JOANNA LIPMAN takes steps towards closing the GENDER PAY GAP in her latest book, WIN WIN …
The scores of men and women I interviewed have come up with multiple strategies to level the gender playing field. Here are a few that any one of us, male or female, can adopt:
1 Interrupt the interrupters. Even female Supreme Court justices are interrupted three times more frequently than male justices. As powerful as these women are, they “are just like other women,” Northwestern University researchers wrote, “talked over by their male colleagues.” Solution: Institute a “no interruptions” rule for everyone, as The Walking Dead producer Glen Mazzara does. Alternatively, if a woman is cut off in conversation, cut off the interruptor: “Olivia was speaking. Let’s let her finish her thought first.”
2 Use amplification and brag buddies. Women’s ideas often aren’t heard— until they are repeated by a man, who gets the credit. Solution: Take a cue from the women of the Obama administration and “amplify” the original speaker, by repeating her idea and ensuring that she is recognised for it. What’s more, since women are penalised if they talk about their accomplishments, they (along with simpatico men) can become each others’ “brag buddies.” They can share each others’ accomplishments with one another, and then each tout the other’s achievements.
3 Diversify the interviewers, not just the applicants. More companies are adopting a Rooney Rule for the office, requiring a diverse slate of applicants for job openings. But bringing in female applicants is only a first step. If the interviewers aren’t diverse — if, say, all the interviewers are white men — they are less likely to see her as a “cultural fit,” while she may feel so uncomfortable that she rejects the job even if offered. Solution: Mix things up. Expand that Rooney rule to the interviewers too: ensure that not only the slate of candidates, but the interviewers are diverse.
4 She’ll help your bottom line. Women are often boxed out of jobs or promotions because they aren’t “a good fit,” or they are dismissed as “diversity hires” who are a sign of lowered standards. Solution: Marshal the facts. Adding women makes work groups more creative. Companies with female chief financial officers make fewer, better acquisitions than those with male chief financial officers. Firms with the most female board members outperform those with the least by almost every financial measure. Mixed groups can even solve a murder more accurately than single-sex groups. Want a recipe for success? Simply add women.
5 She’s not “sorry,” she’s not “lucky,” and she’s not asking you a question. Researchers have found that women often use qualifiers (“Sorry to bother you, but . . .”) to make themselves less threatening to others. If they do act assertively, they are penalised for it, considered bossy, bitchy, or difficult to work with. Solution: Women are highly aware of these verbal ticks and try to control them themselves. But if they don’t, just remember the next time a woman ends a sentence in a question-mark “upspeak,” imagine she is instead stating it as a fact and banging on the table.
6 Yeah, that’s not a compliment. Women are often subjected to compliments that, intentionally or not, belittle them— like when I spent hours preparing for a television news interview, only to be told by a senior executive that I looked “cute.” Solution: Would you say that to a man? If not, you probably should not say it to a woman, either.
Extracted from Win Win: When Business Works For Women, It Works For Everyone by Joanna Lipman (John Murray Publishers).
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