Human Resources Management Articles on a variety of HR topics, Diversity and inclusion, leadership and more, offered by the Red Shoe Movement

Microaggressions: Those Pesky Slights That Damage Workplaces

When someone asked Carol, (not her real name) “Have you eaten dog?” she felt deeply offended. As she spoke up and let her feelings be known, she was furthered hurt by having her feelings minimized. How do we stop this kind of microaggressions that permeate our organizations and society? Here are some key insights.

The woman in the story is an Asian – New Zealander who lives in New Zealand, a country where 74 % of the population is of European descent, 14.9% of Maori descent, 11.8% of Asian descent and 7.4% are non-Maori Pacific Islanders. But this kind of microaggressions based on cultural differences and, I pose, on power differences, happen all the time around the world.

What are microaggressions?

Comments, questions and behaviors such as the one Carol shared with us are commonly referred to as microaggressions. This is a term coined in the 70s by psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce and borrowed more recently by Teachers College, Columbia University psychologist Derald Wing Sue, PhD.

Here’s Dr. Sue’s definition: “Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

I believe that when some people are faced with any sort of difference they don’t clearly understand (or admit,) they may perpetrate microaggressions. And although microaggressions are often unintended that doesn’t minimize their impact.

In the workplace today many people suffer microaggressions on a daily basis as a result of their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, a disability or any number of reasons. It makes diverse talent feel unwelcomed and pushes them out the door.

What are microaggressions? A definition

What are microaggressions? A definition

Now, in most microaggression situations there are at least two forces at play:

1The aggressor is someone in an ethnocentric stage of intercultural sensitivity. (Read my post, What is cultural sensitivity? for a full understanding of Milton Bennett’s theory of intercultural sensitivity.) And although Bennett’s theory refers to intercultural sensitivity, I believe the stages he described apply equally well to sensitivity towards other people’s gender, sexual orientation, etc.

So, being in an ethnocentric stage means being in one of the following stages:

Denial—people don’t recognize cultural differences and experiences.

Defense— people recognize some differences, but see them as negative because they assume their own culture is the most evolved, the best one. Equally, I pose, they may feel their gender or their sexual orientation is superior.

Minimization—Individuals at this stage of cultural sensitivity are unaware that they are projecting their own cultural values. They see their own values as superior. They think that the mere awareness of cultural differences is enough.

2In the context of the microaggression, the aggressor has more power than the person on the receiving end of it. And this is what I’d like to focus on here, as I believe many microaggressions experienced by women are due to their low power in organizations and society.

Power balance and microaggressions

As social psychologist Adam Galinsky’s research has demonstrated, when it comes to women, many of the differences in performance attributed to gender can be traced back to power differences.

In most of our societies, women have less power than men. And, as most people with less power, they are expected to behave in a certain way: Be nurturing, conciliatory, submissive, etc. So when women show ambition, assertiveness, confidence, competitiveness, and so on they are often penalized. (And this happens despite current efforts to get more women into leadership roles.) In other words, they are subject to a double bind. Otherwise known as: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

What I’m posing here is that many of the microaggressions directed to women in the workplace come not from the fact that they are women but from the fact that they have less power in the company. The same can be said for all the other non-majority groups. It’s always been easier to prey on the weaker members of society, hasn’t it?

Having a diverse leadership team should lead to an increase in acceptance of others and a reduction of microaggressions

Having a diverse leadership team should lead to an increase in acceptance of others and a reduction of microaggressions

Microaggressions directed to people with less power

So let’s look at a couple of examples.

You are in a team meeting with 10 people, 8 men and 2 women. Julie, a manager and the person with least seniority in the meeting, voices her opposition to a new strategy and is interrupted several times while doing so.

When 2 of her male colleagues speak, everyone listens attentively even though they take much more time than Julie to explain their points of view. These interruptions are the kind of frequent microaggressions people like Julie experience daily. Now, my question is, Was Julie interrupted because she was a woman or because she had less power than anyone else, therefore they felt entitled to interrupt her?

Another example. In Latin America, women say that if they seek career sponsors they are perceived in their company as seeking special favors. Yet men don’t have the same issue with seeking sponsors. Is the perception connected to women seeking sponsors due to the fact that they are women or because they have less power and fewer connections in the organization? So if a woman is sponsored to a leadership level, people in the organization feel that the only way for someone with such low power to get to that position were through favors?

Microaggression are damaging to our workplace environment

Microaggression are damaging to our workplace environment

How to help your team move away from microaggressions and embrace a more inclusive culture?

There are two good ways to stop microaggressions.

1Educating your team members to help them move to an ethno relative stage of cultural sensitivity. As follows:

Acceptance — People are able to shift perspectives to understand that the same “ordinary” behavior can have different meanings in different cultures. They are able to identify how experiences are influenced by one’s culture, background, gender.

Adaptation— People become more competent in their ability to communicate with people who are different.

Integration— People are able to shift easily from one frame of reference to another. They develop empathy for people who are different.

2Having a diverse and inclusive leadership team. One that is made up of similar parts of men, women, people from various ethnic and racial backgrounds, with different levels of ability, who come from a variety of schools of thought, socio-economic backgrounds, and so on.

When everyone feels represented, the workplace becomes more welcoming of differences and as people become more curious about each other, the threat of the unknown starts to disappear and so do microaggressions. The best part is that your talent feels valued which in turn helps improve engagement, retention, and promotion.  A win-win all around. Ready to try it?

 

 

Mutual Mentorship: The RSM Inter- Company Circles

Who would’ve told Nathalie Stevens that mutual mentorship would be responsible for placing her among the eight finalists of a prestigious award? Yet, that’s how it went. When attending the Red Shoe Movement Inter-Company Circle in Buenos Aires, Nathalie put in motion a process that placed her as one of the front-runners for $16,000 prize from one of the best-ranked TV stations in Argentina.

When it was announced that Nathalie Stevens had been selected for the Abanderados (Flag-bearers) award (an annual prize that recognizes Argentines who stand out for their dedication to others,) she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She couldn’t believe she had the opportunity to amplify the work of her non-profit, La Fundación de los Colores (The Colors Foundation.) Her itinerant make-up school that prepares women who live in vulnerable neighborhoods to become professional make-up artists.

Nathalie Stevens founder of La Fundacion de los Colores

Nathalie Stevens founder of La Fundacion de los Colores

Feedback from a beneficiary of the mutual mentorship methodology

“The support that the Red Shoe Movement gave us is incredible! They opened many doors to us. The group is so generous! You really practice the 7 Principles daily!” Wrote Nathalie in a note to me after she heard she was a finalist.

Although not unique, Nathalie’s is a perfect case study to use as an example of how our mutual mentorship methodology works. This is the methodology at the heart of all our programs. In this case, at the center of the Inter-Company Circles, a space where professionals of different companies meet to support each other’s careers.

In Buenos Aires, where Nathalie story took place, the sponsor of the Inter-Company Circle is Novartis Argentina S.A., a global health company based in Switzerland. Their female talent from Canada to Argentina has been part of the RSM leadership development program for a couple of years.

RSM Inter Company Circle in Buenos Aires at Novartis

RSM Inter Company Circle in Buenos Aires at Novartis Argentina S.A.

Every month, a group of 15-20 business executives from various organizations along with members of the RSM team meet for about three hours at Novartis’ offices. They share their personal career challenges and exchange questions and advice with their colleagues. Facilitated by Gladys Benaim, Director of Business Development of Argentina, each Circle is unique since the agenda is set by the participants.

It was at one of these meetings that Nathalie started down the path towards the Abanderados award. It happened when she brought along Verónica Barbera, one of the Training Coordinators of La Fundación de los Colores. Her moving story shook the group up. She had been a housecleaner for many years but after taking La Fundación’s makeup course she managed to change her life and become one of the program trainers.

It was at that Circle that she met the successful Karina Mazzocco, TV conductor of Pura Vida, a popular show on Public Television. Moved by Veronica’s story of overcoming adversity, Karina invited her to be on her show. This, however, was not the only result of that mutual mentorship encounter. Inspired by Verónica’s story, María José Gómez Silva, the Novartis executive who champions Diversity and Inclusion in the LACan region, nominated La Fundación for the Abanderados award. And so it was that through this process of mutual mentorship, where everyone gives and receives advice on their personal careers, Nathalie Stevens and her organization became finalists for the award.

Veronica Barbera trainer of La Fundacion de los Colores

Veronica Barbera, trainer of La Fundacion de los Colores

Goal of the Mutual Mentorship Inter-Company Circles

There are few places where women who are already leaders or are looking for leadership positions can exercise mutual mentoring with peers with whom they don’t work. Colleagues from other fields, and with other specialties that can contribute to their growth through honest conversations, while expanding both of their networks. The goal of our Circles is to provide a safe meeting space. Facilitated by a member of the RSM team trained in our particular methodology, they have proven to be a resource that enhances everyone’s careers.

A similar model to the Mutual Mentoring Circles that you may experience at our RSM Signature Event (Featured here) you can experience in our Inter Company Circles

A similar model to the Mutual Mentoring Circles that you may experience at our RSM Signature Event (Featured here) you can experience in our Inter Company Circles. This Circle was facilitated by Ali Curi, at our 2017 event.

Benefits for participants

1A moment of personal reflection. This monthly meeting place in which attendees agree to maintain confidentiality, is a moment of reflection on their own desires, goals and challenges that participants face in their professional career.

2Recognition of one’s own wisdom and knowledge. The methodology encourages everyone to ask specific questions to get help from the group. Making it clear that only each individual knows the right question to ask to help them move toward their own goals. It also asks for everyone to be willing to propose solutions and share experiences when it is their turn to help others. In this rich exchange, each participant identifies in themselves areas of knowledge and wisdom that they probably weren’t aware of. In turn, they find new answers that broaden their perspective.

3Increased self-confidence. As a result of practicing mutual mentorship, the participants of the Inter-Company Circle increase their self-confidence and the inclination to take on new challenges.

4Development and strengthening of everyone’s network. Regular participation allows for the development of strong networks among people who know each other’s background well, and therefore have a greater commitment and incentive to help one another.

RSM Mutual Mentorship in action

RSM Mutual Mentorship in action. This Circle was facilitated by Lucía Ballas-Traynor at our 2017 event.

Benefits for the companies in which the participants work

The participants of the RSM Inter-Company Circle are mostly women and men who work in large organizations. Given that our mission is to accelerate the representation of women in decision-making positions, we focus on this target. What is the benefit for the companies in which the participants work?

1Greater employee engagement. When individuals feel heard and find the resources to overcome challenges, job satisfaction increases.

2Generation of ideas. By sharing the specific challenges of their current positions as well as their long-term career goals, the participants exchange a host of inspiring ideas.

3Exposure to an effective model of diversity and inclusion. For the Inter-Company Circle to work optimally, a diversity of participants is required. Women and men in diverse functions, in companies that operate in a wide range of fields and cultures, have diverse educational backgrounds, social class, political, and religious inclination. Experiencing inclusiveness helps participants replicate this best practice in their workplaces.

4Amplification of the network. Strategic networks are the electrical wiring that facilitates our communications and interactions. The more solid and extensive, the better the results. This group is an excellent way to expand and strengthen the network within other leading companies. All of which encourages innovation.

5Ongoing leadership training. The fact that leaders of an organization meet consistently every month to talk about their own careers works as ongoing professional and leadership development.

6Personal agency. Participation is voluntary, which fosters the self-determination and self-leadership necessary to attend consistently.

7Inspiration. As a result of honest conversations and shared solutions, participants report being inspired by the mutual mentorship they experience at our Circles.

Mutual Mentoring in action. Circle facilitated by Cosette Gutierrez at our RSM Signature Event 2017

Mutual Mentoring in action. Circle facilitated by Cosette Gutierrez at our RSM Signature Event 2017

Benefits for the sponsor of the Inter-Company Circle

1Establish itself as a leader in Diversity and Inclusion in the market. Being the host company of the Inter-Company Circle where colleagues from diverse fields meet monthly to exercise mutual mentorship, is an excellent way to project leadership in the D & I space.

2Talent magnet. When the word spreads that the sponsor organization opens its doors to women and men of the most diverse fields with the purpose of enhancing their own careers, the organization becomes a talent magnet for both those who attend the Circle in their facilities and for those who learn about the initiative word of mouth.

3Strengthens Corporate Social Responsibility. Given the diversity of individuals who come to be part of the Circle, the sponsor has opportunities to leverage their CSR initiatives with Circle participants. A clear example is what happened with La Fundación de los Colores.

Nathalie Stevens and Karina Mazzocco met through the Red Shoe Movement Inter Company Circles where we practice mutual mentorship

Nathalie Stevens and Karina Mazzocco met through the Red Shoe Movement Inter Company Circles where we practice mutual mentorship. Karina announced the winners of the Abanderados competition in a public ceremony that was televised. Here, she hugs Nathalie when she gives her the award.

In the end, Nathalie Stevens didn’t win the $16,000 award. But the relationships she built, the exposure she gained and the amazing opportunities that opened up for her organization as a result of mutual mentorship and support are much more valuable. This is only the first step in a brilliant future for La Fundación.

If you’d like to find out about hosting our Inter Company Circles at your organization, let’s talk!

 

Leadership Development Event with an Entirely Different Approach

It’s always hard for those who haven’t attended, to figure out how a leadership development event can be so without speakers or workshops. Yet, our Signature Event is an experiential conference where participants develop their leadership skills hands-on . Here’s a taste of it.

A leadership development event without speakers

A unique leadership development event, once again the RSM Signature Event took place at MetLife in 2017

A unique leadership development event, once again the RSM Signature Event took place at MetLife in 2017

When I first sat down with a group of young women Ambassadors to imagine the RSM Signature Event back in 2011, I knew I didn’t want another leadership development conference with speakers, breakout sessions, panels and presentations. I wanted an experiential event. So from the get go, we created a unique format that fosters participation, a leveled playing field where everyone had a chance to teach and learn from each other,  and a high level of energy.

Left: Susan Podlogar, EVP, and Chief Human Resources Officer. Right: Elizabeth Nieto, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Left: Susan Podlogar, EVP, and Chief Human Resources Officer flaunting her red soles. Right: Elizabeth Nieto, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

And given that the Red Shoe Movement is at the intersection of fashion and self-leadership, we wanted that extra oomph. We finally found it in 2015 when Farylrobin (designers for brands such as Anthropologie and Free People) became our event sponsor. For the last three years we’ve given away between 50-70 pairs of amazing shoes, specially designed for us, at early registration.

In 2017 our event was once again,  at MetLife, our Platinum sponsor for the fourth year in a row. This time, at their amazing new facilities by Grand Central Station!

The Keynote Interview

One of the hardest things to do when you organize an annual leadership development event is to resist the temptation of having a keynote speaker. It’s tough because it’s what most people expect, both the attendees and your keynote guest! You have to convince your guest that the interview format allows for a more relaxed, intimate conversation. That makes for a much better experience for the audience as they get to see the vulnerable side of a leader they admire and hear insights they seldom hear in a straight forward keynote speech. In our recent event, the keynote guest was Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, and one of the honorees of our 2017 Hall of Fame.

Lisa was warm, honest, funny, humble… She shared some difficult times in her career in a way that made her completely relatable.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Philip Klint during the Keynote interview at RSM Signature Event 2017

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Philip Klint during the Keynote interview at RSM Signature Event 2017

After Philip Klint, Emmy-award winning, journalist, producer and anchor of NY1 Noticias in NYC, interviewed her, it was the audience’s turn to ask Lisa questions. And unlike any other leadership development event where people tend to shy away from the mic, this group had a bunch of incisive questions for her.

In the final part of the session the guest asks questions of the audience. And so did Lisa, closing the circle of mutual mentoring we practice throughout the event.

“Aha” moment from the Keynote Q&A session

“After I heard Lisa share her story, I realized that while I have achieved some career success by moving up to an executive role (where at times I am the only Latina in leadership meetings,) this role is not my final goal. I have more steps to climb to be able to open doors for other Latinos(as).  It was like an epiphany to hear Lisa because this new thought formed in my head and I figured out what my next career goal should be. To that end, I contacted one of my mentors who is a CIO at my company. I warned him that I was aiming high because I wanted to be part of his SLT team (the majority of which are white males.) His reply was that it was a good aspiration that required that I build my skills and experience.  Lisa lit up a fire in me and infused me with energy to come out of my comfort zone and pursue a new dream.  I am eternally grateful to her,” Beth Marmolejos, Anthem

Our mutual mentoring circles go farther than workshops in a traditional leadership development event

The RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles

I spoke about our Mutual Mentoring Circles on another post but it bears repeating that they are at the core of our leadership development event. It’s a chance for participants to experience our methodology.

At our leadership development event, the RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles are a core part of the program

At our leadership development event, the RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles are a core part of the program

Right after the interview with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, we went into two rounds of six RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles. These are conversations about critical career topics, such as Your Brand Already Exists, Successful Negotiation Strategies, and so on, which were facilitated by six executives who are trained in our methodology. Judging from our facilitators own comments, these are among the hardest conversations to facilitate. The key is to let the conversation flow without sharing their own expert opinions. Which, as they are all senior executives with clear insights into each conversation, it’s a challenge.

This year our star facilitators were:

Lucía Ballas-Traynor, EVP Client Partnerships, Hemisphere Media Group, Inc.

Lily Benjamin, Global Talent, Organizational Development & Change Management, Bank of America.

Ali Curi, President, Hispanic Professionals Networking Group (HPNG)

Joe DiGiovanni, Director, Member Engagement, The Conference Board

Cosette Gutiérrez, VP, Operations & Social Responsibility, DonorsChoose.org.

Stephen Palacios, Partner and Principal Ahzul

From Left to right: Stephen Palacios, Joe DiGiovanni, Lily Benjamin, Mariela Dabbah, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Ali Curi and Cosette Gutiérrez.

From Left to right: Stephen Palacios, Joe DiGiovanni, Lily Benjamin, Mariela Dabbah, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Ali Curi and Cosette Gutiérrez.

“Aha” moment following the Mutual Mentoring Circles

“Learning from colleagues and peers is a wonderful way to learn. We will practice this inside our company,” Alejandro Barranca, Novartis

An experiential leadership development event for all participants

The Executive Circle

This year we launched our first Executive Circle. A group of executives who meets on stage to exchange personal questions and advice on the topic of the Importance of Learning from Failure. Moderated by our expert facilitator, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, the group alternated between asking questions about this topic and sharing insights and experience. Very much along the lines of what everybody had been doing doing the Mutual Mentoring Circles but this time, in front of the entire audience, fishbowl style.

It was humbling to hear Katherine Blostein, partner at Outten & Golden, LLP, a NYC law firm, share her mother’s response to her news of not passing the Bar exam the first time around. “It was a mistake to bring you to America.” After which she hung up the phone on her distraught daughter. It was one of many moving stories that the circle participants shared with each other. “Eavesdropping “on this conversation inspired the audience to keep going, to trust their own abilities to reach any position they aspire to.

At our annual recent leadership development event, the Executive Circle. From Left to right: John Basile, Katherine Blostein, Alejandro Barranca, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Frank Gómez and Elizabeth Nieto.

At our annual recent leadership development event, the Executive Circle. From Left to right: John Basile, Katherine Blostein, Alejandro Barranca, Lucía Ballas-Traynor, Frank Gómez and Elizabeth Nieto.

The Executive Circle participants were:

Alejandro Barranca, HR Head LACan Oncology, Novartis

John Basile, Head of D&I, Fidelity Investments

Katherine Blostein, Partner, Outten & Golden LLP

Frank Gomez, Executive Director, External Relations, ETS

Elizabeth Nieto, Chief Global D&I Officer, MetLife

Facilitated by: Lucia Ballas-Traynor, EVP Client Partnerships, Hemisphere Media Group

“Aha” moment following our Executive Circle

“As the daughter of a working mom, it resonated with me when Elizabeth Nieto talked about not being home for her children as much as other non-working moms. And the fact that later on her adult daughter told her she didn’t remember most of those times. I would like to do something with the Red Shoe Movement from the perspective of being the daughter of a working woman,” Ginaly Gonzalez

The #RedLookBook

Inspired by the idea that everyone should find their “inner red shoes” as expressed in my book Find Your Inner Red Shoes, this year we launched our #RedLookBook booth.

It is a space with a “red carpet” —which is actually black to help us highlight red shoes— where people flaunt their style. Participants choose one of the 7 RSM Principles and in the picture they appeared framed by that principle. It helps us continue to disseminate the idea that identifying your style is critical to your success. And I don’t just mean your clothing style but your style as a person. How you communicate, how you relate to others, how you resolve problems. And in a leadership development conference, this is an important insight to have.

The four winners of the #RedLookBook won an experience at our sponsor Farylrobin’s studio where they’ll learn how shoes are designed and made. And of course they’ll walk away with a pair of shoes!

The winners were:

MEejie Chaparro-Traverso 

Elvira Ortiz 

Rosmery Osuna

Theresa Torres

The team behind our leadership development event of 2017

Annerys Rodriguez, Director of our RSM Signature Event with her Red Shoe Leader award

Annerys Rodriguez, Director of our RSM Signature Event with her Red Shoe Leader award

If you ever put a leadership development event or any other type of conference together, you know it takes a village. People who during months plan every single detail so that they day of, everything flows seamlessly. This year, we recognized Annerys Rodríguez, with our Red Shoe Leader award. She’s the Director of the Event and our oldest team member who is also our EMCEE. Since the beginning of the Red Shoe Movement she’s been behind the success of our Signature Event.

Year after year she trains and leads a team of committed Ambassadors, young women interested in advancing their careers, who are part of our community. It is this team that makes the wheels turn at this unique leadership development event with a very demanding format.

Ambassadors at our RSM Signature Event 2017

Ambassadors at our RSM Signature Event 2017- From Left to Right, sitting: Johanny Paulino, Cheyenne Vancooten, Concha Valadez, Annerys Rodríguez, Teresa Correa, Mariela Dabbah, Adrienne Loiseau. Standing from Left: Robin Bolton, Daisy Ortiz and Krystal Rodríguez.

One of the key people on our team is Gustavo Carvajal, our #IDEAcatalyst, the person behind our communications campaigns like the #RedLookBook and innovative ideas that help us continue to grow.

Gustavo Carvajal at #RedLookBookGustavo Carvajal at #RedLookBook

Gustavo Carvajal at #RedLookBook

And we couldn’t have done it without Concha Valadez, part of our PR team, Teresa Correa, our first Head of Ambassadors, Paul García, our Head of Experiential. And our facilitators and Ambassadors who make this amazing day possible. And of course, a big part of the success of an event like this is due to our social media partners. The amazing people who help us disseminate the information about our event. For that we are grateful to: LatinaCool who took over our social media and did a FB Live, Fairygodboss, the Latino Networks Coalition, Planet M, Latinas in Business U.S., Dreams in Heels, HPNG, Prospanica, and Latinas Who Travel.

As phenomenal as this year’s event was, I have no doubts that next year it will be even better. Because we are a community whose members are constantly mentoring each other, learning from one another, we get feedback, we tweak and grow. And that helps us offer you a better experience every time. So we hope to see you at the 2018 event!

And of course, if you want to bring this leadership development format to your company, drop us a note.

4 Benefits for Men Who Support Women All the Way to the Top

In a room full of women the handful of men who attended this breakfast with red ties and red shoes will be remembered by all of them. As the men who support women all the way to the highest levels of their company, these champions will reap benefits unavailable to those who stay on the sidelines.

Let me be clear about my agenda with this post. I’d like to encourage more men to support women’s pursuit of decision-making positions by revealing what’s in it for them. Yes, many of us would prefer for men to contribute to leveling the playing field because it’s the right thing to do or the just thing to do. Or because they actually believe it benefits organizations and society at large. Or because having daughters have changed the way they see the world.

But there’s so much that needs to be done to move the inclusion needle at the highest levels and so much to make any gains stick, that I’m not choosy. Be part of the solution because you’re convinced it’s a win-win for everyone to gain gender parity at the top or because you realize there are a lot of benefits for you in playing an active role. Either way, if you are in, we all win.

We should be treating gender equality like any other business challenge. There's a great opportunity for men who support women all the way to the top.

We should be treating gender equality like any other business challenge. There’s a great opportunity for men who support women all the way to the top.

Here are 4 benefits for men who support women all the way to the C-suite

1Exposure and increased influence

Men who level the playing field have a huge advantage: They are in a minority. As such, you get a ton of visibility. In addition, we all know the power of espousing another group’s causes. It tends to lend credibility to the cause and to you as the one speaking up about it, as you’re perceived as having little to gain from supporting someone else’s cause. It’s why it’s always so effective when straight people support the rights of gay people, when whites stand up against injustices perpetrated on non-whites, and when Jews stand next to Muslims when they’re being discriminated against and vice-versa.

So, whatever you do as a man who supports gender equality in the workplace you will attract attention to the issue and to yourself. You could be a strong catalyst for change (as Sergio Kaufman, CEO, Hispanic South America, Accenture clearly is,) by demanding that the gender issue be treated as any other business issue. With metrics that measure actual progress, by setting up goals for each leader in the organization and by making them accountable for reaching the specific goals. Hopefully 50/50 men and women all the way to the C-suite.

Here’s a list of men who openly support women
Men who support women to the top show their support in many ways. For starters, they support #RedShoeTuesday. From Left to Right: Francisco Rozo, Novartis; Dino Troni, Coca-Cola; Miguel Alemany, P&G

Men who support women to the top show their support in many ways. For starters, they support #RedShoeTuesday. From Left to Right: Francisco Rozo, Novartis; Dino Troni, Coca-Cola; Miguel Alemany, P&G

2Take the credit for achieving the change

Given the state of affairs in most large organizations, if you really wanted to make the achievement of gender equality your legacy, you could probably do it. You could use the large body of research available to make the business case.

The first step, however, should be to find out the real experience regarding growth opportunities of female talent across your organization. Discover areas of improvement, unconscious biases of the current leadership and all talent that may be affecting women’s possibilities to reach their full potential. In other words, do your due diligence as you would with any other business challenge.

If gender equality were treated with the same seriousness as all other business issues, we would’ve resolved this crisis decades ago. Why not be the first in your organization and one of the very few leaders worldwide who is credited for having accomplished equality in a few, short years?

How long must we wait until gender equality is approached like any other business issue?

How long must we wait until gender equality is approached like any other business issue?

3Media opportunities

If your goal is expand your influence outside your organization, being one of the few men who openly talks about this can give you a great story to share with the media. Obviously, you must first walk the walk. Make things happen in your company. Be the change you propose.

Sure, you can talk about the importance of more inclusion at the top and the obstacles that get in the way and that, in itself, will bring you visibility. As I was saying, there are not enough men out there speaking out about this topic. But if you seek real influence, your actions, beliefs and words must be aligned. People, particularly those who work with you, will quickly turn against you if they feel you’re using this sensitive topic to attract attention to yourself while doing nothing to change the status quo in your workplace.

At an in-house leadership training for Novartis Andean Region, men show up in red ties, socks and shoes to openly show support for women's career growth.

At an in-house leadership training for Novartis Andean Region, men show up in red ties, socks and shoes to openly show support for women’s career growth.

4 A large group of colleagues supporting your career ambitions

It goes without saying that once men come out of the closet as open supporters of women career growth those same women along with tend to reciprocate. They can become your strongest allies to help you co-create change in the organization and help you personally achieve your own career ambitions. As long as they see your intentions and actions sincere, they will become your advocates and contribute to building your reputation as a true champion of inclusion.

The secret to develop this strong group of women supporters is to be equal partners. Leave any patriarchal instinct behind. Don’t support women’s career growth with thoughts of them needing your protection out of being weak. Or because you think they can’t do it alone.

Do it from a sense of fairness. After all, you wouldn’t want to win a game of foosball because the table is inclined towards your side, would you? You’d want to claim you won fair and square because you’re the best player.

That’s all women in the workplace have been asking. To have once and for all a level playing field so they can play with equal terms. So they can truly reach their full potential and go as far as they choose to in the workplace.

If you are one of the executives currently leading the way in gender equality, let us know. We are already working on our 2018 Hall of Fame.

 

 

From Peer to Team Leader: 5 Keys to Making a Successful Transition

The first promotion is a special moment. Make the most of it by having a clear understanding of how to effectively transition from peer to team leader. Here are the 5 keys to achieve a successful transition!

“Mary, I want to congratulate you on your promotion. It’s official!” This is one of the most anticipated phrases by most of us with careers in large corporations. At first, a promotion fills us with pride, feelings of accomplishment and self-realization. Especially if it is one of the first promotions in our careers. The one that propels you from peer to team leader.

In my experience as a HR executive, ambiguous feelings tend to arise for those who have been promoted. For example, the desire to lead vs the concern of being perceived as authoritarian; an interest to position yourself positively in the eyes of the boss vs. the fear of being isolated from the team due to being perceived as a brownnoser.

It’s natural to be concerned about the transition from individual contributor to leader of those who were until recently your own co-workers. The people with whom you shared common codes and an easy camaraderie. This transition is certainly a challenging process. My goal is to share 5 strategic keys for you to make a successful transition from peer to team leader.

Going from peer to team leader is an awesome step in your career

Going from peer to team leader is an awesome step in your career

From peer to team leader in five simple steps

1Establish yourself in the new role organically while securing a few quick wins

You should aim to adapt organically to your new role as a leader. That is, avoiding drastic changes that could alter the climate and team performance. Trying to impose ideas, avoiding social gatherings or showing little availability for the members of your team are some of the pitfalls to avoid. The ideal solution is to adopt your leadership style gradually. Keep in mind that the first 90 days in your new role are extremely important as they set the tone for the team as to what to expect of you. According to Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days” published by the Harvard Business Review, you must secure some quick wins during this time. If you want to know how to do it watch this 2 minute-video where Watkins explains it.

2Build Your Own Leadership Style

While you should give yourself some time to adapt to the new role, it is also important to think about your own leadership style. While you figure it out, try to avoid making drastic personality changes that may cause bewilderment, anxiety or resentment among your teammates. For example, if you were known as a person with a good sense of humor, it would be odd to stop smiling or making a harmless joke here and there. You can learn more about different leadership styles by taking this quiz.

Whatever leadership style you decide to adopt, I suggest you avoid any extremes: neither too authoritarian nor so friendly that you lose your team’s credibility and respect. Positive influence, a democratic approach to decision- making and active listening are three qualities to keep in mind for a leadership style that fits well in today’s workplace.

In your career progression, you will go from individual contributor to team leader. Being prepared is a big part of your success.

In your career progression, you will go from individual contributor to team leader. Being prepared is a big part of your success.

3 Identify any teammates that may not be taking your promotion well

When a team member transitions from peer to team leader it is likely to cause changes in the internal group dynamics and in the relationships between its members. It is important that as a leader you make an initial diagnosis of the situation after your promotion and identify whether any of your former peers is dissatisfied with your appointment. Consider for example, that perhaps one of your colleagues applied for the same promotion and may now be frustrated for not having been selected. Whatever the case, it is good practice to hold individual meetings with every team member. They are great occasions to share your strategic vision for the future and let them know about your current double role. On the one hand, you will support their individual professional development and on the other you will focus on the success of the team as a whole. Finally, you have to be willing to accept that after the rules of the game have changed some people may decide to leave. This will be a sensitive issue both for yourself and for your team but rather than letting yourself be frustrated by this situation, focus on your future plans.

4 Seek the advice of those who have successfully transitioned from peer to team leader

A common mistake is to believe that now that you are a leader, others expect you to solve everything on your own. Asking for help is not a weakness. On the contrary, experienced professionals often ask for help in order to be successful at their job. Therefore, I suggest connecting with other leaders within the organization to ask about their own experiences and breakthroughs when they were promoted for the first time. You can also request recommendations for any internal training courses available for first time managers. In addition, if you have a mentor, this is a great time to exchange thoughts, share any concerns and ask for advice.

Here's a great  article to get the support of a mentor

Last but not least, your direct manager is also a key player and you should ask for his support if there are difficult or more complex issues that you don’t know how to approach.

Wearing the badge of boss proudly will involve learning how to successfully transition from being a peer to team leader

Wearing the badge of boss proudly will involve learning how to successfully transition from being a peer to team leader

5Partner with HR to learn about team management practices and policies

When you go from individual contributor to team leader, the development and management of the team becomes a priority in your agenda. Now, you will be in charge of team management decisions such as:

  • Identifying the training needs of the employees
  • Requesting the necessary budget for a job opening
  • Evaluating performance to allocate salary increases

Don’t let the new items on your agenda overwhelm you. Take it easy and learn every aspect of the talent management cycle based on need. Build a strong partnership with Human Resources from the get go to accelerate the learning curve of internal policies and procedures as well as the unwritten rules of the organization. For example, you may run into an unwritten rule when trying to get approval for a new job opening. The official procedure may be to create a job requisition through the ERP and to wait to obtain the approval in the system. But the unwritten practice may be to connect in advance with the regional director and obtain his/her approval informally before the formal request arrives at their desk. This informal practice is as important to your effectiveness as the formal procedure.

When you are promoted for the first time it may create feelings of ambiguity.

When you are promoted for the first time it may create feelings of ambiguity.

Finally, I would like to invite you to celebrate the new journey you are about to begin. Becoming a leader is extremely rewarding, and meaningful leadership is built daily. Transitioning from peer to team leader is the first step. So there’s nothing better than to start off with the right foot!