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Episode 8 of The Conscious Marketing Podcast walks right into the fire to discuss how we can remove unconscious bias from marketing and ask ourselves, can we be civil online? We are joined by Bill Farrar, ACLU – Virginia’s Director of Communications to shine the light on our true biases and how to move forward as an industry. Discover where unconscious bias resides, learn empathy and get the real story on what is happening in disadvantaged communities of our brothers and sisters.
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Segment Questions for Self-Inquiry and Reflection
We begin every episode with a set of questions that are designed to expand our thinking around the topic at hand. Sometimes we get to them. Sometimes the conversation takes us in another direction. Either way, these questions are great for your self-inquiry and reflection as you form your own opinions and perspectives.
Where do I hold unconscious bias? Against what? Against whom? Where did this bias come from? How does this bias affect my daily life? Family life? Work life? Is this bias worth holding onto?
Where do I hold conscious bias? Against what? Against whom? Where did this bias come from? How does this bias affect my daily life? Family life? Work life? Is this bias worth holding onto?
Where does unconscious bias present itself within my organization? How can we become more conscious about our biases? How can we eradicate them?
What should we do when we discover racial or gender bias in our communications programs?
How can we avoid bias and better serve all of our customers?
What are the biggest challenges facing you in your profession right now?
How do you personally handle all the pushback you get online?
Is civility simply a personal choice?
If protests are non-violent, does it just come down to what each of us think is appropriate for us, and then respecting others rights to protest as the see fit?
Is civility a tool used to protect supremacy as some would say?
ACLU Three Pillars for Change
ACLU uses an integrated advocacy model, basically communications, legal and lobbying tied together to try to effect change. The change that ACLU tries to affect can be broken down into three pillars:
The Center for Liberty is dedicated to the principle that we are all entitled to determine the course of our lives based on who we are and what we believe free from unreasonable government constraint and baseless stereotypes.
The Center for Democracy works to strengthen American democratic institutions and values, promote human rights, ensure government accountability, and protect the rights of immigrants in our national community.
The Trone Center for Justice and Equality, directed by Jeffery Robinson, is focused on the problems in the U.S. criminal justice system, including the treatment of prisoners, the death penalty and the policies of over-incarceration that have led the United States to imprison more people than any other country in the world.
The Centers are designed to facilitate a multi-disciplinary approach to advocacy. For that reason, each Center brings together ACLU litigators, lobbyists, communications specialists, policy experts and state advocates from throughout the organization to plan and implement the ACLU’s program and goals.
Bias and Stereotyping
We see race and gender bias in almost every corner of the Internet and our personal lives. It is clearly a part of our marketing culture. Here are some examples:
That, however, is exactly the problem. Google is not just a company, it’s the owner of the world’s biggest conduit to information, with a 69 percent global search market share. It leads people to it by using proprietary algorithms and artificial intelligence. And it’s acutely aware of the problem of algorithm bias. Here’s a Google-produced video about it:
A study found that instructors are 94 percent more likely to respond to discussion forum posts by white male students than by other students. The authors write that they believe their work is the first to demonstrate with a large pool that the sort of bias that concerns many educators in face-to-face instruction is also present in online education.
HBR research suggests that they are manifestations of a much more prevalent phenomenon. In one set of studies, currently in working paper format, we found that minority customers — blacks and Asians — regularly receive worse customer service than whites in ways that are not immediately obvious to onlookers (or even managers). Specifically, we audited 6,000 hotels in the U.S. by sending email inquiries from fictitious email accounts that signaled senders’ race and gender. By systematically examining replies to these inquiries, we observed that frontline employees were less responsive to nonwhite customers and objectively less helpful and friendly. In other words, compared to white customers, black and Asian customers received worse quality service.
In addition to the many issues waged on the actual change front, the civility issue remains one where rights meet rights. The line between freedom of speech and infringing on someone else’s ability to live within the bounds of freedom and human rights seems to be pretty solid, it comes down to whether or not protests become violent. When they are violent, they are illegal. ACLU has some guidance on this. We see this with Nazi protests, most notably Charlottesville, but increasingly with left protests.
For example the Red Hen, which by all accounts the owner’s actions were of civil discussion and request, and then a civil albeit powerful Republican response. And then there is the more vitriolic incidents with Scott Pruitt, Mitch McConnell, and Kirsten Nielsen? Finally, now we are seeing Antifa at protests, and they are pretty, ahem, in your face.
Some say civility is being used as a tool to control the left by white supremacists. Is it 1) hypocritical for Republicans to claim civility as a mantra and 2) is it primarily an issue proclaimed by the right, or is that also not true given the many complaints about POTUS use of Twitter?
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