On 12 May 2016, Darden’s Executive Education program hosted a spotlight session with The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham Shanghai). Held on the eve of the Darden Shanghai Investing Summit, the event featured Professor Melissa Thomas-Hunt, speaking about her recent research around unconscious bias.

From her research, Thomas-Hunt revealed that we tend to follow our peers in terms of bias, so we allow ourselves to stereotype if we believe others are doing the same. There is often little motivation to work against our biases, and this unconscious bias can generate behaviors that are counter to fully leveraging talent and strengthening businesses and their bottom lines.

The feedback from the event indicated that the topic is quite relevant to this audience. With almost equal participation from Chinese natives and expatriates, conversation from the Q&A portion of the session provided insights from the perspective of being Chinese in a multinational organization as well as a non-native working in a Chinese company.

The session and lively discussion confirmed that the topic is of global interest and concern, especially given the growth of the interconnected global marketplace. There was also positive reception to Darden and AmCham working together to share relevant thought leadership and practical implications with the AmCham members, opening up the opportunity to partner on subsequent events in the future.

Professor Melissa Thomas-Hunt served as Senior Associate Dean and Global Chief Diversity Officer at the Darden School of Business. She co-authored “Condoning Stereotyping? How Awareness of Stereotyping Prevalence Impacts Expression of Stereotypes,” published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, with Michelle M. Duguid, a professor at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. A summary of the research is featured in the Darden Ideas to Action article, “Everybody’s Biased, So I Can Be Too.”

With over 3,700 member organizations, AmCham Shanghai is the largest American Chamber in the Asia Pacific region. It’s a non-partisan business organization committed to strengthening commercial ties between the United States and China by serving as a not-for-profit service provider of high-quality business resources and support, policy advocacy and relationship-building opportunities.