Monday, June 20, 2016

An Arsenal for Battling Workplace Biases: Knowledge, Understanding, and Confidence - HUFFINGTON POST

by Sarah Deane
Originally published: June 17, 2016

Cracking up with laughter, I was recounting a story that had happened to me early in my career to a mentor of mine. The story really got me thinking about diversity, embracing differences and how, especially in some industries, there can be the issue of assumptions and biases hindering the amazingness that can come from a diversity of thought.

First, let me tell you what happened...

I was attending a meeting at an Executive Briefing Center. My role was to present on a topic to the attendees so that they could think differently about business strategy using Experience Design, as I was at that time the organization’s thought leader on the topic and the Manager for the Experience Design team. People were arriving for the meeting, and I am naturally a person who does things like open doors for people, so I opened the door for one of the executives who had just arrived. As he passed me, he put his hand on my shoulder and with a smile said, “When you get a chance, I’ll take a coffee.” Obviously, he didn’t see the coffee at the back of the room for the attendees, or, maybe he didn’t know how to pour it -those buttons can certainly be confusing! ;-)

I looked at him, smiled, and said, “Would you like sugar or cream with that?” “No, no. Black’s fine,” he responded.

I got him his coffee. Then, as the meeting was starting I took my seat. The organizer stood up, kicked off the meeting, and introduced me as a thought leader. I stood up, looked around the room saying hello to everyone, fixed my eyes directly on the “coffee-guys” face, who, at this point had his cup in hand and mouth wide open, and I said, “How’s that coffee; do you need anything else? Maybe I can get you some biscuits to go with that?” I smiled, then proceeded with my presentation. Now, mostly that’s just my kind of humor, but I have never forgotten the moment. The look on his face was priceless. Reflecting on this moment, got us talking about diversity and my thoughts as a woman in this line of business.