Discrimination is sometimes discrete, often unexpected and usually not easy to address. Those were some of the remarks that emerged from “Mays Speaks,” as a panel of students, faculty and staff of Mays Business School shared their experiences at Texas A&M University and beyond from a range of different perspectives. The discussion came after a viewing of “Color Blind or Color Brave?” a TED Talk on unconscious biases by Mellody Hopson, an American businesswoman who is the president of Ariel Investments and the current chair of the board of directors of Dreamworks Animation.
The panel was the first in a series of programs planned at Mays to address diversity and inclusion. “Biases about race, culture, religion, age and other differences can create thought patterns and habits that cause us to behave in ways that impede our ability to meet our goals,” explained Annie McGowan, Professional Program director, who coordinated the event. “Some biases are deeply held but considered politically incorrect to act upon. Others are not intentional. We may not even be aware that they exist.”
Cultural acumen is an important leadership skill, and McGowan believes that proactive conversations about the unconscious biases that we all possess will help our students, faculty and staff develop the inclusive leadership skills that they need to navigate in the global society. Planning is underway for additional “Mays Speaks” forums designed to increase awareness about important issues that are sometimes difficult to talk about.
Panelists from the spring event included students Ryan Zepeda, Azra Razvi, Timi Fadugbata, Olivia Williams, Kendal Galimore and Joshua Arey; faculty members Henry Musoma and Antonio Arrelola-Risa; and staff members Venita Mahajan, Shannon Deer and Kelli Levey.