When you read my name and see my face and I talk about my son a certain image comes to mind of what he might look like. You would be wrong. After all, we adopted him at age 1 from Kazakhstan in central Asia. He looks Asian, nothing like me.
When you see a woman walk into your office for an interview, in the back of your mind you may think she is married to a man . . . And she may be. She may also be married to a woman, too.
The person of color coming into your office or window on Zoom . . . And they talk about their son or daughter . . . Well, I think you’re starting to get my point.
There are many more types of biases that show up in our assumptions. We make many assumptions about the people that we meet or hear about from others. I know I do. But these assumptions are often wrong.
Practice saying, “wife, husband or partner,” or “husband, wife or partner” whenever you meet someone and talk about their spouse. Make it second nature.
Don’t assume that they are of the same race as the person you’re meeting with or that their children are biological children. After all, in the US, there are 5 million adoptees.
One in six marriages in the United States are interracial (2017, NPR). Biracial or multiracial (I’m not sure what the correct term is) are increasing, as well. A black American president who had parents of different races.
Pay attention to your language in conversations with people.
Your assumptions can be both hurtful to them and harmful to your career because you are ignoring them and their life experience.
As a white heterosexual, I am semiconscious of what it is like to be different than me and what someone else’s experiences might be like.
Bring that ignorance in the workplace and say some of the stupid stuff I’ve corrected people saying, and you have a recipe for exposing your ignorance.
And that’s even before we get the gender bias!
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1700 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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