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Do Unconscious Bias and Prejudice Issues Exist In Your Organization?


Drum Cafe West Unveils New Program to Support Diversity

Diversity PointsIt’s no secret that we live in a racially and socially diverse country, and our business organizations are no exception to this trend. Unfortunately, with that territory comes a saddening realization that prejudices and biases do still exist no matter how far we’ve come as a society.  Diversity and inclusion is a powerful topic that companies are finally starting to recognize and tackle head-on. It has become clear that in order to create a harmonious and productive organization, such prejudices need to be acknowledged and worked through as a team.

Natalie Spiro, owner of Drum Cafe West, is a trained Industrial Psychologist who has been architecting incredible corporate team building events for 11 years. Her educational training and professional experience has contributed to the development of a ground-breaking new program called, “Drumming for Diversity,” that touches on the very sensitive and poignant topics of diversity and inclusion.

This month in Women’s Health Magazine, a study by Mahzarin Banaji Ph.D was published on unconscious bias. In a portion of the study, Banaji addresses the difference between conscious and unconscious bias:

“Because implicit prejudice arises from the ordinary and unconscious tendency to make associations, it is distinct from conscious forms of prejudice, such as overt racism or sexism. This distinction explains why people who are free from conscious prejudice may still harbor biases and act accordingly. Exposed to images that juxtapose black men and violence, portray women as sex objects, imply that the physically disabled are mentally weak and the poor are lazy, even the most consciously unbiased person is bound to make biased associations. These associations play out in the workplace just as they do anywhere else.”

Banaji’s study, however shocking these results were, also uncovered reason for optimism. By looking at people as individuals with needs and goals— rather than superficially and stereotypically part of a social or racial category— individuals can turn off the brain’s emotional reaction and turn on their social cognition.  Susan Fiske, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, shared that, “this concept also works consistently in more structured settings, such as being on a team.” NYU social psychologist Jay Van Bavel, Ph.D., supported this when he ran a study in which he told white participants that they were on a team, and then he showed them faces of those with various racial backgrounds that were either part of their team or part of another team. When he scanned their brains, he found activity indicative of camaraderie for members of their own team, regardless of race. The implications of the study—that we might be able to thwart automatic prejudices by simply thinking we’re all on the same team—are powerful indeed.

This suggests that our unconscious impulses can be overruled if we can just acknowledge their existence. Yes, this is an uncomfortable task for many people; hence why such programs as Drumming for Diversity are necessary to employ in a company’s diversity program.

To see if this program would be a good fit for your organization, please contact us here!

“Drumming for Diversity’s addition to our Employee Diversity
excitement you brought into the space is unlike anything we’ve had
before. You did a spectacular job of incorporating our company
values and the EDC’s mission into the program. And people were
so moved by the demonstration of putting our hands on our
neighbors’ drums and feeling that difference.”
Victoria Person, Diversity Advisor
Southern California Gas Company

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