There has been a tremendous amount of discussion on unconscious bias in the media and academic articles. Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting two Vistage Peer Advisory Board meetings at which Shan Foster, former NBA player and Co-Founder and CEO of Fostering Healthy Solutions, spoke. We discussed inclusion and awareness at length. Listening to Shan made me think more about the underlying assumptions each of us makes on a daily basis. When we cross cultures, there are many assumptions. When you speak with a business woman from the south, what are you thinking? Strong? Polite? Or perhaps, dare I say weak? When you listen to someone from the north, what are you thinking? Strong? Direct? Or perhaps, dare I say, aggressive? I have watched as these stereotypes get played out on a regular basis. These may seem to be the most innocent of our biases, but are they. The best we will ever be is defined by what we tolerate the most. Our assumptions go far beyond the geographies we live in and where we were raised. We are influenced daily on so many levels. How can we embrace our differences and leverage the strengths each individual brings to the table? How can we challenge ourselves to think beyond what we deem to be true and work to discover what is true?
Our underlying assumptions about the people we meet, regardless of their walks of life need to be challenged. I encourage us to think first and foremost about people as people. Remaining open minded and objective is a challenge. But with a “conscious” effort, it can be done.