Why we mustn’t let acts of racism and hate speech directed at minorities go unchecked

All English, all talented, all courageous, all deserve more respect, all deserve more gratitude for their service to English football and their contribution to society. 

I recently posted about unconscious biases and showed that we all possess them and left unchallenged, they lead us to make unhealthy decisions both for us and others.

Bringing these biases into our consciousness and awareness is the first step, but awareness without action achieves nothing. We have to replace the false beliefs with the truth. 

History teaches us that we ignore bigotry at our peril as persecution and genocide begins with small steps that escalate so that the final dreadful steps are not an enormous leap but another small step in the process. The more familiar each stage of aggression becomes, the more ‘normal’ it becomes.

The Holocaust was not an isolated act emerging out of nowhere. In 1933 Jewish businesses were boycotted, books by Jewish authors were burnt, Jewish lawyers and teachers lost their jobs. 

Two years later, in 1935, Jews were stripped of their German citizenship and all their civil and political rights.

In 1938, these systemic steps of oppression led to Kristallnacht when Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were attacked and for the first time the people themselves were subjected to violence. 

As we now know, by the end of World War 2, millions of Jews and members of minority groups had been murdered in the worst act of genocide in history.  

For the past sixteen months since George Floyd’s murder, footballers have been taking the knee, yet black players are still subjected to racial abuse. Politicians call on social media companies to ‘do something’ while they ring their hands and pour out empty rhetoric condemning racism. Meanwhile, nothing changes. At the same time LGBT people suffer more homophobia and transphobia than ever; islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise.

We can’t wait for things to change on their own because they won’t. It may seem like an enormous leap to compare today with 1930s and 1940s Europe, and I’m not suggesting anything happening today is remotely comparable to those awful atrocities. But nor was there an indication that burning books would lead to the systematic murder of millions a few years later. 

We need leadership from politicians and our communities, but individually, we have a duty to speak out and speak up. We can have a fairer, compassionate society for our children, and live in a world where difference is embraced. It will not happen if we are silent. We have to create it.

  • Shelley Bridgman

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Why Unconscious Bias Could Harm Your Business

There are dozens of biases, conscious and unconscious. Here are just three.

Confirmation Bias – is very common and is simply where we make a piece of information fit with our already formed views. I’m sure we’ve all heard voters before elections state they’ve always voted for X Party. They then argue for that party’s policies to confirm their already formed views.

Halo Effect—Focussing on a positive feature or behaviour, then allowing this positive view to inform unrelated features. When we apply this positively, it can have a beneficial effect and make a big impact.

Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably one of the best footballers in the world. He made a point of moving a sponsor’s product away from the camera at a Press Conference during Euro 2020. He is admired by millions. Consequently four billion dollars, were wiped off the share price of the offending fizzy drink company overnight. The price did subsequently recover. 

Social Proof – There are two types of social proof, positive and negative. The following are examples of two fundraising campaigns:

Positive Proof: “Your £10 will help feed a child in the third world and save his or her life.”

Negative Proof: “Children are literally starving to death in the third world, yet 95% of adults don’t contribute. Don’t be one of the 95%, your £10 could save a child’s life.” 

The latter failed. It emphasised the volume of inappropriate behaviour making it easier to ignore the plea as people felt comfortable as one of the 95%.


Any example of unconscious bias is subject to the context in which it took place. For example, we might argue that UK residents prefer to holiday at home purely based on figures for 2020 and 2021. If we then started a tourism-based business based on the assumption this was a long-term trend, it would clearly be a perilous assessment.

In business, we can recognise a couple of key points:

First, the only way to know what our customers are thinking is to accept that we don’t know what their biases are. We need to communicate with them to find out.

We then need to research and target context as well as the customer. 

Last, accept you need to be flexible and that you can’t know everything. But armed with your newfound appreciation, you can make a difference.

  • Shelley Bridgman

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