She is a lawyer with a Master’s in Business Administration, specializing in Neuroscience applied to Organization, and a Master’s in Family Law from the University of Barcelona.
She is also a specialist in Family Business. Her passion for continuous learning and her interest in discovering the right methods for evaluating key solutions in organizations led her to specialize in Compliance and Arbitration, primarily in the corporate world.
As a University lecturer in Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods, Marianela is part of the Mediators body of the Supreme Court of Justice in Argentina and serves as the Director of Lograrmas, an Institution that trains Mediators under the Ministry of Justice of the Argentine Nation. She is also a University lecturer in Negotiation, Arbitration, Mediation, and Conciliation.
“In organizations, conflict can be positive because it allows for exchange, knowledge, and growth through the correct handling of differences between people and their points of view. My experience has taught me how to use one of the key tools for managing any conflict: Communication.”
When you were in your teenage years and in college, did you have a clear idea of where you wanted to go professionally? Or was it something you discovered over time? How was that stage of your life?
When I was a teenager, I fell in love with everything it was related with Justice and the practicing of the low, although no one in my family was a lawyer. I remember at that time there was a TV series called “Ally McBeal”, set in the fictional Boston law firm Cage & Fish, I was following the character, her role, her style, and I identified with her and what she was doing… I saw myself being a lawyer! Of course, then practicing the law is another world than fiction, from the justice system, scenarios, and specially is a challenge walking on stilettos all day long…
That period of my life was a constantly growing I´m still doing it), but what I’ve learned over the years is that an introverted person needs to adapt to a world where extraversion is for winners.
Neuroequity is a term that might be new to some people. Could you explain what it entails and why it’s relevant in the workplace?
Increasingly, equity is finding its way into conversations, organizations, and acronyms across the world. Equity is defined as “the absence of systematic disparities between groups with different levels of underlying social advantage/disadvantage—that is, wealth, power, or prestige”. It is a construction in our minds, it depends on our environment, our experiences, for that reason there’s a lot of noise, and many misconceptions about what equity means.
We can refer it as the application of neuroscientific principles to promote fairness, inclusivity, and diversity within a company. This might involve designing policies, practices, and work environments that ensure equal opportunities, minimize biases, and support the well-being of all employees. But the leader what usually establish is the norm, while the equitable decisions is a mental process.
I named “Neuro-equity” to the leader’s ability to know and recognize that subjective and personal construction of the term, like this he/she can analyze, understand, and especially empathize with his collaborators in the real meaning of equity. To put it in simply words, while equality is about sameness, equity is about fairness, and most importantly, while equality is aspirational, equity is actionable.
By training and empowering people at all levels of an organization to become allies, we are creating an army of positive change-agents for increasing equity, across, within and outside of an organization.
How did you delve into this field to apply it in the business environment, and what inspired you to focus on this specific topic?
This is totally associated with my professional experience and background. When I became a lawyer, I was questioning to myself, “There is another way to solve conflicts than going to court? Although law school teaches lawyers how to analyze conflicts and apply laws to complicated facts, the emphasis is on advocacy and litigation rather than conciliation. As mediator the process is without prejudice, meaning that anything that is discussed cannot be referred to in any later legal proceedings. Results: I entered a contest to be a Mediator of the Supreme Court of Justice of my province, and this experience allowed me to work with people with different conflicts in their person lives. After that, I realized I needed to find solutions in family’s conflicts, so I studied a Master’s in Family and Child Law at the University of Barcelona and later I did a Specialization in Family Business at Georgetown University, but still…I was seeking for more and more to find the best solutions in each field. My next step was Business Administration, and I did an MBA to dig a bit more on that area… I´m constantly searching for different tools that can be useful to find solutions.
Finally, after a vast experience in all this subjects, I understood that every behavior starts with a thought, with a perception, and our brains are highly attuned to social information, and we’re sensitive of social threat and rewards.
Because of my interested to dig in how neuroscientists call it a threat response, I decided to study a Postgraduate in Neurosciences applied to organizations.
I was inspired by this specific topic because I am convinced that to achieve lasting solutions around equity, we must literally be aware as leaders of organizations, how we make decisions, what our biases are, how executive functions influence this process.
What are the main challenges that companies and financial institutions face in terms of equity and making informed decisions from the perspective of neuroscience?
Most of challenges faced by companies and financial institutions are related with the tendency to biases that are unconscious, managing emotions in stressful situations, even more in financial fields, the difficulty to objectively assess risks due to the influence of emotional and cognitive factors, as well as the implementation of strategies to promote diversity of thought and reduce the influence of prejudices in decision-making.
In your opinion, how can companies and organizations adopt practices based on this concept to create a more inclusive work environment? What role do you play as a Key Solution Manager in this case?
Companies adopt policies that comply with the law that regulates equity in its various forms, and that is correct, they create different manuals, full training for employees and in particular cases (when someone is dealing a conflict and affecting the organizational climate), and all of this is correct, but it’s not enough.
As a Key Solution Manager, I go further, I search for the whole scenario, with my background in all types of conflicts I just see solutions… I am an expert in making a conflict diagram to understand it, to prevent it or to manage it. My contribution is through a deep work that consists first in understanding how the brain of the decision makers is working (the thread response impairs analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving). Second stage is creating a diagnosis, detection of needs, and finally an action plan. “Solutions become key when we understand the map of the situation.”
The business world is constantly evolving, and technology plays a pivotal role in it. How do you believe the integration of equitable approaches can adapt and be utilized in a constantly changing work environment? What advantages do you find through technology?
Absolutely, and even the VUCA concept (used to describe the volatility that has become the norm in the business world) and the BANI model evolved and now we talk about the characteristics of leadership in RUPT environments (Fast, Unpredictable, Paradoxical and Tangled) and TUNA environments (Turbulence, Uncertainty, Novelty and Ambiguity).
Technology can facilitate the collection and analysis of objective data for decision-making, helping to reduce bias and promote fairness. In addition, digital platforms and tools can facilitate inclusive communication and collaboration, allowing different perspectives to be considered in real time. Online training and access to educational resources can help promote diversity of skills and knowledge in staff. In summary, technology can be an ally now to promote fairness and informed decision making in a constantly evolving business environment.
From your perspective, which country do you think is at the forefront in this field and why? Have you had the opportunity to visit any of these countries, and if so, what was your experience like?
Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland) are among the countries with the lowest level of inequality, along with those of the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) and some Eastern European countries.
In other words, what measures equity will finally be equality in the exercise of rights, considering what each person or group of people needs.
Yes, I work and also visit European countries and I look forward to not only the enactment of laws that promote equity, but also that those who are in charge to ensure that they are complied with. It is useless to enact laws and be at the forefront of the issue in terms of legislation and then not push for compliance.
How can different disciplines like neuroscience, psychology, and sociology effectively collaborate to advance research and implementation of neuroequity?
There is an specific approach to social psychology but I think it covers all 3 disciplines: Social cognition refers to the different psychological processes that influence how people process, interpret, and respond to social signals. These processes allow people to understand social behavior and respond in ways that are appropriate and beneficial. This is the key, it represents a powerful tool to understand social relations from the three approaches and promote actions that imply massive behavior changes.
In 1965 196 The Theory of employment equity is a theory created by John Stacey Adams, a psychologist specialized in labor matters. It is a theory that maintains that the motivation of an employee depends on the balance between the contributions that the employee makes to the company and the contributions that the company makes the employee. It asserts that individuals compare their rewards and the product of their
work with others, and they evaluate if they are fair, reacting to eliminate any injustice.
When there is a state of inequality that we consider unfair, we seek equity.
The Theory of labor equity (J.S. Adams) maintains that the motivation of an employee depends on the balance between the contributions that the employee makes to the company and the contributions that the company makes to the employee. He claims that individuals compare their rewards and work product with others, and assess whether they are fair, reacting to eliminate any unfairness. When there is a state of inequality that we consider unfair, we seek equity include a fourth discipline including “the sciences of human behavior”
Behavioral Design or Behavioral Design is an approach or frame of reference that is leveraged in behavioral sciences to shape behaviors, that is, the behavioral information that we obtain will help to solve the challenges that may arise when designing strategies that promote equity from decision making is neuro equity.
How would you define the interaction between law and cognitive equity? What are the legal aspects of greater relevance in this area to address the various conflicts that may arise?
Equity in law implies differentiated treatment in terms of specific situations, always with the aim of achieving equality in the exercise of rights. Legal systems can address conflicts by implementing measures to prevent and remedy inequalities, starting with laws that protect fundamental human rights and creating legal frameworks that foster inclusion and diversity at all levels of society. The most relevant legal aspects include protection against discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, etc., as well as laws that guarantee equal access to educational, labor and participation opportunities in public life.
What advice would you give to companies looking to adopt these policies and practices?
The States sanction laws that promote equity in their different approaches, their application in organizations is developed in different ways so that their compliance becomes effective. Now, it is one thing to comply with the law and another to promote equity based on the conviction of the exercise of rights in an equal manner. One question that companies should ask themselves to measure the impact is, how many legal processes does it face in relation to the issue? How many complaints have been received through anonymous channels about conduct considered inequitable or unfair?
My advice is it’s not just about following the law for the law’s sake, it’s the collective and individual commitment from top management that really matters. And for this, a work that starts from individual work is necessary to generate collective changes.
Lastly, what are your long-term goals and aspirations?
I´m not only specialized in understanding the dynamics of conflicts to manage them, but mainly in finding solutions, based on the conflict map. Because of chasing always the best solutions, I´m in a constantly learning, absorbing and promoting technological advances, new tools, science, new communication channels, and the main challenges that arise in a company, organization or even in society.
I am working on several projects that unify science and technology at the service of better performance and performance. Perhaps an innovative app and new tools for companies are coming. Stay tuned!
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
To create new realities we have to create new terms and the word Neuroequity comes to promote this new construction towards equality in the exercise of all human beings in the world.
My role as Key Solution Manager is also a new concept within organizations to create key solutions that allow organizations and the people who work in them to achieve their objectives in a framework of equity and equality.