Creating Lasting Culture Change

September 3, 2020

EN Sparks Conversation: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Virtual Series 

Creating Lasting Culture Change

The following member companies joined us for our EN Sparks Conversation: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion centered around Creating Lasting Culture Change, led by our thought leader, Khalil Smith from the Neuroleadership Institute: Dell, Dow Inc, Liberty Mutual, and Mars.

Khalil discussed the neuroscience of bias, how to maximize inclusion (and why it matters), how to speak up for yourself and be an ally to others, and how to use a simple yet powerful model to ensure all of the great intentions and immediate actions turn into long-term and sustainable change.

Unconscious Bias

If you have a brain, you have bias.  Unconscious bias, simply put, is the accidental, unintentional, subtle, and unconscious choices made by everyone. Research shows that there are well over 150 types of cognitive biases which affect not only how we look at other people, but our business decisions as well. To be able to mitigate these biases, Khalil demonstrates how we must understand, group, and compartmentalize them using the SEEDS Model.

The SEEDS Model identifies 5 main categories of bias:

  1. Similarity – “People like me are better than others.
  2. Expedience – “If it feels right, it’s probably true.
  3. Experience – “My perceptions are accurate.”
  4. Distance – “Closer is better than distant.”
  5. Safety – “Bad is stronger than good.”

The SEEDS Model helps map out how we see bias, yet it is not a mitigation strategy.  To tackle bias, Khalil outlines three actions we can take in the moment:

  • If-then plans
  • Decision guides
  • Preventative measures


Allyship means recognizing racism and advocating for the people who are unheard.  In our current climate, it becomes increasingly apparent that awareness is not enough.  While the concept of allyship seems straightforward, it is not simply a badge we earn — it is intentional and deliberate, and therefore at every moment we are either being or not being an ally.

What gets in the way of allyship?

  • Effects of power
  • Perceived fairness
  • Challenges of speaking up

Conventional Wisdom

“If I say something I will be heard”

Research suggests that most people do not speak up when they ought to; and when people do speak up, we often do not truly hear what they are trying to say.  Creating lasting culture involves listening deeply, uniting widely, and acting boldly.

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