I have a confession. This weWednesday, Micro-questions, effective bias buster on the road to equality, and many before, not to mention the YouMeWe mindset, is inspired by interviews with over seventy women pioneers in Africa. What you may not know is by profiling these leaders I have another objective – to expose the world to knowledge, innovation, and leadership that so many women in developing countries possess. Their goal is to transform their communities, country, and continent. The question is, do first world countries have an unconscious bias to learn from those in developing nations?
Do first world countries have an unconscious bias to learn from those in developing nations? #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement
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Insight comes from all corners of the world
During one of my interviews with a women business leader from South Africa, she shared while in the United Kingdom at a leadership summit, any time she spoke, it became clear the delegates were surprised by her insights. She expressed to me that she and other women in Sub-Sarah are tired of not being taken seriously, “Does the West not know we are educated at the same schools?”
Her frustration stuck with me. Although it wasn’t my initial motivator for creating WisdomExchangeTV.com, her insight inspired me to use the interviewees’ expertise, inspiration and motivation to share with other leaders and entrepreneurs internationally. If people from developing countries who have limited resources could persevere and transform their communities, what can we learn and apply internationally to have a more profound impact in society? Perhaps the Westerns can now be the students, and Women African leaders could soon become the teachers.
Now, the truth is, just because you’re selling an idea, doesn’t mean people’s bias will buy it. As a result, in all my speaking, training, weWednesdays, and blogs are a balance of inspiration with a local practical application.
Thanks to Bience Gawans, previous Social Affairs Commissioner for the African Union who inspired the use of micro-questions to expose motivations, unconscious biases and establish a window to understanding another’s perspective.
What is a micro-question?
Micro-questions are specific short questions that expose the root of the reasoning for making a particular decision.
Micro-questions expose unconscious biases
When we interviewed Bience Gawans, we discussed the power of asking questions, particularly seeking understanding through asking WHY?
As a woman who has spent most of her life in pursuit of equality for women, she explains the obligation for not only women to ask why, but for men.
The commissioner talks about what equality means.
“(It is) not equal to men because there is no ‘man’s standard’ that I want to be equal to. It is about women and men being equal to each other. And it is the standard that we use to measure that equality is the human standard.”
With this responsibility, the commissioner sees it is an obligation for women to:
Ask the question, such as:
o “Why does this rule exist?”
o “What does this rule intend to achieve?
If it is discrimination, we have the right to question.
Women need to ask these questions at all levels of society. If they are leaders in parliament, they must not accept the status quo. If they are leaders of their organization, they must not accept practices that alienate women and deny them opportunities. If they are leaders of their family, they need to treat all their children as capable and have the right to achieve their potential. And if you are a child, just a leader of your life, you need to ask, “Why does my brother not help with the dishes?”
Women need to ask these questions at all levels of society. If they are leaders in parliament, they must not accept the status quo.
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The Commissioner feels that if all women question, we won’t continue to accept the inhuman traditions, nor allow the unfairly imposed political and business practices that have been passed down from generation to generation, or were created in the male-dominated boardrooms without any question at all.
This responsibility does not start and stop with women. Men too should want to seek equality for women. As the Commissioner explains men should be asking themselves, “
Why have I lived such a privileged life?” “Why do we do the things we do?” Why am I treated as superior to a woman?”
Many women I have interviewed agreed that there are consequences to being vocal, from speaking up for one’s rights, to questioning a man in private or public. Common accusations are that she may want to become a man, or she is power hungry, or that she is too ambitious. The past Commissioner handles these accusations in a similar way to promoting equality, and that is to ask the question.
“Is it wrong to be ambitious?”
“Is it wrong to have power?”
Although the above comments are in the African context, Westerners too were stuck in some old paradigms. That is until 2018 when these issues resurfaced and momentum has been reignited with the #Metoo movement.
With persistence, Micro-questions will move us to understand, then to busting biases
As a society, only when we all start to question will we be able to benefit from the contribution of all human beings to our family, community, companies, and countries. Asking and understanding each other’s perspectives will be the only way to bring about positive change where all people can be treated as “equal” according to the “human standard.”
As a society, only when we all start to question will we be able to benefit from the contribution of all human beings to our family, community, companies, and countries. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement
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I have always been a question advocate. Questioning is necessary for understanding and catalyst to win new business, to lead teams, collaborate with partners, or in questioning our equality. She, He or their, who asks a question, is the one who controls the conversation; ultimately the one who asks the questions is also the one who has the power to transform the situation. When it comes to your future, and your societies’, a few questions can lead to understanding and be the foundation of positive change for all humankind.
Thank you Bience, for being a bias buster and providing micro-questions to expose unconscious biases.
No matter what your role, ask someone ‘why’ this week. Keep asking ‘why’ until you thoroughly understand the other person’s perspective. Only then will you have enough information to challenge or support their direction.
Until next time, make your contributions count.
Until next time, make your contributions count!
BEFORE YOU GO… like & share this post with your friends, colleagues, and anyone who wants to live their most meaningful life. Together, WE can spread the YouMeWe mindset of consistent conscious-contributions to the community. Collaboratively we can create a positive ripple effect.
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Suzanne F. Stevens, Conscious-Contributor Cultivator
Certified Speaking Professional, (CSP)
Social entrepreneur |Professional Speaker | Host | Author | Philanthropist
2017 National President: Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)
Awards: TIAW World of Difference Recipient for women economic empowering
Accreditation: Suzanne is one of 65 Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) in Canada and is in the exclusive 15% of speakers who have this designation internationally.
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