It is Friday afternoon. It has been a long week. Some ups and some downs, but finally time to relax and grab a beer with your colleagues. Every Friday after work you get together with some of your colleagues. The question however beckons. How many of them look, sound, think and act like you? Typically, how many of them are burly men?
How Different is Different?
For instance, if you are in the USA, how many people are Mexican? If in Europe how many are Turkish or Moroccan? And if in Africa how many are Asian? In Japan, how many of them are “gaijin”. Who do you never see in the middle east? In Asia? Do you know any of them? Why are they not with you? Are any gay? How many women are there?
Are any of them “different”, ie do not look like you, sound like you or behave like you and most of your colleagues?
Now why do you think that is? Did you know that we all suffer from biases? We all discriminate to a larger or lesser degree. Biases are stereotypes. Sometimes they are conscious and sometimes unconscious. Either way we all have them. But why is this important?
What is your impact?
Because you are probably not aware of the impact you are having on others. If you are a straight man, in most societies, you make up most of the workforce. As such, within the cultural “context” in which you operate, the conversation will probably be dominated by things like sport, women, cars and or politics. Sometimes children, especially if you feel you have bragging rights.
Not everyone can participate in those conversations.
Imagine if you were gay and had other interests, you probably don’t have children, may prefer to talk about something other than cars, politics are always contentious as you may have very defined views, to talk about women well, does that need explaining? So that leaves sport and more specifically, which ever sport is the flavour of the season.
So now imagine you are a straight woman. Similar things apply. What can you talk about? Probably kids or sport? Kids feed into stereotyping. So, sport then. But which sport. Again, the same dilemma.
Ok so now imagine you are from a different ethnic background. Where you are from, they do not play the same national sport as where you now work, the role of women and men may be different, being gay may be accepted or not, cars are not a big thing and politics could get you killed. What do you then talk about?
Can you make a difference?
So back to you, our favourite; the straight men. Women, gays, the culturally diverse and the different look to you to take ownership of your role. We’ll do it for ours. The question is are you brave enough to reach across the divide that separates us? Are you willing to take a step towards the unknown and maybe meet a friend for life?
Can you be brave enough to change some behaviour today?
The Weekly Challenge
The moment someone, that is different, walks into the room the following happens; you stop talking look who it is and then usually stay silent. This sends the signal that you are not interested, couldn’t care or feel like they are intruding or not welcome. Can you imagine how awkward it is for a person that is different from you to approach you, in a group of people that are different form them, a person that feels like to odd one out. Now imagine the amount of courage it takes to take that step to try and join the conversation, and when you do, a deathly silence follows.
So if you do not want to be the statistic. Just another biased person that is unwilling to look beyond the obvious. If you are brave enough to see people for who they really are and embrace differences. Reach out and start a conversation. You may be pleasantly surprised that it can be about things other than women, cars, politics or sport. Be brave and join the conversation about inclusion.
Your “Black”, Gay and/or Female friend to be.
If you want to know if bravery is something that motivates you, do the Superpowers test and see if it is in your top 5.