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Chapter 7 Customer Bias

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The first thing that comes to mind when we think of customer bias is the allegory of the car salesman. In the story, two people walk onto a car lot. One of the people is impeccably dressed and the other looks disheveled at best. The two car salespeople on the lot flip a coin for first choice at a customer. The salesperson who wins is ecstatic as he approaches the well-dressed patron.

We think you know how this story ends. Turns out the well-dressed customer doesn’t buy anything and instead spends an hour and a half of the salesperson’s time asking questions and test-driving fancy cars. The disheveled customer, on the other hand, was wealthy and decisive. She knew what she wanted and came prepared to purchase. It’s a “don’t judge a book by its cover” story, but it happens all the time. The winner of the coin toss was biased against the poorly dressed customer and lost a sale as a result. Did you assume the patrons were male even though women are statistically more likely to make major household purchasing decisions? How many businesses miss opportunities and lose customers because of bias?

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Chapter 8 Retribution Bias

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

So far, we have tackled a number of biases that work in a number of dangerous ways. In these final two chapters, we are turning toward a bias that enacts oppression by tapping into intersecting unconscious biases of race, class, and gender and adding in a particularly American notion of retributive justice, which not only harms people within organizations but functionally keeps people out of our workplaces and organizations. This bias is “retribution bias.”

We’re going to be spending the next two chapters on retribution bias because it has such a tremendous impact on people’s lives—economically, socially, and spiritually. If we think of institutional biases as social forces, this particular bias has acted in powerful and oppressive ways to harm millions of people.

We define “retribution bias” as a socially held and institutionally enacted bias toward exacting retribution—a bias favoring punishment. Retribution bias is triggered in the presence of wrongdoing, or the perception of wrongdoing, and depends, in the American context, on the criminal justice system to name who is trustworthy, hirable, a “safe community member,” and so on. Retribution bias replaces the restorative instinct to develop, maintain, or (re)build relationship. Restoring relationship can be between the offender and offended, or between the perceived offender and his or her full relationship with community—in other words, restoring citizenship with all its rights, freedoms, and responsibilities.

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Chapter 1 Understanding the Problem

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Institutional or systemic bias is the phenomenon that exists when some groups maintain advantage over others within the context of a particular structure. Institutional bias is the result of interpersonal bias that has been institutionalized, or embedded within systems. Each of the biases enumerated in this book can operate at the interpersonal level and the institutional level. The examples of bias in this book are operating at the institutional level unless otherwise stated. The institutional biases that we will expand upon in this book include in the following order:

Occupational Bias An implicit bias that assigns fixed human or demographic attributes to a particular job or career.

Gender Bias An implicit bias that assigns fixed attributes by gender and/or privileges one gender over another.

Racial Bias An implicit preference of one race over another.

Hiring/Advancement Bias Any implicit preference that creates hiring and advancement opportunities that privilege one group over another.

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Chapter 4 Gender Bias

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In the United States, gender is a Title VII protected category for good reason. From the moment women were finally granted access to jobs that were historically reserved for men, they have been taken for granted. Women in the workplace have been underpaid, mistreated, exploited, humiliated, belittled, passed over, and dismissed from the very beginning. While one might expect there to be some friction during the early years of gender integration in the workplace, one would also expect time to smooth out that friction. Yes, women in the workplace have certainly fared better as the decades have rolled on, but women are still compensated less than men, they are still sexually harassed, and they are still massively underrepresented in leadership.

This book is being written by two strong-willed women, so naturally the gender bias discussion comes easily to us. That said, there are plenty of men in the workplace who feel every bit as marginalized as women in certain fields. Male nurses are the first occupation that comes to mind. I’ve known several male nurses who have to deal with shocked stares when they claim they are nurses instead of doctors. It all goes back to gender stereotypes and perceived gender roles. When society decides that doctors should be men and nurses should be women, anything outside of that is considered awkward and just plain wrong. We place labels on people and occupations and act befuddled when our expectations are not met.

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Chapter 2 Start with You

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The first thing you need to do is start with yourself. If you are not the CEO, then you will need support to get people on board and affect change. As an individual, you will need to take the following four steps before you can effectively erase institutional bias. These steps are important if you want the changes to be sustainable and persist beyond your tenure.

EXERCISE 1

Preliminary Work

Step 1. Evaluate your (old) role in perpetuating systemic bias.

Step 2. Define your (new) role in breaking down systemic bias.

Step 3. Cultivate allies.

Step 4. Create a movement.

Now let’s break down each of these steps to help you understand how to prepare for the challenging task of erasing institutional bias.

This step is important because all of the work that deals with interpersonal strengths requires a healthy dose of self-awareness. It is difficult to be a credible ally and changemaker when you are actively perpetuating the problems you aim to correct. So, when you identify systemic bias at play, it is critical that you do the hard work of understanding the type of bias, its ramifications, and your role in perpetuating it. Ask yourself the following reflection questions:

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Chapter 9 Erasing Retribution Bias

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The impact of retribution bias is broad, and it can feel over-whelming to consider what it may mean to erase such an institutional bias. In this chapter, we will be introducing people whose lives have intersected with this bias and we will be sharing with you how they are working to erase it. We’re doing this because retribution bias tells you to steer clear of particular people.

As we explored in the last chapter, retribution bias works by consolidating many of our previously held biases and distilling them into the belief that criminals are threatening and dangerous; they’re certainly not human and they’re most definitely not to be a part of our organizations and workplaces. But when you get close—when you move in and encounter the people behind the mythologized images of criminals that have been held up for decades—you will find that retribution bias is not actually working to keep communities safe. Retribution bias is only keeping communities fragmented and broken by inequity.

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Chapter 3 Occupational Bias

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In the book that preceded this one, Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships across Differences, the very first exercise we featured was called Job Association. We listed a handful of occupations then left a blank space for people to write the first word or phrase they associated with the named occupation. The examples included teacher, doctor, lawyer, politician, and used-car salesman.

People typically make associations with jobs and job titles. Sometimes they are limited to gender expectations and sometimes, as in the case with used-car salesman or politician, people’s assumptions include values-based judgements of character. A great example of this is the oft-told riddle about the man and his son who were in a car accident. The son was badly injured and the father died. When the boy was taken to the emergency room the surgeon said, “I cannot operate on him, he is my son.” The question is who is the surgeon? The boy’s father died in the car accident. If you don’t know the answer we will give you a moment.

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Chapter 5 Racial Bias

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Diversity is a workplace and organizational buzzword that we all love to throw around, right? We know it’s important, maybe we’re not always entirely sure why. It just seems good to have different people in an organizational setting, particularly people whose racial and ethnic backgrounds are different.

No one wants to think that her or his workplace is racially charged. When it comes to creating a healthy culture of racial diversity and inclusion, though, the actual demands of doing this are less sexy than the glossy brochure idea of a diverse setting. In other words, if you really want to create a healthy, racially diverse workplace, you are going to find yourself face-to-face with the often hidden but appallingly powerful grip of institutional racial bias and its impact on organizational environments.

We totally get it—no one wants to raise his or her hand and claim part in perpetuating racial biases. The difficult truth, however, is that we have long been culturally conditioned in many ways to find it unbelievable that we ourselves might be part of the problem.

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Chapter 6 Hiring/Advancement Bias

Jana, Tiffany; Mejias, Ashley Diaz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

One of the most common complaints we hear from organizational leaders seeking to increase diversity and inclusion is that there aren’t enough diverse, qualified candidates. We never want to seem condescending, but there are plenty of people of all races and ethnicities and all educational and experience levels seeking employment.

There is a privilege that comes with representing an institution. We expect candidates to find us. After all, we are offering jobs. And the candidates with access and exposure will find us. Unfortunately, that often means people who are connected and networked within the same systems as the institution and its existing workforce will find us. In many situations, even if diverse, qualified staff, are in the workforce, they don’t seem to be promoted into leadership positions.

Hiring/advancement bias presents itself in a multitude of ways:

• Homogeneous workforce

• Diversity concentrated at the lowest levels of the organization

• Homogeneous applicants

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CONCLUSION: Paradise

Qazi, Farhana Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

There is no greater dream for a believing Muslim than the desire to enter Paradise. The ultimate goal is to breathe heavenly air and recline in gardens from which rivers flow, as the Quran promises, with a tribe of family, friends, and all of God’s Prophets. How one achieves that dream is determined by actions in this life. A believer is told that the hereafter is for those whose acts of charity are stacked higher than the sins of a mortal. But the Afterlife, though an attainable goal, is not without the tests of faith that a Muslim endures on earth.

In an era of romantic terrorism, the rules for entry into Paradise are constantly rewritten, and a Muslim’s rights and responsibilities are redefined. For nearly twenty years, I have witnessed the semantic folly that terrorists use to seduce seemingly innocent girls and women to resolve a grievance. For some women, the decision to join religious extremism is voluntary and is often driven by personal reasons, including the need to belong, to be loved, to be purposeful, and to offer a helping hand to a Muslim community suffering the barbarism of war.

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3. Deception

Qazi, Farhana Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The sound of his voice was heavy. In July 2014, the leader of the world’s new terror nightmare, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), declared, “Rush, oh Muslims, to your state. Yes, it is your state. Rush, because Syria is not for the Syrians, and Iraq is not for the Iraqis. The Earth belongs to Allah!” Draped in black, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stood at the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the Iraqi city of Mosul to separate the world into two: the believers (that is, the righteous followers of Islam) and the nonbelievers (or the kufr, which include “the camp of the Jews, the Crusaders, and their allies”). An old enemy disguised as new, al-Baghdadi made no mention of women. But his predecessor did.

The former al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, understood that Muslim women could inflict greater damage on his perceived enemies: the United States and its Muslim allies. Jordanian-born Al-Zarqawi reinvented the role of Muslim women by telling them to join the cause and be suicide bombers; marry an insurgent; recruit other women; and support terrorism by being a facilitator, messenger, logistics provider, and much more. Once jailed in Jordan, Al-Zarqawi was released in 1999 as part of a general amnesty granted by King Abdullah II but then sentenced to death a year after his release for the murder of a US diplomat. To Jordan and the rest of the world, Al-Zarqawi was a high-value target and a wanted man.

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5. Where the Girls Are

Qazi, Farhana Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

On Friday, October 17, 2014, Assad Ibrahim, who was from Sudan, got a call from his daughter’s school in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. The calls are routine when parents fail to report an absence, or when a student arrives late or cuts class, at Overland High. His then-sixteen-year-old daughter had not come home. He called her cell phone and she answered. “I’m running late,” she told him. But when she did not return after school, Ibrahim grew concerned. He discovered that his daughter’s passport was missing. Where could she have gone?

Ibrahim visited the home of a friend, Farah Ali, a Somali immigrant who lived nearby with his family, and told him about his missing daughter. Had Ali seen his girls? The three were friends. Ali’s daughters were seventeen and fifteen at the time. Ali said he had talked to them that morning while he was working. The two sisters said they were sick, but at 10:30 a.m. they felt well enough to go to the library. Ibrahim suggested that his friend look for their passports and the two thousand dollars that the family kept at the home—gone. The fathers called the FBI and filed runaway/missing-persons reports with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. Desperate to find his daughter, one of the fathers posted on Twitter: “Please if you read this tell me where you are? We are so worried about you #Isis #raqqa #Colorado.”

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6. Misguided

Qazi, Farhana Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It all seemed innocent enough, until it wasn’t. On July 2, 2014, Shannon Maureen Conley was halfway down the runway at Denver International Airport when US federal agents put an end to her plans. Clothed in a hijab, the 19-year-old American girl was on a one-way trip to Turkey via Germany when she was discovered. The Muslim convert made no secret of the fact that she was heading to Syria to join ISIS. A simple-looking American girl, Conley had been radicalized within a short time period. In less than a year, she had converted to Islam, fallen in love with a Muslim man online, and pledged her loyalty to ISIS. She was one of many Western girls who had been misguided by male extremists, a victim of romantic fatalism.

Conley had grown up in Arvada, a quiet suburb of Denver, in a home with a statue of Saint Francis in the garden. Nothing seemed amiss. Her mother, Ana Maria, was a professor at Regis University. Her father, John, worked in the computer industry and taught martial arts on the side. The youngest of four girls, Conley wore shorts and jeans and hats. She was friendly and a bright student at Arvada West High School.

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4. The Stranger

Qazi, Farhana Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

She was a stranger to most people, including her own family. On December 2, 2015, a twenty-something young woman named Tashfeen Malik from Pakistan and her husband, Syed Farook, gunned down fourteen people and wounded others in one of the deadliest mass shootings in America. Masked in black, her face concealed, the girl from Pakistan assaulted my religion.

In the first hour of the attack, I wondered aloud if Malik would be hated less if she sported a painted leather jacket, low-rise jeans, and leather boots. If she had appeared more Western, rather than hidden from the public’s view, she might have been accepted as a Muslim woman. Interviews with Western women confirm that they perceive Muslim women draped in dark garb, including the covering of their eyes, as anonymous or nonexistent. One American woman said to me, “I can’t talk to her if I can’t see her as a person.”

I wanted to believe that Malik’s religion did not matter. Even when it did. I knew that Islam would come under attack again by those who did not understand it because a Muslim woman ruined the lives of innocent Americans and put Islam in the spotlight. Again.

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7. Love of God

Qazi, Farhana Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We wandered together under moody gray skies, stepping into the Turkish neighborhood in East London. The smell of sugar and stale coffee permeated the air. Carrying a tote bag, her hair pulled back in a scarf, a thirty-something woman named Zufie guided me inside an ethnic restaurant with cushions on the floor and lanterns from an imperial era hanging above us. Earlier, we had prayed together at the Turkish mosque nearby, our heads bowed on an ocher-red rug, the walls decorated with bright teal-green leaves, reminding me of the interior of Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque.

If there was a voice that did not need words, it was hers. In the 1990s, when I first met Zufie, I was enrolled in classes at a local university near Hyde Park and lived on Coventry Street. My classes included British Theater and Introduction to the Bible, taught by a priest. When we met, I recognized our differences to be a gift, rather than a barrier to friendship. In time, we made promises to travel together and to honor our new togetherness without judgment, no matter where we might go. Hers was a different world from my American Southern life. She found calm in the midst of bigotry, shadows of doubt, and shame from unwarranted attacks on Islam. But her calming presence and mindful living—originating from her love of God and His creation—helped Zufie discover Islam with grace, leaving no room for hostility or cold-heartedness for those who either demonized her faith or indulged in religious extremism.

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