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 .


UPS: SAP Opens Industrial 3D Printing Early Access Program to More Customers

The opening of the early access program for the SAP Distributed Manufacturing application to new customers as part of its joint collaboration with UPS (NYSE: UPS)

The move bolsters SAP’s effort to make 3D printing and on-demand manufacturing an integral part of the digital manufacturing landscape.

The SAP Distributed Manufacturing early access program intends to provide discrete manufacturers, industrial 3D printing companies and service providers, materials providers, postal companies and global logistics networks with standard and scalable business processes for digitizing, approving, certifying and manufacturing digital parts in an end-to-end digital manufacturing process. The program is part of the SAP Leonardo IoT portfolio.

“At Moog we are both suppliers and consumers of additive manufacturing as a service,” said Gonzalo Rey, chief technology officer, Moog Inc. “Our collaboration with SAP is accelerating the development of the tools necessary to find the best candidates for 3D printing. As a service, these tools can help accelerate the adoption process for everyone.”

Beyond Prototyping

SAP is currently working with 30 co-innovation companies in the program, and is expanding the initiative to offer more organizations the ability to test and approve 3D printing before the anticipated general availability of the new application from SAP planned for later this year. Participating companies can explore opportunities to drive innovation by rethinking product design, optimizing manufacturing and logistics processes, and creating new business models. They can “right size” their inventory for slow-moving parts while meeting time-sensitive customer needs, take advantage of opportunities to easily produce unique custom goods, and improve production consistency with high-quality, low-cost certified parts.

“This SAP program is a perfect fit for us,” said Nikolai Zaepernick, senior vice president, EOS Central Europe. “It provides an ideal collaboration platform to merge supply and demand for the industrial 3D printing technology we offer. As a leader in this field, EOS contributes a wealth of deep and long-standing technology experience. The platform, on the other hand, enables us to integrate our technology into existing supply chains and production environments on the way to becoming an established way of manufacturing.”

To learn more about the next phase of the early access program and how to register for participation, interested companies can visit here.

SAP + UPS: Connecting the Shop Floor to the Front Door

This collaboration brings together two of the industry’s most trusted brands to advance 3D printing with digital supply chain solutions from SAP and the additive industrial manufacturing and logistics network of UPS. To advance awareness of the transformative potential of distributed manufacturing, SAP and UPS recently engaged industry leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos to examine how 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and emerging technologies in manufacturing and logistics will transform markets, policies and world trade networks. Replays of the session and interviews with panelists are available here.

For more information, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews and @SCMatSAP.

WPO would like to thank UPS for providing this week’s sponsor blog content. 

The Atlantic: When Women Run Companies

By: Alana Semuels

The past year may have been a tough one in many respects, but there was one measure in which the country made some progress. 2016 marked the year in which there were the most women ever heading companies in the S&P 500. That’s according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, which tracks the number of women CEOs in both top U.S. and European companies.

To be sure, the number is still pitiful—out of 500 companies, only 27 have female CEOs, but it’s a sign of a good trajectory, up from 2015, when it was 22, and from 2009, when it was 18. S&P 500 companies, on average, add one female CEO a year, the report said. Among the women who head S&P 500 companies are Mary Barra of General Motors, Shira Goodman of Staples, and Debra Cafaro, who has been the CEO of Ventas, a real estate investment trust, since 1999. Women have also made in-roads in other forms of corporate leadership: About 17 percent of board members for Fortune 500 companies were women in 2013, up from 9.6 percent in 1995. And though the number of female executives at big companies is still small, it has increased in recent years.

At the same time, there are more women in the workforce than ever before—73.5 million, or 47 percent of the labor force, up from 29 percent in 1945, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As more women climb to the tops of corporate hierarchies, will their being there help other women advance?

Academic evidence suggests that the answer is yes, to a degree. In particular, women who are high-performing and already successful tend to see their prospects improve under a woman’s leadership. In one study, for example, a group of Italian researchers looked at the compensation of individual workers at big Italian manufacturing firms between 1982 and 1997. They found that female leadership had a positive effect on wages for women in more senior roles (and, as it happens, that firms with more women leaders performed better).

What causes this? The study’s lead author Luca Flabbi, a professor of economics at Georgetown, told me that he believes that women are better than men at reading other women and assigning them to the jobs commensurate with their experience. When a female executive replaces a male executive at a firm, she can better see the talent of senior women and put them in positions that match their talent. Since this is a better fit for these women, they do better work, and enhance the firm’s performance.  “She puts them in more productive positions, and she is right, and that’s why the performance goes up,” he told me.

Another study looked at the role of women on corporate boards and found a similar effect: The higher the share of women on corporate boards one year, the more likely the company was to hire women executives in the following year, the study’s authors, David Matsa, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northewestern, and Amalia R Miller, an economics professor at the University of Virginia, discovered. This may be because women know each other through professional networks, and when there are women at the top—say on a corporate board—they help refer women to positions that otherwise might have been filled by men, Matsa told me. The increase also could have been because women discriminate less against each other, and hire them for executive positions, he said.

This same dynamic has been identified again and again. One report on 21,000 firms from 91 countries by the Peterson Institute for International Economics concluded that having women on the board increases the ranks of women executives. (It also found that companies with women on the boards tend to be more profitable than those with just men.) And a study of New York City advertising agencies over a 13-year period found that when an agency has more female managers, more newly-created jobs are first filled by women. “Women’s desire to create distinctiveness is stronger when they work with others who are similar to them,” the authors, Lisa E. Cohen and Joseph P. Broschak, write. This finding may indicate that there may be room in women-headed companies for ambitious women to create new jobs that hadn’t already existed.

Click here to read full article.

WPO Guest Blog: The Power of Choosing a Peer Group

By: Donna Hegdahl


Why Should You Join a Peer Group?

It is hard to find a confidential environment, behind closed doors, where you can discuss issues and get feedback.

 Finding a trusted peer group can be a powerful process for sparking innovation, discovering opportunities, solving problems, and discussing issues.

But not enough people spend the time to find a peer group that is right for them.

Peer groups provide members with a circle of experienced individuals from non-competing companies who serve as an objective sounding board and whose only agenda is to help you and your business grow.

As a woman business owner, finding the right group of like-minded women who you can trust when you are feeling “lonely” at the top can be transformative.

Ultimately, when a diverse group of women come together with different expertise, they can collectively tackle issues, and so called “blind spots” are easier to identify and confront. We learn from one another, we can share experiences and discuss problems and decisions we would not be able to discuss anywhere else.

If you would like find out more about our WPO chapters contact Membership and Chair Coordinator, Tomi Jane DeTorres at (212) 688 – 4114 or email

The Encore – BMO: A Framework for Risk and Female Entrepreneurship

BMO commissioned a 2 year independent study in partnership with Carleton University and The Beacon Agency, with an objective of examining how women entrepreneurs evaluate risk differently from men, and the impact of those differences on business and the Canadian economy. The study included interviews with 100 entrepreneurs across Canada, engaged key Canadian leaders in business and government on questions arising out of the research, and reviewed global literature.

Overall, the findings of the research reveal that women entrepreneurs are not risk adverse, but risk aware. To grow and build their business, women entrepreneurs:

  • make decisions that require risk to grow and build their businesses;
  • take a relationship and longer term approach to business;
  • take a holistic approach to calculating risk-based decisions;
  • want support and advice from their bank at an earlier stage of their business cycle.

The research includes opportunities for business and the Canadian economy resulting from women’s approach and attitudes about risk, as well as recommendations focused on understanding how women approach risk with clear actions for government and industry to make a difference.

Click here to read more.


Bloomberg: CEOs of 27 Firms Pledge to Have 50% Women in Top Roles by 2030

By: Laura Colby

The heads of Bank of America Corp., American Electric Power Co., Coca-Cola Co. and 24 more large global companies have pledged to boost the number of women in their top ranks to parity with men by 2030.

Urged by female leaders including Ellen Kullman, former chairman and chief executive officer of Dupont Inc, and Jewelle Bickford, partner at Evercore Wealth Management, the CEOs joined a program called Paradigm for Parity that prescribes five steps for advancing women.

It will be a tough climb. Women currently compose 14 percent of the top five executive positions at each of the S&P 500 companies, and just 20 of the CEO jobs, or 4 percent. They’re advancing so slowly that parity could take more than a century at current rates, according to a 2015 study by McKinsey & Co and McKinsey Global Managing Partner Dominic Barton signed the Paradigm for Parity pledge.

“What’s frustrating is that, to date, there has been so little progress,” Bickford said in a conference call announcing the initiative. Many organizations support women in business, but there’s a disconnect between what companies say and actually placing women in top positions, she said. “We concluded nothing would change unless there was an actionable road map.”

The coalition laid out steps for senior managers: address unconscious bias;  base advancement on performance rather than time in the office; promote women into operating roles with responsibility for profit and loss; set targets and communicate them; and actively sponsor promising female leaders. The group suggests aiming for 30 percent women in management within the next five years.

No Pay Goal

The five steps don’t mention one pressing issue — the gender pay gap. Women in the U.S. earn only 79 cents for each dollar earned by men. The exclusion was intentional, Bickford said in a separate phone interview. “We felt that others were dealing with that,” she said. “If you get even close to parity, you will see these other problems go away. It’s powerful.”

Kullman, who stepped down last year as the first woman to lead the 214-year-old chemical company, said unconscious bias training, in particular, helped women move up the ladder at Dupont. “I know first-hand the challenges women face,” she said. “Many women face barriers and biases that prevent them from succeeding.”

“Companies are in very different places,” she said. “The goals had to be believable.”

According to company websites, Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan leads a management committee of five women and 10 men. Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent’s senior leadership includes three women on a team of 14; AEP, led by Nicholas Akins, also has three women among 14 people listed as its leadership.

Anne Drake, chairman and CEO of supply chain management firm DSC Logistics, said on the call that measuring and publishing metrics will be essential to meeting the goals. “The numbers tell the story,” she said, adding that the company will publish data twice a year.

Keep Data

Such figures are also key at Accenture, said Pierre Nanterme, chairman and CEO. His company has already committed to making sure that at least 40 percent of hires are women. Women make up 24 percent of of Accenture’s global management committee and 30 percent of its newly promoted managing directors. “The more you bring women around you, the more you bring value to the company,” he said.

Kullman, Bickford and two others — Sandra Beach Lin, the former CEO of Calisolar Inc. and an AEP board member, and Veronica Hagen, former CEO of Polymer Group Inc. — invited “all the women in senior leadership that we knew” to an meeting held over two and half days in June 2015 to brainstorm, Bickford said.

At the meeting, 47 women hammered out how they might break down barriers, she said.

“We thought, ‘we can solve this,’” Bickford said. “And we believe we have.”