Tag Archives: inclusion

Fat People Aren’t Good Workers.

I don’t really believe that fat people aren’t good workers.  In fact, I am a fat people (or at least I used to be) and I happen to think that I am a good worker.  There are a lot of people who do believe this, though.  I believe that this is just fuzzy thinking.

fat people are discriminated against

A lecturer at NYU recently tweeted “Dear obese PhD applicants: If you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.”  More fuzzy thinking:

fuzzy thinking re obesity

What does will power re: food have to do with willpower over anything else?  Why don’t people who don’t have willpower re: other things–alcohol, sex, spending, gambling, exercise, hoarding–fall into this guys criticism.  This guy is an evolutionary psychologist–a scientist–who should have more discipline in his thinking.

He’s not the only one.  Recruiters (I once had a recruiter proudly tell me that he made overweight candidates walk up four flights of steps to interviews and if they couldn’t do it, they didn’t get to the next level.  Why?  Is walking up stairs a job requirement?  If he doesn’t do that for normal weight people, then how does he know that they can (if it is a requirement of getting to the next level?), hiring managers, supervisors, co-workers, sales people, customers all make decisions about people based on their weight.  Is it relevant?  Sometimes.  More often not.

Prejudice against fat people is an acceptable prejudice.  It is close to the last acceptable prejudice.  If you find yourself being prejudice against overweight people, challenge your thinking.  Examine what you believe about fat people, thought by thought by thought.  Do they really support one another?

fat lazy fuzzy thinkingDo you just not like fat people?  Do you just think that fat people should do better/be better/act better?  Is this a big enough deal that they should not get a job or a promotion?  Do you believe that being fat is an indicator of someone’s character?  There is a recent study that shows that children as young as four are prejudiced.

OK, So I Think This Discrimination Is Wrong

But it is not illegal.  It is hard to prove (and a lot of people think it is justified).  So . . . if you are overweight, this is something that you can actually do to affect your employability and promotability.  It might have as much of an impact (or more) as getting more education, or more experience, or even more networking.

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Filed under Diversity, Job Hunt, New Job, Personal Change

My Boss Is Young Enough To Be My Child!

Mental Model of Boss

Younger Bosses

It happens to all of us–no matter how successful we are–if you stay in the workforce long enough, you’re going to have a boss younger than you.  Why does this matter?  Why do you care?  Yeah, yeah, it shouldn’t, but to most of us it does.  I’ll go back to harping about mental models.  We have a mental model of what a boss is and that we need to look up to a boss and someone who is younger doesn’t deserve that.  So why does our mental model require that our boss be older than us?  Back in the day, when people entered the organization immediately after high school or college and then moved up the organization step by step, the bosses were 55-65 year old men who retired and made room for the next person  (Oh, by the way, back in those same days, women only had some non-boss roles –I very specifically remember when people (both men and women) had the same issues with women bosses–bosses were NOT supposed to be women!!).  I know there are lots of people who don’t remember those days.  Most of the people, though, who are struggling with younger bosses now do remember those days.  In fact they are mostly from those days.  Things are different now.  It’s time to change our mental models.

I certainly had the experience of working for bosses who were older than me who were not as smart, or knowledgeable or skilled at their job as me (I’m sure it was no one who reads this blog, though:-)).  Age didn’t have anything to do with this.  Neither did race or gender or even educational backgrounds.  You aren’t guaranteed good bosses.  Given that, though, good bosses come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders and educational backgrounds.  There are people who are younger than you who have more knowledge than you about somethings.  There are people who have less education, less experience, or talent who can be good bosses for you.  Good bosses bring what the job and the team need AT THE TIME.  So change your mental model.  Start thinking about what you need in a boss and stop assuming that someone younger than you can’t bring it.  I know twenty-somethings who are better people managers than most of the middle managers that I know.  I know fifty-somethings who can explain technology better than tech professors.  One of the very best Executives I ever knew only had a high school education, but he sure knew how to gather information and make a quick and effective decision.  He had an instinct that I’ve never seen in anyone before or since.  I had a female boss, back in the days when that was rare, who focused so completely on the customer that she changed the culture (and the profits) of the organization.  She did it before it was “THE THING TO DO.”

Mental Model Actual Bosses

My point is that you’ve GOT to stop thinking about bosses as if they should be a certain gender, race, education or age.  Ask yourself what your boss brings to the table.  What does s/he bring that you don’t have?  How and what can you learn from him?  How can you improve the chemistry/relationship with her?  How can you earn his respect?  Unless you are knocking at retirement’s door, this is not the last boss you will have.  Bosses will come in more different versions as our world changes.  Get used to it.  Get good at it.  Especially if you want to be the boss.

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Filed under Bosses, Career Development, Career Goals, Communication, Diversity, Inclusion

White People Don’t Know They’re White

Before I Explain What I Mean

First, let me tell you why I’m writing about this.  This is a post about people not knowing what they don’t know.  When you don’t know what you don’t know, it really gets in the way of being effective.  If you are completely unaware of something, then you are missing out on a whole world.  If you are basing your understanding of the world on the assumption that everyone thinks like you, you CANNOT communicate effectively because you are starting from the wrong place.

Now Let Me Explain

I have to be careful how I explain this.  I told a close friend that white people don’t know that they’re white–several times–and  years later a conversation made it obvious that not only did she not understand what I meant, she didn’t believe me either.  I have always thought I was pretty aware of the issues of race relations. I know now that I really didn’t have a clue.

A few years ago, I worked for a large minority organization.  I was one of two white employees.  I was aware of my “whiteness” all the time.  My mind did that to me.  It made me think about it all the time. There are lots of studies about this–we notice differences.  Most importantly, we notice how we’re different.  I was aware of my difference.  It was a new experience for me.  Minorities feel this all the time–wherever they are in the minority–in the grocery store, at movies, at restaurants.  That awareness–that you are different–and the assumptions you make about what the others are thinking shape your interactions with people.

A Fish In Water

If you never have a minority experience, though, you never become aware of your “whiteness” or your “otherness-of-any-kind”  (this doesn’t just apply to white people–it applies to all majorities).  If you never have that experience, then you never really “get” it.  Being white in many communities in the United States,  is like being a fish in water–the fish isn’t aware of the water.  It just exists in that environment.  There is a lot of baggage that goes with that water–privilege, history of mistreatment, institutional racism–that many white people are not consciously aware of.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, though.

The hyper awareness that minorities experience helps create the assumption that white people are equally aware of minorities.  They aren’t.  Of course there are situations where what I’m saying isn’t true.  And certainly, there are racists who are more aware.  Most white people, though, are not only unaware of their own “whiteness,” they are pretty oblivious to non-white people, too. They don’t walk into a grocery store and notice all the minorities.   At a conscious level.  There is stuff happening at the subconscious level, though, for everyone.

I learned from one of the best professors I ever had, Dr. Martin Gooden at Wright State University, that there is a thing called in-group favoritism.  People see  members of  their in-group as having positive characteristics and members of their out-group as having more negative characteristics.  This applies to OKC Thunder and Dallas Maverick fans, to Democrats and Republicans, and to majorities and minorities.  This happens without our thinking about it, at the unconscious level.  It has very far-reaching impact though.  It gets in the way of openness to getting to know each other.

Let’s Make It Better

So, why is this important? Because it plays out all over the place.  Non-white people don’t experience the freedom of not thinking  about being a minority.  They also aren’t aware of what they experience at the unconscious level–their unconscious assumptions. White people don’t understand that  non-white people have a difference experience.  And all that unspoken/not understood stuff plays out at work, at church, in politics, everywhere.

Until we understand this and pull it out into the open, it never gets any better. That means that we need to talk about it.  We need to understand the tricks our brains play on us.  We need to understand the water we swim in.



Filed under Communication, Diversity, Inclusion