Team Diversity Basics

I’m studying the Optimizing Diversity on Teams course on Coursera. These are my revision notes for week 2.

Diversity Matters and So Do Our Biases

  • Ethnically diverse and gender diverse companies financially outperform their counterparts
  • Diversity on it’s own is not enough
  • Baby-faced individuals are thought of more honest, naive and trustworthy than others
    • Study using a fictional peace offer from Palestinian leader: offer from a baby faced leader more often accepted
  • Stereotypes and bias
    • Shape our daily interactions, cause conflict and shape trust
    • We must be aware of our own biases – you may think you’re being completely fair when your actually being completely biased
  • Benevolent sexism:
    • Managers who “protect” women from difficult assignments, and so limiting their opportunities for career growth
    • Offering to help women when the help is not asked for, which can reduce confidence
    • More time and money given to older male colleagues due to unconscious bias
  • Hidden bias has consequences for employee retention and burnout
    • Only 1 in 10 women say they leave the workplace for maternity reasons
  • Elements of an inclusive culture:
    • hosting of affinity groups
    • training on hidden bias
    • channels for employees to provide input

Social Identity Theory

  • Social Identity Theory (from Simply Psychology)
    • Social identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group membership(s).
    • Groups give us a sense of social identity: a sense of belonging to the social world.
    • In order to increase our self-image:
      • we enhance the status of the group to which we belong
      • by discriminating and holding prejudice views against the out group
    • We divide the world into “them” and “us” based through a process of social categorisation
      • This is known as in-group (us) and out-group (them)
      • Social identity theory states that the in-group will discriminate against the out-group to enhance their self-image.
    • Stereotyping is based on a normal cognitive process: the tendency to group things together. In doing so we tend to exaggerate:
      1. the differences between groups
      2. the similarities of things in the same group.
    • Examples of in-groups and out-groups
      • Northern Ireland: Catholics – Protestants
      • Rwanda: Hutus and Tutsis
      • Yugoslavia: the Bosnians and Serbs
      • Germany: Jews and the Nazis
      • Politics: Labor and the Conservatives
      • Football: Liverpool and Man Utd
      • Gender: Males and Females
      • Social Class: Middle and Working Classes
    • Three mental processes involved in evaluating others as “us” or “them”, which take place in a particular order:
      • Social categorisation
        • We can assign people to a category then that tells us things about those people (or ourselves, based on the category we place ourselves in)
      • Social identification
        • We adopt the identity of the group we have categorised ourselves as belonging to
      • Social comparison
        • Once we have categorised ourselves as part of a group and have identified with that group we then tend to compare that group with other groups
        • This is critical to understanding prejudice
          • Once two groups identify themselves as rivals, they are forced to compete in order for the members to maintain their self-esteem

Examples of Microaggressions

  • Examples of Racial Microaggressions
    • Alien in own land
    • Ascription of intelligence
    • Colour blindness
    • Assumption of criminal status
    • Denial of individual racism
    • Myth of meritocracy
    • Pathologizing cultural value / communication styles
    • Second-class citizen
    • Environmental microaggressions
    • How to offend without really trying

Intro of Torian Richardson

  • In order to have an awareness of the culture, you need to have a self-awareness as well
  • See things in a neutral mindset – go into new situations with an open mind to alternatives
  • US and Europe have very similar working cultures
  • As an African-American working in Africa, it was very different

Diversity and Inclusion Issues on International Teams (Torian Richardson)

  • People gravitate towards the things and people that we know
  • Get to know each other’s families
  • Intellectual curiosity helped people open up their doors, and bond better
  • People in Africa come from a more tribal standpoint

Strategies for Adapting to a New Team Culture (Torian Richardson)

  • Have a level of intellectual curiosity
    • “I would really like to learn something new today”
    • People pick up on when it’s authentic and genuine
  • Get to know the people, their families, even the meanings behind public holidays
  • Intentionality is important
    • In new venture in China, started with intention to lean three things
      • Relationships (guanxi)
      • Why is credit not used as much in China?
      • What about their food, and how it relates to their culture

Cases of Strategic Focus on Diversity and Inclusion (Torian Richardson)

  • Barry-Wehmiller
    • CEO and chairman has a book called “Everybody Matters”
    • “People are at the core of every organisation”
  • GlobalMindED
    • Non-profit
    • Brings together all stakeholders in education
    • Students put together an incubator, where they do a start-up pitch at local schools
    • Coming up with a set of questions that are universal – can be asked of any student. What are your interests, why are you here, what you may want to do after you graduate

Addressing a Critical Situation of Bias (Torian Richardson)

  • Challenge at transport company: people felt as if there were some cultural and racial issues in the way that particular jobs that were given out
  • How to address in a positive way without staying derogatory?
    • bring all the stakeholders to the table
    • looking for common ground
    • everyone who was involved was also involved in created the solution
    • solution was simple, but the process of arriving at the decision was most important

Cultivating the Right Mindset to Manage Diversity and Inclusion Issues

  • Come in with the right attitude – I want to be positive
  • Accountability – level of ownership
  • Take action – actually have to take progressive action
  • Sense of gratitude

Interview with Andrés Castro Samayoa

  • Assistant Director of Assessment at the Centre for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania
  • The way in which questions of race an ethnicity are coded into the fabric of the institution
  • This happens because there is an explicit understanding of the need for shared identities between mentors and students
  • Role models with shared identities make it easier to connect
  • Examples of unintentionally marginalising students?
    • the ways in which you ask questions
    • how you end up talking to people
  • Red flag: “We think we have a handle on this”.
    • Means people are closing out opportunities for learning
    • lifelong approach

Interview with Ann Tiao

  • Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Model minority myth
    • Started in the 1960’s
    • Asian Americans were rare in the 60’s
    • Article said that Asian Americans were “model” because they were more quiet, did not voice their opinions (in contrast to African Americans)
    • Divide and conquer minorities
    • Re-emerged in the 1980’s, it was pointed out that they were over-represented in campus
    • It’s not true
      • huge diversity!
      • 50 ethnicities, 100 languages
  • Where are you from? (you don’t look like you come from here, or belong here)
  • Be intentional: what triggers you? What response do you want to make?

Intro of Harvey Floyd II

  • Organisational psychologist and executive coach

Strategies for Reducing Bias (Harvey Floyd II)

  • Exercise around social identity
    • Aspects that are given (cannot change)
    • Aspects that are core to them
    • Aspects that are chosen
  • Example of reducing bias
    • Problem with selection and development
    • Who’s missing, and needs to be present?
    • Open discussion up to them
    • Who’s best interest is it to get this right?

Questions that Help You Create a Diverse and Inclusive Team (Harvey Floyd II)

  • How do we align our values, actions and practices?
  • Discuss undiscussable issues, find a mechanism to discuss them
  • What environment will allow this?
  • Who’s on the team? Why?
  • Who’s not on the team? Why?
  • If I’m stepping outside of boundaries, do I have the authority?

Frameworks for Managing Difficult Conversations

  • SBI – Situation, Behaviour, Impact
    • Feedback model
    • This looks like non-violent communication?
  • Unconscious bias training


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