Exposing Ignorance

I hate ignorance, especially ignorance that leads to prejudice and bias.

This is the ignorance that makes outsiders spend over $600,000 to oust Iowa Supreme Court Judges because they voted to legalize gay marriages.  These campaigns may cripple the Iowa judicial system because many voters are confused and may vote down judges of any rank – leaving nearly 100 judicial seats empty.

This is the ignorance that makes people declare they are not getting on an airplane if somebody who looks Muslim is onboard.  True story. Come on, how does someone “look” Muslim?  Does somebody look Presbyterian or Catholic or Buddhist?  No. I would bet money those same people couldn’t tell the difference between someone from India, Egypt or Afghanistan because they don’t have enough world exposure.

I beg educated people within HR to work very hard to pull out all your chips and lay them on the table towards erasing the ignorance of prejudice and bias in every corner you can shine the light. Get creative. Be subtle if you have to but bold if you can be.

If you have some of your own biases, learn how to bury them and work for the common good of every man, woman and child on this planet. I have never ever seen prejudice help. Prejudice hurts. Prejudice is a very personal issue best discussed one-on-one and we need to train managers and HR professionals how to address the ignorance in our workforce.

As HR professionals and managers, we have the ability to broadcast soft or blatant messages that will help people see that maybe the best teammate they have ever worked with is different than they are (and AWESOME) or that things they love in their life were designed or created by people of amazing diversity.

Exposing people to new opportunities, foods (I am serious here), cultures, methods and ideas help with acceptance in their day to day routines.  Status quo  is often a breeding ground for bias.

One small step we did in our company was to encourage every single employee to get their passport.  This opened the door for development opportunities and for discussion about international travel. It allowed (and welcomed)discussion about opinions and concerns about comfort levels with different ways of life and cultural differences seen while traveling.

What do I want? I want to expose ignorance and, even more, I want to applaud success.

How are you helping people change their thinking?

About the Author

Lois Melbourne

Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children's books about career ambitions. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.

6 Comments

Diane Prince Johnston

Lois:

I love the idea of encouraging each employee to get a passport! It sounds like @aquireinc. is a great place to work. You have experienced incredible growth and success: workforce planning in over 2,700 organizations in 125 countries without any VC funding AND supporting diversity AND raising a son! You go girl!

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Emily

I think this is a very good point to carry with us each and every day when we speak with candidates. I like your insistence that we bury the prejudice, even if it is there, as it does not help anyone. I think that as HR professionals, it is our job to help break the mold and bring “diversity” into all workforces across the nation.

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