[DATA CAN'T SPEAK FOR ITSELF]

August 29, 2021

When people reach out for help with diversity and inclusion problems they often think we will put together a slideshow. Often the leads we get stand against oppression themselves and have a lot of amazing knowledge. Especially since the murder of brother George Floyd people are more aware of the plight of the oppressed and black folks in particular. 

There are many accounts across social media that provide free education often in the form of stats, theory, and the type of elements you find in a college Sociology course. The stats are stacked against the oppressed across health care, education, and economics. They weave a similar tale that the structure of racism impacts us all. 

Early on when I facilitated anti-racism workshops I would have to stress the principle that in order to shift attitudes you have to change hearts. Data is not very good at changing hearts. The reason is the context we often hear data in is argumentative so we are primed for agreement disagreement when we hear statistics.

In the book Actual Mind it is noted that stats are 22 times more likely to be remembered when they are part of a story. 

Robert Cialdini, the famed researcher of persuasion, found that when people find similarities before negotiating they are two times more likely to find coalescence. 

What companies need to understand about solving the cultural and social challenges that impact the world,  their environments, and brands is that knowledge training is not effective by itself. Skill training and more specifically inclusive storytelling and solving a real problem is what elicits dialogue. When we worked with Seneca College students we engaged them in identity mapping and storytelling before they worked on design projects. The goal was to shift their perspective and equip them with more inclusive design practices. 

As we learned from Professors at the Stanford d.School data is merely a flashlight. We have to dig deeper and get specific stories related to whatever statistical phenomenon we are looking at. 

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