This exercise will spur discussion concerning who is the
most important person in an organization. It looks at the
levels of leadership from entry to c-suite. Start by reading the
following story.

Leader: Read the following, or print it and have various
participants read each definition.

In the world of diversity it is important to understand three
common terms: stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination.
Although many will use these terms interchangeably each
has a very distinct meaning.

Stereotype is a conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified
conception, opinion or image according to Yahoo’s
dictionary. In other words, stereotyping is a way of thinking.

Prejudice is also a judgment made but prejudice is a verb
meaning to judge someone or something prematurely and
irrationally. By definition prejudices are negative in nature.

To see someone wearing medical clothing with a
stethoscope around their neck and jumping to the conclusion
their medical professional is a judgment, but it is not a
prejudice because there is no negative connotation to being
in the field of medicine.

Discrimination is taking action based on prejudices are
stereotyping. Most, if not all, discrimination results in unequal
treatment of one or more individual regardless of the content
of character of an individual.

Leader: Show this slide, containing a situation for

Click here to go to the slide. Here is what the slide says:

Joe is very hungry but as today his normal lunch hour was
delayed and those he normally eats with have already
returned to work. After getting his food, he takes his tray to
the dining area. He avoids one table that has some older
people gnawing away at the meals, walks right by another
table with some administrative assistants he knew, and sat
by himself, He did not enjoy his lunch because he missed his

Leader: Ask this question and ask each group to develop
an argument how each of the three: Stereotyping,
discrimination, and prejudice could be argued in this case.
This might cause the groups to add some elements not in
the slide. Allow 5 to 10 minutes for group discussion.

“What elements of Stereotyping, prejudice, and
discrimination are present here?”

Leader: Have a spokesperson for one group discuss
stereotyping, another group discuss prejudice, and a third
group discuss discrimination. Here are some potential
answers that meet the requirements for each type.

Stereotyping possibility: It is possible Joe did not sit with
the older people because they would use “Dad jokes”, be
judgmental of a younger generation, or talk about things that
would not interest him because of the age gap.

Prejudice possibility: He may have judged that he was too
good or not good enough to sit with Administrative

Discrimination possibility: If prejudice or stereotyping
were involved, he practiced discrimination by sitting alone,
as sitting alone is an action.

Leader: Summarize the difference as you end the session
by saying:

Here is the easiest way to distinguish between the three
  • Stereotyping equals thinking
  • Prejudice equals feeling
  • Discrimination equals acting

Related resources:
Group Exercise