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With Ursula Wyndhoven, ITU Representative to the United Nations and Jennifer Brown, CEO of JBC and author of Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change.
- Treating D&I seriously means spending money.
- Bringing together companies to discuss diversity backlash.
- Men are asking about risks of leaning into the #MeToo movement.
- Every white male leader is secretly mentored by a subordinate whether they understand that or not.
- Men look to other men to see what’s acceptable and good. Invite them to publicly lead. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Defining diversity in a binary way, and broadening our ability to be diverse.
- Passing Privilege: Are you diversities obvious? Do you pass a something you're not?
- Millennials assume young men understand diversity and are inclusive, but inequality persists in that age group.
- Proactive allyship is critical. Using your social capital to benefit someone else.
- People are leaving jobs in the U.S. because of perceived culture of unfairness.
- Sharing diversity and inclusion/exclusion stories can be powerful.
- Be aware of who you mentor and take meetings with at work. Who has access to you via your inbox?
- There are several tools out there to start chipping away at this stuff.[_/su_spoiler]
Jennifer: Treating D&I seriously means spending money. Men haven’t been involved. Maybe they’ve sat in the back of room or opened an event, but largely they haven’t been involved. Leadership is performative and I would like to see more doing it. I give leaders a checklist. I am trying to be really, truly inclusive of men, being seen as the full human beings as they are. I’m getting a lot of traction with it.
It’s not just an intellectual exercise, people need to see, “What does this have to do with me?” Figuring out what the business case is for us. How do we influence with our buying power?
We’ve been pushing without the pull of the majority. This is very radical. Makes a lot of people in marginalized communities a little uncomfortable. I question, are we really ready to have this be a 50% relationship. What is holding people with power in the majority back from really jumping in?
Let me ask you a question Ursula. As you’ve launched your EQUALS Initiatives, how are our male allies participating?
Ursula: 2016 started the EQUALS initiative. It’s not something new, but this better connects the dots between various initiatives, NGOs, and academic institutions. There’s progress but frustration. The World Economic Forum report from last year showed that things went backwards [in terms of gender equality].
How can we be more effective by information-sharing, and what are the areas of possible collective action?
Generally, there’s backlash and fatigue. We were finding that a lot of other organizations are experiencing it. We did roundtable in Dec [See proceedings below]. Is backlash and fatigue a problem, we asked. They were all saying yes. That memo last summer by that fellow at Google [was an example].
We wanted tactics. How can we fight backlash and fatigue?
Jennifer, what do you think will be important to sustain this movement?
Jennifer: Speaking of backlash, Sheryl Sandberg has been talking about men pulling away from those relationships of power-sharing. #MeToo has engendered the pulling back. When we say things have gotten worse … Half of us are in the closet in the American workplace. The #MeToo movement is important, but we don’t want divestment of people in power. It’s really about power, using your social capital on behalf of someone else. “I can’t be seen with women. I don’t feel safe. Is it good for the company if I lean in to this?”
But with most of my clients, there are so many men leaning in. So much more knowledge about male and white privilege. There’s an open door we can jump into. What does ally mean? Do I have a diversity story? Or am I just here to share what I have? Can it be a mutual relationship? We also need mutual, reverse-mentoring, cross-cultural. Where we can be teaching each other regardless of seniority.
Every white male senior executive is being mentored by someone who doesn’t look like them. Invariably I will find that they are being reverse-mentored. This gets back to my whole 50/50 concept. So many of us have been carrying so much water for so long! Do I need to explain this again? We need to stay in the conversations and hold space for other people to learn.
There’s a perception of the need to change that we’ve never seen before. It’s like the last mile of the marathon. What I say to younger people: Offer to teach. It’s got to be private, the teaching, because people don’t want to make mistakes in public.
I word I’ve been using more often is “accomplice”, which may be better than “ally”. I took that from Michael Skolnik, it’s “I’m with you, what do you need? How can we be accomplices to each other?”
I think we’re in a really interesting time. Recognize the power that you have as women and people of color, that you are the teachers your organization needs now. If you can make a difference to one leader, remember that they can turn around and make a difference to so many others. Remember that men look to other men to see what’s acceptable and good. Invite them to publicly lead. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is a game of leverage. If you are carrying water and pushing and pushing, no wonder you’re tired.
Ursula: Be prepared to listen and act differently. That’s what’s different. More people are listening and so it’s more important to people to know what to do. There’s a perceptiveness that’s exciting.
What can people do? Having a really clear authentic statement from the organization’s leadership on the strategic importance of doing this. They need to communicate why it’s crucial to our organization’s success. We want a more inclusive environment for everyone in the org. They could include their own moments, something about themselves they feel they have to hide. People can tell the difference between someone just talking and someone really meaning it.
Jennifer: Intersectionality. We’ve defined it in terms of visible diversity. The invisible diversity that everyone has is important. Ask questions, be curious about everyone’s story. It’s important not to take advantage of passing by things like religious background…or, I grew up really poor, my dad had a disability, etc. These are real stories I’m getting from the C-Suite. They say “Oh I don’t really talk about it.” How many people crave hearing that sort of thing?
Renee Brown has a TED talk about vulnerability. Who is diverse? When I wrote the word in my book I felt guilty. It falls apart. Not just some of us are diverse.
Ursula: Yes, maybe we need some new narratives. How do we create an inclusive culture? Fairness (there was some debate on that). Another dimension of this is how important it is for leaders… There’s a McKinsey report about how men and women see the workplace differently. We tend to think there are more women than there are. The inequity in terms of how few women there are becomes invisible to us. If you don’t see a problem, you’re not going to be as receptive to remedies to address it.
Jennifer: I was disturbed about one study I read where Millennial men and women were asked if they perceived that men and women have the same career opportunities. The men and women answered very differently. As they come to the workplace and bring their expectations, that will have an effect …. But we know it’s going to take more than expectations.
There’s a myth of meritocracy. I don’t want this younger generation to assume it’s baked in. Progress is not preordained. I love the [message woven into the] rug next to Obama’s desk, “The arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.” But does it?
Proactive allyship is so important, or we’ll slide back. This is true in corporations. The parent company can come in and acquire and get rid of everything. The trust in the institution is so tenuous that if we see that one woman executive leave, one executive of color … Everyone wants to know why. What’s your narrative and your real action around doing better?
Why do people leave orgs? If they don’t see someone that looks like them, that might be why.
Ursula: There’s a Kapor Center report on why people are leaving tech jobs in US. One of top reasons was perception of unfairness.
Jennifer: Fair to whom? It’s a trigger word. It reminds me of meritocracy.
Ursula: Depending on which group you’re part of… It’s not intentional. It’s not that they want the thumb to be on the scale for them, but they don’t necessarily see [that it is].
Jennifer: How do we arm our colleagues who don’t share any of these experiences? Part of our job is to make it simple. When I say 50% of LGBT people are closeted, that’s shocking, it’s an eye-opener.
One question leadership could ask of themselves is how they can manage differently? Do you just let anybody who asks for time to get on your calendar? I have to pointedly encourage certain people to have meetings with me. I’m aware of access issues. There are some that get lots of kudos and introductions, and they’re the same ones over and over. My ally identity is top of mind. How can I use my privilege to advocate for others …. All of us can be doing these things. How are we writing that job description?
Comment from the audience: They have tech that looks at job descriptions, like Text.io. I was looking for a high level tech person and I ended up getting a lot of women candidates. For instance, some language to take out, if you want to attract more women: “Superstars,” “Competitive environment.”
Jennifer: Yes, "assertive" versus "aggressive". There’s tech that highlights words in performance reviews. We’re going to have to hack bias. There’s no way unless we take advantage of technology. It’s hard to avoid your wiring.
Ursula: Some simple things that can be done. Seeing some results can give you motivation to move to the next step. We tend to gravitate toward people who remind us of ourselves.
On backlash, it's important to have a safe spaces for dialogue. Having opportunities to address concerns. Better to bring it out in the open.
Jennifer: How many of you have a men-as-allies gathering in your workplace? I think this is going to become a thing. I would find a couple of men who are passionate about this. Don’t call this a resource group or ERG. Have it be mostly men, maybe some female coaches, but try to make it a safe space. People are not going to feel safe to share that unless it’s a homogeneous space. Maybe make it by invite only. It’s not going to happen otherwise. It’s not going to happen by men coming to events and sitting in the back. Have some male champions and let them figure out what kind of conversation they want to have.[_/su_spoiler]
- See Kate & Wade conversation for combination.
- Renee Brown's Power of Vulnerability TED talk
- Text.io as a tool to identify gendered language in job descriptions
- Kapor Center Study on why people are leaving tech
- McKinsey study on how men and women view the workplace
- Michael Skolnik[_/su_spoiler]
Additionally, she has a great podcast on the topic. If you'd like to hear from leading CEOs, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs as she works through their stories of diversity and inclusion, check out The Will To Change.[_/su_spoiler]
With Laura Bassett, Senior Politics Reporter at HuffPo, and moderated by Kate Gardiner, Founder/CEO of HXMXN.
- There are grey areas to harassment.
- Harassment undermines women’s job performance.
- Women who receive unwanted sexual advances may rearrange their whole day to avoid that colleague.
- The #MeToo movement has opened men's eyes to what actually happens and how it impacts women.
- People don’t go away, perpetrators will continue to exist in the space.
- As a manager or leader, you can put clear guidelines in place to protect employees from these situations and build safety mechanisms into a company’s manifesto.
- How men and women work together
- Lunch Rule (only have lunch with men)
- Men treating female colleagues like a snake in the grass
- How to compliment people
- Women shouldn't have to bear the burden or suffer the career risks to avoid being harassed.
- Bringing men into this conversation can help this.
- Question of explicit consent
- Asking to have a romantic relationship
- Nervousness and discomfort because it requires emotional vulnerability[_/su_spoiler]
Laura: I’m a senior politics report at Huff Post and also at MSNBC since 2011. I covered the War on Women in Congress, the defunding of Planned Parenthood. I meandered into sexual harassment issues. I have endured personally and covered it.
Kate: It’s a right of passage to be sexually harassed as a woman in media.
Laura: Reporters are in a weird bind. It feels strange to be reporting on Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein and have someone come over and put their hand on your shoulder. I’m talking about more of the grey areas of sexual harassment. But they undermine your ability to do your job.
Last summer, I went on cable news shows. I won’t name names, but there was a cable news host. I would go into the makeup room and he would sit next to me and relentlessly hit on me and flirt with me. I’d been on his show 12 times, but he’d always ask me, “Who are you?” “I’ve been on your show 12 times,” I told him. “And I haven’t fallen in love with you yet?” he said. I sucked on the show., and it was because he made me so uncomfortable.
But he’s not my boss. If I reported him, he’d be so confused. As a man, a person who isn’t subject to that kind of harassment, you don’t have to think about that or deal with that in the same way. I want to open up the dialogue. Suddenly you have to rearrange our whole day. I’m going down the hallway toward my boss and he makes a weird comment, so I veer this way. So the #MeToo moment is great because men are starting to think about it.
Kate: It doesn’t matter if you were sexually harassed, abused, … People who are behaving badly are people you still have to see. I still see people from “that party”. They don’t go away. If you are person who has not had that experience, you never think about having to encounter someone who has sexually-something’d you.
If a woman on my staff says she is meeting with someone with a known pedigree, I protect her. Only have lunch or coffee with them from 9 to 5, I say. No home phone numbers. Just emails so you can forward them.
Laura: People told me, stop going on his show! But that means a missed career opportunity. It’s very annoying to me that I have to give up a career opportunity to avoid being harassed. Now, a man I work with won’t high five me. He sees me as a snake in the grass. My male colleagues get to go out with him.
Why is the burden on us? We have to do all the emotional labor here. That’s why I’m excited to bring men in the conversation. Why can’t we go out on for a beer together without you making it feel like a date?
Kate: It’s hard for anyone, but women have been thinking about it for 80 years. Have there been activist men in your life?
Laura: Yes, I have friends who are great allies. Because I’m a public-facing person, I’ve had tons of men come and ask me about very specific scenarios. Like, “I walked up to a woman at work at the water cooler and complimented her dress. Is that OK?” I told him to examine his own motives. “Hey you look nice in that shirt.” I don’t see a straight man saying that to a straight man.
Women got the stage for a second during #MeToo and started to tell the stories that had built up after decades and decades. Now it’s men’s turn to ask, how can we work together?
Kate: A lot of problems we see are in companies with fewer than 50 people. There’s a culture of drinking. What is a constructive way that men can safeguard or encourage women to participate? If I say, “Hey, Dialo, it’s great to see you at a party again,” I know that if one of our interns goes to stand by him, nothing bad is going to happen because he has good manners.
As a CEO, I think of this in regards to my staff. We build it into our employee handbook. It’s a feminist agency. We’ve been working with Gretchen Carlson since the beginning.
Laura: It’s interesting coming up with hard-and-fast rules. Men are not allowed to hit on women who are their subordinate. If someone is your equal or above you at work, then dating might be OK…. Obviously you can’t be dating and flirting. You have one shot. After that, take it to Tinder.
The New York Times has a policy that you can’t date someone on your same team. You have to go to HR and someone will get transferred.
I think men have a space for themselves to be crude and gross. That can only be changed by men. We need men who will say, when they hear that kind of talk, “Do NOT grab her by the pussy.” Women have been saying that’s not OK for years, and it’s not changing anything.
Kate: There’s this idea of explicit consent, you need to be able to say out loud: “I’d like to move this forward to a nonprofessional area.” There’s discomfort with the emotional vulnerability that saying such a thing exposes you to.
Laura: I had a conversation with a Yale economist. He said Tinder is a dating escrow platform. It holds information in escrow until we both have interest. He thinks that’s the future. “Yes, Jennifer in HR likes you too. Go ahead and ask her for a drink.” I think that’s a possible solution.
Kate: So blockchain.
Laura: I can’t pretend to understand blockchain.
Kate: Sexual politics are different now that women in our 20’s are all working.
Question from the audience: I work for a tech company, with lots of younger guys in their 20’s. I had a conversation with one recently, and he would love to date a young women in the company. I feel bad for him. What should my recommendation be for him?
Kate: Mike Pence made everyone laugh when he revealed that he doesn’t go out with women unless his wife is present. There doesn’t need to be a panic when talking with women. But I would tell him to look outside of work. If he feels that there’s something going on with a particular colleague, then maybe he could pursue, using the one-shot rule. Otherwise, get on Tinder, sit at a bookstore … there are ways to meet people.
Question from audience: Some of the things if I said in your place, I would be on the front page of the paper. You may not report someone for rubbing arms at Thanksgiving, but some women will. Zero tolerance is scary. How do we make sure that the system doesn’t foster that kind of intolerance?
Kate: We haven’t had an explosion of false accusations. Right now the culture is toward that zero tolerance, primarily because the worst offenders are being brought out. I was surprised by someone wanting to take advantage of sexual harassment when I learned of an instance of that.
The reason I have such arbitrary rules is that I want to give clear boundaries. We don’t have an Emily Post for a 50/50 workplace. If someone broke a rule, they know they broke a rule.
In your position, Paul, being very truthful and saying this is OK and this is not OK is probably the first step forward. It seems to me to be an accessible way in.
Right now, women’s feelings are too hurt to be reasonable about any instance of #MeToo. And there’s no way we have heard all of the stories. Every single woman you’ve encountered has experienced this. Our kids are the ones being taught that this is bad from birth, versus kids that weren’t taught. There is no easy answer to the emotional burden women are carrying.
Question from audience: What’s a good path forward?
Kate: There are two pathways of exploration. There was a really good piece that came out that I shared on my Facebook. You could color code bad behavior without having to be explicit. Yellow, orange, and red. If it was red, the person got fired. To me, that works well. It was the first system that I saw that made sense and avoided things that make people uncomfortable.
Laura: It’s important to look for a pattern. My father is a rape prosecutor. He often said, it’s very rare for someone to rape only one person ever. If you have one instance, look for other instances.
Question from the audience: Why didn’t you publically out that TV host?
Laura: Because it would have hurt me more than it hurt him. He’s not my boss. Someone from another show on the same network said, “It was really smart of you not to name him, because we wouldn’t have been able to have you on OUR show.” [_/su_spoiler]
- Many found Laura's story really powerful as a "Wow, I didn't quite realize this" moment. How can we bring more stories like this to light in a safe, respectful and productive manner?
- Are there industry-standard safety mechanisms companies can employ?
- Highlighting different ways to deal with relationships in the office.[_/su_spoiler]
This piece is off-the-record
With Kate Brodock and Wade Davis.
- A general feeling among men about what their role is in this movement.
- "Isn't this someone else's issue?"
- How do we call powerful white men in and recenter them?
- General need to educate people on what diversity and inclusion is.
- We need to let go of the idea of ‘safe spaces’.
- Recognize when we - even the good ones - mess up and don't own our own bullshit.
- One-day contracts for men, the idea that they need to keep waking up each day ready to back women.
- Look for ways that the people around you have grown, and allow them space to do so.
- Parallels to the concept of restorative justice - can offenders reenter society and be better?
- Think about what role you play in how others are showing up in the world.[_/su_spoiler]
When you are working with the men you work with, what are some of the big themes you’re seeing?
Wade: “What is my role in this movement?” There’s an idea that this is an issue is for everyone else. So we have to educate ourselves about what diversity and inclusion is. At its core, it is culture. Jennifer said it best - we maybe have to think of different language.
Words get emptied of meaning. My biggest critique of men is when they say, “But I’m a good guy.” I say BS. We are either benefitting or actively working to keep it as it is. What are you doing on a day-to-day basis to destroy this system?
Kate: I studied African-American history in undergrad. I have found myself since then relating a lot of what I learned in parallel to conversations around gender or other diversity breakdowns. I find myself reanalyzing things. You are a gay African-American man. Do you think that gives you a particular advantage to relate more? Does that need to be part of the equation?
Wade: I started out my journey wanting to talk about homophobia. I found it was always women who were able to relate more. I knew I really have to change how I was approaching it.
I tell men to only read books by women. Women of color were left out until the last minute. What can I learn from the history? I listen to a lecture by James Baldwin almost every day.
Kate: I just started reading Stamped from the Beginning. It’s a conversation about the roots of racism. Someone earlier had asked a question about creating a ‘safe space’. It seems like we have to completely rethink what that means. How can we establish a totally new space?
Wade: I think we have to move away from the idea of safe space. A safe space for me might not be safe to you. We have to create a space where people can take risk. How do we start to ask better questions, build better relationships, so in the workplace, people can bring more of themselves? If I’m going to do a training for senior men, I make sure everyone is at the same level. These are men who have built relationships over time and are more likely to be comfortable.
I also ask myself how I can own my own bullshit as a facilitator. I have a team of five women. I got off the phone one time and I mentioned the mayor’s wife. Who, my coworker asked? “The mayor’s wife!” Then I finally got the mistake I was making.
How do we go about running these conversations and see that we are struggling too? As a facilitator, you can’t show up as Jesus Christ, because we know it’s not true. How can we take the hierarchy out of the situations?
Kate: Shared diversity, share exclusion is something Jennifer mentioned. I did some work with senior management at a large asset firm. There was a white, tall, Harvard-educated male, and he had everyone take five minutes to talk about when they felt excluded.
He shared that being a white male at the top of the hierarchy is sometimes exclusionary because he knows that women will not come to him and include him in conversations. While not the most egregious case of exclusion out there, it still did break down barriers.
Wade: Right. So how do we re-center men? They do have the power to shift how we talk about it. The conversation wasn’t about them to begin with. While the man you described might feel bad about it, he could change it tomorrow. But can he change it for others?
Kate: We talked earlier about, if you’re a man who’s “offended”, it could be helpful to have a reputation and track record you were able to lean on. We saw last year a lot of heads roll in the tech industry, and many people lamenting that so many were going down. It reminded me of one thing you talked about Wade, of a one-day contract for men. Tell us more
Wade: Men like myself get way too much credit for doing this work. What we do is lay on our track record. A friend of mine said, “All men should be on one-day contracts.” Our resume doesn’t give us any credit. So you backed women on Monday? Well back them on Tuesday.
I just want us to push ourselves. How many times have you seen men on a stage and get a standing ovation and it’s bullshit, we’re just regurgitating things we’ve read. I read a lot of books by women, and they are really not that famous.
Kate: Two quick questions. For someone who has been an “offender”, when does your history get erased, or when do you get forgiveness? Should we be supporting and helping men? Am I being too gracious?
Wade: I’ve screwed up and people have brought me in. How have we grown, what are we going to do differently? If you can articulate the journey you’ve gone on and will continue on, that’s great. We can’t throw anyone away in this movement.
I’ll be very vulnerable. I was in NFL, I wasn’t out. [I found myself in a situation with a man where I was an aggressor and I wasn’t taking no for an answer]. I was this NFL player and I thought I had the right. I apologized and he forgave me.
I don’t believe that we should throw people away, but we must do the work, to stand in front of the world and show our progress. We can’t just wait for one or two years to go by. If he can’t take us on a journey on one or two years of his life, he probably doesn’t have the capacity.
Kate: Last week, NPR had a lexicographer from Merriam-Webster and she was talking about the ‘n’ word. The first two entries in the dictionary were highlighting it as an insulting, derogatory word. Then there was a more recent entry for the version around how the African-American community has redefined it and adopted it.
It’s a word I can’t say, and many white people can’t. I’ve heard some white people asking “how can they use that word?” My response has always been, “that’s not our call, not our experience to say whether they can or not.”
Are there parallels when we think about gender?
Wade: I have a rule that when I’m talking about gender equality, I’m not talking to women. A woman I was consulting with asked me recently, “Can you talk to women about what they wear to work?” I said no, I can’t talk to women about how they should or shouldn’t bring themselves to work. She didn’t agree with me. I am OK that she disgreed, but I don’t think it’s the role of men to tell women what they should do. It’s like straight people telling gay people they can’t call each other queen. [_/su_spoiler]
Note from Kate B: We (Women 2.0) have spent a lot of time on this - understanding where we are, what needs to happen, etc. The simple fact is that we're in a similar place to where the women in tech conversation was about a decade ago, community-building, education and industry-wide awareness. The big difference is that, a decade ago, the participants were women. We've got to commit to a similar process as we now talk about gender in the workplace as it relates to and includes men.
- How can we take a stance similar to Restorative Justice" and make a space for (some!) offenders to be better? (This could be a question for media!)
- Book Club for Men
- How can we educate on or rethink the words we're using? (Another possible place for media here!)
- What can we learn from previous work being done in other movements?
- Several action-items that Women 2.0 is already doing (we welcome involvement):
- Our Allies program is doing a lot in this realm![_/su_spoiler]
With Natya Das, Chief People & Legal Offices of AppNexus, John Hill, VP of Networks at Techstars, and moderated by Diallo Shabazz, Chief Administrator at EdFund.
- There's an inherent tension between managing feedback (and possibly backlash) around D&I and managing for risk.
- Do your processes and policies allow you to handle inequity when it comes to light?
- Sweeping things under the rug does not mitigate risk.
- Whether an effort starts out grassroots or not, it's important to identify one leader.
- Take collective ownership of the problem, understand where you're falling down, and where you need to be.
- With one leader identified, D&I needs to be a shared experience.
- Reframing D&I from being separate to being part of an employee experience.
- Assessing your situation from a diversity standpoint is necessary.
- Leadership and board should be informed and in the process.
- Listening tours as a process, and sharing the results internally.
- Training is an well-used option.
- This whole process isn't comfortable or easy, but crucial. It takes commitment.[_/su_spoiler]
Diallo: There are four different lenses we used when we’re looking at income and diversity - principle, process, policy, mechanism. We’ve talked about principle, process and moving toward ways to address these. We’ve talked about policy language and framework. And most important, the mechanisms.
Natya, take us inside the board conversation. I started my career at NAACP. We noticed that anytime a company is challenged in a way that could lead to a lawsuit, the company closed ranks. How do you handle risks balancing with advocating for women?
Natya: We started this journey 3 or 4 years ago around when Google started publishing demographics stats. We were more at the grassroots level. There hadn’t been a corporate, top down initiative. This past January we hired a VP of D&I Experience - while it was a shared responsibility, we need one leader.
We started thinking of reframing our D&I work as not separate but as part of being an employee or part of the broader tech community around us, and started to incorporate it into all of our processes.
How do we get there? Processes and training. Inside the boardroom, about three years ago, we started sharing our demographic metrics quarterly within the company, board, and externally. Our stats are on par with the industry. We started making it top of mind for the board and management team.
We’re starting to review our funnel. Asking tough questions of the hiring managers. We had an interesting conversation with the board last October and did a gender pay study. When I moved into the people role (I’d been general counsel before that), we did a listening tour, and it revealed that there were a lot of questions about pay equity.
I felt confident that if we did a study, we’d come out clean, but there was a lot of risk involved. Lots of companies being sued today. They asked all the right questions. They had a fiduciary responsibility. With our employees we were going to get more credit with being forward-thinking. That was a tough one though, as both a diversity and inclusion expert and also a lawyer. We undertook the study and shared the results internally. The results were very good. We had a small difference, which we did remediate.
Diallo: John you counsel tech companies to dream big. You’re on Women 2.0’s Men as Allies Committee. How have you incorporated this into conversation with founders?
John: I’m a former journalist. Kate and I have known each other for two or three jobs. The pathway that led me here? I was director of career services at Michigan University, and moved to LinkedIn.
There have been two times I’ve been nervous have been last month. I was speaking at Cornell about the impact of technology with immigration reform, how that downstream would affect companies. Here I am today speaking about a topic I’m not necessarily comfortable talking about. I feel that we’re not doing the right things or not enough of them.
Techstars is a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. We have up to 1300 companies in our portfolio, in 210 cities globally, with over 200 employees. We looked around and noticed we all looked similar. We started a dedicated effort to change. I think you’re always in the pursuit of perfection. I like how you characterized where this becomes not a concern because it’s built in process.
Diallo: You see where inequity is when a breakdown occurs. We had one case where a woman was sexually harassed by her boss. This woman was fired. We were not able to advocate for her to get her job back. There was a level of audacity to the whole thing. When it came time to utilize the system, the actors closed ranks because the risks were high. How has that conversation been managed at AppNexus?
Natya: One thing changing with the #MeToo movement and tech is acknowledging that sweeping things under the rug and keeping your head in sand is not a risk mitigating strategy. Hopefully that’s making its way into boardrooms.
The other thing is: Who do you have around the table? If somebody violates a policy, you better believe I’m going to advocate for taking care of it fairly. I’m going to sit down and have that conversation.
Somebody just sent me a story about Google getting sued. Ignoring these things is not an option. Wade made the point that women of color who advocate for inclusion don’t get famous. Whether you are white, black, straight, gay, everyone has some level of privilege. How can you use it to advance the cause of others? As the legal person in the room being asked to interpret laws, I could make sure I was using it to do good for others.
Diallo: Talk about how you’ve counseled companies.
John: At some point you have to identify that you have a problem. Managing directors are usually founders who have exited and done well financially. We had a picture taken of the MD team, and realized only two of our MDs are female. That’s jarring when you see it.
The first thing we did was form a committee and create a lot of tactics, but there was no ownership. Fortunately for us, we ran across Kathleen Warner, former CEO of Startup America. She told us where we were falling down, this is where we needed to be. We took ownership as an organization.
You need to be diverse. Our first seven hires after that were female. That’s a huge course correction. When you look at early stage companies, you hire out of network for your first many employees. We realized we were hiring employees at techstars to look like us. We have 1,300 companies and we can share our learnings and effect how they look as they grow. We have to turn internal before we can effectively engage external.
Diallo: Training is often the start. In K-12, there’s a focus on early exposure, cultural exposure, so students can really see themselves in the work. Has training been a part of your recommendations and how did you go about selecting the trainers? We’ve all seen both good and bad training.
Natya: Training is hard because it’s expensive. In person, small-group training is most effective. I’m paint a broad picture - we do some etraining, anti-harassment training. We rolled out a code of conduct and a whistle-blower programs.
We’ve incorporated a color-code scheme through the training. If something is clearly inappropriate it’s coded red. We’ve developed vernacular. Our CEO was on stage at all-staff meeting and he said, “I was at a meeting that was trending orange.”
We also do ally skills training.[_/su_spoiler]
- D&I Leadership Council for the industry
- Local, regular D&I roundtables to share best-practices
- Increased coverage of what companies are doing from a strategic and tactical standpoint to address this issue
- Open or closed events that continue to cover these issues
- Several action-items that Women 2.0 is already doing (we welcome involvement):
- Peer-to-peer learning for D&I leads
- Creation of industry-wide resources and frameworks
- Increased and affordable access to D&I Experts
- What else?![_/su_spoiler]
As suggested, we’d like to use the summit as an activation point for future initiatives, whether with us, amongst yourselves, or in your individual worlds.
A few ideas of inputs or outputs:
- Event/Summit series
- Educational efforts (Webinars? Editorial Series? Workshops?)
- Large-scale campaigns (Video series? Digital initiatives?)
- Internal work at the company level
- Network of change agents who can mobilize efforts (Slack? Google Group?)
- Media coverage of the issues
- Cross-industry leadership summits
- Corporate sponsorship
- Community awareness programs
This isn’t an exhaustive list. We’re very open to other ideas, and hope you’ll bring them forward.
Importantly, we invite you to contact us directly with anything:
Kate Brodock: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Gardiner: email@example.com
Thank you so much for being here today to talk about something that both Kate and I are very passionate about.
For more than a decade at Women 2.0, we’ve worked daily on gender issues in the workplace and the startup space, experiencing hurdles and pitfalls. Even so,last year was unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.
Conversations and relationships between professional men and women were on the table, exposed and raw, and left many wondering how to move forward.
As a company that always works towards productive action forward, we see this as an opportunity — and it’s exactly why we invited you all here today.
We consider you each change agents. As you listen to the discussion today, we invite you think about what resources, capabilities or networks you have that could be activated to move things forward.
We can’t wait to create an impact.
CEO, Women 2.0
Women 2.0 is a global for-profit, for-good company for women in tech and startups and general diversity & inclusion, providing action-based, scalable solutions and impact-focused initiatives that close gender gaps and increase D&I, with a particular focus on the tech industry. We’re driven by our values, and work to push conversation forward, and take and encourage action around gender parity.
I’m thrilled to welcome you to this closed conversation about the future of equality and fairness in the workplace.
Moving forward from #MeToo and from personal events that have carried so many of us into this room today is something I’m passionate about — and I hope that you will feel free to bring your thoughts, hearts and voices to the table.
Much needs to be done to close the employment, wage and leadership gaps that still exist across industries today. Only together can we create the workplaces — and world — that support us all.
To that end, I thank you for the time, attention and commitment you give us today. And I look forward to continuing the conversation and creating real-life solutions with you that make a true difference.
Founder & CEO, HXMXN
HXMXN is a boutique audience engagement firm based in New York. Founded by Kate Gardiner in 2012, the firm offers bespoke packages of communications services tailored to its clients’ unique objectives. HXMXN’s main practice areas include brand development, content creation, campaign/product launches, and crisis mitigation. Previous clients include service-oriented organizations like the United Nations, major media entities like Al Jazeera International, Newsweek and New York Public Radio, and social advocates such as Gretchen Carlson and Sally Kohn.
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