In every country, industry, and organization, there exist two categories of people.
The first category is high-status individuals. The second is low-status.
Your status is determined by your ethnicity, gender, educational, achievement, and job title.
If you’re in a low-status position, your ideas will automatically be perceived as less valid, less correct, and less influential than the exact same ideas presented by someone in a high-status position.
Is this fair?
But, is it true?
Will it ever change?
Realistically, it won’t. Certain factors may shift over time, but it is (sadly) human nature to be biased in some way, shape, or form.
If you analyze work groups at an all women’s college, you’ll find the absence of men eliminates bias based on gender.
What happens next is fascinating... the women simply focus their bias based on other factors — ethnicity, seniority, majors, physical appearance, economic background, and numerous other factors.
If you analyze neighborhoods of a single ethnicity, you eliminate racial discrimination... but bias along other lines continues.
While I will leave it to others to "change the world,” here’s an approach to overcome such biases and not let them impede your career.
In the United States, if you’re a tall, good looking, well-spoken, white male with an Ivy League degree, you have a huge advantage in corporate meetings.
Your ideas will automatically be presumed to be more competent than you’ve legitimately earned. Your ideas will appear better than they really are.
You will be better liked automatically than the average person. You will automatically get a disproportionate share of the talk time in a meeting.
More people will listen as you talk than the other way around.
In short, without having to do any work, you’ll by default have a presumed high level of gravitas (otherwise known as executive presence).
If you’re not a tall, good looking, well-spoken, white male with an Ivy League degree, then you have a major disadvantage in corporate meetings.
By default, you’ll be presumed to be less competent, less intelligent, and less trusted than those with higher gravitas.
All else being equal, the high-status individual gets treated better than the low-status individual.
The key to overcoming such biases is to focus your energy on developing:
In other words, if you’re in a low-status position, you want to damn well make sure all other factors are not equal. You want to make sure those other factors are heavily in your favor.
There are twelve specific factors that can boost your gravitas over and beyond traditional demographic traits like gender, race, wealth, and educational background.
Since you can’t change your demographic traits very easily, focus your energy on the other twelve factors that you can control.
Let me share with you one of those twelve factors:
If the high-status Ivy League guy walks into a conference room, all else being equal, his ideas are going to be taken more seriously than yours.
But if you have already developed strong relationships with everyone else in that room, YOU have the advantage.
Building relationships = building gravitas within a group (and the people that trust members of that group).
Done properly, you can compensate for and even completely overcome any demographic-based gravitas disadvantage you may possess.
Now, what if you are the white, male, well-spoken Ivy League graduate?
When you work on building gravitas over and beyond your demographic advantage in life, you can accelerate your career even more.
For the high-status individual, building gravitas is an optional strategy. For the low-status individual, it’s a necessity.
To learn more about the other ways to build gravitas, complete the form below to be included when I send emails with articles and resources on how to improve your gravitas.