Sharon Drew Morgen

Diversity And Bias: How to Hear ‘Different’ People Differently

We all recognize diversity is important yet difficult to attain. We recognize that with diversity we’re capable of creating all that’s possible; without diversity we limit who gets heard, who gets to lead, what knowledge we deem important, what we teach our children. Indeed, mis- and under representing categories of people cost an unimaginable price in money, possibilities, and life.

People much smarter than I have evaluated the high cost of the lack of diversity. But I’d like to offer a modest way to begin the process of overriding our biases: we can shift how we listen.

Biases Are Silent, Stealthy Executioners

While researching my new book (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?I learned that the listening process involves 1. our ears collecting and funneling the sounds of words spoken, then 2. our brain (using our unique, cultural, and historic beliefs, values, rules, etc.) interprets meaning from the sounds.

Biases and assumptions occur when our brain notices ‘differences’ it deems ‘unsafe’ (judged against our status quo), causing automatic prejudice outside conscious awareness. I heard Malcom Gladwell, the noted author of Blink say in an interview that when tested for unconscious racial bias, his results revealed something like a 53% bias against African-Americans – and he’s half black. We end up living and thinking in bubbles of our own making. The ideas, the capability, the innovation that gets lost is unimaginable.

At a dinner party once a man at my table discussed what I knew to be a naïve idea in my area of expertise. I ‘kindly’ explained to him the error of his ways. He merely smiled. Afterwards I learned that I had been admonishing a Nobel Laureate (in a different field than mine). Had I known that, I might have listened to his ideas as merely different or even interesting. Ditto if he knew I was a noted expert on the topic. Maybe together we could have changed the world in a unique and wonderful way. Instead, we listened to the other with biased, judging, ego-filled ears. What would we each have needed to believe differently to be able to hear each other without restriction?

On another occasion my biases potentially kept the world from glorious music. Visiting an ill friend at a nursing home recently I chatted with the orderly on staff. Whatever he heard me say motivated him to ask me to mentor him. I’m embarrassed to admit I declined. Thankfully he persisted. I went to his place for a lovely dinner, serenaded by a CD of his wonderous compositions! I coached him going forward, to find funding to make his music available to the public. But I almost missed that opportunity because I immediately judged him negatively.

Listen Without Bias

Realizing a part of the problem in judging others as ‘different’ lies with how we interpret what we hear, we can take steps to recognize when we are judging, biasing, or assuming, and then supersede our brain’s natural tendencies and listen neutrally:

  • Enter conversations with a bias of listening for all that’s possible.
  • Notice when we begin hearing differences or an internal judgment, and return to concentrating on what’s really being meant.
  • When our internal voice begins judging, reducing, disparaging, or condemning, pose the question to your internal self: what would I hear if I only heard what this person wants to share with me?

It’s not easy, as our brains are neurologically designed to hear what keeps us comfortable. But if we can at least aspire to hearing what others have to share, we can be further along the path of diversity and avoiding limitations.

About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. ( She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

Three Millennial Mindsets to Embrace and Encourage

What drives leadership performance? Is it having the right principles or the right mindset? Some may say neither do.

Principles and mindset are not discussed often as being performance indicators. Communicating a vision, hiring the right people, and designing the right systems are more often highlighted as ways leaders can ensure performance. Although each are important, mindset and principles are the starting point, and Millennials are getting this right.

Principles and mindsets, however, may get bantered about with little distinction. Both are essential yet there is a difference.

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About the Author

Jon MertzJon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders. Follow him on Twitter @ThinDifference or Facebook /ThinDifference

The Women’s Economy Starts Here

For the first time in this nation’s history, women are now the majority of the work force and what a force that is. As the number of entrepreneurial women rises, it is clear that this country’s economy can begin to move in the right direction as long as these women begin to be treated equally; however this isn’t the case. Just recently, the pay equity bill failed to pass that would ensure equal pay for women. On average in this country, women make $0.85 on the dollar compared to men- and that’s Caucasian women, it drops dramatically when you look at other Ethnic groups. This is a trend that we have to focus our efforts on to change.

According to “JOBENOMICS, A Plan for America” by Chuck Vollmer, small businesses are the backbone of the US economy. With more and more female entrepreneurs, it is vital that they are equipped with the tools to be successful. Vollmer shows that small businesses “generated 64% of all new jobs over the past 15 years…employ more full-time people…and are far less likely to outsource jobs overseas.” But small businesses are still suffering, even as the economy is recovering, which is why women play such a vital role in this turn-around. If female-owned businesses were to have access to more resources and tools, this would in turn have a massive effect on the state of the nation. Vollmer also explains “Several common misperceptions about small business are that they do not produce as many jobs, and are more likely to fail relative to big business. Neither is true.”

Women are also the most influential consumers. Contributing to the total $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in America, women influence 85% of all purchasing decisions, including half of products that would seem more oriented to men, such as automobiles, home improvement items, and consumer electronics. The impact that women have on this country’s market alone is substantial. For products related to home life, it’s been reported that moms represent a $2.4 trillion market. These statistics make women the key target audience for any successful business.

With such a large impact, women are truly becoming the leaders of the U.S. and as leaders, it is vital to be prepared, educated and equipped for the task at hand. This is why events such as the California Women’s Conference are such an essential part of helping women network, grow and be inspired to succeed in their ventures. Being a business owner can be a risk and risk is scary for most people.

Five important keys for women to remember:

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About the Author

Michelle PattersonVisionary and lauded business accelerator Michelle Patterson is President of the Global Women Foundation and The California Women’s Conference – the largest women’s symposium in North America that has featured esteemed First Ladies, A-List Hollywood celebrities, and high caliber business influencers. Michelle is also the CEO of Women Network LLC, an online digital media platform dedicated to giving women a voice and a platform to share their message. Michelle may be reached at

Women on Business: Taking the Lead and Making a Difference

The balance of power is tipping toward the feminine with more women taking on the workforce by graduating en masse from higher education well and above their male counterparts as well as starting businesses and taking a leading role in how major companies around the world are run. When it comes to women on business, they are coming out on top, but there is still more that they can do to make a difference and help to stimulate the economy on the road to recovery.

Here are some key areas where women can help other women start taking the lead:

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About the Author

Michelle PattersonVisionary and lauded business accelerator Michelle Patterson is President of the Global Women Foundation and The California Women’s Conference – the largest women’s symposium in North America that has featured esteemed First Ladies, A-List Hollywood celebrities, and high caliber business influencers. Michelle is also the CEO of Women Network LLC, an online digital media platform dedicated to giving women a voice and a platform to share their message. Michelle may be reached at

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Diversity is Important for Business

This year is the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I was on the committee that wrote that legislation.

Diversity is most important for business, the economy and quality of life. I have conducted many diversity audits of companies. I have seen corporate America embrace diversity in many practices, including the workforce and suppliers.

Several years ago, we realized that specialized positioning and communications are necessary for social harmony and a global economy. We are a diverse population, and the same ways of communicating do not have desired effects anymore.

Diversity is about so much more than human resources issues. It means making the most of the organization that we can. It means being anything that we want to be. Diversity is not about quotas and should never be perceived as imposed punishment. By taking stock and planning creatively, then we can and will embody diversity.

The premise of multicultural diversity is ambitious and necessary to achieve. It is a mindset that must permeate organizations from top-down as well as bottom-up. If not pursued in a sophisticated, sensitive way, good intentions will be wasted.

The following pointers are offered to companies who communicate with niche publics:

  • Seek and train multi-cultural professionals.
  • Contribute to education in minority schools… assuring that the pipeline of promising talent can rise to challenges of the workforce.
  • Design public relations programs that embrace multicultural constituencies, rather than secondarily appeal to them after the fact.
  • Interface with community based groups, sharing in activities and civic service… to learn how communications will be received.
  • Realize that minority groups are highly diverse. Not every Asian knows each other, nor speaks the same language. There are as many subtle differences in every ethnic group as the next. Thus, multicultural communicating is highly customized.
  • Realize that multi-cultural communications applies to all. Black professionals do not just participate in African American community events. Cultivate communicators toward cross-culturization.
  • As media does a good job of showcasing multicultural events, note it positively. If thanked enough, media will continue to shine the light on multicultural diversity.
  • Sophistication in the gauging of public opinion will result in a higher caliber of communicating. The demands of an ever-changing world require that continuous improvement be made. Attention paid to writing and graphics quality will enhance the value of multicultural communications.

The old theory was that society is a Melting Pot. That philosophy evolved to the Salad Bowl concept. In either, one element still sinks to the bottom. We must now see it as a Mosaic or Patchwork Quilt. Each element blends and supports others. Diversity is a continuing process where we keep the elements mixed.

People believe that they are now thinking differently and creatively about diversity issues. In truth, they are really rearranging their existing prejudices. To be diverse and united, societies must be sealed with common purposes.

We can be diversified and unified at the same time. We can remain culturally diversified. We still can and should work together as a society. We all hold cultural values. One set is not better than another.

Look at the issues and how they affect the total person. Actions are always required. Good intentions and political correctness are not enough.

It is short sighted to ignore changes in society. It is good business to recognize opportunities for practice development. In the Chinese culture, every crisis is first recognized as a danger signal and always as an opportunity for overcoming obstacles.

Every professional must embrace a set of ethics:

  • Things for which each professional holds himself/herself accountable.
  • Holds benchmarks for Continuous Quality Improvement.
  • Realistically attainable goals.
  • Contains mechanisms to teach and mentor others.
  • Continually re-examines and adds to the list.

There are many good reasons why diversity relates to your livelihood:

  • Embracing diversity is politically correct.
  • Society will make increasing demands that you address these issues.
  • It makes good business sense.
  • It opens your services to additional market niches.
  • It embodies the spirit of open communications, the basis of winning companies.
  • This process creates more job opportunities for multicultural professionals.
  • And it is the right thing to do.

Quotes About Diversity

What is food to one is to another bitter poison.”

Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.”
William Cowper, The Task

Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy.”
Mao Tse-tung (1956)

No pleasure lasts long unless there is variety to it.”
Pubililius Syrus

It were not best that we should all think alike. It is difference of opinion that makes horse races.”
Mark Twain

Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices. Just recognize them.”
Edward R. Murrow (1955)

Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”

When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”
President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), honoring poet Robert Frost at Amherst College

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.