Fortune: It’s Time for Men to Call Out Manterrupters

By Jeffrey Tobias Halter

Gender equality only women’s responsibility.

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you play a role in advancing workplace equality?” is written by Jeffery Tobias Halter, president of YWomen, author of Why Women: The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men, and speaker at the WIN Summit.

Women’s leadership advancement is slowly reaching a tipping point. In industries from ranging from pharma and finance to defense and technology, women’s voices are rising. But so are those of supportive men—especially ones in senior leadership positions. Smart progressive companies are finding ways to incorporate both men and women into the process of attracting, retaining, and advancing women in the workplace. These companies have embraced four key approaches:

Listening to women’s concerns

Are you genuinely listening to the issues, concerns, and workplace issues of your female employees? I encourage senior male leaders to take a female coworker to coffee and ask her about the experience she’s having at work. Chances are, she’s not going to tell you initially because most women don’t want to be the flag bearer for all issues related to the status of women in the workplace. You’ll need to form close relationships with your female colleagues if you want to get to a point where they can talk to you openly about their difficulties in the workplace.

Through these discussions, you’ll find out that men and women are having significantly different professional experiences. One in two women (versus roughly one in four men) believe gender bias is alive in organizations today. While the workplace has evolved from Mad Men’s 1960s depiction, gender bias exists today in much more subtle terms and actions. Have you noticed that women are more likely to be interrupted in a meeting (even by other women) than men? Or that there’s an assumption that women will take notes, plan, and follow up—even when among colleagues at the same professional level? By understanding your female colleagues’ experiences better, it will be much easier to recognize and correct gender bias as it occurs.

Recognizing gender differences

It’s also important to understand that men and women behave differently at work. Research on brain functions demonstrate that most men have a more focused and linear thinking approach that favors decisiveness in words and actions. Women tend to focus more on intuition and collaboration. This research highlights the way men and women solve problems, network, and negotiate.

This has huge implications for organizations. For example, a Deloitte study on gender in sales teams demonstrated that women are much more attuned to reading non-verbal buyer behaviors, and therefore better at developing deeper relations with customers.

Developing diverse talent

Leaders need to ask tough questions and hold others accountable for creating a diverse workforce. Over half of DiversityInc’s top 50 companies for diversity tie executive compensation to the development and retention of diverse talent. Senior leaders need to regularly review their staff to ensure that talented women are being identified early in their careers.

If you don’t have enough women applying for positions, ask your managers and human resources team why not. Perhaps your managers aren’t developing and retaining people with different backgrounds. If that’s the case, find new managers. Or perhaps you can pursue alternate avenues to find women with strong potential. No matter what you do, make sure that your message of promoting a diverse team is clear.

Taking action

If gender issues are present in your company, you must address them. The first step to fixing a problem is to find out of it exists. If you don’t make the effort to look at your company honestly, nothing will really change.

Once you’ve done so, you can start to take specific actions. For example, does your company review pay equity by gender and job grade? If not, request periodic reports on this, and if you detect and issue, assign someone to fix it.

You can also work to demonstrate visual advocacy on women’s behalf. If you see a woman being talked over in a meeting, call it out and make sure her voice is heard. Finally, encourage women to apply for assignments beyond their current job title, in order to develop them further.

Companies that embrace these approaches are going to win the war for women in the workplace.


Walmart: Looking Ahead in 2017

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer with nearly 1.5 million associates in the U.S., discussed company plans to create American jobs and invest in local communities across the country. The investments in the coming year will support an estimated 34,000 jobs through continued expansion and improvement in the company’s store network, as well as e-commerce services, while providing specialty training for more than 225,000 of the company’s frontline associates. The company and the Walmart Foundation, in conjunction with The U.S. Conference of Mayors, are also announcing grants through the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund to advance sustainability and innovation in textile manufacturing.

 “Walmart is investing to better serve customers,” said Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive vice president for corporate affairs. “With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs. Our 2017 plans to grow our business – and our support for innovation in the textile industry – will have a meaningful impact across the county.”

Walmart is planning $6.8 billion of capital investments in the U.S. in the coming fiscal year, which includes construction and remodeling of stores, clubs and distribution centers, as well as the expansion of new services such as Online Grocery Pickup. Walmart’s fiscal year begins Feb. 1; the company’s capital plans were first shared in October. Bartlett discussed the company’s investments in job creation and associates — and announced Innovation Fund grants to support the U.S. textile sector — at the 85th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about Walmart’s commitment and 2017 goals, click here.  

The Women Presidents’ Organization would like to thank Walmart for providing this week’s sponsor blog content. 


Business 2 Community: 5 Game-Changing Recruiting Trends In 2017

It’s time to assess our recruiting wins and losses and to look towards the recruiting trends of the new year.

There are three major themes I believe will shape the recruiting trends of 2017.

The improving economy: Recent economic gains have translated to increased job openings going hand in hand with decreased unemployment. These gains have created a candidate-driven market that will make competing for talent even tougher this year.

Innovations in recruitment technology: Hiring volume is predicted to increase in 2017, which means time-constrained recruiters need better tech tools to enable their success. This year, look for advances in recruitment tech that will automate or streamline parts of the recruiting workflow that were previously difficult or impossible to do.

A focus on workplace diversity: As companies are starting to recognize the social and financial benefits of having a diverse workforce, the ability to attract qualified diverse candidates will become a sought after competitive advantage in 2017.

Here are 5 game-changing recruiting trends in 2017 summarized in an infographic below.

Click here to read full article.

The New York Times: A Rare Corner of Finance Where Women Dominate

Once a year, a small group of executives who control trillions of dollars in American companies meet for lunch in Manhattan. Among the things they discuss: pushing for greater say in how companies are run.

It is an elite gathering, but you will not see a single man in a suit in the room. The event, called the Women in Governance lunch, underscores a rare corner in finance where women dominate.

Women hold the top positions in corporate governance at many of the biggest mutual funds and pension funds — deciding which way to vote on the directors of a company board. They make decisions on behalf of teachers, government workers, doctors and most people in the United States who have a 401(k). The corporate governance heads at seven of the 10 largest institutional investors in stocks are now women, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Those investors oversee $14 trillion in assets.

Corporate governance is playing a growing role within the broader ecosystem of corporate America. Each spring, publicly traded companies hold shareholder meetings and outline business strategy for the coming year. Shareholders like BlackRock, T. Rowe Price and State Street vote on corporate strategy and issues including company board appointments and compensation.

Their votes can go a long way, given the huge stakes these institutions control in United States companies. BlackRock holds a stake greater than 5 percent in 75 of the 100 largest companies, according to data compiled by Jerry Davis, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. State Street has more than than 5 percent of 23 of the largest companies, while Capital Group owns more than 5 percent of 20 of the biggest companies.

That power, however, is rarely wielded to confront companies. Most of the time, these huge institutional investors choose to vote with management.

And their approach contrasts sharply with that of brash activist billionaires like William A. Ackman and Daniel S. Loeb, who have made a name for themselves as corporate agitators. These investors bring about change by theatrically pounding on the front doors of companies and using the public court of opinion to bully companies into changing their strategies.

Still, the heads of corporate governance at institutional giants say they are working quietly behind the scenes to advocate for greater shareholder rights.

Click here to read more.

The Encore -Lexus: Enhancing the Customer Experience

By: Peggy Turner, Vice President Lexus Customer Services and Lexus

All businesses need to be attentive to new opportunities and new markets as they expand. When Lexus examined the luxury market in 2014 three major factors with direct impact on the bottom line were identified: the increase in women buyers of luxury products, multi-cultural segments achieving high levels of affluence, and the growing size of the millennial market. Several key statistics made it imperative that Lexus address these target audiences:

  • Women represent 41% of luxury car buyers in the US (2016)
  • Women influence 85% of car purchases
  • Women are growing in affluence and are the main or sole breadwinner in 40% of households
  • Multi-cultural segments are increasing in size and affluence; in the US, African Americans spend roughly $1.2 trillion per year and Asian Americans $825 billion per year (2016)
  • Millennials represent 65 million buyers and influence their parents’ car purchases
  • Millennials are choosing to lease over buy, and Lexus is one of their top 3 choices in luxury cars

A statistic that could not be ignored: more than 90% of people bringing their cars in for Lexus servicing are women. Those women need to feel welcomed and appreciated.

Addressing these markets and acknowledging the need to better provide individualized customer experiences, Lexus developed an initiative called the Lexus Difference, in partnership with Fraser Communications.

Starting at the corporate level and executed locally by dedicated employees, the Lexus Difference helps evolve the overall guest experience. Relationship building is the primary focus, both inside and outside the dealership. While the initiative is largely designed with the aforementioned demographics in mind, Lexus Difference programs enhance the customer experience for all guests and build strong ties to the community. It ensures customers are given individualized treatment and made to feel like guests welcomed into a home. In addition to providing customized education and training for its associates, Lexus created a digital resource center with success stories for peer to peer collaboration and learning, engaged experts for a Speaker Series addressing these audiences and communication topics like Body Language. Corporate relationships with luxury brand Kiehl’s allows dealerships to supply spa like soaps and lotions in guest lounges and @aroma provides Lexus Signature scents for sensory immersion akin to what we experience at the W Hotel or the Four Seasons. All of these elements strive to turn a potentially daunting experience for many into an appealing destination, particularly for women and millennials.

Click here to read more.

Fortune: Gal Interrupted, Why Men Interrupt Women And How To Avert This In The Workplace

By: Leslie Shore

From the kindergarten classroom to the corporate boardroom, men and women are socialized to communicate differently. Unfortunately, instead of taking advantage of this inherent diversity in a way that might facilitate camaraderie and creativity in the workplace, we often find colleagues at odds with one another because of their different inter-personal communication styles. The most problematic issue that arises from this discrepancy is the disproportionate number of times that men interrupt women.

According to world-renowned gender communication expert Deborah Tannen, men speak to determine and achieve power and status. Women talk to determine and achieve connection. Given that in American society speaking is considered the power position, it is no wonder that men interrupt to take the floor more often. In using conversation to enhance connection, women are much less likely to interrupt, as it is seen as disrespectful.

Numerous studies support the claim of women in the workforce who argue that men interrupt them far more often than the reverse. A study titled “Sex Roles, Interruptions and Silences in Conversations” by Don Zimmerman and Candace West, sociologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that “…there are definite and patterned ways in which the power and dominance enjoyed by men in other contexts are exercised in their conversational interaction with women.” In this study, the authors analyzed 31 two-party conversations that they had tape recorded in public places such as cafes, drug stores, and university campuses. Of the 31 conversations, 10 were between two men, 10 between two women, and 11 between and man and a woman. In the two same-sex groups combined, the authors found seven instances of interruption. In the male/female group, however, they found 48 interruptions, 46 of which were instances of a man interrupting a woman.

It was shown in a 2014 study at George Washington University that when men were talking with women, they interrupted 33 percent more often than when they were talking with men. The men interrupted their female conversational partners 2.1 times during a three minute conversation. That number dropped to 1.8 when they spoke to other men. The women in the study rarely interrupted their male counterparts—an average of once in a three minute dialogue.

Can anything change this dynamic? It is doubtful that men or women will change their way of being altogether. However, there are a few things both men and women can do to overcome this unconscious bias in the workplace.

Forbes: 9 Leadership Lessons From ‘Hidden Figures’ About Workplace Diversity And Inclusion

By: Paolo Gaudino and Ellen Hunt

There is a reason Hidden Figures has been the top-grossing film for the last two weeks: beyond great performances, this is a story of empowerment, of black women overcoming the double barriers of race and gender. They not only succeed, but in their journey they become heroes in America’s race to space against Russia.

Based on the historically accurate book by Margot Lee Shetterly, the movie tells the story of three African-American women in the 1960s who worked as mathematicians at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

While the movie is a fictional interpretation of the book bearing the same title, many of the historical details are preserved, portraying events that triggered the initial breakdown of racial barriers during a key period of the Civil Rights Movement.

The movie is full of gems that inspire those striving to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Here are nine lessons from Hidden Figures that leaders can put into action today.

  1. Remove obstacles for your workers.

After realizing that Katherine Goble (played by Taraji P. Henson) had to spend half an hour walking across Langley each time she needed to use the bathroom, Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) uses a crowbar to smash down the sign that identifies the only bathroom at Langley reserved for women of color, and then quips “here at NASA we all pee the same color!” In so doing, he effectively removes a significant obstacle to make Goble’s work easier. And, as is often the case, by identifying and fixing the problem for one person, he removed an obstacle that was impacting a large number of talented people.

  1. Strive to be more inclusive to gain access to a greater talent pool.

In the movie, the storyline justifies Katherine Goble’s appointment simply by mentioning that Harrison’s Space Task Group was looking for a new “computer” (literally, a person to perform manual calculations). However, as explained in the book, the United State’s involvement in World War II created huge demand for skilled labor in the Defense Sector. Women began being recruited at Langley in 1935, but by 1943 the need for talent was becoming desperate. Just two years earlier, President Roosevelt had signed Executive Order 8802, ordering the desegregation of the defense industry. This opened the door for Langley to expand their talent search to include women of color, with spectacular results.

  1. Dare to be “first” to break new ground.

In one of the most powerful scenes in the movie, Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe) needs a judge’s permission to attend classes at a local white school – at a time when Virginia was still segregated. Faced with monumental odds against her, she asks the judge: “Out of all the cases you are going to hear today, which one is going to make you the first?” No matter how daunting the challenge may seem, you should not be afraid to be the first, and you should support those on your team who have the desire to break new ground.

  1. Small gestures go a long way in creating a sense of belonging.

When a team of astronauts visits Langley, the entire staff is lined up outside to greet them, with the women of color relegated to the far end of the line. Rather than skipping them, John Glenn (played by Glen Powell) walks over to shake hands with them. This small gesture makes a significant impression on the women, and gives them a greater sense of inclusion and belonging.

  1. Even with the best intentions, bias can make your talent feel unwelcome.

Just as we were getting used to the shocking depictions of discrimination fueled by racism and bigotry, the movie threw us a bit of a curve. As Colonel Jim Johnson (played by Mahershala Ali) is trying to woo Katherine Goble, he learns that she works as a computer at NASA. Without thinking he says “that’s pretty heady stuff – do they let women handle that sort of work?” In the middle of a movie that highlights racial discrimination, this bit of gender bias shows that discrimination can take many forms.

  1. When we mess up, it’s important to apologize.

Colonel Johnson’s remarks elicit a rather fiery reaction from Katherine Goble. And although his initial attempt to apologize makes things even more awkward, he later comes back with a sincere apology, and eventually wins her heart. While it is almost impossible to get rid of all of our unconscious biases, being ready to acknowledge our mistakes can help to defuse potentially damaging situations.

  1. Use your privilege to empower someone.

Toward the end of the movie, as John Glenn is preparing for his historic flight, he specifically asks Al Harrison whether Katherine Goble had checked all the figures. In the movie, this is a critical moment because Goble, who had recently been moved to a different group, is catapulted into a prominent role. Without Glenn’s support, she would no longer have been in the Space Task Group.

  1. Supporting others is the best way to help yourself.

When Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) learns that a new IBM computer has been installed on the base, she takes it upon herself to learn how to use it. However, instead of keeping that knowledge to herself, she gets all of her colleagues to learn how to use it. Building up the team places her in a position of strength when the Langley managers realize they need personnel who can operate the new computing machines.

  1. When we focus on performance, diversity emerges naturally.

The entire movie sends a clear message: when it comes to driving for success, neither skin color nor gender should matter. The only thing that can make a difference is performance. And it is the performance of individuals like Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and countless other African American women, that began to pave the way for greater equality in the workplace. In short, performance is the great equalizer .