Where Are the Senior Women in the Financial Sector?

The statistics on the representation of white women and women of color in the financial sector, at both management and senior levels, are grim.

Closing the Gap,” a study conducted by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company, looked at thirty-nine financial services companies, which employ 1.2 million people:

  • In North America, women account for fewer than one in five positions, or 19 percent, in the C-suite.
  • Women are 24 percent less likely to attain their first promotion than their male peers, even though they request promotions at the same rate.
  • Women of color are 34 percent less likely to make their first promotion than men in financial services. They face compounded bias due to both their race and gender.
  • Despite the value placed on sponsorship, senior-level women (34 percent) are still less likely than their male peers (44 percent) to receive substantial support from senior management, even though they ask for it at the same rate.
  • Nearly half of senior-level women say they continue to shoulder most household responsibilities while just 13 percent of their male peers say the same. Senior-level women are much more likely to believe that participating in flexibility programs will undermine their ability to succeed at work.

This report notes that “a limited number of female role models in leadership positions may limit women’s motivation to make it to the top.” According to Deanna Strable, executive vice president  and CFO at Principal, “Young women don’t see role models or potential paths towards executive level leadership.”

The research study “Women in Financial Services: Quick Take,” conducted by Catalyst, highlights alarming trends:

  • Between 2007 and 2015, women’s representation in the financial services industry remained unchanged for management at about 48 percent and the executive level at about 29 percent.
  • For women of color, representation between 2007 and 2015 increased slightly at the executive level from 4.1 percent to 4.4 percent.
  • Median weekly earnings in 2018 for financial managers was $1,262 for women, and $1784 for men.

A recent article written by Jack Ewing of the New York Times reports that Christine Lagarde just became the first female president of the European Central Bank. Women are visibly underrepresented at central banks and the US Federal Reserve. Ewing notes that less than one-third of the economists at the Federal Reserve are women.

In a New York Times article, Jeanna Smialek writes that representations is important because “women focus on different issues and have different economic priors than men.” Janet Yellen, the former first female chair of the Federal Reserve, explains that “beyond fairness, the lack of diversity harms the field because it wastes talent . . . and skews the field’s viewpoint and diminishes its breadth.”

Of the big banks in the United States, none have a woman at their helm. Emily Flitter of the New York Times reports that when the leaders of the seven largest US banks recently testified before the House Financial Services Committee, “not one raised his hand in response to a question about whose bank might have a woman as its next chief executive.” Shortly after that hearing, Citigroup became the first giant United States bank to put a woman in line to become chief executive. Jane Fraser will one day be the president of Citigroup, if she decides to wait for the retirement of the current, leader who is not planning to retire for a long time.

Overall, little change has happened in the representation of women in the financial sector, especially in the senior ranks. Smialek cites cultural barriers and biases that are currently embedded in the cultures of banks and other financial services organizations as the cause of this underrepresentation. Thanks to senior women like Janet Yellen and Christine Lagarde, new pressures are now on those institutions to change.

 

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Why Women Do Not Need to Behave Like Men to Be Good Leaders

The messages to women about how to advance in organizations still, regrettably, urge women to behave like men, but men don’t seem to get messages that say they need to change at all. Reward systems in organizations still undervalue feminine workplace values and leadership behaviors and predominantly reward masculine ones. For example:

  • Assertiveness is rewarded more often than collaboration.
  • Women are urged to work long hours and pretend they don’t have children. (I’m not joking.) Women in a financial services firm whom I just interviewed are told not to talk about their families—even with each other—if they want to be considered for advancement.
  • Women must show they are task focused by not “wasting time” on building teams and relationships by soliciting or listening to input or problems.

Ruth Whippman, writing for the New York Times, notes that “anything (in most organizational cultures) associated with girls or women . . . is by definition assigned a lower cultural value than things associated with boys or men.” She goes on to say that “the assumption that assertiveness is a more valuable trait than, say, deference is itself the product of a ubiquitous and corrosive gender hierarchy.”

I agree with Whippman that achieving equality in organizations means, in addition to parity in representation, that organizations must come to value both feminine and masculine workplace values. These differences are described by Dr. Joyce K. Fletcher in her book, Disappearing Acts, in the table below:

Masculine Workplace Values Feminine Workplace Values
·       Task focused

·       Isolation and autonomy

·       Independence

·       Competition—individualistic competitive achievement

·       Hierarchical authority

·       Rational engagement is valued (focus on task, logic, and the bottom line—leave personal matters at the door)

·       Leadership style is directive

·       Community and team focused

·       Connection

·       Interdependence

·       Mutuality—success achieved through collaboration

·       Collectivity, or flat structure

·       Emotional engagement is valued (notice body language and process, encourage relationships, share feelings and personal information, and show empathy)

·       Leadership style is supportive

Fletcher emphasizes that organizations and society need both masculine and feminine values to have healthy and productive environments and relationships. When they are not both valued and our society and workplaces are out of balance, with a higher value placed on the masculine, as they are now, many problems occur for both women and men that could be prevented. For example:

  • Whippman notes that the emphasis on masculine assertiveness has led us to many of our current social problems, such as #MeToo, campus rape, school shootings, and President Trump’s Twitter rages.
  • The problem is not that women are not speaking up but that men are refusing to stop to listen to others and reflect on the impact of their behavior.
  • The problem is not that women apologize too much, as suggested in magazines and books, but that men don’t apologize enough. Whippman quotes a study that suggests women apologize more because they have a “lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior.” She is quick to point out that many of our problems with male entitlement and toxic behavior can be traced back to a “fundamental unwillingness among men to apologize.”
  • Rather than pouring money into encouraging only girls to take up STEM subjects, why aren’t we also pouring money into encouraging boys to become nurses? Are we saying that boys have no capacity for empathy, or that nursing isn’t considered masculine enough to count as real work?

Imagine having organizations where both masculine and feminine workplace values were rewarded and valued for leadership—where leaders could be valued for being both task and relationship focused, both competitive and collaborative, both directive and supportive—where leaders could be role models for how to have both careers and families rather than hiding the fact that they have families. This dream scenario is possible, and having a balance of both feminine and masculine values and behaviors will create more productive, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. We need men to “lean out,” though, rather than blaming the victim and putting all the pressure on women to become more like men. Women and men have to work together to make these changes in organizational cultures. Women can’t change things alone, but the results will be organizational cultures that are better for everyone.

 

Photo courtesy of Maryland GovPics (CC BY 2.0)

Research on Successful Dual-Career Couples: What Works?

New research by Jennifer Petriglieri on dual-career couples, published in the Harvard Business Review, sheds light on how these couples successfully manage careers and family life. The researcher and author notes that the number of dual-career couples is growing: the Pew Research Center reports that in 63 percent of couples with children in the United States, both partners work.

Petriglieri defines dual-career couples as having partners who both:

  • Are highly educated
  • Work full-time in demanding professional or managerial jobs
  • See themselves on an upward path in their role
  • View work as a primary source of identity

The author notes that sociological research shows that “when both partners dedicate themselves to work and to home life, they reap benefits such as increased economic freedom, a more satisfying relationship, and a lower-than-average chance of divorce.” But, not surprisingly, they face unique challenges that they must learn to navigate such as how to decide whose job to relocate for or if one partner’s risky career change is worth it. The key to successfully figuring out these and other issues comes from being able to openly discuss their personal hopes and fears, assumptions about relationships and cultural expectations about roles, and shared values they want to live by.

One finding from this research is that dual-career couples go through three transitions that they must navigate successfully together:

Transition 1: Working as a couple—This typically includes dealing with the first major life event, such as the birth of a child or the merger of families from previous relationships. This transition requires that couples make choices jointly and openly about how they are going to prioritize their careers and divide family commitments. People can choose different models to follow. Petriglieri found that while they can all work, the most important factors for success are that the couples keep openly discussing how their choices align with their values and have the best chance of long-term satisfaction for both partners.

Transition 2: Reinventing themselves—Sometimes one member of the couple (at least) will discover that his or her career choice early in life was shaped by the expectations of others and no longer fit his or her own desires. During this phase, couples must be able to support each other during a period of exploration or retraining, which can unsettle the arrangements that worked previously to manage work and family life.

Transition 3: Loss and opportunity—Children leaving home, the death of parents or the need to care for aging parents, or the desire for reinvention can all trigger a new need for realignment or renegotiation of the relationship. The decision to retire can create a loss of identity and trigger depression. This phase can be most successfully navigated by going through the reinvention phase together by exploring possibilities and experimenting.

The author summarizes her findings as “dual-career couples are better off being relentlessly curious, communicative, and proactive in making choices about combining their lives.”

Dual-career couples have their own trials to overcome, but with good communication comes a more solid—and rewarding—relationship.

 

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New Research: Americans Believe Women Are as Competent as Men

I had mixed feelings as I read the report by Maya Salam of the New York Times about new research on the public’s opinion regarding women’s intelligence in comparison with men’s. I am thrilled with the results from by Alice Eagly, a well-known social psychologist at Northwestern University, that reflect this significant measure of social change for women. At the same time, I feel exasperated about how long it has taken for Americans to see women as competent. And I feel sad about the underrepresented women in the United States who are still not valued and women in all regions of the world who are still voiceless and powerless. Nonetheless, this research by Eagly is good news. Salam notes that the study “published by the American Psychological Association . . . found that a majority of Americans (finally) believe women are just as competent as men, if not more so.” (Emphasis in original.)

Eagly and her colleagues studied opinion polls from 1946 to 2018 looking at how Americans rated a number of factors, including competency (defined as intelligence, organization, and creativity) along gender lines. Here’s what they found:

  • In 1946, 35 percent of people thought men and women were equally intelligent.
  • In 1995, 43 percent thought men and women were equally intelligent.
  • In 2018, 86 percent thought men and women were equally intelligent.

Eagly reportedly told Salam that these findings represent “massive social change.” Eagly notes that one important factor contributing to this change is that until recently, few women were in visible leadership roles. Salam notes that this situation is now changing: in 2019, college-educated women edged out college-educated men in the workforce and, for the first time, six women stepped forward to run for president and were visible on the debate stage for the first two Democratic debates.

Many women are stepping into visible leadership roles. Here are just a few:

  • Christine Lagarde—Already a groundbreaking visible leader for some time now, Christine Lagarde has just broken another barrier. David Segal and Amie Tsang of the New York Times report that she has just been named the new president of the European Central Bank, becoming the first woman to be picked for this role. She will leave her post as the head of the International Monetary Fund where, appointed in 2011 as the first woman to hold that post, she successfully steered the economies of many countries reeling from the global financial crisis. Lagarde is committed to promoting women as a moral urgency. She states that her research shows that “a higher share of women on the boards of banks and financial supervision agencies is associated with greater stability. . . . If it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, the world might well look a lot different today.”
  • Julie Sweet—David Gelles of the New York Times reports that Julie Sweet has become the first female chief executive of Accenture. With her appointment, twenty-seven women now lead S&P 500 companies. Her promotion means that slightly more than 5 percent of the biggest public companies in the United States are currently led by women. Sweet has been a leading voice within Accenture for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the development of more female leaders in the corporate world. She intends to maintain her commitment to diversity and inclusion in her new role.
  • Sarah Zorn—As she completes her term as the first female regimental commander of the Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, Sarah Zorn provides another example of a woman in a visible leadership role. Alyssa Schukar of the New York Times notes that “for most of its 176-year history, the Citadel . . . did not admit undergraduate women.” Only in 1995, when Shannon Faulkner won her two-year court battle to be admitted, did the state school allow women in, by a ruling from the Supreme Court. Twenty-four years later, women make up 10 percent of the Citadel’s student body, and 25 percent are students of color. Since Zorn ascended to regimental commander as a twenty-two-year-old junior, the school has seen a record number of female applicants.

These women are just a few of those breaking barriers to become visible examples of women’s competence as leaders. We still have a long way to go to reach parity, but change is moving in the right direction—slowly but surely.

 

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Gender Judo

One of my favorite authors and researchers, Joan C. Williams of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings, just published new research on the likability trap for women. She reports on both her own research and other new studies that show the ways successful women overcome the likability trap and offers practical strategies that many women will find useful.

What is the likability trap? Williams defines it as a double bind that women face when they move into positions of leadership and need to be assertive and direct. She explains that the problem is in today’s American society, women are expected to be helpful, modest, nice, and indirect while men are expected to be direct, assertive, competitive and ambitious. When women move into the traditional male domains of leadership, where demonstrating masculine qualities is necessary (which women can do quite well), they do not fit the feminine stereotype. Men and women both can become uncomfortable with them. They are deemed unlikable and can find it difficult to be effective. In her interviews with two hundred successful women, Williams found that “savvy women learn that they must often do a masculine thing (which establishes their competence) in a feminine way (to diffuse backlash),”or as Williams calls it, “gender judo.” Gender judo requires extra effort for women that men don’t have to expend, but successful women report that they have to do it.

What are some strategies that successful women use? Williams pulls from her own and others’ research to describe some strategies that work. She also warns that some may be hard for the reader to swallow, but they are, unfortunately, necessary and effective. Here are some strategies for leading in a feminine way:

  • Playing Office Mom—Some successful women adopt the strategy of Office Mom. One former chief executive explained, “I’m warm Ms. Mother 95 percent of the time, so that the 5 percent when I need to be tough, I can be.” She embraces the stereotype that women are naturally nurturing so she can be assertive when she needs to be, a form of judo when you can intentionally flip back and forth from one direction to another to maintain momentum and survive and thrive as a woman leader.
  • Using a social impact cover—Williams reports that social scientists Matthew Lee and Laura Huang found that female entrepreneurs are more likely to get venture capital funding if they pitch their companies as having social impact. This “cover” helps overcome the mismatch of the stereotype of a good, community-focused woman with a hard-driving entrepreneur.
  • Negotiating—Numerous studies have been reported in recent years about the double bind for women when negotiating. Williams summarizes this research as “women who negotiate as hard as men do tend to be disliked as overly demanding.” Women have to use “softeners,” such as asking questions for clarification of the salary rather than assertively making demands. Men can just be direct and make demands.
  • Using femininity as a toolkit—This strategy requires some experimentation. Being an authentic leader is important, so each woman may have to find what works for her to do something masculine in a feminine way. For example, some women try smiling more or being more relational and asking about people’s families—which can feel unnatural for many people. Williams does caution, though, about not using a submissive conversational style, like apologizing and hedging, which can undercut your leadership credibility. Some women try to find a good mix of authoritative mixed with warmth that works for them.
  • Displaying gender—This strategy might be harder for some than others, but Williams found that some women in her study reported that wearing feminine clothes or pink lipstick when they are the only woman in the boardroom or on the leadership team helped to soften their impact on the men.

In this report, as in her book What Works for Women at Work, Williams suggests some steps that organizations can take to create cultures where women do not face barriers to success because of gender or race:

  • Organizations need to be aware and vigilant about challenging the biases that force women to take these extra measures to succeed.
  • Reward systems need to stop rewarding behavior considered appropriate for white men while punishing women and people of color for not fitting neatly into the stereotypes for their groups.
  • Both women and men should be rewarded for displaying empathy and putting the common good above self-interest.

The fact that women have to perform gender judo is unfair. But the more we talk about this double bind, the closer we get to gender equality at work.

 

Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

The Debate Over Universal Childcare: What Is Really Going On?

Have you noticed that we keep talking about universal childcare in the United States, but, with the exception of a handful of states and cities, it never happens? Nearly all of the current Democratic candidates for president are promising it, but this has happened before without legislation ever passing at the federal level. We know that the United States is one of the few Western industrialized nations that does not provide subsidized childcare for working parents. Why not?

Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times writes that the reasons are not economic. She notes that substantial research shows that children and parents benefit from access to affordable or free day care:

  • Women being in the workforce helps the economy and is economically beneficial for families.
  • High quality, affordable, easy-to-find childcare and longer school days result in higher levels of employment for women. In Washington, DC, public (free) prekindergarten increased labor participation of women with young children by 10 percent.
  • The economic benefits of good, affordable childcare for low-income children extends for generations, and spending on it more than pays for itself.

Miller notes, though, that conflicting beliefs in US society create resistance to universal childcare. She describes some examples of the conflicts:

  • Both parents work in two-thirds of American families: 93 percent of fathers and 72 percent of mothers with children at home are in the labor force. Yet one-third of Democrats surveyed by the Pew Research Center say that one parent staying at home is ideal. In another study, nearly half of Americans said one parent should stay home. These statistics conflict with the reality of the lives of Americans.
  • A moral question has resurfaced about whether mothers should work at all. Tucker Carlson of Fox News states, “It is more virtuous [for mothers . . .] to raise your own kids”; in other words, the proper place for mothers is at home with their children.
  • However, poor women, especially black women, have always been expected to work from the time of enslavement to the present, and are denied childcare support or required to work for it when support does exist.
  • Research shows that when subsidized childcare and education are available, the participation of women in the labor force expands, showing that women want and need to work. When childcare costs increase, mothers (more so than fathers) drop out of the workforce. Researchers at the Universities of North Carolina and Maryland note that “you’re boxing women out of the labor market” with the high cost of childcare.

As described by Miller, most women and men who are parents of young children work. Yet Christina Caron of the New York Times notes that the lack of affordable childcare creates a significant financial stress for families. A study by NYT Parenting, based on data collected by YouGov, an international polling and market research firm, found these worrying statistics:

  • Almost 60 percent of parents around the country with children enrolled in preschool or day care reported that the costs created a significant financial strain.
  • Some families had to go into debt to pay childcare expenses.
  • Half of Americans live in places with no licensed childcare providers or very limited slots available.

The moral ambivalence in the United States about whether mothers belong in the home rather than in the workforce is still actively blocking progress on achieving universal childcare. Miller notes that “Americans are more likely to believe in gender equality in work and politics than in the home”—but we can’t have one without the other. It’s time to move on from the moral ambivalence embedded in our culture about mothers working.

 

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New Lawsuit for Parental Leave: Forcing Change

In a recent article, I wrote about class-action settlements won by fathers against a handful of large companies that have brought about change. While only a minority of companies offer paid parental leave, a new federal lawsuit filed against Jones Day, one of the nation’s largest law firms, promises more change. This new lawsuit, filed by a couple previously employed at Jones Day, charges discrimination against fathers in parental leave policies, along with other gender-based discrimination. Noam Scheiber of the New York Times writes that this lawsuit joins another suit filed against Jones Day earlier this year by six female lawyers for gender and pregnancy discrimination. Scheiber explains all the charges in the complaint filed by the couple Julia Sheketoff and Mark C. Savignac:

  • The firm unlawfully denied Savignac the full leave he was entitled to.
  • The firm’s policy gives biological mothers eighteen weeks of leave but gives fathers only ten weeks. The plaintiffs submit that this policy “enables [fathers] to prioritize their careers over childcare.” They go on to state that this policy “reflects and reinforces archaic gender roles and sex-based stereotypes.”
  • The firm unlawfully fired Savignac when he complained about the unfair policy. He was, in fact, on approved parental leave when the firm emailed to say he was fired.
  • The couple also contends that the firm paid Sheketoff less than a man because of her gender. She was given a smaller raise in 2017 after a male partner scolded her in her evaluation for being insufficiently deferential to him. This same partner did not scold male associates who failed to defer to him.

The class-action suit filed by the six female lawyers in the firm charges that women who give birth face obstacles to advancement in the firm, and those who have a second child are often fired within a few months of returning to work.

We have made some progress in the United States with offering working women paid parental leave. Some men also have paid leave but usually very little. But clearly, many organizations are still operating in the dark ages of gender discrimination. And most workers do not have access to any paid parental leave at all. We have a long way to go. Let’s hope that the lawsuits keep coming to force much-needed change.

 

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Women and Cross-Generational Friendship

While in my forties, I met a woman, Becky, in her eighties who, like me, had chosen not to have children. I was worried that I would feel lonely in my old age and regret my decision. When I met Becky, I asked her if, now that she was in her eighties, she felt lonely and regretted her decision not to have children. She replied, “I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I’m old, but I’m not lonely yet. The secret is to have younger friends!” That was the most liberating perspective I had ever heard, and I stopped worrying. I have been cultivating, nourishing, and cherishing my friendships with younger women ever since I met Becky, and my life has been enriched in so many ways.

Not surprisingly, I was delighted to read recently of two types of intentional cross-generational groupings gaining momentum in the United States. The first type is intentional cross-generational gatherings in person and online for personal and professional support. The second type is a movement that brings socially active progressive millennials and social activist Roman Catholic nuns together to learn from and nourish each other.

Abby Ellin, writing for the New York Times, reports that intergenerational women’s groups are forming both in-person and online to “share stores, concerns and triumphs” across generations. Meetings take place online and in cities across the country, convened by individuals who recognize a need for personal and professional friendship and support among women. Participants can range from twenty-nine to ninety-three years of age in these meetings, and the topics vary widely:

  • Money issues
  • Blended families
  • Widowhood
  • Invisibility after fifty
  • Problems between mothers and daughters
  • Professional advancements and double binds in the workplace
  • Living and coping in times of political uncertainty
  • Understanding our aging bodies (age thirty to ninety)

The author notes that women of all ages can find it difficult to make new friends as adults. The demands of work and family life can leave women feeling socially isolated. She also notes that millennials and boomers who work together often tend to stick with their same-age cohorts outside of the office. That’s why the purpose of these intergenerational groups is not only to exchange information but to create settings where people can discover common interests and cross-generational friendships can form. These friendships are enriching when wisdom and energy are shared in both directions (younger to older and vice versa). Here is a sample of some of these gatherings:

  • Honey Good and Moxie!—informal gatherings in Palm Springs and Chicago and other cities around the country, convened by Ms. Honey Good
  • Spaghetti Project—a monthly, work-related gathering in Manhattan created by Erica Keswin
  • Generation Women—a monthly reading series in New York and Sidney, Australia, where women from multiple generations read short stories and essays together

The second type of intergenerational group that recently emerged, called Nuns and Nones, is described by Nellie Bowles in the New York Times. The pilot project, launched by a group of millennials (who are the least religious group of people in America), came about when a group of young social activists, who also describe themselves as spiritual but not religious (Nones), went looking for intentional communities of people living radical activist lives with total devotion to their causes. During their search, one of the millennials, a thirty-two-year-old man named Adam Horowitz, realized that the people already living this way are nuns. A six-month pilot project was launched by Horowitz and a group of progressive millennials with the Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Burlington, California. Bowles quotes one of the Nones, Sarah Jane Bradley, as explaining, “These are radical, badass women who have lived lives devoted to social justice. And we can learn from them.” The group moved into the convent for six months for the pilot project, and Nuns and Nones is now running groups in a dozen cities. In each group, sisters and millennials meet regularly and sometimes live together. Each group benefits in some of the following ways:

  • The young people are learning old wisdom traditions that can feed change.
  • The sisters find themselves called back again to a larger vision through discussions with millennials.
  • The young people learn to avoid burnout by studying the sisters who have made social change a lifestyle.
  • The nuns, whose numbers have been declining steadily since the 1960s, get help with holding on to their property by moving young people into convents.
  • The young people get low-income housing in exchange for helping take care of the sisters.

These intergenerational relationships are good for everyone. Just ask Becky!

 

Photo courtesy of Fortune Live Media (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Tips for Creating Equitable Workplaces from the New Rules Summit

On June 12 and 13, 2019, the New York Times sponsored the New Rules Summit on women and leadership. Here are some of the tips for how to create an equitable workplace generated during the summit by participants and reported by the New York Times:

  1. Encourage men to be allies—Companies need to build cultures that bring white men into the conversation about diversity and inclusion. Men should become partners in the conversation about inclusion, and the reward system should incentivize behavior change. “What gets measured gets done,” noted Michael Chamberlain of Catalyst.
  2. Create immersion experiences—By asking men to walk a mile in women’s shoes, men can begin to understand the challenges women face. For example, have men take only 80 percent of their salaries for six months and donate the other 20 percent to women’s advocacy organizations. Another example of an immersion experience is for teams to identify one man whose ideas will be ignored or talked over for three meetings. Then have the team members create agreements for how they will engage in ensuring all team members are heard and included. As noted by Damien Hooper-Campbell, “Policies alone will only get us so far.”
  3. Listen to both women and men—Ask men and women what benefits they want from their employers. Here are some of the ones mentioned at the New Rules Summit:
  4. Make paid family leave truly universal and available for employees at all levels.
  5. Subsidize childcare and let parents choose what works best for them: a stipend, access to backup childcare memberships, or bulk discounts on care.
  6. Make sure parental leave does not set off a financial penalty in hidden costs like lost bonuses, stock vestings, billable hours, and commissions.
  7. Close the gap on the “only” experience—Hire more women at every level, not just a few token women. This can be done by setting targets, mandating diverse slates of candidates for promotion, training to better notice biases, and closely scrutinizing the performance review processes. We have written about recent research on the costs of being an “only” in a previous article.
  8. Recognize the double outsider—Dalana Brand, vice president of people experience at Twitter, reminds us that the impact of unconscious bias is more pronounced for women of color than for white women. Diversity efforts should not be “one size fits all,” and leaders need training to understand how to be a better ally to women of color and others.
  9. Women need to build strategic networks differently—Daisy Auger-Dominguez, president and founder of Auger-Dominguez Ventures, points out that men’s networking practices don’t work for women. She advises that women should build an intentional and diverse network of other women, and develop deep connections to each other so they can effectively advocate for and support each other.
  10. Create an anti-harassment culture—Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, notes that “sexual harassment is about the abuse of power, it’s not about sexual desire.” To prevent sexual harassment, organizations need to create cultures where people feel empowered to come forward to report it and are rewarded for doing the right thing. Those accused of sexual harassment need to be consistently held accountable.

What types of strategies are working in your organization to create more inclusive cultures?

 

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

The Issue of Busing in the Democratic Debates

I don’t know about you, but I have been confused about Kamala Harris’s accusation on the debate stage during the first Democratic debate in June that Joe Biden did not support busing during the 1970s and 1980s. I heard Harris accused in the media after the debate of distorting the facts to bolster her political campaign. I also heard Biden deny repeatedly that he had been cozy with Southern segregationists and had not supported busing. He proclaimed over and over again that he had supported civil rights during that period. But something didn’t seem to add up. I am always suspicious about attempts to discredit powerful women. I wondered if Harris was getting the “how dare a woman show ambition and strength” treatment. And, of course, I wondered how race was playing into this whole dynamic. How could it not? As a black woman, was Harris experiencing a double whammy of backlash based on both race and gender?

For all these reasons, I found it very helpful and clarifying to read an article by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times. Hannah-Jones explains that Harris was right and provides helpful history and perspective. For example, Hannah-Jones identifies and explores the following race-neutral myths that have become the story we tell to allow people to pretend that the opposition to school desegregation was about riding a bus. Here are some of these myths:

  • The Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education failed to desegregate schools.
  • Busing was a failed strategy.
  • Busing caused “white flight” in cities.
  • White opposition to busing was not about race but maintaining neighborhood schools.
  • Northern whites thought Brown v. Board of Education applied to only Southern states.

Here are the facts about what really happened, according to Hannah-Jones:

  • Busing became a race-neutral code word for court-ordered school desegregation. School busing has been around since 1920, but only when it became a tool for integration did it become reviled. White communities blamed the act of busing for their resistance to integration, which allowed them to deny the role of racism in their protests.
  • Biden worked with Southern senators to pass a bill to ban busing for integration as part of the systematic anti-integration campaign known as Massive Resistance, waged by the white South against the Supreme Court decision.
  • The federal government got involved in enforcement only when local and state governments openly rebelled against the Supreme Court and refused to take any steps toward desegregation.
  • Busing became a vehicle of integration because, due to residential policies resulting in segregation, black and white people did not live in the same neighborhoods.
  • Biden did originally support busing for integration in 1972 but then flipped his position in 1975 and teamed up with ardent segregationists.
  • Politicians and the media blamed white flight from cities on busing, but studies show that cities with large black populations suffered from white flight whether they instituted busing or not.
  • When Northern states realized that Brown v. Board of Education also applied to them, support for Brown’s integration mandate plummeted.

The truth about integration is not the story we usually hear:

  • Busing as a tool of desegregation was very successful in the South. The South went from the most segregated region of the country for black children to the most integrated—which is still true today.
  • School desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children.
  • Research by Rucker C. Johnson of the University of California, Berkeley, found black children in integrated schools were more likely to graduate from high school, get out of poverty, earn more as adults, not go to jail, and actually live longer.
  • Data from the Education Department shows that still today, the whiter the school, the more resources it has.

In conclusion, busing did not fail and Harris was right. We need to clear away the myths and propaganda we have been fed to see the truth so that we can see the candidates clearly.

 

Photo courtesy of Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (CC BY 2.0)