Diversity and Inclusion
This is an Inclusion Works Workout — an interactive session guide to help teams foster a more inclusive culture. We’re sharing this Workout so you can use it to facilitate and encourage honest discussion as part of your company’s antiracism work.
Stereotypes are a type of heuristic. In other words, we take mental shortcuts to save time and energy, which includes applying what we think are truths to whole groups.
Dr Beverly Daniel-Tatum, a leading expert in the psychology of racism, likens stereotypes to a smog. They’re continually circulated through books, films, verbal stories and even the news. We all absorb these stereotypes like we’d breathe in a smog.
Stereotypes might seem harmless, but as author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, they cut away any nuance or complexity to people. When we don’t have the full story, whole groups of people can be judged or even demonized through stereotypes.
The way to devalue stereotypes is by seeing and appreciating others for the individuals they are.
Take a psychoanalytic study by Dr Susan Fiske, who found that white participants who were asked to quickly guess if someone was over 21 would show signs of feeling under threat when the image was of a Black person.
Fiske discovered that one simple prompt could reverse this reaction though: asking the participant to think about what kind of vegetable the person in the image liked to eat. This prompted the participant to think of the person as an individual with preferences, overcoming their initial reaction which was to categorize the person they saw into a stereotyped group.
This guided discussion will:
⚡ Reveal and break down stereotypes that we all encounter and are sometimes judged by
⚡ Highlight the richness and complexity of our identity
⚡ Help everyone bring a little bit more of themselves to work and understand the stereotypes we break by being ourselves
This exercise was adapted from Marjorie Allen’s Questioning Stereotypes exercise.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Participants: 3+ | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Easy
Resources: a piece of paper each, and a spare for you to record useful outputs, anything you usually need for any remote joiners
One week in advance
✅ Send round an email confirming that you will be doing a 30-minute session about our identities and the incorrect assumptions that make us feel excluded or misunderstood.
On the day
✅ Type up notes you took from the “I am, I am not” activity as a series of short, bullet-point actions in an email. Add your most memorable moment from the session such as a funny line or multiple people learning they face the same incorrect stereotype. Share the notes with the participants and thank them for their time and for opening up.
✅ In your 1:1s, prompt discussion and reflection using the following talking points:
✅ Pick one of your own “I am, but I am not” examples and start a conversation about it with somebody that did not attend your Workout session such as a colleague from another team or a trusted friend.
✅ If appropriate, ask your close friends about stereotypes they’ve been subjected to and listen to their experiences.
✅ Commit to widening your perspective by watching a video that dispels stereotypes like BBC Three’s lighthearted series, Things Not to Say, or learning on your social media break (yes, really) by searching #notyourstereotype. If appropriate, share anything that surprised you with your team.
Defy stereotypes: I am, but I am not
Hive Learning Workout – Defy stereotypes: I am, but I am not
Inclusion Works >
This resource was taken from our Inclusion Works program, which was created with a network of more than +100 diverse contributors and advisers. We learn from, amplify and cite creators of different races, ethnicities, genders and cognitive styles and continually work to represent all dimensions of diversity.