The area of a person’s brain responsible for feelings of empathy responds differently to persons of a different race at the neuron level as demonstrated by a MIT study. Thus, if I perceive you as similar to me simply based on race, then my brain will react with more empathy or compassion than if you were of a different race, and this occurs without our even realizing it. Similarly, a study conducted in March at UCLA demonstrated that the brain processes empathy towards friends who are experiencing social pain differently compared to strangers enduring the same social pain. David Rock and Dan Radecki of the Neuroleadership Institute note, “These findings have implications beyond the courtroom. This is something that leaders and managers in any diverse organization need to understand. If you want people from different cultures to collaborate at their best, creating a common ‘in group’ is critical.” The bad news is that race does matter, no matter how civilized we want to think we are. The good news is that the effect of race can be mitigated with increased awareness.
Come learn about ways to continue to break down the barriers of difference which divide us at the seventh annual Diversity for Success Seminar on June 7-8, 2012 at the Swissôtel Chicago. Discover how diversity can be used to expand your firm’s base and increase your firm’s value to its clients.