Unconscious Bias

4 years ago a HR Manager from a financial services company called Summit requested a quote for a management development project.  As a really enjoyable telephone chat of around 30 minutes drew to a close, the HR Manager (I wasn't sure if Australian or New Zealander) asked "Can I just check who I'm speaking with?"  My response of "I'm Scott Watson, the MD at Summit." was met with silence. 

The proposal was submitted as agreed, and we heard nothing back. Nothing at all.  I was intrigued and eventually got through to the HR Manager 4 months after our discussion.  The MAIN REASON for her not getting back in touch, despite being impressed apparently with our proposal?  "I'm from New Zealand, and do you know about THAT Scott Watson and what he has done?"

I did actually. THAT Scott Watson is serving a life sentence for multiple murders. But even though he and I are only connected by sharing the same forename and surname, I was, according to the HR Manager "Kinda untrustworthy by association". Ouch!

And, recently at a conference event in Helsinki, the CEO of the client company approached me, smiling and said "I'm pleased we have YOU Scott Watson, and not the other one."  Ouch..again! Perhaps a name change to Richard Branson?

Summit facilitates thought provoking unconscious bias training courses throughout the UK and further afield. Take a look.


Posted by on May 29, 2018

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