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Are you Biased



Are You Biased?

Do your job ads insist on “native English speakers”, “attractive females”, and what you have? Is it about the job and qualifications, or are you biased? How is that bad for business? And since being responsible starts at home, how responsible are you towards your employees, and what message do your HR policies send out to the community, asks Hanan Nagi – coach, speaker, founder and CEO of HNI Training & Coaching.

Looking for a (insert nationality), good-looking female, age below 25 years, for the post of sales executive.

Ever seen such an ad like that before? How do you feel about it? Maybe you have published something similar when you had a vacancy and believed you knew exactly what type of person would fit the job profile. But the question is: Is this really good for your business? While such an ad would be illegal in most western countries, it is acceptable in the Middle East as well as many other regions.

Please allow me to wear my “HR hat” for a minute and tell you a little more about this. There is a long-standing debate about whether advertising such specific criteria (where you are legally able to) is a good idea or not. Those, in favor, usually justify it through their perception of business requirements – the receptionist needs to be an attractive woman, the IT post needs to be filled by an Indian, the senior manager needs to be a westerner, and so on. Sounds familiar?

It is all about assumptions and stereotyping. Have you ever caught yourself generalizing that “all men are like that”, “all women are bad drivers”, and other such blanket statements? If yes, you are not alone. Most people stereotype based on direct and indirect learning.

Direct learning is the outcome of one of your own experiences. For example if someone visits a new country and gets robbed right at the airport, they might generalize and call everyone in that country “a thief”. Is that true? Of course not, but because of the strong emotional reaction (anger and frustration) that this visitor had, their generalized reaction was formed.

Indirect learning is more powerful and dangerous because it is deeply rooted within us. It is what we learn from observing others – especially when we are children and more impressionable – or from friends, family, colleagues, the media, and so on.

Why is it bad for Business?

You might be stereotyping a certain criteria such as age,race or colour, gender. Firstly, age; “After a certain age, people are not productive.” Really? Look back or even around you today and see how many great leaders, entrepreneurs and scientists have been productive until they were very old. Secondly, race and colour; do I need to remind you who the current President of the United States is? Thirdly, gender, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, who is considered one of the most influential Arab leaders today.

So what is the problem? The problem is that you are advertising for a person, not a job, and that person – that person who is perfect for the job (in your view anyway) – is shaped and specified by these unconscious biases.

Why should you overcome that? Because your business needs diversity in a diverse marketplace, and you might lose out on much-needed skills simply because you look for them in a certain package. It is also because this is the day and age of blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and consumers who are exerting their choices and opinions. Word will get out to your customers and stakeholders and the resulting bad PR could affect your sales, or even land you in a legal mess if you operate in countries with strict laws against discrimination.

Getting it right 
So how can you overcome your prejudices? How can you stop being unconsciously biased and get rid of what we call the “halo effect” (hiring people who we believe will do the job perfectly, according to our own assumptions)?

  1. Bring it to the conscious mind:
    Be aware of your unconscious bias and where it comes from. Remember that we did not choose our own race, gender, religion or nationality – and that the opinions you hold are not always yours; they could easily be someone else’s that you have observed, internalized, and now you consider them as your own.
  2. Pause and correct
    When you become aware of these biases in your conscious mind and catch yourself stereotyping, stop! Remind yourself that by doing that you are giving your personal power away to old beliefs, which are most probably not really yours.
  3. Question assumptions by taking the opposite point of view
    When you or someone else makes an assumption, immediately think of the opposite point of view and ask yourself whether that would be an acceptable, or perhaps an even better choice. So when you catch yourself saying “native speakers are preferred”, ask “do I really think that in this day and age of changing global economic power-centers, non-native speakers are disadvantaged or less qualified?”

Now that you can catch and stop these biases and be more objective, there are a few things you need to do to improve the quality and caliber of the people you hire:

  1. Advertise for a job, not a person
    After you have carefully analyzed the job you are hiring for, create a job specification. List the essential qualifications, skills, competencies, expertise, knowledge and experience that the person doing this job needs to have and invite applications from anyone who meets these criteria.

Remember; keep the essential criteria to the absolute minimum, otherwise, you might disqualify good people because your essential criteria were too high. For example, if you are hiring an office manager, and in the essential educational qualification required you list: “college graduate”, then you might be missing out on great candidates with great experience, who hold a diploma in management instead of a BA.

  1. Be open-minded about the applicants
    If the applicant meets the essential job specification then you should look at your desired criteria which is: what additional skills or talents would I like to have within my team?

Again, you are looking for the best fit to the job vacancy you have, based on skills and experience, not based on that person’s passport details. Interview with an open mind and see how those potential candidates will fit into the culture of the company, interact with their new colleagues, and how can they add value and promote diversity in your workplace.

  1. Create a genuinely open work culture
    Deal with prejudices amongst employees and nip them in the bud. This is more effective through measures like culture appreciation sessions, education and awareness. Develop talent – across the board. Hire managers who share your vision and spread the message down the line. Provide career advancement opportunities that take into account different needs, while reinforcing that what matters is accountability despite the flexibility.

Happy hiring!


Hanan Nagi is an International Trainer, Executive Coach, Personal Development Expert, Writer and inspirational Speaker. She is the producer and presenter of the first coaching and human development TV show, ‘Develop your life’, on DMTV. With more than 16 years of corporate experience in the corporate world in various industries, she has been helping organisations achieve their goals through their people, using training and coaching programmes. She has been recognised for her contribution to excellence and achievement in the people’s field by H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and has won the Dubai Government Excellence Award.

About HNI Training & Coaching

HNI Training and Coaching as a Dubai training center, is an innovator and leader in human capital development, providing world-class experiential corporate training solutions and services in English and Arabic to organisations in the MENA region. HNI Training and Coaching is amongst the leading training institutes in Dubai that currently offers training courses in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha in 16 different categories.

A wide array of soft-skills development training courses cater to professionals from all organizational levels. We are the only training institute that does not provide, nor support, the typical mundane class-room training delivery. Our training courses help participants to gain hands-on skills during the sessions, ensuring that knowledge is truly gained and retained. Our experiential and practical corporate training solutions have impacted more than 100 top companies so far, and the number is increasing by the day. Whether you are looking for a training center in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Oman, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else in the MENA region, we can bring our training center to you. Our qualified and experienced team of Master Trainers travels across the region to bring training courses to your doorstep. All you have to do is go through our corporate training courses and contact us on for further information.

By: Hanan Nagi

Founder & CEO

HNI Training & Coaching


Edited by: Hadeer Salah Aldeen

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Stevie Awards Winners’ Articles Series – Eng. Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna



“Continuous Learning, adopting innovation & creativity and teamwork are among the guiding principles of success and excellence in the government sector” Eng. Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna

Winner Name: Eng.  Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna

Winner Title: Director Assistance for Control & Inspection for Economic Activities at Ministry of Industry & Trade in Jordan

Winning categories:

  1. The Gold Stevie Winner in the category “the most innovative Communications Professional of the year “
  2. The Silver Stevie Winner in the category “Innovation in Community Relations or public Services Communications”
  3. The Bronze Stevie Winner in the category “Innovative Management in Government – Organizations with 100 or more employees”
Brief Biography about the Winner:

Abeer Ramadna is the Director assistant of control and inspection unit at the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply (MIT) in Jordan, she has a Master Degree in Industrial Engineering- Engineering Administration / University of Jordan with “excellent degree”. Abeer has 20 years of experience in private and public sectors, and is a focal point for UNIDO at MIT in Jordan. Abeer is a certified Management development Expert from ITC/ Vienna in 2005, a certified Export Consultant to EU from CBI/Netherland in 2007, certified Lead Auditor for Quality Management ISO 9001:2015, a certified Engineer Expert in Quality and Environmental Management systems in 2018 and a certified EFQM Assessor from EFQM in 2019. Eng. Abeer has a wide professional expertise in many fields that allow her to provide consultations to the organizations in various fields including Quality Management, Environmental Management, preparing industrial polices, strategies and plans, Inspection polices, Monitoring & Evaluation systems, implementing the ISO9001, ISO14001 ISO14040s standards, and conducting technical industrial sectors studies.

Eng. Abeer won three Stevie Awards from three different categories after participation in Middle East Stevie Awards in 2020, these are:

  1. Gold Stevie Winner in a category:” The Most Innovative Communications Professional of the Year”. These categories honor the most innovation in communications practice, management, and use of technology.
  2. Silver Stevie Winner in a category: “Award for Innovation in Community Relations or Public Service Communications”. These categories honor innovation in communications practice, management, and use of technology in the public sector.
  3. Bronze Stevie Winner in a category: “Award for Innovative Management in Government “. These categories honor innovation in executive management including the Award for Innovative Management in a number of industry sectors.

Abeer has been published scientific papers in one of the world accredited journals in E-government. Titled “Barriers to E-Government Adoption in Jordanian Organizations from Users’ and Employees’ Perspectives” in 2017, the link is:

and published another scientific paper titled: “SEM approach to determine factors affecting e-government success in Jordan”,  the link is: _to_determine_factors_affecting_e-government_success_in_Jordan

She was selected as a Judge at the Best Jordanian chemical product Award in all three cycles of it during 2015 to 2020, Judge in the 2019 management & entrepreneur Awards categories judging committee Stevie Awards, and Judge at the best industrial engineering project for the Jordanian universities in 2019. She participated in several national and International conferences, meetings and presented papers, as a representative of the MIT / Jordan.

Stevie Award winning Case Study:

  • Developing action plans of inspection development to governmental institutions (Inspectorates) work in fields of health, Environment, labor, safety for economic sectors in Jordan.
  • Supervision of developing Electronic Inspection System for governmental inspectorates.
  •  Conduct many awareness workshops for governmental inspectorates and for private sector institutions.
  • Conduct many workshops and training sessions as A National trainer of trainers in the shaping of future studies.
  • Secretariat of higher committee for Inspection development of Economic Activates that consists from high level management in governmental inspectorates.
  • Abeer is trusted as a competent team leader and confident expert in Quality management & Inspection systems
  • Abeer conducted in 2018 a study titled the Industrial engineering in the government sector in Jordan, current situation and future opportunities and present it in the 2nd International Conference on Industrial Systems & Manufacturing Engineering (ISME’19) Nov, 11-12, 2019 in Amman.
  • Abeer was chosen after a series of selection process as one of the National participants in the Civil Service Development Program in Jordan and attended all phases including the leadership and developing high performance teams at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst UK during 2019.

Eng. Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna “Continuing to contribute achievements and make positive impacts are goals that are achievable with the presence of strong & positive attitude, self-motivated character & determination.”

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Stevie Awards Winners’ Articles Series – Asiacell



“Winning such an award requires hard work and we encourage other companies to focus on their customers and local communities in order to excel”

Winning Organization: Asiacell

Nomination: Award for Excellence in Innovation in Technology Industries (including Telecom)

Brief about the Organization:

Asiacell is a leading provider of telecommunications and data services in Iraq. As part of international telecommunications company Ooredoo Group, Asiacell was Iraq’s first mobile telecommunications provider to achieve nationwide coverage. Asiacell is also a leading internet provider with its 3.9G data services, offering the best network coverage in all of Iraq since January 2015.

Stevie Award Winning Case Study:

As part of its commitment to expand network coverage in Iraq, Asiacell has continued to support the redevelopment of the country’s infrastructure and economy and the provision of high-quality connectivity solutions. It has enhanced its “Hot Zone” restoration strategy by putting 200 sites on air and connecting over 500 sites to 3G.

Focused on improving the quality of life for communities, Asiacell’s CSR initiatives are focused on key areas, such as health, education and culture. Asiacell has equipped several higher education institutions with computer labs and supported the renovation of schools, with the aim of providing quality education infrastructure. It also partnered with the Chibayish Environmental Tourism Organization to build the first Iraqi Marshlands heritage museum in Ahwar as part of its efforts to revive Iraq’s Marshland, while generating a positive effect on tourism and jobs creation. 

Recognising that its people are its key asset, Asiacell continues to roll out initiatives focused on engaging and empowering employees. It has invested heavily in digital transformation, including digital upskilling for employees, and streamlining of various internal processes in order to nurture a digital-first culture that embraces innovation.

We are so glad to be recognized as a successful and innovative telecommunication company in Iraq with a Stevie Award for “Excellence in Innovation in Technology Industries”. Recognition from the Stevie Awards means a lot to us and motivates Asiacell to continue to serve the community with professionalism. Winning such an award requires hard work and we encourage other companies to focus on their customers and local communities in order to excel.


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Qisaty Project & Developing Talent in Children with Special Needs in Egypt



Edited By: Mahmoud Mansi

Qisaty Project – founded by Mona Lamloum – was launched on 26th December 2019 to support children talents through a series of storytelling, writing and drawing workshops.

The total number of children who participated in the storytelling workshop is 60 including the most talented 20 who were selected to the story writing sessions, 16 children ranging from 6 to 14 years old got their stories selected to be drawn by 19 children with special needs.

The drawing workshops were held in 3 cities in Egypt with cooperation with 2 special needs associations; Nida Society Rehabilitation with both branches in Cairo and Luxor. 14 children, and Ashab El-Erada Association in Alexandria. 5 children.

The children have different disabilities, hearing loss, partial blindness, movement disability, learning difficulty disability, mental disability and increased electricity in the brain.

Of course such an interesting project needs proper preparation and an intellectual plan. Mona Lamloum shared some of the challenges that she and her team have faced during the project:

1-The global pandemic and the sudden lockdown.

2- The fact that most of the children with special needs suffer from many chronic diseases which lowers their immunity, in addition to the huge responsibility that lies on the team while holding the workshop during the pandemic.

3-The fear of the parents of the children with special needs participation at the drawing workshops due to the pandemic and the lack of their immunity. Which was managed to concur with the help of the project partners in drawing workshops. 

Eventually, Qisaty Project was held at exceptional circumstances and according to deadlines set up before the global Corona pandemic. However, the team did their best to get the project done within the lockdown with a quality that is aspired from the beginning, and that was done simply by teamwork, sharing a unified vision, and collaborating to find new solutions.

The result is 16 short stories in addition to 64 drawings by hands of talented children with special needs and with variable disabilities from three cities: Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor. Each drawing tells a different scene from a short story inspired from the children themselves to be published as a grand book that gathers the short stories and the drawings of all the talented young participants.


Qisaty Sponsors:

– Amideast: Hosted the story telling, story writing workshops and the day that gathered the writers and children with special needs mixed day.

– Nahdet Misr Publishing House.

Media Sponsors:

– Marj3 Platform

– HR Revolution Middle East


– Arablit Quarterly

Children with special needs Associations:

– Nida Society Rehabilitation with both branches in Cairo and Luxor.

– Ashab El-Erada Association in Alexandria.

Qisaty Trainers:

– Hanan El-Taher.

– Mona Lamloum.

– Zeinab Mobark.

Designing Storytelling and writing workshop:

-Mona Lamloum

Writing workshops:

– Mona Lamloum

– Yaqoub El-Sharouni

Drawing workshop:

– Under the supervision of Shoikar Khalifa,

 – With the help of respectful team at Nida Association at Cairo and Luxor.

 – Ashab El-Erada Association at Alexandria by Sahar Zaiton with the help of Aliaa Abd-Elsalam.

Team Members:

– Rawan Said

– Ahmed Ismail

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