Binna Kandola Masterclass Overview – 25th October 2012

After the success of Binna’s intriguing Masterclass on unconscious bias, priming and the importance of diversity, one of our attendees, Sanjay Bhogaita, an independent Business Psychologist has summarised what he took away from the evening:

I was fortunate in that my first Masterclass event was hosted by one of the most respected names in the area of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities. Binna Kandola’s exploration of valuing difference at work and eliminating bias in organisations was engaging, interactive and thought provoking. On a deeper, more personal level however, I was able to reflect on my own biases and the stereotypes I hold. Binna’s distinction between “knowing, believing and acting” made this process somewhat easier. Just because we may know of certain stereotypes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we believe these stereotypes nor does it mean we act on them.

Race, culture, age, disability and sexual orientation. These are sensitive issues in the workplace and society in general and we rarely speak openly about them. A discussion emerged in the Masterclass around situations in which individuals are not permitted to talk about such issues. But what are the implications of this? We suppress these stereotypes which paradoxically increase our stereotypical views.

Unconsciously this may manifest in our behaviour and body language creating a tense, anxious environment. Binna cited research that had shown recruiters who were told that their candidate was “elderly”, had walked significantly slower when going to greet them, compared to a control group of recruiters who weren’t told such information. What other connotations come with the word “elderly”? Now consider the use of words that convey the agentic male vs. the communal female in job-descriptions (e.g. ambitious, self-confident and assertive vs. sensitive, nurturing and helpful). What are the implications of this in a recruitment and selection context? The power of language.

Who would’ve thought that the priming phenomenon in the cognitive psychology module back at undergraduate would be so relevant in explaining such rapid association formation.

Thank you to both Binna and the Glow at Work team; for those of you reading this that haven’t been to a Masterclass session, I would strongly recommend it; you may well be surprised at what you may learn and take away with you!

Many thanks,

Sanjay Bhogaita

Independent Business Psychologist

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