very real factor in workplace behavior. People stop trying when the consequences of their failure are so much greater and extend far beyond just themselves into their entire community.
Think of the unfair burden that puts on someone, to have to show up in a workplace every single day where they are already challenging the norms and then have to represent an entire gender, or race, or nationality, or religion. I call this the Jackie Robinson standard. Jackie Robinson was the first Black baseball player to play in the major leagues. How did he have to behave? And if the chat were running, people would answer in the chat. And somebody eventually would say, he had to behave like the white players. No, he didn't.
The white players could be as big of jerks as they want to be. Did Jackie Robinson have the freedom to charge the mound when he got hit by a pitch, when a ball got thrown straight at his head? And he got hit by pitches a lot. Or did he know that if he charged the mound even once, it would destroy not only the opportunity for him to play in the major leagues but for everyone who looked like him to play in the major leagues? So ask yourself, who in my workplace is required to be perfect just to be seen as belonging? Who has to tamp down the emotions and reactions that the rest of us are allowed to express freely to keep everyone else comfortable? If you have a set of beliefs about a group of people, even something as harmless as thinking, of course, when somebody does something, you can't count on anyone from that group to change your mind or to prove you wrong.
Because as long as you believe what you do, they'll never be able to. They'll always just be seen as the exception or as one of the good ones. You have to work to eliminate judging everyone from a particular group in a way you would not want to be judged by the behavior of others in your group. If you can do this, you will get the best out of everyone. Treat each person as an individual.
Give everyone the same freedom to fail. You will get the best out of the others around you. And being able to get the best out of others is the most valuable trait you can bring to any workplace. We don't have time today to cover a lot of the workplace values. So I made a worksheet you can download.
It's called Five Policies That Outsmart Unconscious Bias in your Company. You can access that at speakhappiness.com/inclusion. Go there. You don't have to sign up for anything.
It's just click on the link. It'll take you straight to the workplace. There's no cookies. You won't be tracked.
And if you want to reach me for any reason, you can do that at email@example.com. Now, if you don't want the unconscious bias in your brain to show up in your workplace, here are three ways you can actively outsmart it. First, sponsor your highest potential performers.
Sponsor means you speak up for someone when they're not in the room. Be the champion who gets them considered for that promotion or the goalkeeper who stops them from getting relegated to the low-level scut work that only seems to get assigned to the people who look like them. Pay attention to who gets the juicy assignments and who's assigned the menial tasks. And if there is a bias in that or even there appears to be a bias in that, speak up. Be the one who says, I will not let this happen to other people. If you see a pattern, be the person who stops it.
And especially sponsor people who don't have anyone who looks like them at your level. No one advances in their careers without someone who sponsors them. The other way people advance in their careers is by having access to the boss. Examine how that happens and make sure it's neutral for everybody. As one of our previous, panels, Heba mentioned, is it over drinks after work? Is access to the boss over drinks after work-- who does that exclude? Drop in your chat if you're on LinkedIn.
Who does that exclude? Well, for sure, it includes parents. It absolutely excludes single parents. It includes nondrinkers.
It excludes Muslims, and Mormons, and other people whose religious beliefs don't permit them to drink. It excludes people who are sober and maybe don't want the boss to know that. It excludes people who can't afford to go out for drinks.
Drinks are expensive. And people also don't want the boss to know that, if their money is tight. Also, for some people, rumors might get started about them if they go out for drinks with the boss, the kinds of rumors that will follow them throughout their careers and hurt them. So equal access has to happen in neutral ways. It can be over breakfast in a public place where the boss is picking up the check, or over lunch in a public place where the boss is picking up the check.
What about access that happens through some physical activity, like a pickup game of basketball, a round of golf? Who does that exclude? Access to leadership has to be equally available to all. And if-- as the CEO of a company I was working with on this issue said to me, can't boys just be boys? I said yes, boys can be boys, but not when decisions are being made. If you want to go play a pickup game of basketball, great, as long as that doesn't exclude anybody from being considered for a promotion or being included in decisions about corporate policies. You can't discuss policies during the executive poker game if certain executives aren't included. Decisions cannot be made and relationships should not be forged in spaces where anyone is unwelcome or even made to feel unwelcome.
That's why we don't have retreats at plantations. That's why you're bonding exercise had better not be rock climbing. When a workplace is not inclusive, who do you lose first? Think for a moment. When your workplace is not inclusive, who do you lose first? And I see the standard-- yeah, the best people. You lose your best performers. You lose the people with options.
You lose the people who are getting calls from headhunters every week. The moment they feel not included, or don't have access to the boss, when they hear that there was a poker game Friday night and a policy was formed that they weren't included on, that's when they're going to take that call from that headhunter. And the next thing is amplify the voices of people whose contributions are not being acknowledged, those who are ignored, or interrupted, or talked over in meetings. It sounds like this. Carol just mentioned a different testing model, and I'd like us to discuss that further.
Or, I don't think Jamal was finished with his point, and I want to hear what he was saying. When you amplify someone else, you don't repeat what they said. You guide the conversation back to them so that they will be listened to, so that they will be heard. Doing this will make your team so much more effective because the value of diversity isn't from different body parts, or different skin color, or different heritage.
It's from different thought, different thought processes. You want to hear from everyone, especially the people who think differently from you. There are two malls in Los Angeles, where I live, that are beautiful. One is Hollywood & Highland, and the other Santa Monica Place.
And I will not shop at either of them. See, the women's restroom at Santa Monica Place is known a long, poorly lit hallway directly off the parking lot. And at Hollywood & Highland, the women's restroom is next to the elevator, down a long hallway. You go left, and there's the men's restroom. And you go further down that hallway and go left to get to the women's restroom.
When I told my husband that that's why I don't shop at those places, he said, well, wait, don't women want more privacy when they go to the bathroom? And I said, no, women want to not be sexually assaulted in a part of the mall that's so isolated nobody can hear them scream. Santa Monica Place was designed by Frank Gehry. But there was a massive redesign done by a designer named David. And I don't know who was the specific designer who designed Hollywood & Highland. But the principals at the firm are Stanton, Matthew, Peter, William, James, Barry, Sean, Douglas, and Ming, who is a man.
I don't know if any women had a voice in that design process for a mall. Think about that for a second. But I do know that when I go to either those places, as a woman, I don't feel safe. That's why you have to make sure you're hearing from everyone. That's why you must amplify voices in our companies, so that costly mistakes aren't made.
How costly? Hollywood & Highland is being completely revamped after being open less than 20 years. They built the mall as an homage to Hollywood, meaning they had the entire history of Hollywood and every movie ever made to choose from. And they decided to base the entire mall's design on a DW Griffith movie called Intolerance, which was the movie he made in response to how angry he was that the NAACP was protesting his other movie, Birth of a Nation, widely regarded to be the most racist movie in history and credited with revitalizing the Klan. And the optics of that at Hollywood & Highland finally became too much. So after less than two decades, they are ripping out the entire design and starting over.
This isn't trivial. It includes removing 40-foot-high concrete elephants that are on three-story-tall pedestals. But let's move past the monetary cost of that for a second. According to their press kit, 25 million people visit Hollywood & Highland annually. So let's do a little math.
If mall visitors reflect the US population-- and I don't know why they wouldn't-- then 13.4% of them are Black. And if just 1% of those visitors know who DW Griffith is, that means that every year, more than 33,000 men, women, and children walk into a space that they soon discover is a tribute to the man who is largely responsible for the re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan. How welcoming does that space feel? What kind of trauma does that impose? What does that do to their dream vacation to Hollywood? Again, we have to ask, whose voice wasn't in the room when that decision was made? One thing you can do to sponsor, neutralize, and amplify is to recognize when someone is being treated differently in your workplace and speak up. Pay attention to who isn't getting invited to lunch with t he executives, who doesn't have the same support from subordinates, who gets more pushback from clients, whose expertise or knowledge is questioned at a disproportionate level when someone else's is just accepted. Remember, you don't get innovation unless everyone is given the same freedom to fail. But more than that, it is exhausting to always have to prove your intelligence, and prove your competence, and prove your worth, especially when others around you don't have to.
And that level of exhaustion is unsustainable. So you will lose the people who have to put up with it. And who do you lose first? The people with the most options. We all have a need and an obligation to look at these issues and examine the part we play in them regardless of our own backgrounds. I grew up poor in a small town in southern Indiana where one of the largest social clubs was the Klan. And my maiden name is Horowitz.
So I know what it's like to be at the other end of discrimination. I know what it's like to be at the other end of a hate crime and victimized twice when the authorities took the side of the perpetrators. But those things don't cancel out the enormous privilege I experience because of the color of my skin, the country I was born in, the language I speak, my cisgendered able-bodiedness.
I know what it's like to be the only person of my religion in the room. I know what it's like to be the only woman in the room. I was an investment banker. But I have no idea what it's like to be the only person of color in a room, to be the only immigrant in a room, to be the only person in a wheelchair in a room.
So when someone with that lived experience comes to me and says, what you did hurt me, what you said diminished me, your actions limited my opportunities, my only response is to say, tell me more. I'm listening. And I promise I will work to do better. What I cannot do is try to justify my behavior or explain my intentions. Because intentions don't matter, only outcomes. I had the opportunity to put this into practice this week.
Everyone was asked to watch my talk, How to Outsmart Your Own Unconscious Bias. We did that because time here is so limited, and that would have laid the groundwork that we could get beyond. But after watching it, one of the members of this class sent me an email and included this, which I'm going to read. I appreciated your perspective but did want to ask you to reconsider your use of the ancient Chinese blessing, which was paired with an image of a fortune cookie. Given the recent national attention on anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes, I wanted to make sure you were aware that this is absolutely not an ancient Chinese blessing, nor are fortune cookies to be found in any kind of Chinese restaurant in China. All this did was immediately signal to me that this talk would not be for me, that something vaguely attributed to Asians was again being used to signal exoticism and relegate me to being a perpetual foreigner.
I, of course, had the immediate cortisol response to that flooding into my bloodstream. I was angry at being called out. I was fear of being canceled. Then I took a deep breath.
And I stepped back from her email. And I processed what she was sharing with me. First, a quick Wikipedia search revealed that the phrase I quoted as an ancient Chinese blessing in all likelihood was made up by Joseph Chamberlain, father of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in 1898. And their family is who referred to it as a Chinese curse.
Why didn't I catch that four years ago? That talk you watched was rigorously verified. I had to provide research for every scientific fact shared in it. More than 30 people saw the talk before it was delivered with that verification standard in mind. And not one of us thought to question the origin of that saying or to think that that was a fact that needed to be verified.
That's the outcome of unconscious bias, not even thinking to check. And then I paired it with a fortune cookie. When I spoke to the woman who sent the email to thank her-- because as Dean Limayem said, feedback is the greatest gift we can ask for. And I let her know I wanted to hear more. She elaborated. And she referred to this image as a cultural shortcut.