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Example of Unconscious Bias in Action: What’s wrong with this picture?

Take a quick look at this image. What does it represent to you? No, it’s not a test about unconscious bias in action but it should be. Let’s analyze this example of unconscious bias in detail.

A perfect example of unconscious bias in action. What do you see when you see this pic? Here's the description used by iStockphoto where both the publisher of the article discussed here and the Red Shoe Movement purchased it: A stylized vector cartoon of a Man and woman's feet playing footsie, the style is reminiscent of an old screen print poster. Suggesting Romance, flirtation, love, attraction, seduction or temptation.

What do you see when you see this pic? Here’s the description used by iStockphoto where both the publisher of the article discussed here and the Red Shoe Movement purchased it: “A stylized vector cartoon of a Man and woman’s feet playing footsie, the style is reminiscent of an old screen print poster. Suggesting Romance, flirtation, love, attraction, seduction or temptation.”

Here are a few things that come to mind when I look at it: A woman rubbing a man’s leg under a table. A seductress in action. A woman coming on to a man. And several variations which you can read in the caption (above) used by iStockphoto to describe the picture to potential buyers.

Let’s Add Context to the Picture: Sexual Harassment?

Now some context. This picture illustrates an article about sexual harassment in a magazine for leaders. The title of the piece is: “How to stop sexual misconduct in the workplace,” a problem that has mostly involved high powered men harassing less powerful women.

Yes, it’s true that there are cases of women harassing men. But this particular piece focuses on solutions for the more pervasive situations that started coming to light following the New Yorker revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation. The illustration is a perfect example of unconscious bias on the part of the publisher.

A Great Example of Unconscious Bias: The Red Shoe

I know you probably think I’m hypersensitive because the shoe is red. And you’d be right. I’m hyper observant of red shoes in real life and on print. But that doesn’t make the pairing of this image with the text any righter. You see, it’s part of why things move so slowly when it comes to changing the culture in our workplaces and our communities. We let slips like this go unchallenged.

This particular article was written by two men and a woman. Granted, they may not have seen the picture the editor picked for their article. But the editor did. And the female president of the publication did as well. And nobody thought there was something wrong with the way the picture contradicted the advice they were giving.

This is how unconscious bias works. It’s unconscious. So you must be trained on how to perceive your own biases and on how to perceive those of others in your environment. Then, you must have the presence of mind to call out what you see at the right time. That is, before going to print. Fixing the workplace is a joint venture. We are all in it together all the time. Regardless of titles or job descriptions. In other words, we should adopt the very effective New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority campaign slogan, which has been licensed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: “If you See Something, Say Something ®”

The picture used to illustrate the article we discuss here reflects an unconscious bias and it contradicts the advice in the article. Example of unconscious bias.

The picture used to illustrate the article we discuss here is a clear example of  unconscious bias and it contradicts the advice in the article.

Unconscious Bias in Action: 4 situations where you should say something

1Colleagues talking about women in a dismissive or derogatory way.

They may not realize that their comments reflect a bias against female colleagues or they may be doing it on purpose. Either way, when this happens in your presence, take a stand. Stop the conversation by pointing out that this kind of talk is damaging. Although it may be hard to do depending on the context and the people doing the talking, it’s imperative to find a way to avoid engaging in the conversation. Clearly, the same applies when the derogatory talk involves men.

Read more about how to become a male ally.

2People making jokes about women (or any other non-majority group.)

These may be the hardest situations to “fix” given that jokes often seem to slide by without much contention. But be aware that they are as damaging as the other examples of unconscious bias discussed here. Not only do they frequently offend women but they also perpetuate the stereotypes they portray: Women as weak, submissive, not smart or as sexual objects.

The best way to intervene? Rather than laughing along, just say something such as:  “That isn’t funny.” Then, when the joker points out your lack of sense of humor, you may reply in a kind voice and a serene demeanor: “How would you feel if I made that joke about your daughter or sister? Or if I told her the joke?” This way you bring the unconscious bias to light and give people a chance to put themselves in the shoes of the group that is the butt of the joke. You can apply the same approach to the previous point.

3Advertising by your company that features women who are unnecessarily scantily dressed (meaning, the ad is not for a product you’d use at the beach.)

There are no lack of examples of ads featuring women in sexy clothes, poses or roles to sell products and services. In a great many of them the women are just eye candy.

This is another example of unconscious bias in action that has a pervasive effect on the image of women. Why not question your creative team or your agency about their decision to use sexy women to generate sales? It may mean they are not that creative after all.

4Starting/Spreading rumors about sexual relationships in the office.

Whether founded or unfounded, rumors are damaging to everyone’s reputation but in the end, they tend to affect women the most. Almost inevitably, going forward, others will assume that these women received a promotion through special favors. An unconscious bias that doesn’t affect men the same way. On top of that, this kind of rumors create tension at home for everyone involved, particularly for those in committed relationships. So, as hard as it is to resist the guilty pleasure of gossiping, do. If for some reason, the information about the affair is relevant to you, your best approach is to discover the source of the rumor to verify its veracity and take action from there.

Changing unconscious biases that are so ingrained in our culture is not easy. By being observant and calling out unacceptable behavior and unconscious slips we can all contribute to creating a workplace that is welcoming to everyone. Is there any example of unconscious bias that comes to mind? Share it with me in the comments section below.

Ultimate Software, a Tech Company Ahead of the Rest

Ultimate Software, a company that provides Human Resources solutions, is way ahead of the competition. Boasting nearly 50% female leaders in an industry where that number is in the single digits is a testament to the company’s lifelong focus on equality and inclusion. This is what makes Ultimate different!

Ultimate Software is the 2019 Red Shoe Movement Tech Lead. And there couldn’t be a better partner. They lived by our 7 Red Shoe Principles even before they ever met us! The strength of our partnership is evidenced in our interview with two of Ultimate’s top talent, Cecile Alper-Leroux, VP of HCM (human capital management) Innovation, and Heather Geronemus, Senior Manager of Media and Community Relations, who share what makes Ultimate a frontrunner for advancing women’s careers in tech.

Valeria Mendoza— When you think about female leadership at Ultimate Software, what do you see that is different from the tech industry?

Cecile Alper-Leroux of Ultimate Software

Cecile Alper-Leroux of Ultimate Software

Cécile Alper-Leroux—

At Ultimate, half of our employees are women, and approximately 48% of our leaders are women. It has always been that way, since our inception over 28 years ago (we began with four employees: two women and two men). That is a remarkable state of affairs in any industry, but it is unheard of in the tech industry!

Ultimate offers a unique working environment, where women feel they have an equal voice in decisions and are more likely to voice their opinions, disagree, or raise alternate suggestions, without fear of repercussions. Women feel they belong and are welcomed and encouraged tobring their best selves to work. It also means that we have a broader, and I believe, more innovative view of the future of work. Our HR management products are in large part being chosen by women decision-makers, and we believe we can always be better. Including other voices and viewpoints that influence our product creation and services strategy makes our product more competitive.

Scott Scherr, CEO, Ultimate Software, honored on 2019 Hall of Fame

VM— Can you share the story of a successful stretch assignment you had at Ultimate Software?

CAL—The most satisfying stretch assignment I’ve been given at Ultimate was to create a new team—the HCM Innovation team. We knew that, to make the thought leadership applicable for our sales teams, we would have to connect future and theory with the concerns of decision-makers in our prospect and customer organizations today. Because I was given significant creative license, we created a center of excellence and knowledge that has helped not only our standing in the marketplace, but has also elevated the conversations our employees have with customers and prospects. That is helping to shape the conversation about the future of work in a rapidly changing world. If I had not had a leader who trusted me and was patient as we designed the new function, we would not have had the courage to push our limits.

VM— Which ones of the RSM principles do you relate to most and why?

CAL—I relate most to principles 1 and 5, because I believe that they are inextricably linked and can have a significant impact on women at work. Principle 1: “Mentor younger or less experienced women whenever you have a chance.” Mentoring women is important, for all women at all levels and stages of their careers. I’ve learned from every mentoring relationship I’ve had, whether I was the mentor or mentee. Mentoring others helps us crystallize our thoughts and refine our beliefs, which makes us better mentors. Every person can use support and mentorship in their work lives, as it provides a necessary alternate perspective and enriches our thoughts. But I believe mentorship is a critical first step for women’s careers, and we all need to take the next step to become sponsors of the women we mentor. Principle 5: “Celebrate the accomplishments of women publicly.” Sponsorship is more than a one-on-one relationship. It requires a public endorsement of another person. It becomes a relationship in which a sponsor advocates for the mentee/sponsee to propel them forward in their careers. It requires a sponsor taking on the risk of publicly endorsing someone else, and the effect can be career- and life-changing. We need more sponsors for less experienced women in the workplace to ensure a future with equal representation of women in leadership roles.

Ultimate Software team

Ultimate Software team

VM—What is the mission of the group Women in Leadership at Ultimate Software?

Heather Geronemus of Ultimate Software

Heather Geronemus of Ultimate Software

Heather Geronemus—The mission of Women in Leadership is to help women at all stages of their careers at Ultimate reach their maximum potential and support one another. One of the most inspiring traits of female leaders at Ultimate is their willingness to spend time mentoring other women in the company. No matter how busy they are—whether it’s through our formal mentoring program or simply taking the time to give advice, provide encouragement, or answer questions—they’re always available or willing to make time. Our leaders are constantly helping the next generation of Ultimate leaders thrive. They are genuinely warm, caring women who are always ready to share their knowledge and experience with their colleagues, whether they have been with Ultimate for years or days.

VM—Can you share some of the benefits you derived from being part of the group?

HG— There are countless benefits to being part of the Women in Leadership (WIL) group at Ultimate Software. We provide opportunities for personal and professional growth, service to our communities, and networking with peers. I recently participated in one of our mentoring cohorts both as a mentee and a mentor. Without a doubt, this was one of the most rewarding opportunities WIL has provided to me. Naturally, the ability to have a mentor was amazing. But, the most surprising part of the experience was learning how much I had to offer my own mentee who is in a completely different part of the company than I am, and, more importantly, how much we were able to teach each other. Additionally, as a leader in the WIL organization, I have grown tremendously. Working and collaborating with a group of inspired, passionate women who are dedicated to helping other women at our company thrive has been so rewarding.

On March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day, Ultimate Software’s employees and customers join the Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas. They will conduct bell-ringing ceremonies in 18 locations in North America, Europe and Asia! On this day, a company whose color is green, is stepping into red shoes, ties and accessories to support our mission to accelerate the representation of women at the top. That’s just how they roll. Welcome aboard Ultimate Peeps!

Viv Maza, Chief People Officer

Viv Maza, Chief People Officer

 

 

 

Iris Bohnet Promotes Changing Design Over Mindsets

Iris Bohnet, is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, the Academic Dean of Harvard Kennedy Schooland author of What Works: Gender Equality by Design. Don’t miss an equal parts insightful and inspiring interview!

An indisputable leader in the field, Iris Bohnet is a behavioral economist who combines insights from economics and psychology to improve decision-making in organizations.

She has helped companies and governments across the globe use behavioral design research to de-bias how we live, work and learn. We had a chance to meet her at a recent conversation at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

Iris Bohnet at Council on Foreign Relations

Iris Bohnet at Council on Foreign Relations

Red Shoe Movement—At the recent Women and the Lawconference at the Council on Foreign Relations you mentioned that you are hopeful about the state of the gender equality conversation despite the fact that we keep talking about the problem when there are already very well researched solutions. Where does your optimism come from?

Iris Bohnet—My optimism is based on the demands that I see for the solutions. I did not see this 10 years ago. Back then, we didn’t have evidence about what worked. And we didn’t have a demand from companies and governments from different countries asking for help with these interventions. However, let me qualify my optimism because I fall prey of what we call selection bias. I’m responding to organizations that are reaching out to me. So, this is a self-selected group of organizations interested in this issue, and it’s not a representative sample of companies in the U.S. But by now I’ve worked with 50-100 companies around the world. Apparently, there’s enough movement in the space for all these companies to reach out and ask for help on this issue.

RSM— What are some good practices for women who don’t work in HR who wish to contribute to de-biasing their organizations?

IB—Let’s start with people who are not in managerial roles. Everyone can be a micro-sponsor. Everyone can play the role of watching out for micro-inequities or -aggressions. For example, if you make a comment in a meeting and then it’s repeated by John, I could bring this fact up easier than you can. And hopefully I can do it with tact and not in an adversarial manner. That’s an example of micro-sponsorship. I can thank John for building on your comment and then, bring the discussion back to you so that you can own it. And it can be done by women and by men. Everyone can pay attention to these patterns of exclusion.

When you have a managerial role you have more responsibilities in leading meetings, giving feedback during appraisals, and offering people opportunities to grow. Women may not be sent to leadership training or not offered a higher salary because they don’t ask for it as they fear backlash. Unfortunately, feedback is fraught with bias. Women and people of color often get less useful feedback. Managers can check that they help everyone grow. The best predictor of people’s satisfaction with their job is a good manager, so they have a great role to play every day.

Iris Bohnet award winning book

Iris Bohnet award winning book

RSM—Of all the interventions you propose in your book, which ones have you seen consistently implemented successfully?

IB—Probably the one picked up most is the debiasing of language in job advertising. It’s easy to do because HR doesn’t have to reinvent their practices. It’s an ad-on to what they are already doing.  The second advantage is that is a no-brainer because organizations want to cast a wide net and attract a wide range of talent. This intervention is not costly.  You can develop your own algorithm or work with one of the start-ups such as Applied or Textio offering the tool, and the system then does the work.

RSM—Do you see a major shift in gender dynamics as Generation Z enters the workplace? How do you think the current dynamic will change or not?

IB—I truly don’t know. I haven’t studied this generation specifically. It appears from surveys that both men and women are more interested in work-life balance. They have more demands about the time they spend outside of work. They are looking for self -fulfilment and self-realization. The younger generation asks a lot about purpose at work. The meaning of what they do is important to them. This will likely impact gender dynamics but we don’t really have the data yet to show how.

Iris Bohnet on gender equality design

Iris Bohnet on gender equality design

Advice by Iris Bohnet on reaching men

RSM— What do you say to men who are “tired” of all the gender equality talk. The pushback of the #MeToo movement? It seems to force women to once again, protect men’s feelings before their own.

IB—It depends on the men. I’d say there are two categories. On the one hand you have those men who care but are tired because we’ve talked about it for so many years, they’ve gone through diversity training programs, they’ve seen their companies implement leadership programs for women and still don’t see a change. To them, I’d say, we’ve done the wrong things. We tried to change mindsets or women. What we’re doing today is different than what we’ve done so far. Our approach is based on research, it’s new and different from what we’ve done before. It builds on evidence of what works.

On the other hand, there’s the category of men who don’t care and don’t think we have a problem. People who love homogeneity and are comfortable with people who look like them. This is a bigger problem and it requires a different approach. This group needs less talk and more action. These are people who don’t want to move from A to B. They are comfortable in A. For them, we need to look at a social movement. Figure out how to promote change even when people don’t see that gender inequity is real and a violation of human rights.

RSM—For many years, we’ve all looked at the business case for inclusion and encouraged women to bring up the metrics to conversations around this topic. Do you believe that’s still the best approach to get an organization to get behind inclusion at the highest levels of decision-making? Or have we arrived at a place where you can answer “it’s not just good business is the moral and ethical thing to do to support 100% of your talent”?

IB—I think we need to use both approaches. We always have to talk about human rights. But the business case is helpful. But even the two approaches together are not enough. There is a third piece that we need to add: We have to help people follow their virtuous intentions. It’s like healthy eating. We can make the case that it’s good for you to eat healthily but even if you believe that eating more vegetables is the right and the smart thing to do, it doesn’t happen automatically. We have to help people work through their intentions in a practical way. You have to debias systems and not start by debiasing mindsets. Eventually, good behavior changes mindsets. But it takes time.

Iris Bohnet sharing about gender equality by design

Iris Bohnet sharing about gender equality by design

Iris Bohnet’s suggestions for best inclusion practices

RSM— If you had to recommend one best practice for fostering gender inclusion in an organization, what would it be?

IB—I don’t think there is the one silver bullet that will solve all our issues. And which one you start with depends on where the organization is in its journey. If an organization is at the beginning of its journey, I’d say measure. Understand what’s going on before you throw money at the problem. Who are you hiring, what are the pay gaps, who’s leaving, what’s the climate? What doesn’t get measured not only doesn’t count but it also can’t be fixed.

RSM— If you had to recommend one best practice for women to reach the highest levels of decision-making, what would it be?

IB—Build a support network inside and outside your organization. People who lift you up and help you navigate the system. It should include mentors, sponsors, friends. And make sure you also have a support system at home. Don’t try to do this alone.

RSM—What do you think of our #RedShoeTuesday campaign?

IB—I like the idea a lot! The red shoes are a signal —the more people wear red shoes the more others will wear them. That’s just human behavior. I like that it’s something visible. My biggest concern is whether enough people own red shoes. (Laughs.) Maybe, you have to decrease the barriers to entry a bit and allow people to wear anything red, a scarf, a hat, a tie. But the idea is great. I often say: seeing is believing!

A Female Leadership Conference Unlike Any Other!

It’s an experience. We aim for guests to leave with a sense of self-discovery they hadn’t expected. With new insights about their own career journeys and contacts who can be an integral part of those journeys. That’s what our female leadership conference is all about!

This past November marked the seventh annual RSM Signature Event, a day-long female leadership conference geared to a mixed audience, unlike anything you’ve seen. The vibe, the energy, the intense interaction never fails to turn the day into a memorable, shared experience.

Group picture at RSM female leadership conference

Group picture at RSM female leadership conference

What’s different about the RSM female leadership conference

From the beginning we built this event on three principles:

  1. We all have something to teach and something to learn from each other at all times, therefore, there wouldn’t be a distinction between “speakers” and “audience.”
  2. Audience and organizers would co-create the content of the event.
  3. It would be a mixed audience. Women and men, all backgrounds, a wide range of roles, ages and abilities from college students to the C-Suite.

True, this is not an easy feat to achieve. And it’s much harder to maintain your principles when people who only know traditional female leadership conferences constantly ask you to adjust your model. Yet, year after year we persisted, tweaked and improved our delivery, and here we are. With a hyper successful event that never fails to surprise and to teach each one of us something new and unexpected.

A female leadership conference that involves all stakeholders

Female Leadership Conference unlique any other

Female Leadership Conference unlique any other

One of the aspects that strikes participants from the get go is the wide range of career stages and backgrounds of attendees. It’s by design. Our method only works when you have people at every experience and hierarchy in the organization, the most diverse the better. So it’s a very unique opportunity for an analyst or a recent college grad to sit at the same proverbial table as a senior vice president or Chief Marketing Officer and give each other advice. It’s an exchange that enriches them both and leaves them with an entirely new perspective on what’s possible.

Engaging leaders in two distinct roles

Executives get to practice a different role at the RSM female leadership conference

Executives get to practice a different role at the RSM female leadership conference

It can be a challenge to engage leaders in a learning model that requires that they wear a different hat than they are used to. We interview our keynote guests, and they interview the audience. We ask executives to play the role of Explorer, asking questions instead of providing advice. We are really lucky to count on a remarkable group of influencers at every conference who not only play along but also help us create an even better event.

Aha moments shared by guests of the RSM Signature Event

We can tell you how wonderful the event was until we turn blue in the face. Yet nobody can describe the experience better than individuals who went through it. So here are a few insightful testimonials.

Claudia Vazquez of Prudential shares her insights from the RSM Signature Event

Claudia Vazquez of Prudential shares her insights from the RSM Signature Event

“The RSM event reminded me in a very vivid way that we all have the ability to add value based on our expertise and unique strengths. That I should always find that one thing that makes me different and that is the same thing that makes me stand out from the rest. That I should continue to be bold on expressing my aspirations and be resilient on the pursuit of them!”  — Claudia Vazquez, Director, Product Management, GI/WSG, Prudential

Maria Jose Gomez Silva, Novartis, at the RSM female leadership conference

Maria Jose Gomez Silva, Novartis, at the RSM female leadership conference

“Excited, inspired and empowered by the Red Shoe Movement  panel demystifying Failure. Failure is the key to grow! So instead of focusing on avoiding failure, re-learn, re-tool and re-engage!” — Maria Jose Gomez Silva, Commercial Director Latin America and Canada, Novartis Pharma

Beth Marmolejos strikes a pose at the #RedLookBook

Beth Marmolejos strikes a pose at the #RedLookBook

“It was a transformational experience and reminder that we need to use our influence and power to support each other.” — Beth Marmolejos, Executive Advisor and IT Account Manager, Anthem, Inc.

Lorena Kuri, Novartis Oncology, at the RSM female leadership event

Lorena Kuri, Novartis Oncology, at the RSM female leadership event

“In one of the mentoring circles I was able to see the healing power of a group of women that never met before, and how they impacted someone in need. Collective love, collective, true selves.” — Lorena Kuri Murad, AD Jakavi Brand Lead / D&I Champion Latin America and Canada Region, Novartis Oncology

The extra touches that make a difference

You can’t have the words “Red Shoe” as part of your company name and take yourself too seriously. That’s why we remind people we are at the intersection of self-empowerment and fashion. The fashion piece gives us the perfect excuse to keep humor as part of the courageous conversations we inspire. A little lightness goes a long way to get men and women to work together towards a more equal future.

Farylrobin's designs for different Red Shoe Movement Signature Events

Farylrobin’s designs for different Red Shoe Movement Signature Events

As every year, we gave away over 50 pairs of red boots and over dozens of ties to participants.  Thanks to our committed partners Farylrobin, once again, many of our female guests walked away with a new pair of boots to celebrate #RedShoeTuesday. And many of our male guests took home our new Signature Tie, by our partner Cyberoptix. Now they have the perfect accessory and a specific hashtag #RedTieTuesday to take a stand for gender equality every Tuesday. You can read more about the meaning of the tie here.

Our RSM Signature Tie for #RedTieTuesday. A great way to engage your male champions.

Our RSM Signature Tie for #RedTieTuesday. A great way to engage your male champions.

We also added a little extra sweet touch. Thanks to our partner Charbonnel et Walker, fine chocolatiers to the British Crown, we put a small “handbag” of chocolate stilettos in the hands of every attendee. Mmmmm… chic, and delish!

Charbonnel et Walker stilettos gave the female leadership conference a special touch

Charbonnel et Walker stilettos gave the female leadership conference a special touch

A female leadership conference as a culminating event

Patricia Mejia of Microsoft, attended our RSM Signature Event to receive her Red Shoe Leader Award. In the video she shares how the Step Up Program helped her grow in her career and gain additional visibility inside and outside her organization.

Patricia Mejia of Microsoft, attended our RSM Signature Event to receive her Red Shoe Leader Award. In the video she shares how the Step Up Program helped her grow in her career and gain additional visibility inside and outside her organization.

Year after year we work with scores of female talent inside medium and large organizations to provide specific tools that elicit self-leadership and mutual mentoring. It’s particularly poignant to see one of our past participants win the Red Shoe Leader Award for the work she’s done to promote inclusion inside and outside her organization, Microsoft, as a result of her involvement with the Step Up Plus program. More exciting yet, to have the chance to meet her in person —she’s from Guatemala— as she joined us in New York City for the Awards Ceremony and the RSM Signature Event.

Here’s Patricia Mejia of Microsoft in her own words (in Spanish.)

So you see, it’s not just one thing that makes this female leadership conference unique. It’s a constellation of people coming together to think about the experience of participants. What they are taking away. How they are truly transformed. How they will pay it forward by impacting others with their new insights. And as that experience is a moving target, we try to always be ahead of it, offering what guests didn’t know they needed and they are so happy they found.

 

 

It’s Easier than Ever for Male Allies to Make a Statement

#RedTieTuesday Has Arrived

Starting now, it’s become easier than ever for male allies to make a statement of support of women’s career growth and be true change agents. Enter #RedTieTuesday and our new Signature Tie!

Male champions support women careers by wearing red ties on Tuesdays #RedTieTuesday

Male champions support women careers by wearing red ties on Tuesdays #RedTieTuesday

The origin of #RedTieTuesday

It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been celebrating #RedShoeTuesday for 7 years! The day when women wear red shoes and men wear red ties or socks to support women’s career advancement. A visual reminder to keep alive the conversation on how to change the culture in our organizations so that everyone has an equal chance to reach the top.

Here's the meaning of red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement.

We were ready to roll out a separate hashtag for men a few years ago and suddenly, the political climate in the U.S. made it hard to highlight a red tie as a way for men to stand by women. But our male allies persisted. They wore their red ties every week and advocated for 100% of talent inclusion both inside their organizations and publicly, in social media. They supported our initiative week in and week out with a level of enthusiasm that pushed us to take make the hashtag a reality.

So last week, at our first ever Celebrating True Inclusion Stars Awards Event, the evening prior to our 7th RSM Signature Event, our annual leadership development conference, we debuted our signature tie and our new hashtag #RedTieTuesday.

But it’s not just one tie. We actually created a collection of ties alongside Cyberoptix, the Detroit based woman-owned business, that makes these handmade beauties. We chose two different widths, three tones of red fabric, and several colors of ink so that each male ally could make a statement reflecting his style.

RSM Signature tie collection with Ampersand by Cyberoptix

RSM Signature tie collection with Ampersand by Cyberoptix

It has been a fascinating road to see how men found visually appealing ways to stand next to women every Tuesday across the globe and thus become strong change agents. We’ve seen the most creative socks, bow ties, shirts, and scarves, not to mention the number of gentlemen that confessed to be wearing red underwear! (We always take them at their word…) Having an official tie makes it easier to continue working together towards a global leap of consciousness when the proportion of men and women at the top becomes balanced overnight. And as I’ve said in the past, standing for inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but a proven career booster for men.

Male champions support women's career growth with red socks and ties on #RedTieTuesday

Male allies support women’s career growth with very creative red socks and ties on #RedTieTuesday

The Ampersand gets us closer than ever!

“In 1440, Guttenberg introduced the ampersand (&) in his first printing press. In 2018 the Red Shoe Movement introduces the ampersand on its first signature tie,” said Gustavo Carvajal, #IDEAcatalyst, on a recent post on Twitter and Instagram.

It’s the most inclusive symbol in the alphabet. We chose it because it’s the very representation of inclusion. And. Women and men. All of us working together towards the same goal. It’s one of the most simple and recognizable ways to show inclusion in any language. We selected this particular font, Caslon, because its Ampersand is abstract and artistic, turning it into a small piece of art. We are hoping it becomes a conversation starter. That men wearing the tie get asked what the symbol represents. That they have a chance to explain what it stands for. What they stand for when wearing it.

It’s Easier Than Ever for Male Allies to Make a Statement with our Ampersand Tie

Philip Klint, anchor NY1 Noticias, debuts the RSM Signature Tie

Philip Klint, anchor NY1 Noticias, debuts the RSM Signature Tie

We debuted our signature tie with Philip Klint, the Emmy award-winning journalist, writer, producer and anchor of NY1 Noticias in NYC and the EMCEE of our Awards event hosted by WarnerMedia. We then gifted ties to our Red Shoe Leader honorees —all of them strong male champions who support gender inclusion, the 7 RSM Principles and #RedShoeTuesday initiatives— as they were called to the stage.

And following our tradition, we gave away a number of ties the following day at our 7thAnnual RSM Signature Event at MetLife.

Use your tie to start culture-changing conversations and actions

Clearly, #RedShoeTuesday and #RedTieTuesday are excuses to have relevant, culture-changing conversations.

Here are a few questions you could ask your female colleagues any Tuesday:

  • Is there anything I could do to help you achieve your career goals?
  • Is there any particular person I have access to that could help you?
  • Is there any meeting you are interested in that you think I could arrange for your participation?
  • Is there anything I may be doing that may be interfering with your career opportunities so I can do less of it?
  • Is there anything I may be doing that is helping your career opportunities so I can do more of it?
Red Shoe Leader Award honorees receive a Signature Tie

Red Shoe Leader Award honorees receive a Signature Tie

Here are a few simple actions you could take to help level the playing field for everyone in your organization.

  • Offer equal chances to women and men to present at meetings so they gain equal exposure.
  • Make sure men and women take turns to do the support activities around meetings and events. (Reserve rooms, deal with logistics, prepare folders and takeaways, etc.)
  • Change your after-hours get together to lunchtime so more female colleagues can attend.
  • Praise female colleagues publicly highlighting specific achievements.
  • Make soft introductions for your female colleagues in person and via email to valuable contacts. Focus on their achievements and hard skills rather than on effort.
Don't miss these key diversity and inclusion strategies!

Most importantly, join us. Whether you wear our Ampersand tie or any kind of red tie, let’s celebrate together next Tuesday, and the next. Wear your red tie to work and use it as an opportunity to become an even stronger change agent. Share your pictures, thoughts and the effect your red tie had in your environment using our #RedTieTuesday. Nothing happens until you join this conversation.