Unconscious Bias

Unconscious Bias or it’s all about perspective….

Did you manage to catch Antony Sher on Radio 4 reading from his book – ‘Year of the Fat Knight’, which was Radio 4’s Book of the Week? I always find it fascinating to hear someone’s diary notes which allows an insight into their lives and how they see things.

It became all the more interesting when he told of his encounter with a woman when he was in New York. She heard he was to play Falstaff and was aghast, saying ‘No, no, no ….I just don’t see you as Falstaff’ (or words to that effect). Falstaff is known to be a very round, ‘larger than life’ character ….Antony Sher is not very round and is said to be quite shy.

It wasn’t the telling of her reaction that caught my attention but listening to Antony Sher muse on how some people think it is ok to challenge an actor on their roles but it would never happen to a lawyer, doctor or other professional.

Let me include you on a different perspective….this often happens to women and Black and Asian Minority Ethnic Groups or people of colour. I can recall a time when a friend, who was a social worker, was in court with a client and the judge said he would not start the process until the accused had his social worker present – my friend, a Black woman, didn’t look like a social worker / professional representative. The judge apologised profusely but this is an excellent example of unconscious bias and how it can impact on our actions / reactions.

Interestingly later that week I attended a debate arranged by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford Upon Avon to discuss how diversity is recognised and valued in the arts. This particular debate was called ‘Are the arts male, pale and stale?’.

They are challenging themselves about how they embrace diversity and how this is shown in their productions. The panel shared their feelings of frustration and hopes and aspirations for the future.

They had obviously started the process and had been creative. However, sadly, there had been opportunities which may have seemed like a dead-end and they hadn’t pursued it.

I left with the question – where and when do you stop trying to find ways to further equality and inclusion? That then grew to – where and when do you stop trying to find ways to reach your goals. My answer is….never! By all means, rest and re-group, but get back out there.

Look at…..

Sylvester Stallone, who steadfastly refused to sell the script for Rocky without his place in the title role – despite having no money and being offered substantial amounts for the script.

Or , thinking about that ‘light bulb’ moment, how about Thomas Edison, who is quoted as saying “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

…’s all about perspective….our reaction…our responsibility.


Happy ever after…..?

Limitless Possibilities

Happy ever after…..?
(Part 1)

Have you read ‘the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night’ by Mark Haddon? If you haven’t here’s a brief synopsis:

Christopher, the narrator of the story, is a 15 year old boy who describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’. He discovers the dead body of Wellington, the neighbour’s dog, speared by a garden fork. He is an initial suspect and then takes it upon himself to investigate the dog’s death. The book covers his experiences and into it is woven the story of his life: he is severely limited by his fears and difficulties when interpreting the world around him; he lives with his father and his mother, we are told, is dead.

Mark Haddon has said that “Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger’s….if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.” Naturally, that piqued my interest and I was in the audience when he was interviewed for the BBC Radio 4’s World Book Club and it was fascinating.

One response in particular stood out…..did you think the book had a sad or happy ending. Many in the audience had thought it was a happy ending as Christopher says,

“And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery of who killed Wellington. And I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything”

Mark threw out the challenge – “Is it truly a happy ending … Christopher will have numerous challenges as on a social level how will he secure a job, be independent – things many of us take for granted?”

I pondered on this (which is very difficult to do when you are also trying to listen to the rest of the interview!)

I remembered the quote from Robert Louis Stephenson “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive” and also Jacqueline Kelly in the Evolution of Calpurnia Tate that “it is better to travel with hope in one’s heart than to arrive in safety” going on to say “we should celebrate today’s failures because it is a clear sign that our voyage of discovery is not yet over”.

I concluded that it is a hopeful ending as Christopher will keep trying and doesn’t have the same limiting beliefs that many of us have nurtured. After all, where would we be if Edison had given up before inventing the lightbulb on his 1000 try?

Here we have Christopher who (at the age of 15) has:

• Made decisions
• Written a book
• Solved a mystery
• Pushed himself out of his comfort zone by travelling on his own
• Found his Mum

How many of us procrastinate? How many of us take a leap into the unknown? How many of us celebrate what we have achieved?

Let’s celebrate those accomplishments with Christopher and allow ourselves to travel in hope leaving behind those limiting beliefs.

For Christopher there are Limitless Possibilities!

The afternoon was certainly well spent as it got me thinking about so many other things. I shall be writing more about them next week so be sure to look out for the blog.
By the way, the interview will be broadcast on 7 July 2015….do try and listen and let me know what you think.


Continuing to Add to the Tapestry

Limitless Possibilities.

Continuing to add to the tapestry?

I regularly visit the RAF Memorial in Egham, a place of peace and calm, where I am reminded of those who gave their lives to achieve peace. Did you know that Friday, 8th May 2015 marks 70 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe? A time to pause and reflect on what has been achieved in those years and particularly as we in the UK will also have the election results.
An election that has focussed on class, privilege, immigration, community, gender and contribution. There have been so many Facebook posts and Tweets that debate the possible outcomes with some even saying they won’t be voting as it won’t make a difference (I stand aghast at that last thought!).

So, how are these events connected?

WW2…a time when Britain called upon the peoples of the Empire to assist the fight. A call that was answered by many as they looked to Britain as the mother country. Countless more came from across Europe notably Poland.

Those on the home front also made incredible contributions and saw women, traditionally kept in home-maker roles, step into dangerous munitions work and the Womens Land Army.

Sacrifices were made across the classes with a spirit of community and co-operation and a hope for the future. A future that brought greatness of vision and gave rise to our wonderful NHS.

Maya Angelou once described diversity as a richly woven tapestry where all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value. A quote that has particular resonance for me as I too am enchanted by the creativity and beauty to be found in such crafts. (OK – you got me …I’m a secret sew-er!)

Britain is an amazing tapestry where so many have contributed to the incredible richness of our society. As an Anglo-Asian woman I stand of the shoulders of giants who have gone before me and proud to make my contribution personally and professionally towards this great nation where there is an opportunity for limitless possibilities. I am privileged to assist organisations and individuals to recognise, welcome and invest in the diversity.

I have been stunned by some of the claims made by the major political parties and media and the language they use to garner our support. Some engender an idea of scarcity, for others it is a case of ‘us versus them’.

I wonder what would happen if instead we acknowledged the limitless possibilities on offer at this time by valuing all contributions, to build that spirit of community and determination to make a positive difference once again.

To conclude…Winston Churchill, in his speech to the crowds on VE Day said ‘This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole……I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done and they will say “do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be -unconquered.”
With so much given for our freedom let’s not take it for granted – even if the election results are not as we would wish I know I for one will remember all those who made it possible and I will continue to seek out opportunities to make a positive change. So let’s celebrate!

How about you?



For many this is a month for reflection and remembering friends and family who have left our lives. Armistice Day a time to echo the call for peace, November also sees the International Day for Tolerance, a day designated by the United Nations as a time for people to learn about respecting and recognizing the rights and beliefs of others, tofocus on how various forms of injustice, oppression, racism and unfair discrimination have a negative impact on society.

For others it is a time to not only reflect but also give thanks for blessings in whatever form or guise.

Why not take some time to consider the difference you are making by your actions and who do you want to thank for their support?

Judeline Nicholas Associates is firmly committed to making a positive difference by creating opportunities for others to grow. In reflecting I am reminded of the words of Pericles, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.


Be Aware of Your Behaviour on Others

I was in the audience for a presentation by Elizabeth Kuhnke, author of ‘Persuasion and Influence for Dummies’. She is a very entertaining speaker and interestingly she repeated some of the things David Reynolds also spoke about in terms of attitude being a key component in success.

In essence, be aware of your behaviour on others; live in integrity and demonstrate honesty, trust to develop an emotional connection.

Based on what she said I have concluded that a sound equation would be:

Respect + Rapport = Results

Living positive would mean letting go of the ‘should, can’t and but’ and start using ‘could, can and will’.

Is that easy to do? I think that developing new habits will mean also being aware of our relationships …who do you spend time with? Are they supportive or do they find the flaws?

I recall the words of Oscar Wilde who said: “Reach for the moon and even if you miss it you will land on the stars”


Secrets of the Rich and Successful

I attended a great presentation by David Reynolds, author of ‘Discover the Power – Secrets of the Rich and Successful’ today. He considered 4 A’s to be key ingredients for success:

Attitude – being positive; honest; considerate; polite; tactful; reliable. Look for the good in the situation – is your glass half empty or half full? Essentially, this acts like a magnet and attracts positives from those around you.

Ability – know how things are done

Activity – be purposeful and delegate what you are not good at and do it now

Accountability – find out how you are performing; get a mentor / coach to talk things through. He told the story of a young man who was overheard on the telephone calling someone about a gardening job. The conversation went along the lines…’so you already have a gardener…ah, well – are you happy with that gardener…you are…ok, thank you’. The comment when he came off the phone was that he was remarkably polite and that he would be an asset to any company. To which he replied, ‘oh no, I already have a job as a gardener with that lady…I was just checking to see if she was happy with me’

Backing all this up, he confirmed the old advice – study the habits of those you consider successful. Finally – live up to your potential as we all have great things within us. I think that about sums it all up – no complicated equations or rules…simple and straightforward. As Arthur Rubenstein said – “I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.”



True Cost of an Employment Tribunal

UK employers are now spending £210m a year on employment tribunal claims”

Employment Tribunals are judicial bodies who determine disputes between employers and employees over employment rights.

Around 30,000 legal actions, most claiming unfair dismissal, unequal pay or discrimination, are filed with the employment tribunal service each year.  The number of workplace disputes that end up in court is consistently rising year on year.

Many of these claims are eventually settled out of court.   However, they still cost companies £7,000 on average, mainly to cover lawyers’ fees but also in time.

Prevention is better than cure.
• Train your staff to be aware of their responsibilities as employees
• Ensure your managers are skilled in:
–  recruitment practice,
–  managing performance
–  managing grievances, disciplinaries and conflict
• Consider Mediation to resolve conflict

Some Figures

Limit on guarantee payments £20.40 per day
Limit on a week’s pay for calculating redundancy and unfair dismissal basic award £330
Maximum basic award for unfair dismissal (30 weeks’ pay) £9,900
Minimum basic award for dismissal on trade union, health and safety, occupational pension scheme trustee, employee representative and on working time grounds only £4,400
Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal £63,000*
Minimum compensation for employees excluded/expelled from trade union £6,900
Contract claims (If a claim for breach of contract (wrongful dismissal) is brought in an employment tribunal the most the tribunal can currently award is £25,000. If the claim is for more than £25,000, it can be made in the county court or high court.) £25,000

There is no limit where the employee is dismissed unfairly or selected for redundancy for reasons connected with health and safety matters or public interest disclosure (whistle-blowing).

Source: BERR 2008