The Battle of the Biases: TEDxGlasgow

Sallie Bale • 28th Jun 2019

The theme of this year’s TEDxGlasgow was Connection. Pretty apt for an era  in which there are three internet enabled devices for every human on the planet. As well as an ample programme of talks, the whole day was set up to instigate and facilitate conversation – from the Connectivity Labs and Speaker’s Corner, to the hall full of fun and games. During the breaks and after the main talks it was lovely to have real and interesting conversations with new people and familiar faces.

Under what other circumstances would you be able to spend half an hour discussing the impact of the Me Too movement on the collective male identity with a client?

I left the event buzzing with ideas, new thoughts and a need to percolate and analyse what I’d just heard. It’s taken me almost a week to distill everything into this blog post, for example. Here are a few soundbites that stuck in my mind (paraphrased, not direct quotes):

Without people in power looking outside their own experience, diversity quotas are just an exercise in reducing people to their tick boxes. 

Amna Saleem, comedy writer.

I am a brick through the window of our palaces of justice. 

Baroness Helena Kennedy.

Strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. By allowing your imperfections to show you communicate honesty and authenticity to the people around you. 

Richard Shotton, author.

If your life is lacking something, go find it or go build it. 

Amar Latiff.

We are always listening for than beep that says someone requires our attention. 

David Allfrey, Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Men must feel comfortable to stand shoulder to shoulder with women in the fight for equality.

Annie Lennox, activist and singer.

Society’s collective male identity has been stained. 

Fraser Smith.

Why do we welcome female leaders in the home, but not in the workplace? 

Mark Logan, co-founder Ipso Facto.

As you can probably tell from these ideas, it’s hard to do a quick synopsis of such a varied day. Especially when the talks are so nuanced and intentionally provocative (‘Diversity must die’ and ‘Why can’t women lead?’ for example).

My biggest take away of the day came from Mark Logan, co-founder of Ipso Facto and ex-COO of SkyScanner. He challenged the audience to dig deep within themselves and be honest about what biases and judgements we hold about the people in the world around us:

Embrace the fact you have biases (we all do, it’s how we’re wired).
Take a moment to write down some of the biases you have.
Over the next week or so, keep them in mind and notice how they affect the way you think, feel and act.

Here at the Lane we’re lucky enough to have a strong female leader. Ali is leading the way for women to rise up through the ranks. But in an industry where only 12% of Creative Directors are female, and less than a third of the entire workforce are women, there’s still room for improvement. 

When you consider that we’re an industry designed to influence and change perceptions and behaviours, it seems blatant that we’re best placed to make sure that diverse opinions and backgrounds are represented.

So today, I challenge you to take the time to think about the biases in your life. About the ones that you have. And the ones that affect you.

What changes could you make?

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