Posts Tagged ‘Allport’s Scale’

Allport’s model of Prejudice and Discrimination

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Prejudice and discrimination. How relevant is Gordon Allport’s model to America today? This short vlog, recorded from Manassas National Battlefield, scene of the first battle of the American Civil War, explores the relevance of this model in Trump’s America. How divided is the US at the moment, what is Trump doing to polarise these divisions (intentionally or not), and where is the US against Allport’s model? And finally, how does this relate to your own organisation?

Sky Sports caught Offside?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

What a furore – and all because someone of a different gender was carrying a flag and being an assistant referee at a Premiership football match at the weekend. And, it should be noted, doing it very effectively.

For anyone who lives outside the UK, perhaps a little background would be helpful. It doesn’t happen very often that a woman acts as an assistant referee in England’s top flight football League – but it did last Saturday.  During Sky Sports’ coverage, two presenters – Andy Gray and Richard Keys – were recorded making comments about the capability of the assistant referee to understand the Offside rule based purely on her gender. Further recordings then came to light with Andy Gray and another reporter discussing her physical appearance, and then a historical (December 2010) video recording of Andy Gray apparently asking a female co-presented to help position his microphone near the front of the top of his trousers. There have been various suspensions, and then yesterday Andy Gray had his contract terminated by Sky Sports, “in response to new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour”.

The suspension was announced late yesterday afternoon. I was interested to see how the Sky channels would report it. At 5 o’clock on Sky News it was one of the lead stories together with the UK’s quarterly economic growth (or lack of), Lord Taylor being found guilty of false accounting and the truly tragic death of 4 children in a house fire in Derbyshire. At 5 o’clock on Sky Sports the lead stories were Blackpool playing Manchester United and Arsenal playing Ipswich Town later in the evening. There was a note in the written updates at the bottom of the screen (amongst many others) mentioning Mr Gray’s contract termination. Markedly different prioritisations.

Andy Gray will be missed as a football summariser as he really is one of – if not the – best on TV. But I don’t have any great sympathy for him – other than not supporting the idea of a ‘warning’ and then sacking him for something that had happened a month before the warning, because he had already had the warning. What he said and did was stupid, wrong, unacceptable and sexist.  But I do think he looks like a bit of a scapegoat.

The internet, news programmes and papers are now awash with people talking about whether this indicates that football is (still) sexist, and producing statistics such as to the number of women attending football matches. But I think this misses the point.

The real point is whether Sky Sports is institutionally sexist.  Ok, Andy Gray has been dismissed and two other presenters have been suspended and warned. But what about the camera people, the sound recordists, the editors, the producers? Many of them must have seen and heard these exchanges. What did they do about them? If it is nothing, then surely they are as responsible as the reporters – perhaps moreso if in positions of authority.  Have any of them been disciplined?

None of these incidents took place ‘on air’ so someone has made them public. I presume, therefore, that someone found them unacceptable yet perhaps felt that they could not address the matter internally? A very good indication of institutional sexism.

And then Sky Sports didn’t see Andy Gray’s dismissal as a very important story – less important than two football matches that had been planned for several weeks. Yet Sky News viewed it on a par with a member of the House of Lords being found guilty of a crime and evidence that the UK’s quarterly economic growth was lower than expected. More evidence of institutional sexism?

Managers have a responsibility to address such behaviour when it happens – it’s sometimes referred to as ‘nipping it in the bud’. On the face of it, it appears that managers at Sky Sports may not have been exercising that responsibility effectively.

If this doesn’t happen, people of affected groups can start to feel marginalised (see my post on Allport’s Scale) and not part of the team. And if it is at a place where recording takes place most of the time, it can be relatively easy to make the evidence available in the public domain. And then the sky’s the limit ….


Minority Report

Monday, August 30th, 2010


Why a Wallaby?

If you read my last post, you will know that we have been in the Netherlands. Whilst there we celebrated my daughter’s twentieth birthday during which we experienced a short – yet fascinating – example of social exclusion.

For her birthday we decided to go to a theme Park near where we were staying – Walibi World. You may have been there yourself. It used to be called Six Flags, but was then changed to Walibi World. Whilst the mascot for the Park is a Wallaby, the name is actually derived from the first two letters of three Belgian towns – Wavre, Limal and Bierges. Whilst you might justifiably ask “Why”, I’ll stop there as this has nothing to do with the rest of the tale.

We had been there for 3 or 4 hours and then a conversation started as to whether there we were getting more than our fair share of stares from other visitors. I hadn’t noticed it up to this point, but it was only a few minutes until I realised that the perception appeared accurate.  Working out why took a little longer, through a gradual process of elimination – but not too much longer.

The fact my son and I were wearing shorts was quickly dispelled – there were a number of other people wearing shorts. His penchant for wearing odd socks was also considered and rejected – people weren’t really looking at his socks. It was my daughter. Or at least it was the fact that my daughter was wearing a dress.  We looked around for other people wearing dresses in the vicinity, but we couldn’t see anyone. In fact, we didn’t see anyone else in the next 2 hours wearing a dress – and we saw several hundred other female visitors.

We saw people nudge each other, point us out and talk about us. In fact, I had tried to illustrate to my children how this occurs within society a few years – I had walked around the Trafford Shopping Centre wearing very large plastic colourful earrings – but the effect here was far more noticeable than then.

It was a very powerful example of how being slightly different can lead to sub-divisions within a group, and the absurd or innocuous reasons that this can occur. For anyone familiar with Gordon Allport’s Scale of Prejudice and Discrimination, we had reached the level of ‘Anti-locution’ very quickly.

Whilst I found the level of attention we were getting a little off-putting, once we understood why it was happening we found it amusing and it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the day.

On one level , it amusingly reminded me of how unhelpful the term “smart casual” can be when inviting people to a learning event or similar – people like to be able to fit in with the rest of the group, and the subjective “smart casual” gives them virtually no help at all. Perhaps it is used by people unable or unwilling to make a helpful decision?

On another level, it also provided a stark reminder of how many people cannot just change their clothes and fit back in with everyone else, or the majority group. Such reminders are always helpful.