Hello students, welcome to my very special guest on my left, Dr. Marybeth Gasman. Who is a Professor of Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. And she's also the Director of the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania. >> As Aviva said, I teach here at Penn and do research. I mainly do research related to minority serving institutions, as well as a lot of race and ethnicity driven work. I'm a historian by training, so I mainly study 20th century American history and issues of race but do a lot of current things as well. And then as Aviva said I direct a center that I founded a couple years ago called the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. It's a pretty large center, about 5,000 square feet, and 16 people. And we are focused on doing research, and planning programs to support the over 600 minority-serving institutions that serve really diverse student populations across the country. >> Thanks for that Mary Beth. So let's get into the questions. So first of all, I know your expertise is in higher education, but what are some strategies that organizations in general, can use to ensure that conversations are inclusive of diverse perspectives? >> So that's a really good question and actually because I lead a center, it is something that I'm thinking about all of the time. So, the first thing that I would say is that you can hire a diverse group of people. And often times, what happens is people will say to me, well, that's really difficult. But it's not difficult at all. You just have to want to do it. So at the center that I lead, out of the 16 people, the majority, in fact all but two, are people of color. And lots of times, people will say to me, how did you do that, right? And my answer is, I did it. That's all you have to do. I mean, I have religious diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, diversity in terms of gender, sexuality, country of origin, political thought. You can do all of that very easily if you're very purposeful. But once you hire people then one of the things that you have to do is you have to make sure that if you want to invite people in that you listen to them. So you can't just ask people to be a part of an organization, you have to make lots of opportunities for their voices to be heard. Because the best way to get rid of people who might be a different race or a part of LGBT community or perhaps Muslim is to not include them to. To say, okay, we want you here for numbers, but we don't want to include your voices. So you have to have lots and lots of opportunities for that. >> We're here at Penn, which is a predominantly white institution. So there are opportunities, I'm sure, for your staff, and other people of color here, and in other organizations, who might be in a room where there's less attention paid to that. And maybe that person experiences some strife because of that. Do you have any recommendations for a mindful or a helpful way for that person, or for the white person in the interaction to bring up racial dynamics, and how would that work in your opinion? >> Sure, I think it's very interesting especially at a place like Penn. I've been here for 13 years and when I first came to Penn, it was very, very white. I mean my classes were almost entirely white. Now, for the past 5 years, 51% of the freshmen class has been domestic students of color and that's really changed the campus. And that changed the dynamic of the campus. And that's exactly what's going on in companies and organizations around the country. You're seeing much, much more diversity. And so what happens is that leads to more conflict. I think it's good conflict because conflict often leads to creativity as well, right? So there are a bunch of things that you can do. One thing is that you have to listen to each other. You can't just assume someone's background. You can't assume because someone's African American that they come from a low income background. You can't assume that because someone's white they come from an affluent background. I come from a very low income background. Although, everyone assumes that because I teach at an Ivy League institution, I come from an affluent background. So you don't want to make assumptions. You want to listen to each other. You want to slow down and just take in what the other person is saying. I think one of the things that white people tend to do, is they tend to dismiss the claims of people of color around racism. So they'll say, no that's not really happening. But you can't really say that as a white person because you have no idea whether or not someone's feeling racism. It's the same thing when men say, no we hire a lot of women, so sexism doesn't exist. No, actually, it's more likely that sexism is existing, and it might even be festering because there are more women. >> Mm-hm. >> It's the same thing with the LGBT community. >> Right. >> A lot of times when you bring someone in from the LGBT community, people get, they get awkward, they don't know how to act, because they don't have enough training or exposure. So, a lot of it is sitting down and talking to people. Having lots of informal activities for people. Making sure that all your teams are diverse. Those are some of the best ways to make sure that people start talking to one another. >> Right, absolutely. And what about those difficult conversations if someone does experience maybe a micro aggression or something like that? Do you have any suggestions of how to counteract that? >> Sure, one thing to keep in mind is that most people who are not part of the majority are experiencing micro aggressions almost every day. One thing is to believe them. The first thing is if someone, let's say that you and I have an interaction and you say, I really feel offended by something that you said. I can't tell you no, you're not offended, right? Because you were offended. So you have to be okay with the person being offended and then talk about, well why were you offended? And then, well how could I have said it differently? And can you teach me a little bit so in future circumstances I wont be offensive? And I think so, the person who is doing the offending has to be open to learning. And the person who was offended really needs to be open to telling the other person why it was offensive. Because otherwise no one learns. I do hear people say every once in a while, well I'm not responsible for teaching people. No you're not, but if you don't help people to learn about why what they're doing is wrong or offensive, no learning occurs. So the really honest conversation, I think humility, being open to the fact that you can make mistakes. All of that involved in those kinds of conversation. >> That's great. Another strategy that was recently suggested to me, if you're the person who's offended, you can just ask, well, what do you mean? And allow that person to explain, because it might be, they said something, and they didn't intend for that to be offensive. But then, maybe they could mitigate that offense by just explaining. Or maybe, that would cause them to dial back and question, why were they really saying that? >> Right, absolutely. I can give you a really good example of my doing that with someone the other day. So I was having a conversation with an African-American male about black women and leadership. So, he was angry because this African-American woman who is leading an organization, he doesn't think she's doing a good job. And she's hired a lot of women. And so one of the things he said is, I think there's reverse sexism. And I said, well, I think there's actually a lot of sexism going on around the leadership of this woman. And he said, no, no! There can't be because they hired a woman. And so what I came back with is, okay, so let me help you to reflect for a few minutes. We have an African American President of the United States but I don't think most people would say that racism has gone away because of that. And in fact may people would say that it has increased. >> Mm-hm. >> Because when you have someone in a position it allows for those voices to come out, sometimes the voices that we don't want to hear. So I was trying to explain to him that, just give him a chance to reflect on what he said. Which was that if we hire women we have no sexism. >> Absolutely, and one of the principles we're talking about in this course is that diversity does not mean inclusion. >> Right. >> So you have to have diversity, but if you have diversity, you also need to have inclusion. >> Right. >> Because if those perspectives are not respected and listened to, then the diversity, I don't want to say it was pointless but it's not really accomplishing what it could accomplish. >> Yeah, it's not authentic. >> Exactly, exactly, so can you give me one to two examples? Because white folks or other people who might be in the dominant group in their company might not really know what a microagression is or what that might look like. So can you give me maybe one to two examples of how that would look in practice? >> Sure, so here are a variety of different examples. I can give you some based on race, some based on gender, some based on, let's say sexuality or something. So a racial microaggression could have to do with making assumptions about like I said one already, right? >> Mm-hm. >> Making assumptions about someone's socioeconomic status based on their race. So to assume that all African Americans are low income, to assume that all Latinos are immigrants. This happens on a daily basis, especially to Latinos, right? >> Mm-hm. >> People ask them where are you from? They take offense to that, because more than likely, if you run into a Latino in the United States, they're from the United States. It also happens to a lot of African Americans. Especially darker skinned African Americans, where someone might assume that they're African. And so they're like no, no, I'm from New York. So that would be an example of something that might get under someone's skin. I think in an organization, assuming that let's say if someone is Latino, assuming that every time an issue comes up that relates to Latinos, that they need to deal with it. >> Mm-hm. >> So is that their expertise? You have to ask yourself is that their expertise, or am I just doing that because they happen to be Latino? >> Right. >> For women, I think that sometimes there are assumptions around women and their seriousness if they have children. >> Mm-hm. >> So I know, for me, I felt early on in my career that sometimes I would avoid talking about my daughter. Which I never do anymore, but I did because I thought people would think I was less serious. And a lot of that has to do with people referring to conversations about children as frivolous, so that can make someone feel not included. >> Right. >> I think in the LGBT community there are all kinds of things that happen where a lot of time. I'll tell you a great one which is when people say that's so gay. That's really offensive because normally they mean it in a derogatory way, and they're using gay as a derogatory term. >> Right. >> It's a little tiny thing but yeah, it's really offensive, it really bothers people. I think also a lot of times for African American women, lots of comments about their hair. People making assumptions about their hair, wanting to touch their hair. You don't need to touch other people, I mean unless you have a close relationship [LAUGH] you don't need to do that. But the number of African American women who in research projects talk about having people, especially white people touch their hair, that's offensive. >> Right. >> So these are little tiny things but they can get on people's nerves. I'll tell you one other thing, I had a student once who was crossing the street. And he was Jewish and he was wearing a yarmulke, and someone called him a racial slur as he was crossing the street. So he came back into the office area and he was visibly upset, and a lot of the people were like who cares, just blow it off. But they weren't Jewish, and they didn't understand how much it hurt him. And so in that kind of situation, you would want to embrace your colleague and maybe spend some time talking to him, rather than blowing it off. So a micro aggression could be thinking, well it doesn't matter, right? >> Right. >> I'm not offended, so why are you offended? So, there are a lot, I mean every day there are lots, and lots, and lots of things. >> Exactly, and I think you're speaking to the point that each of us has our own truth, our own experience. And we can't assume that someone else is going to feel the same way about something just because we feel that way. So, it's important really to draw out the perspectives of other people so we can understand them, and understand how we might be different. >> Right. >> So I'm curious. What are some strategies that white group members can use, or the dominant group can use, when it comes to combating unintentional marginalization of minorities? >> So that's a really interesting question. I personally think that most racial bias, and bias in general, is not unintentional. I think it's intentional, okay? That's not to say that there isn't unintentional bias, I think there is. So I do think that people, to deal with the intentional bias first. I think that people really do need to look and reflect on who they are and how they view the world every day. So and really think about what am I intentional about. And then the unintentional bias I think that you have to say to yourself how does the way I view the world differ from people on a daily basis? And so I'll use the example of assuming that people of color, let's say blacks and Latinos in particular because they're the ones who fall victim to this, are low income. Okay so yeah, there are lots of low income blacks and Latinos. There are many, many more white low income folks in the United States because we're the dominant population, right. But why do we have that assumption, why do we have the assumption that blacks and Latinos need our help constantly, right? Why don't we think sometimes that we could get help from blacks and Latinos, right? Why do we assume that a well-educated black man or black woman is an aberration, when one of the things that research would tell us is that black women are the most educated population in the whole country? So when we meet a black woman, we should probably be assuming that she's well educated. Rather than a normal assumption, or an average assumption of many whites is that she probably is low income, she might be unmarried, she might have kids and not be married. There are all these assumptions about her, but if you actually look at the data you find that that's really not true. So I think you have to say to yourself what does the media tell me, and maybe I should look at some research. I also think that when you're called out you need to reflect on it, and you need to change your behavior. And here's one of things that I think is important, you have to realize that you're not the center of the universe. And this is something that my daughter learned from traveling all over the world, is that she's not the center of the universe. A lot of younger people these days really do think that the world revolves around them. And I think that you have to realize that it doesn't, and that there are many, many different perspectives. Now I'm going to tell a little story that kind of exemplifies this. So my daughter has always gone to public schools and so when you see the list of kids in her class they have every different name you could think of. because she's always been in the 20% white, so it's almost all students of color. So one time my mom, an 85-year-old woman, was looking at the list of kids and she said wow, these are weird names. And my little girl said they're not weird, those are my friends. And I think my mom is a white woman and to her those all were weird names that she had never heard before. But to my daughter whose mind is very open they weren't weird at all, they were completely normal. And so I think keeping your mind open and realizing that everything doesn't operate from a white perspective is really important. Absolutely that's great advice. So what do you think the consequences are for organizations when people are marginalized and the contributions of minorities and other marginalized people are over looked? >> I think there is an incredible amount of waste because you bring people on, you spend all the money training them, and then they leave because they don't want to be a part of that organization. That's one, another thing is I think there's an incredible loss of creativity. So at the center that I direct people are always asking how can you be so productive? How are you coming up with all these ideas? Well, the reason that we're doing it, it's not me. I mean, I have good ideas but it's not me. It's all of us working together having these really different ideas and really different energy levels and expertise and we benefit because of that. And my administrative assistant, the other day she said to me, hey, I noticed something about you. And I said, what is it? She said, whenever you don't have a strength, whenever you don't know how to do something, you hire somebody who knows how to do it. And I said, yeah, that's exactly what I do. And that's the same thing, I think, in any organization you want to hire people that complement and fill in all of the areas that you need in order to be a robust organization. So, for me, diversity of every type makes the organization more creative and stronger. And most corporations already know this. I don't think higher education knows this, but most corporations have figured this out. I don't think the tech industry has figured that out, I wish that they would. But they figured out that, to have more diversity, they actually can increase their bottom line. That's not why I would do it. But if you want to be really pragmatic about it, that's one reason you can give people. >> Do you have any particular advice for organizations and teams to overcome unintentional bias, difficult situations where there might be conflicts and it looks like there's no way out, there's kind of a cycle of oppression? >> So before I answer that, one thing I would say is that I think there are things you can do to prevent that from happening. One of them is, I always say that you don't want to invite somebody over for dinner and have everybody seated at your dinner table and not let them eat. And that's what happens to people of color, sometimes women, LGBT populations, religious minorities. That happens to them all the time and that causes that kind of strife. The other thing is that you have to create opportunities where you mix people up. And a lot of times white people don't think about this. They'll have an entire room full of white people working on something and not notice. Which is really troubling to me, but they won't notice. So you need to make sure that you have people in your organization that part of their job is to notice. And I don't mean in a ticking things off and I don't mean in a human resources or affirmative action way. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things, but I mean in a really genuine way. So that will help you not to have these kinds of things happen. But if they do happen, I think you need to bring people together. You need to bring in some kind of facilitator who's more objective. You need to give everyone an opportunity to talk. I think that sometimes it is beneficial to separate people into groups and have them talk on their own, because people need a safe space. But by and large I think that the most growth is going to occur when you have people talking together. There are lots of interesting strategies. You can have people jointly read an article. You can have people jointly read a book that is really powerful and you can do that maybe four times a year, right? So that different people are assigning the book. And that'll give you an insight into the diversity in your organization as well. Just by what the book is and why it was assigned. You can have people, I think one of the most interesting things is to have people talk about their family backgrounds. So how did you do things in your family versus how you did things in your family. And I think that's a good way to get to know people. Let's say if I had that conversation and I happened to have grown up lesbian, I will bet you that more than likely my interactions with my family might have been awkward at times, depending on how I felt. And maybe somebody would reveal that. And be able to talk about, well, this is what it feels like to be awkward and not fit in. Or let's say if you are from an immigrant family, where you were living in a small room. I have a former student, who his entire family was in a one bedroom apartment and there were nine of the them, right? They had immigrated to the United States, they're all citizens now. But part of that was that they had to learn about personal space. And so they're real comfortable being close to people, whereas other people might not be. If you grew up in one of these McMansions or something, right? >> Mm-hm. >> So all of those kinds of things teach you about who someone is. And you don't just end up understanding who they are at work, you understand a bit about them at home. You just have to be willing to understand that some people won't want to talk about their past, right? So but giving people the opportunity is a good way to get to know people. >> And in the course we're also talking about how you can make work personally meaningful and you brought up two of the things. Which is, one, learning more about who they are outside of the office. So make it safe for them to bring their whole selves to the office. And the second is for managers and team members to understand what a person's own goals are in any project. >> Another thing that happens in organizations is a lot of times people who are within minority populations don't get invited to things. So you should always keep in mind, who's getting invited? Who's going to happy hour? Who's being invited to special events maybe at the leadership's house? You have to keep that in mind, because a lot of times people just assume that certain people are being invited to things. People might assume that there's inclusivity, but you gotta watch that. It's very important, you want to watch for cliques. >> Mm-hm, yeah, great advice. Anything else you want to share before we close the interview? >> No, I think that's great. >> Okay, great. >> Thanks for doing this. Yeah, thank you. Thank you Dr. Gassman, and thanks everyone for watching. We'll see you at the next module, bye-bye.