My daughter who is 4 was preparing for her ‘Show and tell’ in her new kinder class. She decided to take her favourite dinosaur Sophie to school and we planned what she would say and even practiced it and she was so excited. The day arrived and she carefully took Sophie to school, the occasion marked by a pink bow around Sophie’s neck. That evening after school I asked her how she went. But she was very low key about it and then she blurted out and said ‘Mummy, my friends said girls don’t like dinosaurs’. My heart fell to my boots. But I didn’t know then that these words would come to haunt me. A week or so later I attended a business breakfast where they presented some stats. They said 41% of men wanted work place flexibility. I had a big ‘aha moment’. I realised I had spoken to all my female team members about workplace flexibility, but never to any one of my male team members. I had my own grown up version of ‘Girls don’t like dinosaurs, men don’t want flexible work arrangements’. Even if we think we don’t as leaders we can all have our unconscious biases. What is your version of ‘Girls don’t like dinosaurs?’
This was a story shared by Oshana De Silva, Head of Risk, Small Business, National Australia Bank. The story had an immediate impact on the other leaders in the room. Using a personal story like this one, is a powerful yet effective way to frame the conversation around exploring something as difficult to get a handle on as unconscious bias. If you are interested in learning the skill of storytelling, please check out our latest public program.