Starting Gender Conversations in the Workplace

We’re at a tipping point.

Early in your career, you are taught never to discuss religion, sex or politics in the workplace – ever! Today, things are shifting and your political affiliation, gender, and women’s issues are being talked about on a daily basis. Conversations are taking place from Washington D.C. to Silicon Valley and cities in between.

Whether our companies and leaders are ready for this conversation it is going to happen. Women’s (and some men’s) voices are rising. I believe that we are at a tipping point for women’s issues in the workplace. Recent headlines, the Women’s March, and high profile the allegations of sexual harassment at UBER have placed women’s leadership, advancement, pay equity, gender balance along with toxic work environments and sexual harassment at the forefront of issues for 2017.

The drumbeat started in last summer with the Bud Light spot with comedians Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer addressing gender pay equity, noting “women don’t get paid as much as men and that is wrong.” The gender inequities were propelled forward with the Kristen Bell “Celebs Have Issues” Pinksourcing piece and then the recent Audi “Daughter” spot. To spotlight A Day Without Women on May 8th (International Women’s Day), a Saturday Night Live sketch mansplained women’s issues.

It’s time to ignite powerful conversations in the workplace.

The Audi spot asked an important question.

What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her that her grandpa’s worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom? Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?

Each new headline, ad, and video present an opportunity to have an impactful conversation in the workplace. Are you ready to lead, participate in or encourage those conversations? Is your leadership team?

It seems easy to have difficult conversations when a facilitator is in the room but how do you get people to talk freely and respectfully on their own?

Gender Conversation QuickStarters

I recently developed a series called the Gender Conversation QuickStarter Newsletter. Each month, I share three topics that can serve to start open and honest conversations between men and women in the workplace. Importantly, each topic has a link to a video or white paper to share as pre-read. The topics can be used in your weekly staff meetings, for one-on-one conversations, for quick lunch and learn topics or at your women’s employee resource group. Additionally, the topics are designed to support your organization’s women’s leadership advancement strategy and development.

There is only one golden rule to follow: Assume good intent in all conversations. Someone will possibly say something wrong or perhaps inappropriate. That is okay! The value in this tool is to have a dialogue.

You can start the conversation.

Most importantly, you don’t need my newsletter or a facilitator — you simply need the confidence and will to start conversations in the workplace. Use the headlines or a comedy sketch to get the conversation started. Ask questions. Share your experience. Listen. Be respectful to others. And assume good intentions.

Ready to kick-start the conversation?

  • Here’s a link to a recent newsletter along with the archives.
  • Interested in a workshop for your organization? Jeffery is available

Sign-up to receive the Gender Conversation QuickStarter Newsletter.

The conversation on women’s leadership advancement isn’t going to be going away. It is in the media every single day. The time is right to start conversations with men and women to create greater understanding and awareness and to drive collaborative action to create change by taking personal accountability.