If I were to ask whether you felt you belong to a dominant group or a non-dominant group, what would you reply?
Perhaps this little test can help? According to classical sociological definition, a dominant group is one with the upper hand, power, social status and / or certain privileges. The dominant group is often the one which sets out and controls the values system, i.e. what is considered right and wrong.
Billy Jean King once said “Dominant groups know little about non-dominant groups, while non dominant groups tend to know a lot about dominant groups.” And hearing her say this made me wonder if I could in anyway relate to how it might feel to be part of a non-dominant group? When for example, have I ever been in a non-dominant group? My first day, with all the other new children in the playground of primary school? My first day in a company in-take program? Perhaps even being an immigrant in Belgium, gives me (very slightly) that feeling? But this is very minor because, until I open my mouth there is little, or no, visual information about me to let the locals know that I am not ‘one of them’. However, if I say something wrong in a conversation, I can be very quickly put in my place as not a ‘real’ Belgian. In families too, how often do we tend to make distinctions between ‘real’ (blood) family members and spouses and in-laws?
I believe in our work environments we should invest a great deal of consideration to our non-dominant groups, including newcomers that join from college or employees from abroad, in fact any group that is somehow in the minority. We invite them into our businesses for a reason and our openness to learn more from them, their views, fears, beliefs and hopes for the future, can only be a good thing.
Have a good week,