Conference challenges students to address prejudice

CEC students at the blindspots conference

Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute
students at the Blind Spots conference

Miami University student leaders learned about “blind spots” at the CBL's 13th Annual Executive Conference held on Sunday.

Although the conference was held in the Farmer School of Business, many CEC students were invited, including members of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute.

Blind spots are areas of prejudice that a person has but is not aware of. Even if they don’t consciously act on them, they might make decisions for the wrong reasons based on their blind spots.

The conference focused on gender biases and how to overcome them to create a supportive and productive environment. 

"It is important to remember that women are not the only people suffering from gender bias. Men may also be discriminated against in the workplace. It is important that everyone works together to work on eliminating these biases to promote an inclusive workplace," said Gillian Murphy, a mechanical engineering major who attended the conference.

Joshua Schwarz Blind SpotsJoshua Schwarz discusses tough          
workplace conversations

The keynote speaker was Audrey Nelson, a communications expert who specializes in diversity.

After Nelson’s talk, students attended two of three breakout sessions. They were:

  • “Drill Through Gender Bias and Obtain Quality Career Feedback” with Lori Kaiser. Kaiser is the founder and CEO of Kaiser Consulting and a 1985 Miami Grad. 
  • “Don’t Say That! Tools to help men and women navigate tough conversations at work” with Joshua Schwarz. Schwarz, formerly a management professor at Miami, is now the founder of Schwarz Analytics.
  • “Gender Equality – The “Narrative”” with Ann Schulte. Schulte, head of global learning and development at Procter & Gamble, works to change the way P&G’s products are advertised to be more empowering to both men and women.

The conference helped students understand the importance of awareness in the workplace and personal introspection regarding biases.

"After attending the Blind spots conference, I learned (for effective communication) it is important to meet people on common grounds by putting yourself in their shoes so that you can consider how they perceive the topic of discussion. In doing this, both parties can reach a understanding," said Malcolm Smitherman, an electrical engineering major.

By Paige Smith