How accidental stereotypes stunt effective leadership

Jodie Lewen draws from over two decades of experience teaching incarcerated students at San Quentin State Prison to highlight a significant challenge—unconscious biases held by those working with marginalized communities. These biases can hinder the effectiveness of support efforts for those who need it.

Paradoxically, socially conscious individuals might still harbor unrecognized stereotypes. She emphasizes that even well-intentioned biases, like viewing individuals as “broken” yet capable of change, can detrimentally impact trust and relationships. To counter this, she describes ongoing efforts to help staff identify and mitigate these biases, emphasizing a perspective that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of each person.

Lewen’s message for social entrepreneurs is to not only envision their beneficiaries but also gain a profound understanding of the challenges at hand, placing human dignity at the forefront of their endeavors rather than fixating on statistics or personal validation.