Reflections on the March e2 "Creating Positive Change with Diversity & Inclusion"
Panelists included Ms. Alexis Terry, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion at ASAE, and Mr. Apoorva Gandhi, Vice President for Multi-Cultural Affairs for Marriott International. Dr. Erinn Tucker, Director of the Global Hospitality Leadership master’s program at Georgetown University, moderated the session.
Over the course of the hour-long conversation at last week’s March Educational Experience, there were countless “ah-ha” moments which anyone in the audience could easily take back and apply to a real-life situation. One specific example that is simple and effective was suggested by Mr. Gandhi: when you find yourself in a situation where your unconscious bias may be leading you to form an opinion based on what you see—pause, reflect, then act.
Vanderbilt University’s Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion defines "unconscious bias" as “prejudice or unsupported judgments in favor of or against one thing, person or group as compared to another in a way that is usually considered unfair." Mr. Gandhi explained that everyone, no matter how aware you may think yourself to be, at some point will succumb to this subjective, internal set of preconceptions. Because these are unconscious, by definition, we can’t prevent them from influencing our thoughts.
The good news is that we can teach ourselves, through examination of those potentially negative thoughts or feelings, to change our response. Gandhi’s suggestion is pause; give yourself a moment to feel your reaction and acknowledge it. Then reflect: how is your reaction potentially swayed by an unconscious bias—is what you’re thinking really based on your experience in this moment, or something else? Then, finally, act. Hopefully by giving yourself the extra few seconds to really identify your feelings and gut-check whether or not they’re based in the objective context of the situation you’re in, you can then decide the best course of action.
The simple practice of "pause, reflect, then act" is easy to remember and very simple to integrate into your day-to-day interactions. You might be surprised as what you learn about yourself and others around you.
By: Amanda Santiago, Mandarin Oriental