The Business of Race - Inclusion and Diversity

The Business of Race: How to Create and Sustain an Antiracist Workplace- And Why it’s Actually Good for Business

by Margaret Greenberg and Gina Greenlee​

The de Bono Group Commentary and Introduction of Margaret Greenberg and Gina Greenlee on The Business of Race

By James P. Carlisle, President

When Caspar de Bono, now Managing Director of Edward de Bono, LTD. which represents the Intellectual Property of his father, Dr. Edward de Bono, called me and indicated he had two business consultants who were writing a book entitled The Business of Race and wanted to talk with me about the use of de Bono methods as a way to more effectively facilitate conversations about race, I was very interested. The initial conversation with them both, Margaret Greenberg, who is white and Gina Greenlee who is black, was stimulating to be sure. Their in-depth commitment to the issue of working on race in the world of business was crystal clear, as was their intent to find ways to make that dedication practically and effectively doable in the workplace.

Having heard of the process and read the book, the Six Thinking Hats, they attended and participated in the online program. In doing so, they experienced for themselves the credibility and effectiveness of the process and confirmed they would be including the Hats process in their book among the recommended tools for effectively addressing the issues of race in the workplace.

Continuing their thinking from The Business of Race, “Race talk is heavy lifting for sure. You must be fit. A body builder physique is not required but it does mean hitting the proverbial gym. Let’s look at the five core muscles you must build and strengthen to prepare for, advance and sustain the work. They are change readiness, cultural diversity, empathy, growth mindset and spectrum thinking.” The last, spectrum thinking, represents the work done and recommended by Greenberg and Greenlee with Six Thinking Hats.

Further, they say, “Change readiness, cultural curiosity, empathy and growth mindset—all skills that will facilitate productive race talk and race work. And here is one more muscle you’ll want to develop, and it has to do with thinking about how you think.” Greenlee and Greenberg go on to describe in The Business of Race, the use and working of Six Thinking Hats developed by Dr. Edward de Bono.

Given their commitment and statement of needed tools and methods, the de Bono Group, LLC is making a parallel pledge to addressing the issues of racism and prejudice. Our offer is to any director, officer or trainer who is part of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group a 20% discount on the regular price of the trainer certification. We offer this as a reflection of our core values as well as a way of positively supporting the work you do via Diversity, Equity and Inclusion aka DEI.  

Inclusive Thinking published by

Companies are pursuing diversity and inclusion objectives to ensure a workforce that represents society and to enable better decision making. A principle of inclusion is to respect and value diversity in representation. Better decision making also depends on how people discover, discuss and develop ideas together. How meetings are run. It is possible to have diverse representation and still suffer from poor decision making due to a culture of exclusive thinking. Inclusive thinking is more than giving everyone an equal say. It requires an understanding of the modes of thinking that are used in meetings and how the meeting is structured. Inclusive meetings use a mechanism that respects and values diversity of ideas and makes for better decision making as those ideas are more fully explored.

The characteristics of exclusive meetings

  1. A few people and or ideas dominate.
  2. Argument is used as the main way to progress discussion.
  3. Participants use their intelligence and experience to demonstrate that the idea they favour is the right one and that alternative ideas are weaker.
  4. The discussion becomes narrower and more specific, each side seeking the special circumstances that gives their point of view the greatest weight.
  5. One of these six modes of thinking can dominate the discussion to the exclusion of the other five:
  6. There is a search for certainty with a focus on evidence. Any proposal has to be verified. There is no discussion of unverified possibilities and a paralysis of analysis results in the search for certainty.
  7. Personal opinions dominate and how people feel or perceive others will feel determines the outcomes.
  8. Only the benefits of the situation are considered. Everything is going to be wonderful; all problems have a silver lining. There is denial about the risks or issues.
  9. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. The focus is only on the issues, risks and problems.
  10. The discussion goes in many different directions, exploring many possible alternatives, abandoning half developed ideas and including ideas that are not relevant to the agenda.
  11. The person chairing the meeting dominates the discussion and only steers the conversation to his or her agenda. Most of the dialogue is between this person and one person at a time. The same can happen with the person of greatest authority at the meeting or the person controlling the mechanics of the meeting, for example writing on a flip chart or collaboration board.

The characteristics of inclusive meetings

  1. There is a diversity of experiences, points of view and ideas expressed.
  2. Parallel thinking is used to explore and develop the subject. Parallel thinking is when all the participants use the same mode of thinking at the same time. The emphasis is on exploring and developing ideas, not on owning your own idea and beating your opponent’s ideas.
  3. Participants use their intelligence and experience to contribute to the development of all ideas not just the ones they initiate or favour.
  4. The discussion is broad and considers many alternatives.
  5. Each of the six modes of thinking are used in a balanced way. All the participants in the meeting use the same mode of thinking at the same time. The modes of thinking are then structured sequentially to create more balance. How to do this well requires some training.
  6. There is a balance between using evidence to reduce uncertainty and creativity to generate new possibilities. Hypotheses or hunches are welcomed in order to open up exploration.
  7. Opinions and feelings are welcomed and recognised as a valuable input. They are recognised as subjective points of view and therefore likely to be different based on different experiences. They are balanced with objective evidence where possible.
  8. The benefits and the risks are evaluated in equal measure.
  9. Creativity is given a specific focus and ideas are evaluated and developed in a structured way, seeking to amplify the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses.
  10. The nature of the thinking in the meeting has a language that everyone can use. This allows the participants to be responsible for how the meeting operates not just the content of the meeting.

The outcomes are motivated participants, more constructive contributions and better informed decisions. The meetings are more productive in that the outcomes achieved are greater for the time invested. Often this also means shorter meetings.

This method of parallel thinking is called the Six Thinking Hats. It was created by Dr. Edward de Bono. It is a simple language for organising and enabling inclusive meetings and better decision making. Teams use this to solve complex, contentious issues, effectively and quickly. It is achieved without defeating ideas or people. The approach is not about consensus and compromise but about a genuine exploration of the topic without taking sides. It is a method for creating value and encouraging people to change their own minds.

Dr Edward de Bono’s methods have been adopted through training programs by organisations around the world since 1991. Our global network includes certified trainers and facilitators in 72 countries through 18 training partners. We provide in person and virtual training and facilitation, supported by interactive digital courses and applications. We help you apply the methods to topics that are important to you. Our training partners can also organise the certification of in-house and independent trainers. All training partners offer corporate training, some distributors also provide public seminars.

Call us at the de Bono Group, LLC to discuss your needs and questions you have about the article. Inclusive thinking is a critical component to the diversity issue and the Six Thinking Hats program provides the tool-based approach to effectively develop and engage this important issue. 1-888-572- 2190 or email James P. (Pat) Carlisle at

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