Julie Kratz

Time to take serious action on gender inequality

17 Jul 2019   |   Culture

Julie Kratz

Time to take serious action on gender inequality

17 Jul 2019   |   Culture

It’s time to get serious about gender inequality. We all know it is real, and now it’s time to take some action. Julie Kratz leads us in some very practical steps that start with taking a hard look around your office and seeing where microagressions and other hurdles are. Who gets spoken over at meetings? Who gets invited to the weekend golf match?

Not much will happen until men and others agree to be allies. This includes everyone, at every stage of your career. Whether it’s a son being proud of his working mother, a fresh-out-of-college male who idolizes a woman who is leading the charge, or an older man who mentors a younger woman to reach her potential in the organization.

What we learned from this episode

-Uncovering your biases and becoming self-aware is the first step.

-Being an ally can come in many forms – mentor, sponsor, advocate, challengers, celebrator

-Young men can still be an ally for older women

What you can do right now

-Take a day to examine where there is gender inequality at your workplace

-Just because people are quiet, doesn’t mean they are waiting on you to speak

-Be an ally to the women in your family as well

Key quotes

“Take an inventory at a meeting. Meeting behavior tells you everything. Whose voice is heard the most in a meeting? I would bet it is a Caucasian male. Who’s interrupted in meetings? I would bet that it’s a woman. Whose ideas surface and then are taken credit for by others in the meeting? My bet, again, would be on a woman.”

Links mentioned

One: How Male Allies Support Women for Gender Equality

The Person You Mean to Be​ – by Dolly Chugh

Pivot Point Podcast

Lead Like an Ally

White Fragility​ – by Robin Diangelo

Today, our guest is Julie Kratz. She’s a leadership trainer, speaker, and author and founder of Pivot Point. And this episode is Work Minus Gender Inequality. Hi, Julie. How are you?

Hey, good. Thanks for having me.

It’s great to have you on. Why don’t you introduce yourself a little bit to our audience so they get a feel for who you are?

Absolutely. So, my business is Pivot Point. We exist to develop inclusive leaders, promote equality in the workplace while also helping women leaders to build what we call a winning career game plan. And our focus now is on leading like an ally. And so knowing your audience is a lot of people leaders inside organizations, we’re finding that organizations are really wanting to drive an inclusive culture where everyone feels seen, heard, that they belong. But often, the middle manager especially is often overlooked, in fact, of how to be an inclusive leader. And so, I’m excited to talk more about that with you today.

Why don’t you start us off with how you got involved in this in the first place? How did this become such a passionate idea for you that you ended up turning it into a business?

I spent 12 years in corporate America. I survived but I have some battle wounds from the experience. So, I very much empathize with our audience. So, I threaded throughout that experience, I had the chance to be a people leader very early on in my career, at age 23. And so, that was pretty unusual to lead teams, big teams. I was in the operations environment. And that was a really, probably the hardest job I’ve ever had, honestly, where I had to learn to be a leader on the fly. And then I went back to business school, got my MBA, I thought I wanted to be a marketer, ended up being consultant, tried that hat, and again, I ended up leading a team of consultants. And through that experience, again, that common thread of leadership, I became really passionate about leadership development and providing tools to leaders that I certainly didn’t have access to in my career. So, how do we make it easier and meet people where they’re at and pull them through those leadership skills that I know, things like coaching, emotional intelligence, really can differentiate you as a leader and help you get results faster.

I liked what you said about learning to be a leader on the fly, because I think it’s where a lot of people find themselves in. They did well when they first entered into the workforce, they get promoted, and all of a sudden, they’re leading people, but they’re not really trained for that necessarily, it’s something they just are thrown into. So, especially when it comes to the idea of inclusiveness and equality and equity, what are some of the bad habits, the things we’ve inherited from the past, that are really hard to recognize even in yourself or recognize that you’re probably going to lean towards those without even realizing it.

We all have bias. I know you’ve had some allies of mine on the podcast before that have spoken about unconscious biases, and the fact that we have them and what to look out for. I think that’s one. Self awareness is really step one into your inclusive leadership journey, thinking about the things that you don’t see, being open to meeting with people that are different than you is a huge one. And just simply being curious to learn from people that are different than you. We have a tendency to surround ourselves by people that think like us, that act like us, that behave like us. And that’s not where the best ideas, the best decisions, and the best business results come from. And so, really looking to diversify your network, be aware of your biases when they happen in the moment, when you’re making a judgment about somebody, really stopping yourself, pausing and intervening with, how do I know that’s true? Based on what information did I arrive at that conclusion? So, I often offer self awareness as step one in the lead like an ally journey. And to be aware, there’s a term that your listeners may be aware of if they’ve listened to past episodes, but microaggressions, these are the subtle little signals that we send to people that are different than the majority group that they don’t belong. And this is where I really see, especially from a gender perspective, there’s so many subtle signals to women in the workplace today, whether she’s a new mother and we assume she doesn’t want to travel or be promoted, whether she’s new to the workforce and we put her in a different type of role because it’s more female-oriented or friendly, like HR or marketing. There’s these little subtle signals that we’re sending, and certainly, from a race perspective, sexual orientation, disability perspective, those can be even more pervasive and oftentimes subtle as well. So, I think being aware of your bias, being self aware of those microaggressions, and if you see something that someone else does that’s aligned with that behavior, those negative assumptions that people that may be different than the majority group, say something, you’ll be an upstander, not a bystander.

So, self awareness is something that’s great when you are aware, but to become aware of that I find is often the hardest challenge. You’re talking to maybe a young, white, straight male guy who says, “Yeah, I think women are equal. I think we should treat people nicely. We should do all these things.” But it’s hard to really see yourself in a negative light to say that microaggression came from me, or that’s pointed out to you like, “Well, I didn’t mean it like that,” or something like that. So, what are the best ways? You’re just going to ask somebody, tell me what you see? How can you identify those things in yourself?

Ask for feedback on that. And a lot of managers say that to me, I don’t see gender, I don’t see race, which we all see those things. So, that’s step one, that’s not true. Be okay with that. That makes you human, we see things, we recognize differences. And I think most people think they’re good intentioned. And so, as you’re saying, “Hey, I treat women equally, I treat people of color equally,” I think challenging yourself, challenging that belief system, and being a bit introspective about maybe the subtle signals I am sending, and just spend a day, spend a day being curious. Take an inventory at a meeting. Meeting behavior tells you everything. Whose voice is heard the most in a meeting? I would bet it is a Caucasian male. Who’s interrupted in meetings? I would bet that it’s a woman. Whose ideas surface and then are taken credit for by others in the meeting? My bet, again, would be on a woman. And so, if you just take notice of these subtle behaviors in the workplace and put your antennas up to see it instead of not see it and to convince yourself that you’re a good person. It doesn’t feel good thinking I’m not a good person. And that’s not what I’m saying. It’s okay to be good-ish, to not have it all together.

There’s a wonderful read out there for your listeners that I just finished this weekend, Dolly Chugh wrote it. I had the honor to interview her for my book about men as allies. And the title is “The Person You Mean to Be.” And she opens with her own story as a woman of color in this country about a time when she screwed up, how she maybe wasn’t comfortable leaning into this conversation. And that’s the conversation we need to be having is I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. But if I do some introspection, and the inventory turns out different than what I wanted, I can do something with that. And we all can get better. I often share leading like an ally, it is a journey, not a destination. I am learning more, for example, about racism. And this has been really hard for me to introspective look at my own network and realize how many white women that I spend time with and how limiting that is to my growth and development. And so how do I lean in, it’s uncomfortable, but really lean into unpacking my own privilege, my own network, thinking about how I can be more inclusive, and it’s been a journey. It is not ending. It is only going to continue. I won’t ever arrive at fully understanding my own racial bias and how that limits me. But I’m certainly going to strive to get better every day. And that’s all we’re asking as allies is strive to get better, every day do something that advances the conversation.

I want to get deeper into this topic of privilege because I know it’s something you’ve talked about on your own podcast before. When you talk about meetings, I was even thinking in my own life, I found where I needed the most self awareness was I would always summarize what somebody said at the end, or have the last word almost, I felt like people were looking to me to say something, almost like now it’s your turn, white guy, to summarize everything. But it wasn’t really true. It was just fine if I just shut up and said that sounds good. So, that’s from my own experience. 

But let’s get into this topic of leading like an ally. Being an ally is something we’ve touched on a little bit, but I want to get really deep into this. So, tell us how you define an ally, what it is and what isn’t, and how can we build these skills.

Great question. So, an ally, think of it as an umbrella term. And the research that supports this, I know Jennifer Brown talked about as a continuum. How I tend to talk about it is there’s five key categories of an ally. And by no means is this all inclusive. But this is where I see it surface in Corporate America the most. So, an ally, think of it, again, as an umbrella. The spokes within that umbrella could be a mentor, someone that is basically the future version, who you want to be someday, who you want to grow up to be like, someone that’s doing what you want to do. Second category is a sponsor. So, somebody that’s in meeting rooms, somebody that has access to decisions you don’t have access to. This could be formal through power, this could be informal through influence. Think about the person in your organization, when they say yes, it’s a go. The third is an advocate. And these could be public, these could be private, think of these as champions, these are people that are making sure your voice is heard, they’re amplifying your voice, speaking up with you on your behalf, telling people how awesome you are. And then we have another category, challengers. And then sometimes we misinterpret them as non allies and say, they’re just being a jerk. No, oftentimes, they’re shining a light for us to see something we need to see. They’re the people that tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. They give feedback, they give constructive criticism, they’re constantly trying to make us better. And then the fifth category is my favorite is the celebrator, who’s there to celebrate with you. When I have something great happen, I have a great male ally, I text like, “Hey, I hit a new record on my sales this month,” someone to celebrate with you and help promote positive successes.

So, those are the categories that I would say I most often see in the workspace, but I would also offer that our allies could be at home. It could be personal relationships that we have with our parents, or brothers or sisters, or our partners, whatever that looks like. And so, thinking about who your allies are and how to be more of an ally, what the research bears, what we know to be true, is that women are far less likely to have allies than men are. Men, because of sheer rank inside organizations, they’re usually 80% or more of a leadership team, the board is very much set up the same way. They build relationships with each other and they often nurture relationships down in the organization with people that resemble themselves, the younger version of myself that just happens to be a young man. And so, women have less access to mentors, to sponsors, to people that can advocate for them. This is where we really need to step up and get more men. But to your point, women need to be allies for women. And that’s a subject we’ve also addressed in a podcast that comes up often in my live Q&As when I speak is, hey, women are the ones that aren’t helping. Well, it’s really not fair to put the ownership of being an ally all on the woman’s shoulders to help women. Oftentimes, if there’s one or two women leading inside an organization in the C-suite bubble, it’s usually HR or marketing, they are burdened with the task of developing all the other women. They just don’t have enough time to do that. And that’s really not fair. So, overtaxing women leaders to be allies, well, they probably didn’t have the support themselves to climb the ladder. So, maybe they don’t even know how to be an ally. So, I think really thinking about this from a perspective of gender equality, and we all want things to be equal. I’m going to go ahead and make that assumption if you’re listening. Lean in and be an ally as a man because women are just far less likely to have the kind of relationships that you do.

Let’s say that I’m a man, I want to be an ally, I want to do this right. How do I start off this conversation? Does it need to be formal, where I go to somebody and say, hey, I want to be your ally, which of these categories would you like me to fill? What’s the best way to start?

I like this question because this is where I’m getting a lot of tactical, give me a checklist, give me a step by step be an ally guide. And I struggle with this. I’m much probably more in the strategic realm of this, but I hear you and what I would offer is tactical steps. To be an ally, is first, take an inventory of the people you spend time with, we usually have like minded people in our circles. So, just be aware of that. Think about who you want to spend more time with, and if it happens, as a man, to be women, people of color, whatever that looks like for you, think about people that could really benefit from your expertise, your coaching, your mentorship, your advocacy, think about high potential people inside your organization that could really benefit from your skillset, your expertise, whatever it is that you could offer. And then I would also say, while it feels great to volunteer to be someone’s ally, it’s much better if someone comes to you, and seeks out your allyship. However, women are far less likely to do that. That’s probably a very, very popular question I also get in my live Q&A from women. “How do I ask? I’m afraid.” So, there’s this pairing that needs to happen. And I think a good conversation, a good starting point is, “Hey, I’d like to go out to coffee with you, or, hey, I’d like to have a discussion with you about your career. And I simply just want to understand how I could be supportive, how someone on my team could be supportive. I just like to listen and learn.” And that’s what our allies do really well. They listen and learn. So, you don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to go into the conversation with a game plan, and how you’re going to be the ally and save the day. That doesn’t feel good and that’s not sustainable.

From a woman’s perspective, raise your hand, if you see somebody inside the organization, male or female, that you want to emulate, be like, learn from, ask them, “Hey, can I pick your brain for half an hour?” Good organizations actually set the standard for this type of behavior. So, at JPMorgan Chase, I had the chance to be in a Men as Allies summit with them and their leadership team last year in New York City, and what their leaders shared is they set an expectation that there are these 30 minute conversations on a weekly basis from their leadership team. When you think about that, that’s what? 5% of your time, assuming you’re only working 40 hours a week. Can’t you carve out half an hour, once a week, to have that conversation? And so, setting the expectation, especially with your director level and above, that you will be having these conversations with people that are different or could benefit from you mentorship, sponsorship, advocacy, coaching, whatever that may be. And so, I think there’s a bit of a balance on the individual to step up, but also at the organization level, set an expectation that this is actually a part of your job and measure it, hold your leaders accountable to be doing, exhibiting these behaviors.

Let’s look at it from a different angle maybe. A lot of times when we think about men being an ally of women, it’s in these roles of mentoring, sponsoring type things. What if you want to encourage women who are either peers of yours, or who are actually maybe even higher ranking than you that you just, as a younger man, you may really feel like, “Wow, she really has it going on. She knows what’s up. I want to learn from her.” What are ways that we can be allies of people of equal or higher rank than us in organizations?

You’re starting to see this as a trend, reverse mentoring, primarily from a generational perspective that we can learn a lot from millennials. There’s a lot of confusion about how to motivate millennials in the workforce. And so, senior leaders spending time reverse mentoring. I don’t love the term reverse mentoring, because it suggests this is somehow backwards. But in some ways, it is. It’s flipping the concept of mentoring on its ear. And so, I do like this idea. As somebody that spends time with a young woman leader inside an organization, I learned a ton from my mentee about the struggles she’s facing nowadays. She just negotiated salary, for example, and we had a conversation about it. And she spoke up. And the feedback she got was quite strange, to be honest, and she didn’t end up getting the outcome she wanted. But I think she felt better having been supported for that. So, I would say, yeah, absolutely. If you are a young male inside an organization that has yet to go through this gender norming, if you’re a year or two in, you may not see everything that you’ll probably see that I hope you don’t see, but you will see later in your career. So, raise your hand, ask a woman to mentor you. That’s the thing. I call it cross gender mentoring. Women are far more likely to be mentored by men. And men are far less likely to be mentored by women. Myself, I can testify to this. I’ve had very few male mentees and shame on me. I should be extending my network in that way, too. So, it’s a two-way street. But I think you’re absolutely spot on and we can learn a lot by exposing young men inside organizations to women’s leadership. So, they start to see this as normal. So much of the research shows that we question women leaders in ways that we don’t male leaders because we haven’t seen it before. When a woman demonstrates the same exact behavior that a male does in a meeting setting, a work setting, whatever it is, it’s like, “Oh, she said that. Whoa.” A man says the same exact thing and it’s not questioned. And so, we really need to unpack this. And the more exposure we have to each other’s worlds, I think the better we’ll all get.

So, we’re talking about Work Minus Gender Inequality. Let’s talk directly to the women who are listening in, young women managers, people who want to get out there and do something great. What is it that’s preventing them or that they maybe even unconsciously contributing to really help for the cause of women and to reach what we call gender equity instead of just equality?

The biggest thing that I think young women will be facing is the continual pay gap. This really is a sore subject for me. When you look at the data, 82% at best that women make in the United States on the dollar to their male counterparts that are doing very similar work. It’s disheartening that it takes us several months into the year just to be on equal playing field to our male counterparts. So, when I think about young women, knowing when to negotiate, just as my mentee did. When I was a young woman, I didn’t negotiate. I’ll just take whatever they give me, I was grateful. I was taught to be grateful growing up, because I was gender socialized as a woman. However, when I compare notes to my male counterparts, they always negotiated. In fact, my first job out of college, early 2000s, not that long ago, they made, all of them, all five of them that started the same day with me, made 5% more than I did. And when I compare notes and found that out, I was furious. But shame on me, I should have spoken up. But I wonder about the perception of if I had, being a woman, how that would have been perceived versus being a man. The research shows that we tend to over prefer male requests for promotions and pay increases to females because we assume men are providers and women are caretakers.

Now, I share that, because I did not negotiate early in my career. But five years later, once I learned my lesson, I negotiated hard. So, I’ve negotiated for every job I’ve ever had and I negotiate on a daily basis with my clients in my own business. But I will say when I negotiated even five years later, I will never forget, the HR leader told me in front of one of my direct reports that was male, “Yeah, Julie negotiated. Can you believe that?” Like I wasn’t supposed to. I mean, I got what I wanted. But still, it was a stigma of she shouldn’t have done that. She stepped out of bounds, which I think if I were male, that would have never been questioned. So, negotiate, ask for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Channel your allies, practice with somebody like you’re going to negotiate, practice it out. Make sure you feel prepared that you’ve done your homework, if it’s salary, know the average salaries for the work that you’re going to be doing. If it’s a promotion, have a plethora of data to support that you absolutely deserve it and there’s no questions and assert yourself. If you can assert yourself, and women have to do this as a gender tightrope, they call it, not too assertively but not assertive enough, got to be right, just right in the middle. But if you can find a way to balance that and provide facts, figures, and you’re really prepared and feel authentically confident, I think that could go a long way for closing the pay gap. And in the last thing I’ll offer is motherhood. We know the wheels fall off the bus in Corporate America with women when they approach the child bearing years. And the opposite is true for men. So, we really have to address equal leave, that all women, all mothers and fathers have access to support when they have young children. And that’s certainly a huge opportunity that we have in this country that could also support young women. So, advocate for that. Ask those questions when you’re interviewing, it’s a good question to ask because you want to be supported during those years. And early on, you probably don’t even think about it. I didn’t even know that my job wasn’t going to pay maternity leave when I got pregnant. And I found out I was like, “Oh, crap. What am I going to do? I’m the breadwinner.” Don’t be surprised because it’s not good the way we treat mothers and fathers in this country.

Julie, tell us about your upcoming book, what can we learn from that? You mentioned a few things that’s coming up. But what else are we looking for in what you’re going to give to us?

So, I just finished wrapping up writing what we’re calling “Lead Like an Ally.” That’s the working title for now. So hopefully, that sticks. I haven’t got full feedback on it yet. But it will be out later this year. Our goal is 2020 is the actual 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. So primarily white women got the right to vote in 1920. And so, 2020 provides a unique opportunity to look back and look forward at the same time. So, we’re playing off of that as 2020 being the year of an ally, lead like an ally, focus forward, hindsight’s 2020. So, that’s an exciting thing that we’re working on. We have a 52 week learning program we’re going to be piloting this fall. So, if your listeners are interested in learning more, simply send a message. We’ve got a Lead Like an Ally page on our website. We just relaunched this week at www.nextpivotpoint.com and that’s actually our social media handle, too. So, you can find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook at Next Pivot Point and I post daily on LinkedIn, Julie Kratz. Follow me there. We post videos, blogs, podcast episodes. We’ll certainly be sharing this there for our followers. And I just love to continue this conversation. So, if you’re curious, send me a message on nextpivotpoint.com.

Excellent. Well, it’s been great having you, Julie. There’s a lot of things we didn’t have time to get into talking about privilege, talking about race, lots of different things. But this is really a good reminder and has really motivated me even. I’m thinking about people in my own life to push this forward with. So, thanks for the reminder.

I appreciate that. Well, one thing on privilege, the book “White Fragility,” if you’re interested in learning more about that as a white person or even a person of color, it is written by a white person about privilege and the historical perspective. I learned a ton from that read if that’s something that’s helpful.

We’ll throw that in the show notes, too. Well, thanks so much, Julie. It’s been great having you on and thanks for sharing all your insights with us.

Thanks for having me.

Julie Kratz is a highly acclaimed leadership trainer who led teams and produced results in corporate America. After experiencing her own career pivot point, she developed a process for women leaders to build winning plans. Kratz is a frequent keynote speaker and executive coach on gender equality in the workplace. She holds an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, is a Certified Master Coach, and is a certified unconscious bias trainer. Her books include Pivot Point: How to Build a Winning Career Game Plan and ONE: How Male Allies Support Women for Gender Equality.

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