Understand bias first.


We are biased, even the most open-minded amongst us.

Nobody talks about bias better than Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt in her much-acclaimed book “Biased.” We hold biases based on so many characteristics from gender to race to height. Dr. Eberhardt narrates her story of how she was body slammed by a police officer on the top of the roof of her car for driving a car in Boston that had its registration in her mother’s name. Later, a meta-analysis of 18.5 million traffic stops across the US between 2010 and 2016 done by her graduate student, Nicholas Camp, showed that when “black drivers are pulled over, they are more than twice as likely as white drivers to have been stopped for an equipment violation (broken light, expired tag etc) than a moving violation.”

The stereotypes in our heads are generations old and social media makes us more biased. Today, it’s easy to spread what’s wrong faster than what’s right.

Everyday biases at work can stunt careers and prevent opportunities for growth. In an article in the Harvard Business Journal “Are you aware of your biases?” leadership coach Carmen Acton tells us why she had shunned a smart employee from good projects because she assumed he was not fit to do the job because he didn’t have a college degree.

Understand your biases before you start launching your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work. Being aware of oneself is the first step towards a journey that includes everyone and excludes none.

Know the difference between racism and prejudice.


In the summer of 2011, Eric Deggans, now NPR’s first full-time TV critic wrote an interesting piece in the St. Petersburg Times clarifying the difference between prejudice and racism.

I’ve often found Deggan’s view on prejudice and race simple and thought-provoking. According to him, prejudice is something that you observe in the moment. “You are walking home and cross the street to avoid an individual because you fear a mugging. Racism is internalizing as a core value the idea that some races are superior or subordinate to others,” he says.

We often use the word racism incorrectly when we prejudge someone because of their race or color. Someone might prejudge another individual but she/he may not believe that any race is superior to one another and cannot be called a racist.

“Many times when talk turns to a suspicion of prejudice, the word racism is used, incorrectly and unfairly,” Deggans says. We have our own prejudices and a single mistake doesn’t equal racism. However, a long history of prejudice will definitely make us a racist.

Prejudice is everywhere. The only way we can sort this out is by being vulnerable and engaging in honest conversations with one another.