Breaking the bias and beyond

3 minute read

Breaking the bias and beyond

The first of the monthly speaker series- ‘Futura talks’ from Solaris’ Women’s network, was kicked off with a special edition on the International Women’s Day.

The theme for this year’s #IWD was #BreakTheBias, which was aimed at eradicating gender biases that causes unreasonably tough circumstances for women and as well as other marginalized groups to move ahead in the world.

The theme called on everyone to not only break the numerous prejudices we all have, but also to create a world that is free of stereotypes and discrimination – a world that is more inclusive and just.

Remember why

Taking up space Graphic recordings created live by Katherina Büttner

Our Keynote speaker, Valentina Rotimi, was fondly called her “mother’s handbag” while growing up. Being the youngest of the four siblings, she went everywhere with her mum, who she says is her best friend and from whom she draws immense inspiration.

Valentina recounted her early childhood, when she was a very energetic outspoken child, who always stood up for herself and generally stood out as a confident child. As an adult she quickly realized that her energetic and confident nature had little place in the world.

Being constantly told to ‘tone down her attitude’, ‘calm herself down’ or not to ‘come off as bossy’. Those words of warning, she says did not change her, but boosted her confidence and made her more self-aware when it comes to ‘taking up space’.

A phrase she had not heard up until 2019, a particularly tough time for her. Amidst her MBA program, she often found herself shrinking back on many occasions, feeling insecure , and a lot like an imposter.

She credits her support system, and shares a set of Mantras that helped her overcome these feelings:

  1. Taking up space does not mean you are taking on a different persona - know your character, play it.
  2. Commit to raising your knowledge of self awareness.
  3. Consciously and constantly self-affirm.
  4. Build trusted relationships.
  5. Call out discrimation & bias – pave the way for others to take up space.
  6. Enter every space thinking that you belong.
  7. And finally, always remember WHY you started something.

Everyone is biased

The second part of the event was a panel discussion with Valentina, Dominik Schneider, Alex Gessner and Florian Redeker on #BreakTheBias.

The theme collectively called on everyone to reflect on their own biases, to become more aware of them and open to unlearn them.

According to an article from the World Economic Forum, there are 180 cognitive biases that affect the way we process information.

Alex 1 Alex Gessner

“It’s mind blowing to me that we can fly to the moon, and solve very difficult mathematical problems but we cannot process information in a way that is objective or logical. The brain can process 11 million bits of information every second, but that's unconscious, consciously, we can only handle 40-50", explains Alex Gessner, Head of Onboarding Project Management at Solaris.

Dominik Dominik Schneider

Human brains are built in a way that makes objective thinking very difficult, which makes us prone to biases. “Biases are not always conscious, they are more often unconscious. These biases may not always be toward others but more often towards ourselves. It gets injected into us from the day we are born - subconsciously sliding into our behavior, amplified by our environment.” explains Dominik Schneider, Brand Management & Business Expert and Male Empowerment Activist.

Florian Florian Redeker

"The way to become aware of these unconscious biases is to be constantly reflective of your environment,” says Florian Redeker, VP Product at Solaris. “ We also assume that people will always speak up themselves, but that is not always the case. I think it's important to actively make room for diverse voices because because not everyone is an extrovert willing to speak up".

Valentina Valentina Rotimi

Valentina Rotimi, P&O Business Partner at Solaris reaffirms Florian’s statement by saying : “Always assume positive intentions, always believe that people have positive intentions towards you. Never assume that a person is trying to be mean to you, or stress you out”.

So how can we #BreakTheBias?

Futura_Panel Discussion Graphic recordings created live by Katherina Büttner

While each of us is entitled to our own worldview, there is no easy way to overcome biases. So, how do we face, confront and challenge biases within us? Alex suggests six ways we can become aware of our bias:

  1. Every single person is biased – that doesn’t mean we are bad people.
  2. But to become a better person, you have to realize and admit it.
  3. Ask yourself and the people you trust -‘What is my bias?’
  4. Take one of the Implicit Bias Tests for people who are unable to find their bias.
  5. Find a partner who will hold you accountable - let them challenge you or question your actions.
  6. Break out of your homogenous group – hang out with people who are different from you.

Want to know more about our Futura speaker series? Stay tuned, we will reveal more about Futura soon.

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