As a manager, Tiffany is responsible forinterviewing applicants for some of the positions with her company .During oneinterview, she noticed that the candidate never made direct eye contact. Shewas puzzled and somewhat disappointed because she liked the individualotherwise.
He had a perfect resume and gave goodresponses to her questions, but the fact that he never looked her in the eyesaid “untrustworthy,” so she decided to offer the job to her second choice.
“It wasn’t untilI attended a diversity workshop that I realized the person we passed over wasthe perfect person,” Tiffany confesses. What she hadn’t known at the time ofthe interview was that the candidate’s “different”
behavior was simply a culturalmisunderstanding . He was an Asian-American raised in a household where respectfor those in authority was shown by averting(避开) your eyes.
“I was justthrown off by the lack of ye contact; not realizing it was cultural,” Tiffanysays. “I missed out ,but will not miss that opportunity again.”
Many of us have had similar encounters withbehaviors we perceive as different. As the world becomes smaller and ourworkplaces more diverse, it is becoming essential to expand our under-standingof others and to reexamine some of our false assumptions .
At a time when hiring qualified people isbecoming more difficult ,employers who can eliminate invalid biases(偏爱) from the process have a distinctadvantage .My company, Mindsets LLC ,helps organizations and individuals seetheir own blind spots . A real estate recruiter we worked with illustrates thepositive difference such training can make .
“During myMindsets coaching session ,I was taught how to recruit a diversified workforce.I recruited people from different cultures and skill sets .The agents were ableto utilize their full potential and experiences to build up the company .Whenthe real estate market began to change, it was because we had a diverse agentpool that we were able to stay in the real estate market much longer thanothers in the same profession.”
Blinded by Gender
Dale is an account executive who attendedone of my workshops on supervising a diverse workforce . “Through one of thesessions ,I discovered my personal bias ,” he recalls . “I learned I had notbeen looking at a person as a whole person , and being open to differences .”In his case , the blindness was not about culture but rather gender.
“I had amanagement position open in my department ;and the two finalists were a man anda woman . Had I not attended this workshop , I would have automatically assumedthe man was the best candidate because the position required quite a bit ofextensive travel . My reasoning would have been that even though bothcandidates were great and could have been successful in the position , I assumedthe woman would have wanted to be home with her children and not travel.”Dale’s assumptions are another example of the well-intentioned but incorrectthinking that limits an organization’s ability to tap into the full potentialof a diverse workforce.
“I learnedfrom the class that instead of imposing my gender biases into the situation , Ineeded to present the full range of duties, responsibilities and expectationsto all candidates and allow them to make an informed decision .” Dale creditsthe workshop , “because it helped me make decisions based on fairness .”
Year of the Know-It-All
Doug is another supervisor who attended oneof my workshops .He recalls a major lesson learned from his own employee.
“One of mymost embarrassing moments was when I had a Chinese-American employee put in arequest to take time off to celebrate Chinese New Year . In my ignorance , Iassumed he had his dates wrong , as the first of January had just passed . WhenI advised him of this , I gave him a long talking-to about turning in requestsearly with the proper dates .
“He patientlywaited , then when I was done , he said he would like Chinese New Year did notbegin January first , and that Chinese New Year ,which is tied to the lunarcycle ,is one of the most celebrated holidays on the Chinese calendar .Needless to say , I felt very embarrassed in assuming he had his dates mixed up. But I learned a great deal about assumptions , and that the timing ofholidays varies considerably from culture to culture .
“Attending thediversity workshop helped me realize how much I could learn by simply askingquestions and creating dialogues with my employees , rather than makingassumptions and trying to be a know-it-all ,” Doug admits . “The biggest thingI took away from the workshop is learning how to be more ‘inclusive’ todifferences.”
A better Bottom Line
An open mind about diversity not onlyimproves organizations internally , it is profitable as well . These commentsfrom a customer service representative show how an inclusive attitude canimprove sales .”Most of my customers speak English as a second language . Oneof the best things my company has done is to contract with a language servicethat offers translations over the phone . It wasn’t until my boss receivedMindsets’ training that she was able to understand how important inclusivenesswas to customer service . As result , our customer base has increased .”
Once we start to see people as individuals. and discard the stereotypes , we can move positively toward inclusiveness foreveryone . Diversity is about coming together and taking advantage of our differencesand similarities . It is about building better communities and organizationsthat enhance us as individuals and reinforce our shared humanity .
When we begin to question our assumptionsand challenge what we think we have learned from our past , from the media,peers , family , friends , etc , we begin to realize that some of ourconclusions are flawed(有缺陷的) or contrary to our fundamental values . We need to trainour-selves to think differently , shift our mindsets and realize that diversityopens doors for all of us ,creating opportunities in organizations andcommunities that benefit everyone.
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