ARTICLE

December 21, 2020

Addressing Inequality via Social Capital in Education, Business, & Healthcare: Growing Compassion, Leadership, Courage, Sales, Happiness

Inequalities in wealth and income, between races and genders continually shape our ability to move forward in society. While the US continues to be a beacon for opportunity, inequality limits for human development for citizens, immigrants and refugees . Consider the following chart from the Equality Trust (2012): Never mind the murder rate, prison population, or infant mortality differences between these developed countries, and instead focus on the expectations of equality and how they impact our ability to move forward in opportunities through social mobility and capacity to earn. Consider Brightsity courses have already used social capital to statistically significantly increase:

  1. Leadership
  2. Service Orientation
  3. Subjective Happiness
  4. Acceptance and Action
  5. Compassion for Others
  6. Courage
  7. Emotional Intelligence
  8. Teamwork
and Significantly decrease:
  1. Stress
  2. Anxiety
  3. Depression
  4. Racist Attitudes
  5. Sexist Attitudes
  6. Psychopathy
  7. Machiavellianism
  8. Fears of Compassion
So Social Capital can have a positive impact on social mobility and equality, but if applied inequitably, can also retrench inequalities and debilitate movements attempting to challenge them. So what is Social Capital? Social capital can be considered as “the social networks and the norms of trustworthiness and reciprocity that arise from them.” (Putnam, 2000). The focus of social capital is our social networks, and the strength of the ties and trust which is supported by: 1.  Repeated exposure & shared spaces 2.  Honesty in Communications 3.  Follow-Through on Commitments 4.  Consistency in Behavior Note the lack of trust among Americans in comparison to other developed nations in the chart above. Social Capital in Education Understanding how social capital leads to human capital is essential. Education, especially a college education, is one of the ways we gain the knowledge, skills and abilities (competencies) to achieve career success and independence. As social capital approaches to interventions argue that individuals are embedded in a network of social and interpersonal relations who possess teachable competencies that individuals can use to get ahead, establishing its powerful impact on education and career is important for social mobility. Social capital has been established as improving academic achievement (Sacerdote, 2001), labor market outcomes (Lin 1999), innovation, and chances of promotion within organizations (Podolny and Baron, 1997) and upward mobility (Brand and Xie, 2010). While the positive effects in the research are clear, how exactly can we foster social capital? It must be encouraged where it's missing, and sustained when successfully part of an educational environment. While much of the conversation regarding social capital in education has been focused on community, parental, familial and school social capital, it behooves us to examine the uses of peer social capital. Peer effects on students’ academic achievement demonstrates the impact of social capital in the creation of human capital (Coleman 1988). We know “students at the high end of the ability distribution experience the largest peer (social capital) effects from high ability peers” (Sacerdote, 2011), but what about the whole ability spectrum? Within the educational context, scholars suggest that students’ peers (e.g., roommates, classmates, and friends) constitute some of their most important relationships. These peer to peer interactions can affect performance in school as well as behaviors outside of academia. Social Capital and Inequality Clearly social capital is important in academic environments, but extensive in-group social ties and bonding can form and continue cliques/cadres that work together to maintain social power and dominance (think about all the times you were rejected from the “cool kids clique” in high school, college, or work – you wanted to be part as it would lead to more esteem, but also provide access to rare resources, or worse, you did the rejecting). If social capital is about benefiting from relationships, we have to consider access to it and resulting inequality of in opportunity. For example, high-status individuals often reach out to broader sections of their networks and contacts for job opportunities than low-status individuals, believing they have more capacity to impact their lives through power. The relationship between using networks to find quality jobs is stronger for high socioeconomic status workers than for low socioeconomic status workers and stronger for men than for women. Consistent with in-group/out-group dynamics, the benefits to entrepreneurs of social capital are not distributed equally: Research has found that marginal low-status community members recently relocated, immigrants, and ethnic minorities benefit less from community level social capital, which suggests the need for a strong push to develop social capital for all in educational systems. A Tall Order to Address Inequality? So the critical question in application of social capital approaches to education must address several issues for participants: 1.  Equality of opportunity 2.  Equality of skills development opportunities 3.  Repeated exposure & shared spaces 4.  Honesty in Communications 5.  Follow-Through on Commitments 6.  Consistency in Behavior 7.  Engaging materials 8.  Evidence of accomplishment for external usage For Academic and training institutions, the approaches must: 1.  Provide easy to use interfaces 2.  Lower labor costs 3.  Be scalable 4.  Evidence of accomplishment/Return on investment 5.  Utility for accreditation/corporate social responsibility and marketing For communities, the approach must: 1.  Measure outcomes at the individual level 2.  Interface with secondary data sources like: a.  Quality of life b.  Police records c.  Environmental appraisals d.  Demographic and Epidemiological data The Brightsity Platform and Measurable Peer to Peer Social Capital Development The Brightsity platform has shown the capacity to do just this, with our first course – the Compassion Skills Training (CST), being used by thousands of doctors, nurses, employees, managers, business leaders, undergraduate, and graduate students across racial, sex, ethnic, generational, religious and ideological groups. We have been able to demonstrate statistically significantly increased psychometric outcomes, such as Leadership, Service Orientation, Compassion for others, Mindfulness, and other interpersonal skills that are critical for organizations (recruitment, selection, performance measurement) and accreditation purposes. As critically, CST has significantly diminished stress, anxiety, and depression (which cause huge productivity losses). Easy. The Brightsity platform is easy to manage independently. Features such as automatic matching, waitlists, constant feedback, and prevention of problem participants are embedded in the program and can be used to facilitate compassion development relationships between parents, teachers, administration and between community business, associations and organizations, with customizability to meet the needs of compassion fatigue and stress for teachers (as teaching requires enormous emotional labor). Organizations can use the data generated for employee support, accreditation, marketing, corporate social responsibility and recruitment. Using peer to peer social capital to address educational, occupational and social needs is not out of reach. Certified as Continuing Medical and Education Units, the tool is robust enough for instructor free classes, or as a homework layer on top of existing courses, offering participants structured tools to understand concepts through their own experiences. We hope you will join us in our new courses: 1.    The Heroic Leadership Program (Dr. Phil Zimbardo of the Stanford Prison Experiment) 2.The Stanford Forgiveness Project (Dr. Fred Luskin) 3.The Compassion Skills Training (Dr. Yotam Heineberg) 4. Compassionate Leadership (Drs. Daniel Martin and Yotam Heineberg 5. Resilience and Well-Being (Dr. Tchiki Davis) And more in development, all with the capacity to complete psychometrically available competency models for your employees, students or own profession to establish your skill sets in the workplace. A fully developed mentoring platform also facilitates bi-directional opportunities to engage your alumni, workforce and (please do not forget them) willing and able high school and senior citizen. Please do join us as we make the use of social capital easy while lowering costs, easing logistical challenges and engaging participants in a measurable way with positive, usable tools immediately. See Brightsity.com for more!