Even though we’ve made a lot of strides during the last several years, particularly in the last decade, when it comes to creating a more diverse workplace, there’s been huge interest of late in enabling and leveraging diversity and inclusion as key business drivers―whether to spark innovation, improve operating profit or enhance a company’s reputation, for example.
Eighty-five percent of new entries in the workforce are women or minorities. And, you can’t discuss women and diversity obviously, without talking about the impact of multiculturalism and millennials in the workplace. When you figure in the 10,000 Baby Boomers who are leaving the workforce each day, there’s a talent tsunami headed our way for which many companies simply aren’t ready.
This week in In Process (Trusted Counsel’s bi-weekly podcast show), we revisit a previous interview with Jeffery Tobias Halter, gender strategist and author of “WHY WOMEN – The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men”; and Sharon Orlopp, retired global chief diversity officer and senior vice president of corporate people at Walmart.
“Using a dancing analogy: Diversity is about being invited to the dance, but inclusion is actually being out on the floor dancing,” said Sharon. “Inclusion is an action verb; it requires each of us to do something, to include others. Diversity is a lot about metrics and measurements and what makes us different.”
In terms of creating a 21st century workforce, “Diversity and inclusion have to be embedded throughout the business―in marketing, operations, the supply chain, etc. It cannot be solely owned by HR or the Diversity Office. That’s how companies run and operate,” said Jeffery.
During the course of the podcast “Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion as Business Drivers,” working professionals―in both large corporations and small-to-medium-sized companies―will learn:
- Today’s definitions of diversity and inclusion and how they differ
- The tangible and intangible benefits of diversity and inclusion
- Current barriers to diversity and inclusion in the workplace
- Strategies and tactics for implementing diversity and inclusion into business
- How to create an environment of support
Stream the conversation with Jeffery and Sharon in the player below to learn how a workforce built on diversity, inclusion and differences can help your business seize the competitive advantage. You can also subscribe to In Process on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show on your smartphone.
Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion as Business Drivers
(c) Trusted Counsel (Ashley) LLC. All Rights Reserved.
John Monahon: Hello and welcome to In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century. Presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual law firm. I’m John Monahon.
Evelyn Ashley: And I’m Evelyn Ashley.
John Monahon: We are partners in Trusted Counsel. Today’s topic is diversity in the workplace, why your business should care. We’re delighted to have two thought leaders with us today to discuss diversity. Jeffrey Tobias Halter, gender strategist and author of “WHY WOMEN – The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men”, and Sharon Orlopp, retired global chief diversity officer and senior vice president of corporate human resources for Walmart.
Evelyn Ashley: We not only find this topic to be interesting and important to our listeners, but we are a women founded law firm and many of the points we discuss today will address why it was important to me to create my own environment for success.
John Monahon: First a little bit about our guest. Jeff is a consultant and the president of Why Women, a strategic consulting company focused on engaging men and women’s leadership advancement. Why women provides diversity consulting services to a number of the world’s best known companies. He’s the author of two books, “WHY WOMEN – The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men”, and “Selling to Men, Selling to Women”. Jeff is also the former director of diversity strategy for the Coca Cola company. Sharon is the retired global chief diversity officer and senior vice president of corporate human resources for Walmart. Her responsibilities included overseeing and leveraging global diversity and inclusion efforts, associate relations and HR policy for the world’s largest retailer. Sharon recently retired from corporate life at Walmart to create the next chapter of her life as a consultant, motivational speaker, and budding author. She’s currently working on two books, one focused on inclusion and one focused on women in business. She’s also the president and CEO of Orlopp Enterprise. Jeff and Sharon, welcome to the show.
Evelyn Ashley: Yes, welcome.
Jeffrey Halter: Thanks for having us.
Sharon Orlopp: Thank you.
John Monahon: Absolutely. So, first off, I guess we wanted to talk about diversity and is it still a hot topic in business? We’ve made a lot of strides over the last several years, particularly in the last decade, is this something that corporations are still focusing on is it really a big emphasis still?
Sharon Orlopp: I’ll just jump out there since I just came from a corporate world and it definitely is still a focus. What I’ve seen shift is it’s a lot of discussion about both diversity and inclusion, so the environment is very, very important, and Evelyn, you mentioned environment earlier as we kicked this off, but there’s definitely a huge interest on both aspects of diversity and inclusion.
Jeffrey Halter: And I think what you’re seeing as I work with top companies, there’s really almost a divide that’s occurred out there and that is you’ve got a handful of companies, let’s call that the top 50-75, Walmart certainly being one of those, that really get it and have turned the page and are leveraging and enabling diversity as a business driver. You’ve got a huge kind of group in the middle that is still saying is this the right thing, what do we do, and then we’ve still got a huge group that just quite frankly doesn’t even have a clue and they’re the next Sears and you know, Circuit City, they’re going out of business and they just don’t even know it.
John Monahon: Yeah. So what is the definition of diversity? Are we talking minorities, are we talking women? What really is diversity today and how has that changed from previous decades, the 60s, 70s, and 80s?
Sharon Orlopp: What I’ve seen is an expansion of diversity. So definitely still includes race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, et cetera, but it’s really been expanded to include introverts, there’s a lot of work out there right now in the diversity space about introverts. It includes generational differences, perspectives, beliefs, opinions and styles and one of the examples I’ll share is Steve Jobs. Very much an introverted genius, really changed our world, but in some companies, if being an introvert isn’t seen as high potential, if you’re in a company that support gregarious, outgoing, hard charging people, you might miss talent that has a different management style. So to me, expanding the definition of diversity is really important for making everyone feel included in the workplace.
Evelyn Ashley: That’s really an interesting point, I read Susan Cain’s book on quiet, because I consider myself to be absolutely an extroverted, forced to be extroverted introvert and I could really, it really resonated with me, I think it probably would resonate with John, too-
John Monahon: Absolutely.
Evelyn Ashley: He’s absolutely an introvert. I think that’s really key that companies are starting to actually realize that there is a benefit out of the quiet person in the corner.
Jeffrey Halter: Yeah, and I think you’ve got to take a historical perspective too, you know, the original diversity initiatives focused out of affirmative action. Back in the day it was about putting a minimum number of people in seats at the right thing to do, and over the last 30-40 years, it’s not a right thing to do, it is an absolutely business imperative that we’ve got to get more people of different types, of all types, in the room to drive innovation, to drive growth, to drive everything that business is so hungry for today.
John Monahon: Well I think that sort of leads us into a great point, what are the tangible benefits of diversity? Can it improve the bottom line of a business? Does it work as an engine to improve the company itself?
Sharon Orlopp: [inaudible 00:06:07] earlier, but I think diversity and inclusion drives innovation, one of the examples from Walmart was when we introduced $4 generic prescriptions several years ago. The leader who came up with that thought had only been with our company about a year, and he was Lebanese. He’d grown up in Lebanon and spent time between Lebanon and the United States, and so his viewpoint on healthcare and healthcare costs help drive significant innovation that I think had a ripple effect across other pharmacy companies and across healthcare in general. So coming from different backgrounds and experience drives innovation.
John Monahon: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Evelyn Ashley: That’s so interesting because everything we hear about, and we’ve actually had a conversation about customer experience design, so it’s so interesting, it’s the back office that’s starting to push toward making the products more experiential and relational for your customers.
Jeffrey Halter: Yeah and to kind of turn it around, there’s a lot of questions around, and I’ll speak this as a straight old white guy around, you know, if we’ve got 12 white men in a room, don’t we in fact have diversity? We would never want to be homogenized. Really? The 12 white guys would say, “Yes, of course we have diversity.”
Evelyn Ashley: We’re diverse.
Jeffrey Halter: Yeah, somebody’s from Georgia, and I went to University of Wisconsin, but we do, to get back to your original point on introverts and extroverts, we think differently, we act differently, but by the same token, you’ve gotten in that room because you have more similarities with me than other people. And really great companies today are asking the question, if you think like me and act like me, why do I need you in this room? What I need is people who don’t think like me and who don’t act like me. And a lot of my work focuses obviously on women but the business case is just overwhelming today. Women in the US control 83% of disposable income in this country. They buy everything in this country. And if you’re a B to C company, how can you not begin to realize that women aren’t some niche market like so many companies still articulate. They are the market.
And Nike’s an interesting example, Nike just recently started standalone women’s athletic stores. They estimate within three years, women’s athletic wear will outstrip all male athletic wear, including athletic shoes. So Nike is reinventing itself not as Air Jordan’s, but as a company for women.
John Monahon: Yeah, that’s because I wear the same athletic shorts ten times in a row.
Jeffrey Halter: There you go. That’s right.
Sharon Orlopp: That’s because your wife shops for you.
John Monahon: You’re not getting anymore money out of me.
Evelyn Ashley: John refuses to go to the store.
John Monahon: But it brings up a great point on … just thinking about the show Mad Men which was really popular, there was Peggy Olsen who was a copywriter who moved up the chain because it was all white males writing the advertising in that show, and then once they had to do some female oriented campaigns, she was the only person who understood and she brought a new perspective and she rose very rapidly on that show and I thought that was interesting, and I think it’s true, too.
Evelyn Ashley: I think the critical part of her character though, related to the men in the room who were actually willing to let Peggy participate in that level, because I think in the 60s, that was not the way thing worked.
John Monahon: Right.
Jeffrey Halter: Well and John, I’ll point out what seems like ancient history, like a long time ago, I recently attended a conference called the Three Percent conference. And you would think ad agencies would have figured this out after all this time, believe it or not, in the US today, 97% of creative directors are still men, and that number really hasn’t changed. It’s still about 90%. But when you think about the ad agency and the business, literally controlled by women today, whether it’s account services, media buying, social media, blah, blah, blah, creative directors still 97% men. And by the way, that’s who becomes head of the agency. So Mad Men is still alive out there.
John Monahon: Wow, that’s really a staggering statistics. You know, one thing that I’ve heard you say about sort of the trend that’s going on is that actually 85% of new entrance in the workforce, Jeff, are women and minorities. I mean what does that mean for companies and industries that aren’t prepared?
Jeffrey Halter: Well I think what it says is you’ve really got to get ready for a talent tsunami that’s coming, and it’s talking about women, minorities, multiculturalism, and quite frankly, the retirement of boomers, and so I’ll go deeper into that after we come back from our break.
John Monahon: Great. Thank you. We’ll go to break real fast and when we come back, we’ll talk more about that and some barriers in the industry.
John Monahon: Welcome back to In Process. Jeff, right before we went to break, we were speaking about the trends in the workforce, how a lot of the new entrance were women and minorities. Can you sort of expand on where we left off?
Jeffrey Halter: Yeah, just real quickly, the number of people entering the workforce today, so this is ages 22 and under, so think about that, but you can extrapolate from there. Believe it or not, 85% of new entries in the workforce are women or minorities. Said another way, only 15% of the men today under the age of 21 are checking Anglo box on the census. And so, your workforce is rapidly changing. Now, by the way, men are still that other 35%, but chances are they’re multi culture. So number one, you’ve got this huge shift, number two, you can’t discuss women and diversity obviously, without talking about the impact of multiculturalism, and millennials, and I know you’ve got a show coming up on millennials, but you know, a millennial man has a much more shared worldview point with a millennial woman than they do with their boomer father. And then the third tsunami effect taking place, so you’ve got women, you’ve got minorities, you’ve got multiculturalism, is that 10,000 boomers a day are leaving the workforce and they all look like me. They’re all old white guys.
Evelyn Ashley: I’m with that, I want to leave.
Jeffrey Halter: Yeah, we all want to retire. We’ve done our thing, but what you’ve got is the creation of a perfect storm that even if you wanted to put on a sexist, racist hire only white men hat, it’s not a sustainable business strategy today.
John Monahon: That’s interesting. One thing I wanted to talk about, because I think it’s something that goes through a lot of people’s minds when they think about diversity is when you seek out diversity and you make it a point to introduce that into your organization, are you somehow sacrificing skills at the same time? Sharon can you speak to that? Are we sacrificing skills for the sake of diversity?
Sharon Orlopp: So, I have a pretty strong opinion on this. I think when people say that, that it’s a cop out. I think it’s a misconception or an excuse. What I see happen is maybe the talent net isn’t being cast wide enough, whether that’s inside the organization or even outside the organization, but I think using the Rooney rule, like from the NFL, where you have to have a diverse slate of candidates when you’re looking at key jobs is critical, and as a leader, you need to make sure it’s not the same names on every candidate slate, right? So the company has some minorities or women and they’re putting them in the candidate slate for every job, that’s not a valid candidate slate. So I think it all comes down to how do you cast the talent net wide, and if you work with recruiting firms, ensuring that your account reps for your company from that recruiting firm are also women and people of color, I think will help ensure that a diverse candidate slate, and then when people come in to interview in your company, making sure the interviewers are also diverse. I think if you lay all background work and if you really expect a diverse candidate slate that’s highly qualified, I think the talent is out there. And what I hear sometimes from women and people of color is that they feel that they’re over qualified, they’re over educated, compared to white peers in the workforce or they’re over experienced, and they feel like they’re continually having to prove themselves. So I think really opening up the talent net is what changes the game. And what I’ve also seen is when there’s reorganization, it provides a great opportunity to cast a talent net wide and to look for different skill sets or whatever competencies your company needs, but I think it’s an excuse and I think people need to look for ways to continue to look for great talent.
Evelyn Ashley: But Sharon, so let me ask you, you know, there’s a Harvard study, I believe it was a Harvard study that said that women don’t actually push and ask for higher compensation, they don’t actually push for themselves, because they are generally taken as overly aggressive and the Harvard study basically had run a test that changed a woman’s name to a man and basically the respondents then thought that the person who was pushing to come up the corporate ladder was just a fine, great guy, but the woman was a bitch. Was, you know, I wouldn’t want to work for her, overly aggressive, gonna be a bad situation. So what do you think of that? I mean it’s great to be able to have a program, but when the general population, and I believe the survey was done well, has that kind of thought process, what do you do?
Sharon Orlopp: And I do think the research is well founded and is accurate. I think it’s human nature to hire in your likeness, people that you feel comfortable with. You tend to feel comfortable with people that look like you or have the same sort of backgrounds or thought processes, and I think if you can ensure that candidates meet with a wide range of interviewers and there’s not a sole decision maker, I think that helps against some unconscious bias, but I think you have to fill that in to the whole system and process.
Evelyn Ashley: You have to change heads.
Sharon Orlopp: Yeah.
Jeffrey Halter: Well, you know, and the other thing that … ’cause part of the things we want to get out there is the things organizations aren’t talking about, but in researching my book, there’s a very clear double bind dilemma that women are in. If you look at the operating norms, let’s call that and put it on a continuum from one end to the other, male leaders are given a much wider birth and women fall into the Goldy Locks effect. They’re either too hard, they’re too soft, they’re never just right. But, that’s when, to Sharon’s point, they’re being evaluated by an entire male cohort group and I think Sharon hit it right on the head. Who’s interviewing how many people are conducting the interview, do you have diverse talent, do you have a non-bias competency model that people are being evaluated on, there are so many stumbling blocks along the way that can trip up viable candidates.
Sharon Orlopp: And Evelyn, I’ll touch a little bit on it, too, because I do think there’s a lot of research that shows on a job description, if a woman doesn’t feel she meets 80-100% of the job qualifications, she won’t even raise her hand-
Evelyn Ashley: She won’t apply.
Sharon Orlopp: Yeah, whereas men, if they hit 50%, they think they’re the best candidate, that’s generalization I realize. But so I think as leaders, we have to be on the lookout for that, and same with negotiation around compensation. I think if you have pay practices that focus on equity and equality that if you notice that, you know, that your range should be comparable for men and women, and that’s a basis for how you make compensation decision, not solely on negotiation skills.
Evelyn Ashley: Right.
John Monahon: So, Jeff, one of the things that you mentioned was that women’s leadership advancement has sort of stalled in this country lately, is that, and I believe you called it male gender fatigue, what do you mean by that?
Jeffrey Halter: Yeah, and John before I go into male leader gender fatigue, I do want to point out that this is not a bash old white guys show, I am one. Because we’ve kind of talked a little bit about corporate policies and the negativity around white men. That is clearly not the case but this notion of male leader gender fatigue I think actually addresses part of that. And that is, today men look around the organization, see a lot of women and think their company is doing a good job promoting women. In fact, 65% of men, verses just 35% of women think that that’s the case and when you ask them why, leaders say over 50% say, well it’s because we’re trying to do a better job promoting women. Women say, no, it’s because of my hard work and my credentials.
But then, at the core of the study is just the believe that men and women are having vastly different experiences at work and no one is talking about this. One out of two women, 50% of women in the study, and this is from the sponsor effect, believe that gender bias is still alive in organizations today verses just one in four men. So, that very fact should point out we’re having different experiences in the workplace, men and women, and we need to talk about them. And the other thing is the other part of male leader gender fatigue is men don’t want to have this conversations. We’re afraid we’ll say or do something wrong, we’re afraid as a senior leader we may not have an answer, God forbid, and we see no value in having the conversation. There’s absolutely no upside that we identify. And so, again, we’ve got these three barriers that are working to not have honest conversations around diversity, inclusion, or differences.
John Monahon: Yeah.
Evelyn Ashley: So isn’t that hard though? I mean, how do you have that honest conversation? How do you create an environment where a leader who doesn’t want to be wrong or doesn’t want to trip over himself, it just seems like a catch 22 in a lot of respects.
Jeffrey Halter: So this is so easy and it’s so hard. So I coach men, that’s basically what my consulting practice focuses on, and I have them get a female cultural coach, and it’s as simple as a woman that you trust and you take them to lunch and you say, “Tell me about your experience working here.” And then shut up and let her talk for 10 minutes. Don’t defend, don’t deflect. And when she’s done, say, “And what else?” And let her go for another 10 minutes, and then you ask it a third time. And that third time is when you get to root causes that you are totally unaware of as a senior leader in your organization. And then you can start to solve things. But most men are afraid to have that conversation.
Evelyn Ashley: Yeah. That would be hard because I think we all know that going out on a date, the best date a man can have is when he’s talking about himself right?
Jeffrey Halter: It’s really hard for us to listen and stay engaged.
John Monahon: Well, we’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, we’re going to talk a little bit more about strategies and tactics and how we can actually implement diversity and inclusion into the business.
John Monahon: Sharon, one of the points that you mentioned in the first segment was this concept of diversity verses inclusion. Can you fill me in a little bit about what the difference there is?
Sharon Orlopp: Sure can, and I know that I at one point in time thought that diversity and inclusion were synonymous and many people do, and I’ll share two analogies that demonstrate the difference because diversity is a lot about metrics and measurements and what makes us different, and inclusion is a lot about the environment and how things feel in a workplace or in a team setting. So one of the analogies is around dancing. So diversity is about being invited to the dance, but inclusion is actually being out on the dance floor dancing. So inclusion is an action verb, it requires each of us to do something, to be inclusive and include others, and then, the other analogy is diversity is about counting heads, and inclusion is about making sure that every head counts. So there are two big differences between the words.
John Monahon: Right, that’s a big … definitely there’s a big difference in feeling if you’re one of the people that’s involved in that. Tell me a little bit, I want to talk a little bit more about actually implementing diversity and inclusion into the workplace. Jeff, what do you see as some good, Jeff or Sharon, either one of you, what makes a good diversity program?
Jeffrey Halter: I think the biggest thing is, particularly as you look at best in class companies today, it’s an integrated strategy. So many companies are focused on programmatic elements. Programs don’t drive progress. Leaders need to understand in real, simple sound bites, what the business case is and what do I need to do. And so, most companies today are moving to an integrated diversity approach that tie the business case into either growing revenue, improving operating profit, or enhancing company reputation. Those are three really good measures and metrics, regardless of the size or your company, that I can get my head around. And then, DNI becomes a real enabler, and that’s where the DNI function can then go out to the organization and help them get a lot better. DNI has to be embedded in the business, it has to be embedded in marketing, it has to be embedded in operations and supply chain, and it cannot be owned by HR or the diversity office. It has to be owned by the business ’cause that’s how businesses run and operate.
Evelyn Ashley: So it comes from in the C suite, really.
Jeffrey Halter: Well, a lot of it, yeah, go ahead, Sharon.
Sharon Orlopp: No, go ahead, Jeff.
Jeffrey Halter: And I think, part of it too, is companies today are really good. Our senior leadership at most companies is really smart. What’s missing is how do you drive it down in the organization and now that I have a conceptual understanding of this diversity strategy, what do you want me to do? And so, as a middle manager, some esoteric term, women are seven percent of the US economy, does nothing to me. I need to understand a business case for my department, my role, my function, then I need to deepen my cultural competency, and then I need to ask tough questions and hold people accountable just like I would with any other business initiative. And if you can do those three things, you’re gonna be successful today.
Evelyn Ashley: What are the support systems that a company has to put in place though in order to make sure that that middle manager has that kind of, you know, what happens now, I don’t really … I’ve got an issue on the table. Do you have to have an HR department in order to manage that or?
Jeffrey Halter: I’m going to let Sharon answer that, that’s her 25 years of expertise.
Sharon Orlopp: I’ll jump in, but I do think, Jeff your points about aligned and integrated with the business and business leaders have to be owners and champions of it 100%. When I think about what really drives it and what gets middle management involved is first thing, and Evelyn, I think you said it early on too, is tone at the top, right? You have to have an active leadership team that’s talking about it constantly and when Doug McMillan was the CEO of Sam’s Club, CEO of Walmart, he said every time he opened his mouth, whether it was in a large meeting or a small meeting, he was always going to talk about diversity and sustainability. And so if you have that kind of vocal champion, both when they’re speaking internally and externally it helps, and also think regular frequent transparent reporting of metrics is important to the board, externally I think that’s why Silicon Valley started doing it, ’cause it starts to hold you accountable to what you want to do, and then I do think accountability, linking it to compensation, whether it’s bonus, pay raises, promotions, et cetera.
I’m going to through one other component in there that I think is as critical as all these others, and it’s the heart. Because I think in order to change behaviors, you have to touch the heart. And touching the heart is all about personal story telling. For example, we had a senior leader talk about, he grew up in an orphanage, and the other children that he grew up with were very diverse. We had another senior leader talk about her parents were foster parents to over 100 children throughout their lifetime, and these children that she grew up with were very, very different. And so, when I think about middle managers sharing their personal story about their a-ha moments in diversity inclusion and same with senior leaders doing it, the more you can personalize it and talk about times when you felt different than others, that brings in that expanded definition of diversity, then people get it. They connect to it. Because they remember the stories more than they remember the data.
Jeffrey Halter: You know, Sharon, it’s so interesting you say that because I coach a lot of men on women’s leadership advancement and I talk about the fact it’s a head and heart connection for men. 80% of it is I need to understand the business case, the business stuff, the business stuff, and then the 20% is the heart stuff and what I have found is you know, if you’re looking to get men engaged in advancing women, you have to make it personal, and it’s quite frankly, around their daughters. Believe it or not, and I talk to women about this all the time and they look at me incredulously. Men can’t be that dense, but believe it or not, we don’t connect if we’re not advancing women in the workplace than what are we doing for our daughters in five or 10 years. I’m a young boomer, I made sure I supported my daughter whether that was soccer, dance, music. I made sure she went to a great school, and the day she graduates and makes 83 to 87 cents to my son in the exact same job, I stop advocating. And it’s amazing, just that simple story of connectivity for men, where you start to realize what’s going on in the world and Ron down the hall who everybody knows as a complete sexist fudgesicle, well yeah, your daughter’s going to be working for Ron in few years and you’re choosing not to do anything. Well shame on you, you need to apologize to your daughter.
John Monahon: I think that’s a great point because I have two daughters, I also have a son. But my awareness around certain issues was not there several years ago, and it is now because just the other day, my wife had told my daughter stop playing with these insects out there and I said, “You know, Sue, there’s not enough women in the sciences. You really should not discourage her.” So here I am, advocating very strongly and this wasn’t on my radar three years ago, but I’m very much becoming very focused on these issues because I have daughters. I think that’s an excellent point.
Evelyn Ashley: Well I think it’s a continuing problem because earlier we mentioned messages and it certainly, when it comes to advertising and marketing, the messages that are still going out, you know, be a good girl, you’re probably not going to be in the workforce very long because it’s time to have babies, so you’ve got a lot of conflicting stuff that goes back and forth with women and men, and so it’s good to bring it … it’s important to bring it to the ground, which I think is men and daughters and you know, hopefully wives, too.
John Monahon: So, bringing this back to, both of you have worked for large organization, Jeff, you worked for Coke, Sharon, you worked for Walmart, but for a business that is mid-sized or smaller, diversity can obviously help innovation, but they don’t have these pressures on them from let’s say the public to incorporate diversity. How can they do this in a natural way? They’re not going to have an HR department, you know, how can they do this, track it, or just encourage it? Do you think it just goes back to making sure they have a positive experience?
Sharon Orlopp: A couple things come to mind for me. I first want to talk about why it’s important for their business and then kind of what they can do as a small company. So most small to mid-companies are trying to sell goods or services to larger organizations, right? And so, many large organizations have supplier diversity tracking, and they’re interested in purchasing goods and services from women owned businesses or minority owned businesses, and I once heard a story of a business that went in to pitch to a large organization, and similar to Jeff’s story earlier about 12 white men, so their whole pitching team was white male and the decision makers of the large companies came into the room and they were very diverse, and they did not get the account, and they feel that it was because they weren’t diverse, and then they went back and focused on it. So I do think depending what the business model is and who they’re interested in as their clients and customers makes a big difference. But I recently read something that before a small or medium company should focus on diversity, or bringing diverse candidates in, that they first need to really thoroughly determine their company values and their company culture and create an environment that’s gonna support bringing diverse talent into the organization. So I think that’s step number one. And then other recommendations or things small companies can think about doing is create a small diversity task force, from internal employees and maybe it’s only four or five people, but they can look at what are our recruiting practices, our succession planning, particularly if they don’t have an HR department, but I think they really need to focus on open communication in their company so that has they do bring other talent in that there’s open ways to talk about any concerns or issues, and then I think just looking at ways to have exposure to diversity training in small companies, I think starts them down the path.
John Monahon: Right. I think that’s excellent advice. We are going to move to a break and we’re going to come back and we’re going to discuss some recent topics in the news.
Evelyn Ashley: Welcome back, so Sharon, I want to just take you back for a moment, one of the points that you made in talking about how a smaller company could actually implement a level of diversity into the organization is environment, which you know, as you know, is a very important element to me. One of the reason why I’m in a small practice for law is that my experience is in larger organizations with lawyers was not a very supportive one and I knew pretty much from the beginning that I was not going to be able to sustain a career in that environment, not because I wasn’t being moved up the ranks, but mostly because I was looked upon as a piece of work and not in a very supportive way. It was great that I was doing rain making, but the other side of that was, Jesus, why does she generate all this work, how does that happen? So, talk to me a little bit about how you feel that a company, and large or small or medium size, can actually create an environment of support. I think it’s critically important, not just for women, certainly for men, and certainly for a diverse organization, culturally.
Sharon Orlopp: Yeah, I think creating an inclusive environment means creating a sense of belonging for everybody and I think peers can make life tough, you know, definitely bosses can, but really it comes down to the powers of observation and then acting, so I’ll just share three inclusive leadership behaviors that I think help put people on a path to a better environment, and the first one that we used a lot at Walmart is ask quiet associates their opinion. Right, so often times, the people that talk the most get the attention, but really the person who might have the best solution for the business is your quieter associate.
And so this is kind of back to introverts, extroverts and cultural differences, et cetera, but noticing who’s doing the talking and then calling on people who aren’t doing the talking and then there’s also a great one that I love, it’s called never let anyone sit alone. So if you think about walking into a meeting or walking into a cafeteria or a lunch room or wherever, and if people are sitting on the periphery, either joining them, or asking them to come join you at the table and so really paying attention to the nonverbal behavior, and how do you demonstrate a need and a desire to bring people in, and then I think the other thing is around inviting others. So who is it that you invite to your home? Is it a diverse group that you bring to your home? Who is it that you might invite on business trips that helps accelerate their learning and their grooming, who is it that you eat lunch with during the work day, and so, really paying attention to all those things and thinking about, how can I demonstrate and how can I include others because it increases my own learning by learning about other people.
Evelyn Ashley: I think John and I can both relate to this. Once a month, we have a birthday party in the office and there’s usually someone who refuses to come into the room. It’s not like … so, from now on, we’re going and dragging them out. You will eat cake.
Sharon Orlopp: That’s being inclusive.
Evelyn Ashley: So, we do want to talk a little bit about current events, and Melissa Mayer from Yahoo has been recently in the news. We’d kind of like to hear both of your thoughts on what’s being discussed there and is she right, is she wrong? Who is right or wrong?
Jeffrey Halter: Well, you know, it’s funny, I think it’s such an amazing learning opportunity for specifically, thinking for executive men. You know, I think it’s the news media. If you sit here and say you have no gender bias, tell me the last time you saw a news article headline that said, “The male CEO of such and such company is planning to take X number of weeks off for their next childbirth.” Right? Never asked the question, men are never held to that standard. So I think number one, I think that’s a huge, huge issue. Number two, as I coach men, it’s none of your business. It’s an individual decision, it’s a woman by woman, family by family decision and organization, when a woman becomes pregnant, need to ask some very simple questions. Number one, how can I support you, number two, what can we do for you, and when will you be returning to work? And that’s it. And it doesn’t make news in anything else and that’s the … this is a opportunity to really learn what’s wrong out there.
Sharon Orlopp: Jeff I’ll add to that. You mentioned the double bind earlier that women face and I think what gets to be a challenge and how you need to change the conversation is women need to support other women. Regardless of the choices women make because it always comes down to the Sheryl Sandberg camp on lean in or the Ann Marie camp on women can’t have it all, or working women verse stay at home moms or quality time with your children verses quantity of time, and really at the end of the day, the fact that both men and women have so many choices around how they spend their live, and it does come down to an individual choice between the people that are raising children together and we should just celebrate and recognize everybody’s decisions because they are very personal decisions and we shouldn’t have this gender double bind or this stereotype about how much time should be spent or what people choose to do. Even in countries where there’s generous maternity leave policies, which I think is helpful, but there’s a big debate about should they be mandatory or options, and I think just like Marissa, she’s got a high powered job, she’s gonna make the choices that are right for her and her family and her situation and that should be her choice. And the fact that we have to all pay attention to it shows some of the areas that we can improve in.
Jeffrey Halter: Well and you know, Sharon, I love your thought on this and that’s this whole notion because we never talk about this, but it’s the notion of women supporting women supporting women, and how that often breaks down. I have a point of view that believes if women could start supporting each other women, it’s game set match for me. You don’t realize the collective power that you have from all your power in this country and the day women start to support other women is the day systemic change happens
Sharon Orlopp: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I agree.
Evelyn Ashley: I absolutely agree. I mean, it’s a continual process I think. I think it has gotten better. I think it’s gotten a lot better. When I first started out, I had been in environments where it was clear that women had been able to get themselves forward and were not of a mindset of, and let me help you, and I think now, with mentoring programs and people understanding that continual learning is critical, that it really has improved a lot.
Jeffrey Halter: Well and I think that’s a key point around this topic that you brought up today, John, which is this diversity element. Just like we can’t homogenize 12 white men in a room, the worst thing you can do is homogenize women because you’ve got a lot of different cohorts out there. You’ve got women who’ve been in the workplace for a long time, who said I earned it, you have to, they’re not reaching back. You’ve got a very supportive group, you’ve got a lot of women in engineering and tech who don’t want to be recognized for their gender. They just want to be recognized for who they are.
Evelyn Ashley: In law, too.
Jeffrey Halter: And law, absolutely. Yeah, and so, the last thing they want to do is join some women’s group and have that feminist label stuck on them, so it’s a very interesting conversation.
Sharon Orlopp: Yeah, I want to throw some other interesting information there that I think adds to this element, particularly about women advancing their careers, the family work institute did some survey and research around wives of senior level men and senior level women, so if you think about two people graduating college at the same time, a man and a woman, the research indicated that at least 80% of the women delay childbirth to get their careers going, whereas fewer than 10% of the men even think about that. And then, so if you think about it, so women delay childbirth, so when the big global assignments come along, women may not be empty nesters, but the men are, and then the same thing about dual career spouses or partners, 80% of senior level men don’t have a partner at home that has a career, whereas with senior level women, it’s about 80% that are in a dual career situation. So when you think about the dynamics of empty nesters or not empty nesters, then dual career, choosing to take some of those plum assignments is different from a family dynamic perspective for senior level women than for men in the large majority of situations and so, you just have to understand that as we’re thinking about advancing talent through the pipeline.
Evelyn Ashley: I think the whole career path is a great topic and I want to invite you guys back because I think we need to continue to have this chat.
John Monahon: Yeah that can be a whole … that could definitely go on for a lot longer. I mean it was an excellent discussion. Well, Jeff, Sharon, we appreciate both of you being here today. We’d like to say thank you, if you’d like to contact Jeff, you can find him on the internet at Y, that’s the letter Y, women.biz, you can also find his book, Why Women on Amazon, if you like to contact Sharon, she can be found at Sorlopp@aol.com, and Sharon we can’t wait for the publication of your new two books. We hope you enjoyed In Process today. If you have any questions on the topic, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.