Lets stop talking about diversity and start working towards equity | Paloma Medina | TEDxPortlandJun 05, 2021
so i'm here to try to convince you to
diversityso i want to convince you to stop talking about diversity because firstly the word is confusing us and secondly , we do not care. our brains don't care about that so let me explain to those of you who are kind of waiting let me explain so we know that about ninety nine point nine percent of us have some level of ethnocentrism or some other kind of unconscious bias towards people. people who are different than us so it's like all of us here in this room before you
startgetting defensive with me and you're like I don't even hold it it's you it's you but don't judge it because these biases unconscious make sense in the sense that your old inner limbic brain in this part of the brain evolved in the days of cave people and in those days in those days if you were out and about and met someone who looked different than you you so he says that would have been cause for c a concern like who is this I don't know you or you come don't take my food well it would have been very very worrying but now have e are a very modern world we interact with people all the time who act differently from us differently from us that's normal but your limbic brain is still catching up it's still wired to equate strangers with a threat to our own survival, so it means even if our mouths say we want diversity in our workplace, we want a diverse workplace, that's all well and good, our limbic system is, shall we say please, not too diverse, please please not too diverse please not too diverse ok now on the other hand there is fairness fairness or the way our brains are wired to care so by fairness i mean being treated fairly equality and there are important differences between fairness and equality, however, we have not reached either in most different industries in our communities, so For this talk I'm going to use
equity, but the question that really got me excited was what does she do?
Rain, think about fairness when my favorite studies involved two monkeys that were placed in cages next to each other and these monkeys could see each other, they were taught a trick and when they did, they would get a piece of cucumber as a reward and the monkeys were very happy with this super cool one in Phase two of the study they turned things around and when one of the monkeys did the trick like before he got a grape and monkeys love fruit so this was definitely it a reward much better than the cucumber super good for this monkey the other monkey when she did the trick in phase 2 she still got a cucumber so this was repeated over and over again so that the monkey the cucumber monkey could see what she was doing same trick but getting worse reward let's stop there if you were doing the same task as someone else and you got a shitty reward how would you feel right now?
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lets stop talking about diversity and start working towards equity paloma medina tedxportland...
Tell me all your voices go down Vaughn yeah I'd be so mad this is what the monkey d I mean that's validate that's valid yeah so just like monkeys just like monkeys we all understand from innately how to spot even a hint of unfairness, so that begins to explain why researchers are finding that on flights you know when they make you walk in first class before you get to coach on those flights there are four times the number of incidents of Air rage is something that can be measured and there are four times the number of those incidents when you are made to walk around in first class before you get to your economy seat so now experts theorize that we seem to be wired to scan for of fairness even glimmers of in
equityparticularly because it was also related to survival in the days of cave people let's say the days Mac and Kay are looking for food but two days in a row gone you can not less. food than the rest of your tribe you do the same job this would have been a major early sign that your chances of survival were dwindling and you better do something about it yes h if you want to last through the winter then at the time When I was actually looking into this, I thought well, what does it matter that our brains seek and want to protect a sense of fairness? well it matters because it means our brains classify fairness as a core need and when any core need is threatened our brains and bodies are wired to go into a state of stress and if this continues now we have chronic stress and stress chronic leads to inflammation we're finding that people who experience recurring racism in fact show chronic inflammation in their bodies in chronic inflammation as we're learning it's not a joke it's directly linked to things like cancer heart disease a lower life expectancy overall i mean it's related to early death so fairness is not just politics here fairness is critical to our health thank you so about a year ago i was being a diversity coach and equity inclusion and I realized why we're talking about diversity at all, diversity it's not what our brains need.
It's really just one metric to understand if equity is happening, so let me explain, let's say your company, 4% of your company's employees are people of color, but 30% of the US is population is people of color, so if this happens over and over again year after year at your company, this racial diversity number is an early indicator that there is likely inequity somewhere in your hiring process, but let's say that changes the way you recruit and hire a bunch of people of color and you get it for 30% of your employees or people of color what we've done right can we compromise or can we celebrate?
I love that you're not saying yes we're done you know something is weird here because this new racial diversity issue still doesn't paint the full picture of equity it doesn't tell us if those employees are being compensated fairly to their white counterparts it doesn't tell us how they are being treated by their white peers and everyday work life and yet we still know this diversity is not the core need equity is the core need why do we talk about diversity so much more? I think we talk more about diversity because it's safer when we say we're committed to diversity in our company it doesn't imply anything more than wanting to invite more people to our company more minorities and inviting people is not that hard I mean that's not cool because i can do it now i want to invite y'all y'all see you up there in the middle y'all here are invited to my house let's say tomorrow how does that five o'clock sound sound okay cool house party marked diversity done we know well we are like well who we are inviting your company our teams to our neighborhoods is one step but it says nothing about how we will treat them once they arrive how we will treat them and changing the way we treat them once they arrive that would require changing our old brain and that also requires changing our systems and I know that changing our old brain and changing our systems is intense that's daunting I know, so I thought okay, well what does the research say about how humans have to achieve daunting goals?
Research says three things it says if we need to verbalize the goal we need to make it measurable we need to make it a time limit verbalize it make it measurable make a time limit this is the really cool thing fifty years ago this year our nation achieved a huge daunting goal using this very formulaic then 1962 President Kennedy addresses the nation with a very bold and seemingly impossible goal at the time he says we choose to go to the moon in this decade notice he didn't say we care about going to the moon in this decade now he also , he definitely didn't say we'd form a space committee in this decade, yes, doing that, no, he did it, he verbalized the goal, he made it measurable, he did it with a time limit, we reached that goal in seven years in 1969, BAM moon landing . done well so when rereading a speech I realized that we have to verbalize the correct objective the objective is in diversity the objective is equity we have to do like search and replace and without correct vocabulary we have to do a search and replace it or vocabulary in our HR manuals some of us in our job titles in our daily work lives we need to trade diversity for equity one but two Kennedy's speech made me realize that it's time too it's time we make this goal be measurable and time bound for this to look like on the ground is that instead of saying you care about hiring for diversity, say you will achieve racial and gender equity in your hiring procedures in three years if you are a company smaller so it's a small company where you can do it less time also means that instead of saying things like we value fun ity in our employees instead you influence your leaders to commit to increasing racial and gender representation on your executive team by 50 percent in three years you can say yes and I know some of you they're like gimme gimme the big stuff I want to run with the big dogs instead of saying you're going to form a Diversity Committee hire outside experts to help you audit and then get equity and pay and promotions you can do it in two years can I want you to get out of here today i want you to be the first to replace diversity conversations with equity conversations and i want you i want you to be the one to ask your leadership ask your peers let's make it measurable let's make it a time limit because diversity is not what we are looking for what we really want well what we all really want is fairness thank you
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