Agile Book Club

Hire Women by Debbie Madden

December 01, 2019 Season 1 Episode 13
Agile Book Club
Hire Women by Debbie Madden
Chapters
Agile Book Club
Hire Women by Debbie Madden
Dec 01, 2019 Season 1 Episode 13
Justyna Pindel and Paul Klipp
Show Notes Transcript

Get the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07G8QTJNH/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_JxL1DbPQ7YPYM

Open Salaries: https://blog.lunarlogic.io/2016/open-salaries-outcomes/

Paul's D&I arguments doc: http://paulklipp.com/witthoughts.htm

Anita Wooley's research on collective intelligence: https://anitawoolley.com/

Contact the hosts: paul@wawelhill.com and justyna@wawelhill.com

Apologies: As I edited this I caught myself repeated using gender binary language. I apologize to our trans and non-binary listeners. - Paul



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Speaker 1:
0:01
Welcome to the agile book club. You're your hosts. Justina and Paul [inaudible].
Speaker 2:
0:08
Good morning. Good morning, mr Oh my, my, my, my, my what? What is the book about today we're talking about a book by Debbie Madden entitled hire women, an agile framework for hiring and retaining women in technology, but I think we should kick it off the same way that we always do with the elevator pitch. So you read this book as well. You just to know how would you, who would you pitch it to and how would you pitch it? Actually I would pitch it to everyone who is actually bead, who is a part of any company of any group of people. Because I think like this book book addresses so many issues that culture and work environment, it's so important for the success that people are not the just equal elements that you can exchange like in manufacture and they will work the same way. But if you want to build a company that strive for the best, you should care about the work environment more.
Speaker 2:
1:05
And actually by hiring and retaining women, it's not that you do something super, super special only for them. You build a place that it's better for everyone and that it's at the end better for your business as well. So it's not about charity, it's about having business with them I would say. And your pole minus similar, it's going to be similar. We talk then the folks, to be fair, this is something that you stood up and I have spent many, many hours talking about and so we've drifted towards a lot of similar opinions. So I, it's, it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the podcast episode, but my suspicion is we're just going to be agreeing with each other a whole lot for the next hour, which are lovely. Um, so, so I also agree this is a book that should be widely read.
Speaker 2:
1:54
It's not a book for managers. It's not a book just for, for the tech industry. Even though it is about women in technology. I think that, uh, it's applicable to specifically any area of knowledge work in, especially in ER, in places where women are underrepresented because that is something of a litmus test. If I see an environment in which women are underrepresented, that probably speaks to the quality of the culture of the environment. And so I would, I would say it's, anyone can read this book. And really, especially considering that the book is easy to read, short and cheap, there's really no reason not to read the book. If you care about creating a healthy work culture, saving money, she talks a lot about that and why it's important. I want to get into that in the takeaways. Growing the organization, having happier coworkers or employees or heaven forbid if you want to destroy the patriarchy.
Speaker 2:
2:51
So it's short, easy, cheap, lots of ideas, easy to implement. And what I really liked about it is it was written by, by an executive, but it was written to everyone. So there's, there's advice about how you can implement these ideas in your organization if you're doing it from a position of power. But also if you're not at each level. Yeah, that's true. So, so what would be your first takeaway? Okay, she, she launches this book I think. Um, just to give a little bit of context, the book starts out with an argument for why it is important to attract and retain women. If you run a technology business and then it goes into the basic thing elements that you have to have in place before you can do that. And then it talks about specific practices that you can use for hiring and retaining women, which is right there in the title.
Speaker 2:
3:46
So I think it might be easiest to go in that same structure. The first thing that she launches with is the extraordinary expense of staff turnover. She cites a number of reports that have all come to different conclusions anywhere between 90 and 200% of the annual salary of an employee is the cost of replacing an employee. And that's a huge range obviously. But, and you'd expect that it probably varies by role and varies by position, varies by industry and such. But it's still enough that whether you, whether it costs 90% of a person's salary to replace them when they quit or 200% or anywhere in between. That's an enormous cost for a business and especially a tech business whose largest cost is payroll. So right there if there's anything that you can do in order to reduce employee turnover, that's probably going to be the biggest impact on the bottom line that you can have, especially if there's any low hanging fruit and she points to quite a bit of low hanging fruit in this book.
Speaker 3:
4:51
But actually this is something that I really cannot understand and might be Paul, you can help me to understand that because I've seen that not only in the tech industry, in lot of finance corporations that are in Krakow that my friends are working, they have the same problem that they are not getting promoted or not valued. Like they are sometimes treated, you know in other human way, like just like those elements in these being mashed and for it's for me it's such a short term perspective because then they changed the job as you describe the costs are so high and I am just all the time asking myself why, why, why, why? People don't see that this is expensive, that if they would give them the opportunity for growth that they want to grow, they work hard, they try their best, but they just don't have this work environment that cherish that. If they would just give it to them, it will be easier and better for everyone and I really, really don't understand why. Can you tell me why he pulled police? I have
Speaker 2:
5:54
suspicions. I have suspicions because I've been in, I've worked in two very, very different environments. I have worked in small startups that I've started myself. I worked in an it company, which I started in red myself. And so from that perspective I see those costs even if it's not money, just the effort involved. When, when you're running an it company and you have to interview everyone yourself, it's, it's really painful to replace someone. Um, but I've also worked in middle management in large corporations and I think there's, there's something kind of built into the system which is flawed and that is that many people who work in large corporations only know that world and to make, make sense that that would be so if, um, it's surprising how many people who are recruited by the corporate world straight out of university and spend their entire careers, maybe not at the same company but hopping from large corporation to large corporation.
Speaker 2:
7:00
And so they never actually get in that position in which they are responsible in which they have profit and loss responsibility for, for example, a development team like I did. And so they don't question the turnover. There's always new people coming in. There's always people coming out. It doesn't cost them personally because they have team leads and such who handle the interviewing process. So it doesn't take a great deal of time out of a middle managers schedule to replace, I'm a designer here and a developer there and a tester there and they accepted as natural because it's always happening anyway. And most of the work is done by human resources, which is a completely different department altogether. So when you need somebody, there's, there's always a list of, of CVS and you pass them out and your little hiring people do their little hiring thing.
Speaker 2:
7:54
And unless there's some significant change in turnover, you don't really notice it. You just, it's business as usual. Don't you think that people who work in this organization, their level of motivation is low or lower because of that? Um, I know I'm not going to say that because I have been in organizations that have handled culture very well. For example, I started, my first big corporate job was not in it. It was after I finished university with a degree in anthropology. And you know what you can do with a degree in anthropology, right? But once you've used it for that and flushed it, you then have to get a job. And, and I got lucky, I got a job with a huge corporation called Aramark and it was in one of the most unpleasant environments imaginable because Aramark does all sorts of business, business services, uniform cleaning and food for hospitals and for airplanes.
Speaker 2:
9:02
But they also do food for prisons. And so my job actually required me to go to prison every day in. You can imagine I'm, I'm locked into a building surrounded by people who really, really, really, really, really, really don't want to be there. There's as, as, as for an unpleasant work environments, you can't do a whole lot worse than that except perhaps a meat processing plant. Um, and yet the corporation of Aramark had a really, really healthy culture. I didn't get to interact with all the, there was no natural reason why I should interact with my, um, colleagues in other prisons and such. And yet they created lots of opportunities to have a kind of a sense of camaraderie to be able to share ideas and such with other people who, your peers, they were very good at promoting good people. One of the things that happens in corporations is that senior leaders tend to, or even middle managers, tend to have their favorites and keep them close.
Speaker 2:
10:03
And Aramark did a wonderful thing there. They would recognize people's promotions, but they would also recommend recognize the managers who identified and mentored them. So every single time someone got a promotion, they'd get a Pat on the back and recognition for the manager who identified that talent. And so I had people who would have liked to keep me close because it was easy to have me around because I was really good at what they did. But they are also incentivized to help keep me going up up the ladder on my career. So I know that corporations can be mind numbing brain factories that just go through people like a meat grinder, but they don't have to be, they can also be very positive and enriching. So I wouldn't say that, but I know that you talking about the ones that are the former, not the latter.
Speaker 2:
10:53
And, and yes, that does happen. Although what you do find is, and again, like I said earlier, there's a lot of people who just get into that corporate environment and stay in it their whole lives and people who do that often have high levels of intrinsic motivation. Um, I've worked in, worked in environments in which the environment wasn't particularly nurturing, but people had a great deal of drive, whether it's um, because they're really, really passionate about craftsmanship or they're really passionate about just the, they get a lot of satisfaction from, from being the best and getting a lot done where they get a lot of satisfaction from helping others. Um, and so it's a different place and sometimes it can be soul crushing, but it doesn't necessarily have to be,
Speaker 3:
11:43
yeah, I didn't want to offense like, you know, corporate work environment. But that was just one of the, one of the observation that I had and actually when Debbie was describing in the book that you can build the work environment that cherish and help everyone to grow. I thought like, yes, I hope more people would actually see that. And it's connected with one of my takeaways, which was to allow the promotion at anytime to don't have these times periods during the year that, okay, now's the season for promotions. We just going to promote a five people because that's the number of spots. But that does actually give people opportunity to become better and to see their achievements when they accomplish them. I think like that's more natural way of saying that's, that was a good job. You achieve this and we are happy with, with your end. We are proud of you and you get promotion rather than waiting and waiting. Yeah.
Speaker 2:
12:44
Or we know that you're a better programmer than him, but he's been here 10 years and you've only been here one year, so we can't make you senior to him.
Speaker 3:
12:52
Yeah. But actually I liked what she mentioned, the book about the transparent um, compensation system when they put it this, uh, this amount of time for the developer that you have to be two years to get to the, I think mid, mid, mid position and that it actually brought the reverse results that people get less motivated because they were thinking no matter how hard I try, it has to be like two years till I get promotion. So yeah.
Speaker 2:
13:24
Yeah. That, that can be really discouraging when, when your efforts aren't recognized. Although I, now that we're getting into this, I'm going to take issue with this because one of the, moving on to the next step in this book, um, is the second chapter is all about how you shouldn't start to trying to attract and retain women if you don't have a healthy culture. So before you start worrying about how are we going to hire more women, how are we going to pertain the women that we have, you should focus on two things. She enumerates. One is having fair salaries and then the other is having a zero tolerance policy for harassment. And I have some issues with what her ideas about fair salaries. You can probably imagine two in particular. Um, she says flat out as though this is just a known thing that you shouldn't have transparent salaries because people have a right to privacy and a salary is a very private thing.
Speaker 2:
14:25
So flat out not a thing that can happen. Not a thing you should do. I own a software company that has transparent salaries and it's not an easy thing to do, but it's amazing the amount of bureaucracy that is required to ensure that you have fairness in your salary system when you don't have transparency. Salaries is huge. She has to describe salary bands and how every single position has to have a very detailed description of what a person in that position has to be able to do. And if a person has that position and they ha and then that Chet job description, then they can earn only so much money and not less than so much money but so, so we know vaguely how much they earn, but we don't know specifically how much they earn. All of this bureaucracy is completely unnecessary if you have transparent salaries because then the system just becomes self organizing.
Speaker 3:
15:19
Yeah. It was kind of tricky also for me when I, uh, when I read this chapter about all their requirements and I was just wondering how does it look like in real life when you have this conversation? Because at some point you might just give away something that you shouldn't, just to explain better why you're at this stage right now. What do you have to do to get there? And some of the things I believe they get outdated so we have to make sure that you keep everything updated. So it's, yeah, it sounded like a lot of, a lot of work to do that. But I like what she mentioned that you have to know why this person has distillery and you have to know how to explain that to other people. Just to look into their eyes and have the confidence of saying why that this is actually, I think a matter of respect that some of people very often don't have, they don't know how to talk about money or they are, they know that they made some bad decisions because for example, they had to fill the position, they had to hire someone.
Speaker 3:
16:23
So without knowing exactly the skills of that person, they does offer more than other people that are already in this organization. Aaron. So there's a lot of policies in those conversations. So that's true.
Speaker 2:
16:35
Yes, absolutely. I think most organizations would be horrified if their salary tables were made public and because these things happen, uh, not only, um, those sort of isolated incidents, but also general patterns. Like, I know I ran a software company for 10 years and men ask for raises more than women do. In my experience, you have to be more proactive about keeping women's salaries underneath even level with men's because the women won't do it in general. I mean individual women will, but in general, um, men ask for salary, salary increases more often and men are more likely to negotiate a salary both on being hired, which has a huge impact. A 10% difference in salary at hiring can magnify itself over, uh, over a decade long career, dramatically where you start has a huge impact on where you end up. But they also negotiate their salary increases.
Speaker 2:
17:34
Um, if when I offer women a salary increase, they're more likely to just say thank you. And when they offer a man a salary increase, they're more likely to say, couldn't we go just a little bit higher than that? And those sorts of things, especially when now in a large corporation, middle managers again, got a budget that they're responsible for it, but they've got a lot of flexibility and leeway in there. And most people don't like conflict. And as you say, people are very uncomfortable talking about money. So when somebody comes, when you offer somebody a salary increase and they ask for 2% more, it's easier to just say yes. But if it's only the men asking for that 2% more and they asked for that 2% more in every salary increase, by the time they get into middle management, there's a huge gap, a 37% gap.
Speaker 3:
18:18
So, so what do you mean by being proactive in helping women to ask for race? How did you do it?
Speaker 2:
18:26
Um, you have to just look at the numbers. You have to look at the numbers yourself. If you don't have transparent salaries, then it becomes management's responsibility to review all of the salaries periodically and to make sure that they are fair and to go in and give people a raise that they didn't ask for just because you have to because it's, it's, it's due. And she says that, um, that, that was the other concern that I had with her idea of these salary bands is that having salary bands might control things a bit. But to have any kind of a useful salary band and even the numbers that cheap, it gives them the book. It has to be large enough that you could still have a fair amount of discrimination inside of a salary band. If you've got men at the top of the band and women at the bottom, the bottom of the band, those bands haven't actually solved the problem. Management still needs to proactively review salaries across the board and make sure that they are not discriminating.
Speaker 3:
19:21
Leads me to my, uh, another takeaway which was about discovering and understanding your bias that very often we don't see how many bias we have. And it was very interesting because I was reading this book when I was in Valencia and I was actually thinking a lot, how many buyers do I have that I was not aware of. And then I was looking at my mom and thinking how many buyers she has and she was not aware of too. And I was strength to experiment with a clean language, to talk with her, to actually help her to understand that was a fun, fun, a fun weekend. But I liked a few ideas that she, that she presented. And one of them was that, uh, when there is interview and there is the recruitment process for a developer, what we can do, and it's super simple, it's actually sent a coat to reveal without saying who is the author of that code without giving away the gender of the person who routed. And I think that this is something very, very simple that each of the company, they, they can do like just like that without any extra effort does, if they carry enough for diversity and inclusion. So yeah, I will try to promote this idea in any company that I will talk to because it's cheap. You don't have to do anything with that. And I think that's powerful and they might be even shocked with the kind of results that they will get at the end of process.
Speaker 2:
20:48
[inaudible] absolutely. That, that's, um, that's based on the famous, uh, symphony orchestra example, which she also cites in this book. Um, and for those of you who haven't heard this, there used to be, I mean still is in many symphonies, but it used to be very, very common that uh, that male musicians dominated in, in symphonies. And I believe it was a symphony in New York who did this first because they identified this as a problem and they started having all of their auditions behind a screen so that the people who were evaluating a musician's performance when they were auditioning to join the orchestra could not see the gender of the musician. And I recall from, from one of the early articles about this that there was still some bias and it was because of high heeled shoes. Women who were high heeled shoes were getting, getting, um, selected less often than women who wore flats.
Speaker 2:
21:44
Because even if you couldn't see the performer, you had some kind of a mental image just based on the sound of them walking on stage. So they put carpet on the stage and all of the sudden women started getting positions in the orchestra. And there's another example which I think is something that you can actually use in your business as well to explore these biases. She cited one study that I wasn't familiar with and I'm going to check my notes so I can, I can quote it correctly. Okay. Here it is. It was a case study at Columbia business school. The professor was named Frank Flynn and he gave his whole class a case study about a successful venture capitalist, but what the class didn't know is that half of the class got a, both case studies were exactly the same, but for half the class, the name of this venture capitalist was Howard and for the other half it was Heidi.
Speaker 2:
22:37
Otherwise all the details were the same. And after reading the case study, one of the things that the students had to do was to take a polled, indicate how much they liked this venture capitalist. And regardless of the gender of the students, both male and female students tended to like Howard and dislike Heidi, even though they had read the exact same case studies about each of them. And the author makes an observation, which I'll, I'll quote exactly cause I liked it. Nobody knows why this is. Perhaps it's because we unconsciously associate women with the home and men with a career. And when a woman challenges this unconscious bias, we react with anger.
Speaker 3:
23:18
[inaudible] and when I read this part of the book, I recalled one of the conversations that we had when you told me that when women raise her voice and start screaming because she's angry, she's a drama queen. Yes. She's like, you know, getting her issues and she, she should be quiet. But when Manny's actually screaming it's like he's so powerful. And people yes. Passionate and powerful. And that was exactly the thought that I had in my mind when I read this. This, this chapter.
Speaker 2:
23:51
Mary Beard does a fabulous job of exploring that concept in her book, women in power. Um, and, and taking it a bit further, which is that we have these ideas of what power looks like. We have the eyes, these ideas of what power sounds like. Power sounds like a deep voice. Power doesn't sound like a shrill voice, which is, which is interesting because it just occurred to me that, that supposedly Abraham Lincoln had a very high pitched squeaky shrill voice that was unpleasant to listen to. And so he probably wouldn't have been elected if he had lived in the days of radio. But now that we have all of these, these images of power and they're mostly, um, images of men in power, we've got these ideas about how tall power should be and how deep power should sound and when. So when we see power that doesn't look or sound like that, we don't recognize it for what it is. And so we really need to fundamentally redefine our ideas of power before women can wield it effectively.
Speaker 3:
24:58
Yes. And discover our own bias. But I think that that's really goes along here
Speaker 2:
25:04
and she has a tool for that. So one of my takeaways was the tool. I really liked the bias mind map idea because one of her ideas is to start with this idea of exploring biases and then look and create a mind map of all of the areas in which there might be biases that are there biases in our recruitment process. Well, from that step in the recruitment process, the next step in the mind map might be, well, how about our hiring page? Are the biases there? How about our interview style? Are the biases there? How about the way in which we process CVS are their biases, their what have you? And so it's not, what I liked about it, it's is the mind map approach is a way that people can expand all of the areas into which they might explore and look for biases in a collaborative and nonthreatening way. So you can say, I think there might be some biases in our interview process. Let's talk about them without saying, I think that Joe might be a biased interviewer.
Speaker 3:
25:56
Oh yes. It's like a group discovery process and yeah, right. So I thought that was, that was very nice and I liked, I liked generally all the ideas that she presented in the book about collaboration on diversity, inclusion in companies that it's not only HR work, that it's not just a document that is created like code of conduct and no one ever see that and no one talks about that. They've, they maybe have seen it on the introduction week when they joined the company, but they never ever come back. She makes the code of conduct something that should be constantly updated in the company and that everyone has easy access. Everyone can question, everyone can have influence on how it should look like. And I think that this is again, that it's
Speaker 2:
26:44
so cheap to do in the company. You don't have to actually hire 10 10 specialists to help you to do that if you are in this position to actually start questioning the things you have, the impact on how your work environment looks like and you can collaborate to bring, to bring a better future for everyone. Yes, and you've got to have those conversations in order to identify. There's a, here's another just kind of broad general criticism that I had of this book and that is that she approaches the topic as though everyone in an organization is either going to be in favor of increasing gender diversity or neutral. And in my experience, that's not the case at all. In any given group of people that don't have a culture that embraces diversity, they're going to be people who are losers. There's in this, if they, I mean I don't mean losers.
Speaker 2:
27:45
I mean, I mean there will be people who will lose. If you are successful there, it's not a zero sum game. And if you are in an organization, especially a mature organization that has never valued diversity, then it's very likely that the people in power in the organization got there precisely because of qualities which would not serve them well in an organization that had a healthy culture, that valued diversity. You've got, you've got a lot of people who are in power because they are tall and commanding and domineering. And, and that is that not only is it threatening, but there's also people who have strongly held ideas, which are not subtle biases, but actual beliefs I've had when I, I usually try to come out early on in any kind of engagement so that people know where I stand. Because something interesting happens when you start talking about diversity and inclusion out outwardly and, and, and clearly.
Speaker 2:
28:53
And when you identify yourself as a person who advocates for feminism in an organization is two kinds of people gravitate to you. People who share those ideas and those ambitions and want to help and support you and people who legitimately want to have a conversation about their disagreements. So I have had, for example, in the large corporation, men in management positions come to me because I'm organizing a code retreat for women for example, and say, you know, Paul, I've always wondered why women should be paid the same amount as men when they take one year of maternity leave for every child they have. If they don't work as much as men, why should they be paid the same? Now you can say that that's a horrible thought to have, but it's a worse thought to have and not voice then then to actually explore, cause I can have that conversation, but only with a person who feels safe talking to me about it.
Speaker 2:
29:59
Um, there are very prominent people in our industry who believe it's important to create an environment in which people can rise based solely upon their skill in that position, that their skill at the job and make a strong case for meritocracy. And they honestly, honestly believe it. And the end result of, of actually believing in meritocracy and your organization combined with the reality of the very, very small number of women in those positions is that one must believe. And I've heard people voice this belief that there aren't more women here because women don't like it.
Speaker 3:
30:45
I'm sorry that I'm laughing, but it's, it's so terrifying that whenever I hear it, I just have two reactions. Should I cry or laugh because it's so, yeah,
Speaker 2:
30:56
that's a difficult and painful conversation to have. And I've lost friends over it, but, um, but these are actual objections. I at the, at the last big organization, like big, big, big mega corporation I was in, I had so many of these conversations, I ended up publishing a document internally that just itemized all of the criticisms of diversity and inclusion that I had come across in that organization along with my responses. Um, I've got a copy of it here. So, and these are all, these are ideas that people legitimately hold and it's worth to bring out to have the conversation. So there's a lack of diversity, but it's not our fault. It's caused by a lack of diversity in the candidate pool. So there are people who will just say shifting blame. Well, it is. Um, and there are people who will say that 13% of the graduates from the technical university were women.
Speaker 2:
31:52
And our technical teams here are 12% women, which is pretty close. So basically it's just reflective of the greater world. It's not our fault and it's not, there's nothing we can do about it. Um, I have a response to that. Uh, as you can imagine. But another common one is meritocracy. So we value diversity, but we're committed to meritocracy. And so we'd like to hire and promote more women, but we haven't met ones who are the best candidates. Uh, and that's, that's a reasonable position to have. Now I have responses to people who believe that too. The one that, that, that really gets to me is the reverse discrimination one. The, uh, we, we value diversity. We'd like to hire and promote more women, but it wouldn't be fair to the men. And how did you answer it? How did you answer to the last one?
Speaker 2:
32:46
That's very far as discrimination. Um, okay. There's a couple things, uh, number one, and I'm gonna get myself into some trouble here, but I, I am opposed to the concept of meritocracy. I'll just say it now. The author actually makes a case for meritocracy and she mentions meritocracy in the book, but I don't believe in meritocracy for two major reasons. Number one, meritocracy implies that there is some kind of objective measure and there is no objective measure for what makes a good employee. There's just not. We've, if if it's based solely on skills, I guarantee you I can find a person who excels in those skills and will not perform or hurt your business by just being there. It's simply because of a toxic personality. They can do the job as long as they're left alone by themselves and no one has to deal with them.
Speaker 2:
33:43
That's not a person you should promote. There are also people who don't have a high level of skill, but their presence on a team changes the whole team dynamic. They, they get people working together better. They, they facilitate conversations. They bring an enormous amount of enthusiasm and creativity and to say that this person should never be promoted because he doesn't have the requisite technical skills, I think is also a mistake. And so you can't actually create a true objective meritocratic system. Now this is where the problem comes in. If you can't have a meritocracy but you still believe that you can, then what you're actually doing is doing your hiring and promotion based on unconscious biases that you're not willing to explore and doing it in the name of meritocracy. So one of the things that I often say is you say you value diversity.
Speaker 2:
34:40
How much, how much do you value it? If you have two candidates for a position, one of whom is only slightly more qualified than the other, but would not bring any diversity to the team, then how much do you value diversity? Do you value it enough that it would kick the other candidate up a notch? And if you don't, if, if you hire the person, if you hire the white man who is only slightly more experienced, not enough to make a difference for so many of these positions, what I'm looking for in a technical position is adequate technical skills. No, it's impossible to an interview process to be able to really effectively stack rank people, especially if you have an adequate number of candidates. And so there might be four or five or six candidates, all of whom who could, who could do the job, you know? And once you've identified that somebody has a technical skill to do the job, basically to do the job, then you have to start looking at other factors. Um, and I think personality is an important factor. Uh, values is a very important factor. Their backgrounds, their perspectives are a very important factor and these things are a lot fuzzier. They're a lot, lot harder to pin down. That makes people feel uncomfortable, but you can't value diversity and then not let diversity sway a decision because then you don't really value it.
Speaker 3:
36:12
And what was the company response for the, this internal document that you published that you just read?
Speaker 2:
36:18
It was, it was really interesting. There was no official response. But like I said, I find it to be very healthy for me anyway, to be very upfront with my ideas because it attracts these people to me. So for example, in this company they had a diversity committee. This committee was inactive. They didn't really do much. They, they spoke at a couple of external events, but there wasn't a whole lot of things happening. And so people started gravitating to me and meeting each other in this way. And we started organizing different events to encourage diversity and inclusion. And ultimately what ended up happening is that these groups of people started a different initiative. So if if your diversity and inclusion committee isn't performing, then employees can form their own women in tech community or what have you. But in a larger organization it's difficult for these people to meet unless they have some kind of a catalyst. And an outspoken feminist can be a very effective catalyst for bringing such people together.
Speaker 3:
37:32
But I never heard, uh, audio you've done about this internal document, but I think that it's very powerful because lot of people inside companies, they are even not aware of how they act or what is, I don't want to say what is wrong, but maybe what is harmful for other people. And I had this example, I had a friend and I was doing interview with him and he's one of the kindest men on earth. Really? He's so smart. So kind he, he wouldn't hurt a flight really. And then we had interview and there was a woman that came there and she was a little bit shy. And I always ask like, what is your super power? What is the skill that you could teach us because we are looking also for people who, who do something outside of the work. Like, I mean we wanted to get to know them better.
Speaker 3:
38:22
We didn't want to just focus on their hardcore skills, but just to get them know as people and she, and she got super shy. She didn't know what to say and she got confused. So I tried to give her some examples like what other people inside the company do, just to give her a perspective of what she can say. But instead of helping her, I might hurt even more shy. And then he couldn't stay the awkwardness of the situation. And he made a joke that was terrible. She said like, you know, like a super good ironic or delicious cooking and you know, I was like in the moment I just, I just wanted like to kill him. But I just carried on with the conversation and we finished the interview and the ones we finished, I told him like, listen, are you aware of what you have done?
Speaker 3:
39:15
It's like, what w what have I done? I don't understand why you were angry at me and I said, okay, I'm not, I'm a little bit angry at you. There was a moment that I told that I would just kick you under the table, but I told that that wouldn't be too quiet so I just stopped myself. But what you've just said was a terrible thing. Like you just told woman who comes for the interview for the tech position that her super power might be ironing or cooking. That was like really the worst thing that you could done. And then I explained it to him and we had the conversation and he goes and he was shocked. He was, he got super sad when he came home. I got the message from his wife and she's like, Oh my God, I've heard what he's done and he's feeling so sorry.
Speaker 3:
39:57
He was not aware of that. I hope that you are not angry at him and stuff. They said, no, no, I'm not angry at him. But I just had to explain to him that when he was trying to help, he actually start use a stereotype and make her maybe even feel less viable for, for the company. And that's, yeah, but he was not a bad person. That's, that's why I, I really like what you have done that you just put outside your thoughts to just share with people like what is happening that they might be like more aware of how they behave.
Speaker 2:
40:32
And, and this is one of the, one of my other takeaways is that she describes this as a, an iterative process because it is an agile approach to hiring and retaining women. So it is an iterative approach and one must, an organization was constantly be learning how to do it better. Now your example I think is a really interesting one because one of the things I like to remind myself of is that I guarantee you, if I listen to this podcast in five years or 10 years, some of the words that are coming out of my mouth right now will horrify me. Oh yeah. You know, I have to say. And, and so when you, when you characterize people who have a wrong thought as bad people than good people or people who have no wrong thoughts and that kind of makes us all bad people.
Speaker 2:
41:27
President Barack Obama made a similar statement when he was being critical of political correctness. A speech just last week, he said, you have to understand these things are fuzzy and there's a lot of gray areas and we all have, and he didn't say this, but he's done this himself. I mean, president Barack Obama himself when he first ran for office was against gay marriage, leave vocally against gay marriage. And when he advocated for it during a second term, people said, but you were against it. And he said, my, my, my feelings and my opinions evolved. And that's what they have. That what, that's what happens. Um, and so if you categorize people as good people and bad people based on whether or not their ideas are woke as, as woke as they can possibly be, then you're not going to be able to grow and change as an organization.
Speaker 2:
42:15
You have to keep exploring these things and at the same time do so do so with empathy. Um, the only, the, the only bad person is the person who is actively negatively opposed to the direction in which the organization organization has to go in order to be healthy. And so I think it's a mistake to think that starting some kind of a diversity inclusion program inside of an organization is going to have only positive benefits. There are going to be people who can't exist in that sort of environment because they got to where they got to be in the environment that they're in right now. And so there's going to be initial turnover, there's going to be growing pains, but there's a lot of people who are very, very willing to continue to learn as long as you do it, as long as, as long as you can have the conversation, it's like, for example, this manager who didn't believe that women should be paid the same amount of money, we could have a conversation.
Speaker 2:
43:11
And that was a conversation that actually spanned about six months and it came up again and again in different contexts and now he thinks about women differently. He's not a bad person. Um, right. Because I think also the society that we are in, that we, that we grow what, what we've seen influence us. And as I said, we just have to grow, talk, learn and the other takeaways. Um, yeah. Okay. Here's one that I liked a lot. It is that, um, it's the idea of having anti goals, which I thought was kind of an interesting idea she was talking about, I'm just working on a few goals at a time. So once you've done your, your bias mind map and you've identified all of the various changes that you could make to your interviewing process, your hiring process, your, your job ads, the way in which you, all, all of the various things, don't try to tackle them all at once.
Speaker 2:
44:06
Um, prioritize them and work on just a few things at a time. But for each one of these things have some sort of a goal. Like we want to increase the number of women that we hire by 5%. We want to reduce the turnover of female employees by 10% by the end of this year. But also you can have an anti goal and we want to do that without increasing male turnover, which kind of jumps out at me because initially I think you probably would if, if like I've said already on this podcast, um, when you start to start tinkering with the culture, there are going to be people who aren't going to be comfortable with that and they will leave. And these are people you shouldn't have hired in the first place. But, but sometimes an organization outgrows a person and sometimes it personnel grows an organization. And if your organization is outgrowing some of your staff members, then you need to let them go.
Speaker 3:
45:01
Yeah, it's a natural process. This friction I think. Okay. I look at mine, but I think that I'm good with all my takeaways. Some of them you covered, so I don't want to repeat what you've just said. So
Speaker 2:
45:14
a few things. Um, now that we're talking more general terms, the book as a whole, I um, it's a very small book and I wish it were bigger. So for example, there, there was, she mentions that the reasons for hiring and retaining women are, what I recall from that chapter is it reduces turnover costs cause turnover is very expensive and it creates an environment in which people can communicate better with each other because she makes the point that if the person sitting across from you, it looks just like you, you make assumptions that they think just like you. And so you don't, you don't ask so many questions, you don't explore as much. And when the person sitting across from you looks different than you, you don't assume that they think like you do. But there's so many other things she could have said. She didn't talk about the value of having teams working on products and services who can more easily empathize with the users of those products and services.
Speaker 2:
46:16
So for many of these software products, half of the users are women. And so if the products are built by men, that's not to say that a man can't understand how a woman uses a piece of software, for example, or a product, but it's harder. They have to do more work. And so if you've got, if you've got people inside of the company that are more representative of the people outside of the company who are consuming those services, it's going to be easier to design services that work for your users. Or as you didn't mention anything about collective intelligence. So, um, what was her name? Dr Anita Woolley. Woolsey's research. We'll see. Yeah. Um, on collective intelligence in which she was trying to identify why some groups of people are better at problem solving than others. And pin down this, what she called this, this mysterious factors. See this, this thing that allowed some people, some groups of people to make better decisions. And the correlation was the number of women. And, and the suggestion is that it has to do with empathy and that, and I always resist the idea that women have more empathy than men. But I think that if, if empathy is a bell curve and you had had a bell curve for empathy in a, in a large representative sample of women and men, there'd be a lot of overlap, but the women's group would be right shifted.
Speaker 3:
47:37
And you know, I'm just laughing because, uh, once I've heard that if you show something on the graph, it's smart. It's a fact and everyone would believe it. So if you use the term curve, it sounds like a scientific fact and all our listeners will make sure it's good.
Speaker 2:
47:51
Well, if you don't know anything about a person's empathy level, and if you have no way of measuring a person's empathy level and you have to choose between a man and a woman and you're hiring for empathy, you're better bet's going to be, if this was Vegas bet on the woman. And the other interesting thing that came out of Dr. Wallace Woolsey's research was that a one woman doesn't cut it. I was once asked to speak about empathy at a large tech organization during one of their public meetings. And one of the things that the president said during the introductory statements is how they were really proud of the work in, in recruiting women into their technology teams. Now every single one of their tech teams has a woman in it. And that was literally true. They wanted to make sure that there was a woman in every team. So every time they would hire a woman they'd put her into a team that had no women in it until every team had a woman. Yeah,
Speaker 3:
48:49
I see it right now, one of the organization that I know seriously, yes,
Speaker 2:
48:56
this is a huge organization and so they had to hire quite, quite a few women to get one woman at every single tech team. But that means that every single woman in their entire technology department, when they go to a meeting, they're the only woman in the room. And one of the things that came out of dr Willie's Willie's research is that I say her name price every time cause I'm unsure if it will Willie or Woolsey. I thought we'll see, but I'm not sure. No, it's Woolley. W w, O, L. L. E, Y. dr [inaudible] research was that. And she did basically what she did is she had groups of people trying to solve problems together and then she looked at how well they solve the problems and looked at what would the differences were between, between the groups of people. And the most easily identifiable difference was the gender mix.
Speaker 2:
49:39
And what she found is that having one woman on a team of men has no impact whatsoever on that team's ability to solve complex problems. You need more than one woman. But also she found that a team of all women does not outperform a team that's um, that has diversity between women and men. So a group of women together aren't, doesn't optimize collective intelligence, but one woman doesn't make a difference. Mostly because I think of all of those biases, those cultural biases that we have that keep women from being heard when they're alone in a room with a bunch of men. And there's nobody in there who's actively working to magnify her voice.
Speaker 3:
50:18
Yes. And one of the observations that I had actually from this company that I mentioned before, my friend, she's working there and she's a woman and she's made, and the thing is she told me, I hate being the only one woman in the team because I see the difference when I'm there and when I'm not there. How they communicate the conversation that they have. I hear that jokes stop when I entered the room and I hate that I cannot, I cannot share more with them because I'm not one of them. Oh goodness. That's how she, that's how she, that's how she feels. Or for example, she's delegate to talk with other teams because she's woman. She has better communication skills. So it's good to take notes because she has better handwriting because she's, Oh, well yeah, but, but the thing is like they wanted to have more diversity inclusion and they, it was their goal as you described was the seamless that they just made it as a statement that they will increase number of women in tech and then they started like a puzzle to put one woman at the team without, without even looking what kind of personality she has.
Speaker 3:
51:36
And what is the group dynamics? It was just we put woman here, problem fixed then next in place.
Speaker 2:
51:43
Yeah, it's a, it's an awful place to be. So awful position to be. And I think, uh, I, I had had a talk with this CEO afterwards and, um, I don't know whether he did it, if, although if he did it would be in the news because this was a very big and very public organization. But it'd be really interesting to see if they shuffled up their teams and had half of the team is all men and half of the teams more diverse. But, um, w when you were talking, it reminded me of another conversation because it's really interesting and I think it helps probably to some extent to be a middle aged man who's taking this position inside of an organization because most of the people in power are also middle aged men. So these, these managers who are coming to me with their good intentions but their legitimate concerns felt like they could talk to me and say horrible things to me. Another one said, and he thought he was a proponent of gender diversity in tech, but his reason was that having women around make the men behave better, which is another conversation that has to be had, you know?
Speaker 3:
52:47
Yeah. Oh yes, yes, yes. I've heard Paul, I've heard thousands of those, but maybe I will dump to my favorite quotation because it goes, uh, some, it goes nicely with the current conversation that we have. So diversity doesn't start with hiring. It ends with hiring. Before you can hire more people onto your team, you first have to create a safe and equal working environment for everyone who already exists on your team. Absolutely. That was the essence of the book for me. Yes, yes,
Speaker 2:
53:22
yes indeed. And that everyone on the team I think is really important. Um, you made the case that the point at the very beginning, which I'm Naomi Cedar and made on our stage at ACE a few years ago, which is that there's a lot of areas in which our, our industry could benefit from diversity. Women in tech is a low hanging fruit because they are the only underrepresented group who is not actually a minority. There are a ton of them, but also that everything that you do to improve a work environment for women improves the work environment for everyone. And when I was listing the reasons why people might actually want to increase diversity, not the ones that are not good reasons for doing it, but the, the legitimate reasons for it. One of them is that, uh, most men are not belligerent, arrogant, egotistical, power, hungry, boisterous, drunken thugs.
Speaker 2:
54:24
We're all taught how to be that way by society, by school, by, by television, by violent movies. We know how to act the act, but most men aren't. And a fairly large number of us are inter introverts and don't feel comfortable playing the role that society would cast us in. And I can tell you when you're in a prison working in a prison surrounded by big men, the pressure to play that role is incredibly high. And when you leave that industry to go into it and you find yourself surrounded by the same kind of environment and it's a very difficult role to play if it doesn't come naturally to you. And so I really feel uncomfortable when I'm in an organization that's all men because I don't feel like I can be myself. And when I work in companies that, that have a good gender balance, it's also a litmus test or just a really clear indicator to me that it's okay for me to bring my authentic self to work and I cannot be the only man who thinks that way.
Speaker 2:
55:39
Did you have and the favorite quotations I did? So this one, I'm going to quote directly from the opening paragraph cause I really liked it. I'm like, all companies, stack overflow has an infinite list of things to do, but limited resources. In recent years, diversity and inclusion efforts have consistently been fairly important. Like number three on our list of priorities, which meant they got allocated roughly zero resources admits the EVP, executive vice president of culture and experience at stack overflow. So indeed, if, if diversity and inclusion is high on your list of priorities, you know, number three, there's a good chance it's not getting any funding or investment of time or energy. So I like, I like that because we all know it's important, but aren't profits more important? We all know it's important, but isn't maintaining our market position more important. If, if you don't see the clear connection between creating a healthy work environment and all of the other goals of your company, then you'll never get around to doing it.
Speaker 2:
56:46
Do you have another one? You know what I mean? Okay. I have, I've got a bunch of favorite quotes, but I'm not going to go through all of them. But there is one other that I'd really like to share and I liked this a lot. Uh, if you put all of your effort into hiring women into entry level and mid level roles, it's going to take you a really long time to get there. And in this case there is, is a healthy work environment that has gender diversity at all levels and you might not get there at all because all of those women may never see people above them and they may opt out, opt to get out before they get there themselves. And this is, this is one of the challenges that I see a lot, um, that we're working with. It's, it's the reason why you and I started up the women in agile community and why we do the agile trainings for women who are starting their, their management careers is that not only do we tend to, to see a lack of diversity, a lack of gender diversity in the industry, but women exit at a higher rate than men do.
Speaker 2:
57:46
And so the lack of gender diversity gets worse the higher up in the organization you go. And it is a, it's something of a self fulfilling prophecy because it is a, uh, I think, I think she points it out. The reason for very nicely right here is a, um, a vicious circle in which you don't have women in executive positions because they leave before they get to the executive position and they leave before they get the executive position because they don't see anybody above them who looks like them and they don't believe they can do it. So when a vice president leaves to join another company, when a division head leaves to join another company, when the head of marketing leaves to join another company, that should be a fabulous opportunity not to look at that layer of men who are queued up for that position just below them, but to look outside the organization to start making some real meaningful changes to the diversity of your top leadership teams. Yes.
Speaker 2:
58:47
So, wow. Okay. We've, this is going to be the longest podcast we've ever done and we could go on and on and on. There's so many things I wanted to say that I still hadn't said so, but, but I, I think we've, I think we've done a fair examination of the book of it's, there's a lot of good ideas. There are some things that I don't, not 100% on board about and I've been clear about those. But there's a lot of really good ideas. There's a lot of things you can take away. There are things that can be done by anybody at any of an organization and it's cheap. Shorten an easy read. So I strongly recommend it to anybody who has an interest in diversity and inclusion in any knowledge management management field.
Speaker 3:
59:34
Oh, who wants to just try an experiment with changing something in the culture with really low or no cost?
Speaker 2:
59:42
Yes. So I think Justina, you already have a proposal for our next read. What have you got in mind?
Speaker 3:
59:50
Yes, it's my dream to actually invite this person for the interview. So I would suggest to read this is Lena resolving the efficiency paradox because I love being productive. I am the productivity freak. Paul tells me that if I get stressed in the line, I can just count the number of people that are in front of me and look on them are passing and it actually saves my life. So I would like to read the book by Nicholas modic and pair our scrum, both Swedish. Uh, yeah, both Swedish authors in our next podcast.
Speaker 2:
60:31
All right. I don't know the book at all but I absolutely trust your no, I haven't read it.
Speaker 3:
60:37
Oh my God, yes. That's going to be fabulous because actually I've, I just watched a three tugs with Nicholas and he spent some times in Toyota doing some research and he was sharing a lot of, a lot of, a lot of amazing experience that we can actually implement in the knowledge work. And the whole book is about the efficiency paradox, which I feel I see, but I'm just sometimes lacking with the number of examples. So I think it will give us a lot of stories and they're in the same time zone. So I think it might be easy to talk with them. And we are already friends on Twitter, so it's just one step closer to get to know them.
Speaker 2:
61:16
Fabulous. Okay. I really look forward to it and so listeners, that wraps up another episode of the agile book club. I want to, this has been a little different because we've been, we've been touching on some some topics that are sensitive for a lot of people threatening for some people legitimately. And one of the things I said is that earlier in this podcast is that I guarantee you there's things that I've said in the last hour in this room with Justina that I will be ashamed of 10 years from now because when I think back to myself five years and 10 years ago, I can think of things that I am ashamed of now that I felt very strongly about at the time. And it's even possible that with your help kind listeners, there may be some things that I'll be ashamed of five minutes after releasing the podcast.
Speaker 2:
62:04
So it's essential to have healthy, respectful dialogues about these things. And then what I want to be clear about something here, and when I say healthy and respectful, I don't necessarily mean gentle kind. So if anything that you dinner or I have said makes you angry, then by all means, feel free to express your anger. I wouldn't want to to go trying to force civil discourse because we didn't build this world by being civil. It was angry people who made the world that we live in today. And so angry people are welcome. But please, if, if there's something that I have said, which is offensive or wrong, or just something that you want to discuss or explore with me, you'll find my email address in the show notes. Please bring it to my attention.
Speaker 3:
63:00
Yes. And same for me. Actually, I would really appreciate any comments because I'm still learning and yes, I already feel a little bit bad about something. So they said, so I'm curious what, what our listeners my thing. Yeah, so thank you so much listening
Speaker 2:
63:19
and stay tuned because in two weeks I'm hoping that we'll be able to interview the author. Yup. Thank you. Bye. Bye. Bye.
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