Leave Biases Behind. Why Can't We Just Ignore Our Differences? Prejudice does not discriminate. But as entrepreneurs, we celebrate defying norms, so this shouldn't be an issue.

By Jim Joseph

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I'm saddened to say, but we all face judgment and prejudice. Sure, some is clearly worse than others and some is clearly more public than others, but we all get our own share of being harshly evaluated and pushed down by others. Prejudice does not discriminate.

It was something that I had to face back in the day when I got divorced and came out after having two children. I went from being a white, male, straight majority to being a discriminated minority overnight. Sure, I could have kept it invisible, but I chose otherwise. But even before I came out, I faced judgment for being an overweight kid, a guy that didn't like sports and being someone who didn't "party" at the party. I was even judged just being an active father, if you can believe that.

Related: 4 Ways to Embrace Diversity for Workplace Success

The judgment was always there, in some form or another.

I received more judgment from being a divorced and active father than I think I did from being gay, as odd as that sounds. This was the 1990s after all, and dads weren't really supposed to be that active with the kids. I was a primary caregiver taking my kids to their doctor appointments, chaperoning at school events and buying all the clothes and food. I was Dad, but there weren't many around like me at the time. Throw in the fact that I'm gay and I was pretty much an anomaly.

"Oh, those poor kids," I would often hear people say under their breath when I'd be out and about. In fact, someone posted that very same comment on my Facebook page last month, in response to my new book Out and About Dad.

There are certainly many other people now and through history facing far worse. But that's not my point. We all face some sort of judgment no matter who we are. It comes with the territory, so I guess on some level we should all just get used to it. There is something about each and every one of us that makes us different and it can and does get held against us.

But why does it have to be that way? I just don't understand.

Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Spot Subtle Bias

If we are all different, then why can't that just be enough? Why can't our differences be embraced? Or even better, why can't we just ignore them?

To tell you the truth, I don't even notice most of the time, and I like it that way. I can remember in college a very good friend of mine said that she faced discrimination as an Asian. I had to stop and think about it because I had never processed that she was Asian. It hadn't occurred to me! She is just my friend, and of course she is different from me because that's who she is. I barely paid attention to the fact that she's a woman either!

I'm blind to our differences because I simply don't think they matter. They make each of us who we are. They are our makeup and our DNA.

Of all people, entrepreneurs should get this the most.

Our makeup is to take the road less traveled, to defy the norms that have become the tried and true, and to take what makes us different and turn it into a business model. As entrepreneurs we are all so different from each other. It comes so naturally that I don't think we even think about it. We certainly don't hold it against one another when it leads to success.

So while prejudice doesn't discriminate, we can change that. Rather than noticing and commenting and evaluating our differences, let's just ignore them. Maybe in this case, ignorance could be bliss.

Related: Protect Yourself Against Common Discrimination Mistakes

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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