We Get Real AF

Ep 83: Profesh Sesh - "Whoa, Bro!" How to Call out Toxic "Bro Culture" in the Workplace

August 05, 2021 Vanessa Alava & Sue Robinson Season 2 Episode 83
We Get Real AF
Ep 83: Profesh Sesh - "Whoa, Bro!" How to Call out Toxic "Bro Culture" in the Workplace
Show Notes Transcript

Recent allegations of sexism and intolerable work culture at gaming giant Activision Blizzard point out how ugly "bro culture" can be at some companies.  Sue, Vanessa and Talent Specialist Alisa Walters discuss how to nip it in the bud and what to do when things get toxic.

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Intro Voice-Over Artist: Veronica Horta

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Sue Robinson 

Hi to everybody joining us today on Twitch. We are really excited to be here with you. And if you're listening to us via your favorite podcast player, please remember to Like, Comment and Subscribe on the show. I'm Sue Robinson. And I'm Vanessa Alava. And we're here with Mr. Lisa Walters, our recruiter, talent specialists extraordinare. Absolutely, we're excited to talk to you today because the topic we're going to cover is a difficult one, but a really timely and important one. And that is the bro culture in the workplace. If you are a woman in the working world, you've probably encountered some measure of this, hopefully a mild one, in most cases have a culture that is male dominated and not very sensitive to what it's like to be a woman in that setting in that professional environment. And this couldn't be more timely because of what's coming out in the news now regarding Blizzard and Activision and some of the egregious alleged misbehavior on within that organization. So, Alisa, practically speaking for the rest of us, how do we navigate a workplace that has a strong bro culture?


Alisa Walters  Well, it's completely timely. And I think that backing up a minute to justify what bro culture is right. And in some of the articles that I was reading as I was preparing for this conversation, I think that an organization briefs or they're an HR platform, online platform.. They define it as young, brash, hyper competitive men with a noxious and toxic behavior. It's common in industries that are most underrepresented by women. And it's also you know, the ego that perceives the entitlement that privileged men set to seem to flock to. Another article that I was reading was on in her site. And there was a report that was done by women in tech, that said that 72% of women in the tech industry reported having worked at a company where bro culture was very prevalent and pervasive. And in that same report, the conversations that they had with men, only 41% of men indicated any discrepancy. And that could be due to a difference in their perception, it's hard to recognize that problems when you're not the one being negatively affected and impacted by it, or you're in a position of power, where you're perpetuating this, this behavior. And in bro culture, the reward, if you will, is this excessive partying, expect excessive spending excessive, just noxious behavior. So I think it's it. It is a tale as old as time and it's bad for business, and it's bad for morale. And it's trying to change that. And I know that, you know, as the Me Too movements, a couple of years back really became prevalent. I think we are starting to see more conversations around this. But I think it's important to recognize how this starts to happen in the first place. We see it a lot in tech, and with a lot of startups in Silicon Valley. And I think it's because when you have this certain type of person, HR is not, is not the first thing in somebody's mind when they're trying to get something off the ground. And that is something that tends to go by the wayside. So it needs to be looked at when when somebody who is starting a business, there needs to be more of an incentive to have that awareness about what kind of leadership needs to be in place, what kind of HR needs to be in place? Because if recruitment doesn't start, from the very beginning to bring in people that are going to bring in a positive work culture, it's only going to continue to perpetuate this cycle.


Vanessa Alava   

I completely agree. And this is a huge issue to unpack here. The biggest thing in my brain, Alisa, when you started talking or defining what broke broke culture is when you said that, like 40% ish of men don't realize when they're doing this thing reminded me of I'm going to go back as soon we're just having a conversation about the morning show. And if you haven't caught that show on Apple plus, with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carel, like stellar cast, you should, it addresses a lot of these things and row culture. But there's a I guess this is a spoiler alert if you haven't seen it, but there is this pivotal moment, couple moments in the in the show where Steve Carel's character, is speaking to another bro, about the Me Too movement and how they're so unfairly portrayed and all of these things. And Steve chorales character has just been accused of something very, very big  but as this person is speaking to him, he's realizing, oh, wow, he's he's a predator like he's done all of these things that I would never do. But later in the show, there's like this pivotal moment where he has like this Aha, like, Oh, my God, I've done similar things. I never saw myself in that light. So he therefore sees that he's been a predator. And there's big revelation, to your point, there are more open conversations, more vulnerable conversations being had something else you mentioned, that I think is huge here is HR in the way they approach the situation, if you make it intimidating for someone to come in, and it become like, an investigation from the start, that that dissuades people from coming coming forward, because they don't want to make it a huge issue, 


Alisa

A safe space has to be created you as a person want to feel like you're being protected and and listen to and that they are going to advocate for you, if you are going to come forward and be vulnerable and talk about any kind of harassment or discrimination, or any of this toxic behavior, you may be feeling and experiencing at your job on a day to day basis, you need to feel like you do have an ally who's going to listen and advocate for you within within the company 


Sue 

100%. And to that point, I just want to add, and I want to take a beat for anybody listening or watching us right now. There are mostly I believe, good guys out there. And companies. And I know that many of my allies and friends and people I've learned from who've supported me throughout my career have been on the good team. And they've been male, you know, and I've certainly experienced my share of sexism too. But it's usually not a culture thing, at least in TV news, it kind of was. But since then it really hasn't been so I just my plea is to all the men out there who might be listening to this, who do respect women and do like to have empowered and equal colleagues in the workplace who are contributing to the team and working shoulder to shoulder towards a goal. Be an ally, be an advocate and speak up if you see something because I do think a lot of this culture change has to come from within the community that this few small bad apples perpetrated. Right. And that's the community of men out there. So thank you to all the great men who are out there who who get it. And please speak up and continue to to advocate for your female colleagues. 


Vanessa

I'm so happy you brought that up. So you and I were on the same page because that's exactly what I was getting to say like, Can we please dive into men that are inadvertently in bro culture that don't agree with what's happening. And, hey, I know on the opposite end, being a female like in a room where you are the only person standing up for something or raising your hand to speak out. It's scary. And it's not the popular vote, right? And you're going to feel isolated, and you're going to get the weird looks, especially if the other people in the room don't agree or have a different perspective. But please know that that's so valued by your your female colleagues, it's the right thing to do. And really try to to kind of shift that that that compass within that organization as much as possible. And if you see that you can't then again, is it the organization you really want to be part of


Alisa   

Yeah, I and both great call outs I think that it's important to recognize that we're not on here saying that all men are bad no and that are you know, are perpetuating a bro culture. And I think it does start with if you are in an organization and you are you know that the mission behind the organization, the leadership is good, but perhaps it is starting to feel like it is becoming more of a bro culture, then maybe as a male employee, you may start inviting more of your female employees and sending their names to recruiters to hiring managers to help bring in that, that that parity, you know, and reach reaching the parity in the workplace to displace bro culture. And I think that's that's one way that a man men can can, you know, advocate for women in this sense, and not just women but also people who are underrepresented in general it's important that you are looking at diversity inclusion from the start, so that you're not trying to figure out how you landed in this situation where you're in a bro culture, toxic work environment. So it starts from the beginning, it starts with good hiring, it starts with making HR a priority.


Vanessa  

And, and having open honest conversations, or self reflection to write with the company, whether whoever is at the top is like really reflecting on Do we have an issue? What can we do to fix those issues? Have I been contributing to this unintentionally? You know, what have I What have I done in the past? What can I do to fix it? And there's always that opportunity to fix it to do the right thing. And I think that that's what we're saying here. 



Vanessa

I'd also love Elisa, what are the best ways to approach situations that you might be put in that make you feel uncomfortable and that you know, are wrong?


Alisa

I think that you know, it kind of goes along with what we've talked about with effective communication, right. Because in these situations, you are going to be communicating with somebody who might be more aggressive and may not be, it may be hard to have that conversation. So I would start with, okay, self reflection of what's going on. And if there's somebody immediately that you can have conflict resolution with, hey, you know, I'm noticing that these are things that are happening. And I'm wondering, I, you know, it makes me feel uncomfortable, it makes me feel like I'm, I'm being overlooked for certain things, or whatever it is, what however it's impacting you, and see if you can have those conversations, where you feel like there might be, you know, because that person may not be aware of what's happening. And then if it's, if you're feeling like you're not getting anywhere with maybe your manager or this person directly, then maybe you need to elevate it and have those conversations with your HR manager, and, and make documentation of things that are happening and keep a log of those things. So you can go to when you are ready to have that conversation. If you do escalate it to HR, and this is going and how it's impacting me. And, you know, come up with the facts and, and state how it's impacting your ability to do your job to show up every day to do your job. And I think you know, when, with us all having worked from home, it may feel like you're kind of on an island of yourself by yourself. But I think it's really important that you still know that you do have you do have channels that you can tune into to try to help you work through some of these things. And then you're if you're feeling like you're not getting anywhere with HR, who's you know, in place to support employees, then that, that that's a much bigger conversation that needs to happen. 

Sue

For sure. And I love that you said document it, you know, as you were talking about first have the conversation with the person who's the problem. I think that's fair. And I think that is always the right place to start. Unfortunately, when the bro culture is egregious, that person if they thought they were doing something wrong, they probably wouldn't be doing it in the workplace. So you have that sort of built in barrier. But yes, be specific, I think would be my advice. Be very specific about what happened with the incident or the words were used and documented an email so that you do have a track record and then keep the emotion out of it which is so hard to do. When you feel like

in any situation where you're being treated unfairly or disrespected, but I think you will go a lot further if you stay calm, factual, and are very specific about what it is you want to see changed, why, And write it down. 


Vanessa

we always talk about preparing and almost rehearsing what you want to say and how you want it to land and getting the perspectives of your of your tribe, right, like you know, your family, the people that support you mentors, and just say, hey, do you mind helping me grapple with this and present myself in a way that's going to be effective

Alisa companies are required to offer sexual harassment training. I mean, as as an employee, you may have had to take a sexual harassment training, and maybe you want to refer back to one of those courses that you've taken, that they and those those courses, offer some robust information as well, that of where to go and where to start those conversations, if you're just not sure.


Vanessa 

It's almost putting aside what people are gonna think of me, And I'm going to speak up, not only for myself, but for other people when I see it, because it's the right thing to do. And just keeping that as your main focus, because there will be a job after that one. And the job after that one in an opportunity after that one. This is not the only opportunity you're ever going to have 


Sue

100%. And I was also going to add, be prepared to walk away. It's not fair. It's not fair that the victim should have to be the one who goes and hunts for another job because it's just so intolerable. But life is real. And that's how it rolls. So I think, get your ducks in a row. If you're at that point. Again, document everything. And then you give yourself permission to move on - and you'll get tougher and stronger as a result of the experience, but get out of the toxic environment. 



Alisa 25:51

I would also add, you know, we talked a few weeks ago about those questions to ask when you're interviewing to dig deeper. And this is one one another reason why if you're interviewing for a company with a company, you need to interview the company to you need to learn about how the team is managed and how a manager get get a sense of how that managers advocating for their team get a sense of who else is working on the team and what kind of projects and things you'll learn a lot about in those conversations. And while  you may not be able to solve every issue within an organization that you're currently in, you can be an advocate for yourself and say this is one I'm absolutely not going to be a part of to Sue's point it's a this that you know and the reality is it does exist and you don't have to be a part of it and you have to be