Four #MeToo Strategies for the Workplace

Today I watched a video about Tony Robbin’s comment during a seminar in San Jose, California questioning the validity of the #MeToo movement.  What was disturbing was not that Robbins questioned the campaign, but more so, his body language, stature, and defense for why #MeToo was doing more harm than good.

During this seminar, a participant, Nanine McCool, calls out Tony Robbins regarding his comment.  Robbin’s defended his comment by saying I know this to be true as many men in his network are refusing to hire women due to the risk it poses.  Robbins goes on to describe a specific example where three candidates are interviewed for a role, two men, and one woman.  All candidates are not equally qualified.  The most qualified candidate of them all, the woman, was not hired for the job because she was too beautiful and the hiring manager did not want to risk it. 

While it was harsh to hear the words out loud, I do believe that the example Robbins described is happening more frequently than we would like to acknowledge, and the heightened sensitivity around the #MeToo movement is causing men to stay far away.

I haven’t spoken out on the #MeeToo movement in any form, although, I am deeply connected first hand to the damages this causes women.  I tend to leave these topics to those with expertise in the field, that can offer real support and provide healing, and guidance to victims on how to move forward.

However, when women are being denied opportunities for a job, based on their gender because they are too cute, or whatever the excuse is, that's just wrong.  We as leaders of the organization must utilize our moral compass to operate with dignity and integrity.  We must be an advocate for all employees, women, men, diverse, disabled, young and old.

Diversity, over time, has been shown to produce better results.  Diversity eliminates groupthink and our approach to how we solve problems.  Having a diverse group, who are allowed to bring their whole selves to work, creates better outcomes. 

We don’t know what we don’t know.  In many cases, I believe people intend to do good.  They start from a place of positive intent.  However, what we do know will help us.  We all have blind spots.  I do, your neighbors, and you do too.  The key is to uncover and understand your blind spot.  To work on them, to become a better you.  A simple assessment from Dr. Banaji, and the team at Harvard University Project Implicit, will help you to recognize some of your biases.

The first step requires that we become aware.  Aware of our blind spots, and in doing so, I ask, that you be kind to yourself, be open to trying new things, a different way of operating.  Your experiences have defined who you are, and it came naturally because that's the way it is done in your social circle, in your environment, with your family, or at home.

However, in the workplace it is different.  We have different employees, with varying DiSC personality styles, from different socio-economic backgrounds, working to achieve the goals of the organization.  To accomplish our goals, we have to be able to work with each other to get things done.  That requires that we are open to embracing different cultures, advocate for others who are different than us, mentor female employees, become a sponsor to help individuals gain access to the right networks.  Help employees to understand their impact on the workplace, how their personality styles (through tools like DiSC® personality profiles) appears in the workplace.  Teach others who are different from us to navigate the underworld culture in our organizations, the secret code, of how the company really operates.

To male leaders in the organizations, #MeToo, or any improvements in diversity, can’t happen without men.  We all need your help and your partnership men to get through this.  The time to step up is now.  I know that all of the coverage from #MeToo can be a bit overwhelming, make you want to keep your head down to focus on your work, but consider the impact that doing nothing will have on your organizations. 

You have one part of the organization that is distracted, fighting for inclusion and equity, while another part is keeping their heads down working, staying far away from the #MeToo conversation.  The company will gain so much more if the entire organization performs to their full capacity.  You cannot shy away from this work.  It's important to work that helps move the company forward.  You are valued and are critical to the success of this progressive movement.

While I recognize you are not up for walking around holding banners and protesting, there are simple things that you can do to help lift an individual with a diverse background up in the workplace.  Let's take a look at how you can have an impact on your organization:

Advocate for a colleague during a meeting

  • Diversity impacts the ability of an individual to get their point across during meetings. For example, diversity of thought, a person that is introverted and likes to process information may be overlooked during meetings.  If you notice that a colleague has been quiet during a meeting, draw them in, say "Sarah, we haven't heard from you, would like to share your thoughts?

Give credit where credit is due

  • In another scenario, you may witness that a colleague who does speak up is not taken seriously in the meeting. Have you ever noticed someone make a statement and is overlooked in the room; however, someone else made the very same statement during the meeting, and the room acts like he found a miracle cure?  Where you find that this occurs, circle the credit back to the original person.  This is how it looks, "John, that's an excellent point, I'm glad that you are aligned with Mary's recommendation."

Help diverse employees build their networks

  • You've heard of the glass ceiling. In many situations, women hit the glass ceiling not because of their qualifications but because of their lack of access to key stakeholders and sponsors.  To help diverse women break through the glass ceiling, help them get connected.  Introduce them to key stakeholders in the organization and in your network.  Speak about the excellent work that they are doing.  Nominate them on critical projects to gain exposure.

Commit to fair hiring practices

  • Develop a standardized approach to hiring that measures each candidate consistently across the same benchmark. Conduct panel interviews so that one person isn’t accountable for the hiring decision.  Have the panel review and identify the best candidate for the role based on the standardized hiring process.