Women in business and leadership with Sanofi and Joan Kuhl (CxOTalk #351)

Women in business and leadership with Sanofi and Joan Kuhl (CxOTalk #351)


Women in leadership, women in business is
so crucially important and we’re going to have a very interesting discussion about women
in leadership and women in business. Joan Kuhl, welcome to CXOTalk. Tell us about your work and the things you
do. I wrote three books. The two more recent are: Misunderstood Millennial
Talent, that was really based on global research about what early career professionals wanted
and what they lacked in their careers; and the most recent is Dig Your Heels In: Navigate
Corporate BS and Build the Company You Deserve, is really about empowering and emboldening
women. We’ll share more about what inspired me to
do that. I’m really delighted that you’re here. I’m also delighted by our second guest, Michelle
Carnahan, who is a top executive at Sanofi, the very large pharmaceutical company. Michelle, welcome to CXOTalk. Thank you, Michael. I am thrilled to be here with both you and
Joan today. I’ve been in the pharmaceutical world for
26 years, so I guess one could say, after Joan’s book, I’ve really dug my heels in. I’ve held a variety of roles in sales, marketing,
kind of the operations world, HR, finance, you name it. I’ve kind of been there in the pharma world. I spent probably the first 25 years of my
career at one company and I’ve been, the last 18 months, here at Sanofi as their U.S. head
of primary care and their U.S. country council chair. I am thrilled to be here today and talk with
you about this incredibly important topic. Joan and I both look forward to it. All right. Let’s start. Joan, tell us about your book. I think that’s a good place to begin. What is the primary theme of the book and
why did you decide to write it? Let’s begin there. I always begin with saying I’m a champion
for advancing women in the workplace and also girls leadership. I have spent decades as a volunteer and serving
on boards for organizations in particular that serve girls: Girl Scouts, Girls Hope,
Step Up for Women, Girls on the Run, and now I sit on the board of Girls Inc. of New York
City. I’m also the mother of two daughters, so this
topic of helping women rise and thrive, as well as really increasing the confidence,
the opportunities, and the potential for our girls and their future is extremely important
to me. The book itself, I felt like right now, in
modern times, there is a lot of glamorizing this message to women that, to get what you
want, you have to job hop or you have to quit and do your own thing. While those are amazing pathways and they
work for some women, I felt like there was a lack of resources to tell the woman who
is working for someone else and really in large corporations that we need you and that
you aren’t getting everything that you deserve, whether it’s pay, opportunity, flexibility,
or relationships. Really, not just inspiring her, but arming
her with the tools and strategies to start to transform the workplace. That is the goal of the book. Tell us about the perspective. What’s the unique perspective that you present? I think that the conversation around women’s
rights, specifically in the corporate space, can sometimes fall in this category of, this
is the nice thing to do; this is the right thing to do. It’s the smartest thing to do. This is really important for business, and
we have enough research to prove that diversity fuels innovation, employee engagement, and
otherwise. That’s why I spend a lot of time to help women
also know the data. That’s why this book is really a playbook
to feel grounded in the statistics that back up what we’re saying here, and that gives
some women confidence, and men too, to be champions of this. Second is, how do you make it happen? This is a big topic: equality, equity in the
workplace. As an individual, really understanding what
levers of influence you have, whether you have a title or not, that’s also very unique
about the time I wanted to spend there. Finally, the last part of this book is making
work worth it, which I love Michelle’s stories in the book about this. Women all over the world have written to me
saying that her advice has transformed their thinking because we have got to enjoy this
ride. This is going to take courage and endurance,
and so that’s every part of life, professionally and personally, and really helping women have
some hacks to thrive. Michelle, you were at a company for 25 years
before you shifted over to your current role. I was. I was. How does your experience line up with the
kinds of themes that Joan has explored in her book? Look, I think that my experience lines up
really remarkably well to what Joan talks about, but I want to go back a little bit,
too, around why I think Joan’s book is so needed today and maybe why it lines up so
well to the experience. I think Joan’s book does four things really
well that fit the book to the business world we live in today. The first is, she sets up the need for women
in top companies across the world. Number one, when a board has at least three
women directors that make up their board of directors, they do 15% better. They return 15% better. They do 22% better in terms of retention of
top female talent and they have a 3 times better engagement level with their employees. It really does make a difference when you
bring women, and not just one. The studies are there now to say at least
three to boards. Finally, when you bring women to boards, you
have more female CEOs. First, I think she sets up the business need. This isn’t a nice thing to do. It’s not doing right. It’s a business imperative, and I think she
sets that up. Secondly, I think she gives a playbook. It’s one thing to talk about an issue. It’s another thing to say, “Here’s what you
can go do,” and so the pieces of, have a plan, have a backup plan, know where you’re going. We’ll talk more about those as our time with
you goes on, Michael, but those are super important and she sets those up in the book. The third thing that I think is really helpful
as you think about these changes is, be ready to disrupt a little bit. I don’t think that either of us are going
to sit here today and say this is an easy thing, but what makes it fun is the disruption. Then the thing I think her book touches on
a little bit, but maybe this is a second book idea, maybe the fourth thing that it only
touches on just a bit is, I think there are lots of paths, but the exciting thing about
being part of a big company is really what an impact that you can have when you break
through. That’s what I really encourage people not
only to get into these career paths but to stick it out and to dig your heels in. I think the book really sets out where we
are today and how we can master where we want to go moving forward. Fantastic. We have an interesting question from Twitter. Sal Rasa asks, “Considering the extensive
work that you have both accomplished advising people about careers, what advice do you have
for older workers in areas like healthcare?” but it could be any place, any field. I think that that question was part of the
inspiration for the work that I wanted to do in writing this book. What I didn’t say earlier is that I launched
a company called Why Millennials Matter because of this passion I had for really investing
in the next generation and their leadership potential. What happened was, as I worked with, again,
some of the biggest companies, college campuses across the country, and top business schools,
I realized what millennials want is what women deserve and still didn’t have access to: the
flexibility, the meaningful relationships, constant learning and development, and transparency
about what their opportunities are. As I started to interview, lead focus groups,
and run these research projects talking to women at every level, early career all the
way through the boardroom, I realized that the women that were at the very top, they
still had a need to feel fulfilled, to feel appreciated, garner that respect, that trust,
and have access to these things. We need her to thrive for the next generation
to even find it appealing to walk in the door at these big companies let alone want to stay
and make a difference. That’s why it actually is really not about
just focusing on the next generation. We need the people right now, women and men
at every seat of the table, to care about this issue and to realize it doesn’t just
benefit women. It benefits everyone. It’s proven to increase not just engagement
and retention, but the types of benefits of companies that have gender-diverse leadership. It’s friendly to families. It’s friendly to humans. I think it’s one of those things that we’ve
proven it in research. We just need more people to embrace it and
prioritize it. I am one of those older working people, I
guess I would say I think about this. I think about this every morning in the shower,
so you’re getting some real feedback here. There are three things I always try to think
about. How does this apply when you’re working and
you have some experience in the field? I think the first thing is, make your experience
count and make that experience count in a way that it not only works for the betterment
of the company but it works for the betterment of the people at the company. Really, wear that experience with a badge
of honor. That’s the first thing. How are you using that experience like a badge
of honor every day? The second thing is, we are never too old,
experienced, or even smart to learn. The second thing is, wherever you are, you
deserve to learn too. You deserve to be developed too. Take that wherever you are. The third piece is, I think what a little
time and experience give us is just a real appreciation for life; understanding really
what the big decisions are, what the big mistakes are, and they’re not always what you think
they are in the moment. I think having people and helping those who
aren’t experienced, really knowing where the focus goes and where the commitment goes,
no matter how smart you are, there is a piece that only time gives you in that. Those are the three things that I try to do,
but I also try to take. I make sure that my experience is rewarded
and I also make sure that I have a company that wants me to learn too. I think those are important things to take,
and I think that’s a great question. I’m glad you ask it. What are some of the mechanisms that women,
in particular, can use to find opportunity? One of the things that struck me about Joan’s
book is, very often, we hear advice for women and men. If you want to find an opportunity, you need
to get a new job; go to a different company. Your advice is a little bit counterintuitive. You’re saying, “Hey, you can find an opportunity
where you are,” and so tell us about that, please. Exactly. This is really what inspired the movement
that I have about having the courage to stay and staying to lead, which is that there is
a lot of noise that tells you to go after more money and a bigger title. I could promise you, you probably can get
that elsewhere, but there isn’t enough time spent on what you’re leaving behind. Who knows that company the best? You do: the politics, the processes, the people,
how power is distributed. Literally, the idea of helping women embrace
and really evaluate this big decision, “Should I stay or should I go?” I find that women are facing that decision
far more often than men because of the bias that’s built into a system and a culture that
wasn’t designed for us hundreds of years ago. That’s important and just even some basics. The number one key here about finding opportunity
is relationships – relationships, relationships. That’s why, chapter seven, I wrote the entire
chapter about them and there isn’t even enough space because I think, really, strengthening
your peer allies, having those mentors and sponsors, being a mentor yourself, and making
sure that you are spending the time, allowing people to know what you really want. I always say that who you know can open doors,
but how well they know you, that gives you the opportunities. They need to understand what it is that you
want and some of us aren’t even really clear on what that is because we haven’t even been
in a position to evaluate what we deserve. That’s really, I think, the opportunity. A lot of the steps within the book, when I
talk about how she can make the case and make the decision, it’s very personal, digging
your heels in and staying at your company. I never say that this is universal because,
in some situations, women may say, “Enough is enough.” In others, they haven’t really figured out
that they could be a catalyst for change. I think Joan had a great answer there. I’ll add a couple of nuggets upfront and then
I’ll add my own personal story because it kind of fits here. My two nuggets upfront, I think, to always
remember, the first one is in regard to opportunity. I would say the biggest learnings I’ve had
over 26 years is, have the courage to ask for the opportunity and then have the courage
to embrace it. As we’re thinking about the opportunity, I
think that’s the one thing that we often miss is, are we asking truly for what we want and
then, when we get it, do we fully embrace it? that’s kind of the first nugget I would
give. The second nugget I would give kind of follows
along where Joan has been. There are going to be challenges everywhere. So often, those challenges are worth taking
on because of the catalyst you really can be in a company where you have equity. The one time I will tell people to always
leave, and only you know this, is when your company’s integrity and ethics don’t line
up to your own. Those are kind of the two overall pieces of
opportunity, when to leave, when to stay, that I would add to what Joan had. The personal anecdote I’d like to share, Michael,
is just my own because I stayed at the same place for 25 years. Some might ask, “Why in the world, after 25
years? A) Why did you stay so long? B) Why did you finally decide to change? What was that about?” To me, it was more than just the job. I’ll start with first why I stayed. It was a company of people I loved and they
just kept giving me an interesting job after an interesting job after an interesting job. That’s what drove me. It also had to do with a dual career husband. It had to do with where my extended family
was located. So, these things are never in a microcosm
of just a job. It had to do with a lot of things. Then I got to a point where the next job was
an interesting job but maybe it wasn’t quite as interesting as some of the others had been. Personally, it worked for the right time for
my husband’s job to move. What I felt like was, I’d lived in the same
place for ten years, it was getting a little bit less interesting, and it was personal
as well as professional for me. What’s great about the decision and making
it is, it wasn’t running from something. It was running to something. I have to say, with the exception of one day,
and there was this one day, I’ve always been happy I did it. It’s not because I love the place where I
am so much more than where I was. It was that, where I was at fit me when I
was there. Where I am really is helping to build new
skills in me professionally as well as personally. I’m a big believer that we’re not just one
big blob personally and one big blob professionally. It all kind of goes together. For me, it’s a balance across. I think what I love about building long careers
is, you do get to meet people, build a tribe, but what’s been fun with me starting over
is meeting new people and building that in a new place. It’s different, but you get that opportunity
again. I think you know it when it’s time. I think you have to have a very good personal
barometer to say, “What’s the growth I want and where do I want it?” Joan, recently I had a similar conversation
with the chief marketing officer of SAP. One of the things that Alicia—and that’s
Alicia Tillman. She’s the CMO of SAP—said is exactly what
Michelle just said. She said, “Women don’t ask for what they want.” Other female business leaders have made the
same comment to me. Given this common thread, what’s going on
with that and what can women do? I was going to say, to not fall into that
trap or to overcome that obstacle. I’m not even sure what the right terminology
is. When I am really training women, working with
women at various levels and various industries, talking to them about the derailers, what
can derail her career, what I found in research is, and what I know from her stories and the
journey I went on to write this book, there are two things happening. There are barriers that are internal that
are self-limiting, that I still don’t think they’re our fault that are built and influence
our confidence, and really our impression of what is possible because of the bias we’ve
experienced. There are barriers that are internal. Then there are a lot of major barriers that
are external. That’s why we say this isn’t all on her shoulders. We have to actually change the system, the
culture, the behaviors around us. Actually, the data does show that women do
negotiate as much as men. It’s things like the likability bias, the
fact that, as men advance and are more assertive in their leadership, that they’re liked more
by women and men. When women advance, are assertive, showcase
their ambition, they’re liked less by both men and women. A lot of that again stems back to how we believe
we should see women behaving and be more devoted, communal, and team-oriented versus men being
kind of like this bearer of responsibility. That’s why, in the book, chapter four, I spent
all this time talking about those internal barriers, overcoming imposter syndrome, things
like believing that it should be this meritocratic system where I just put my head down, I do
my work, the results, everything is going to pay off, and that’s not how things work
for women. We need to have relationships. There are those things. Again, there are external pressures, and that’s
why looking at your talent management process, your recruitment process, your succession
management planning, your benefits, there are real systems and processes that have bias
within them but haven’t really been disrupted for a long enough time that would benefit
women. Michelle, this is kind of a dumb question
because I know the answer. Have you run into these kinds of issues that
Alicia Tillman was describing and that Joan was just describing? Absolutely. Of course, you know the answer because you
talk to a lot of women in podcasts like these. I have and I bet I can guess your next question. “How do you deal with them?” is probably the
next question. How do you deal with them? Exactly. [Laughter]. Yes. That’s what I thought. I think, over the course of my career, a couple
of different ways. First of all, I’ll start with how did I personally
deal with them. The first way is, I think you have to have
a support network. A support network is so important. To me, that comes in three different ways. I encourage everybody to find a partner. I don’t care if that partner is your life
partner, if it’s your best friend, if it’s your sister, if it’s your mom. Find that partner who is the right partner
for you who can help you with all the other stuff. Then I think my second tip is, find both an
emotional and an intellectual supporter. I say everybody needs that emotional supporter. I always talk about for me it’s my husband. It is that person who, even if you are wrong,
will say, “Oh, but, honey, I think you are so right,” because sometimes you just need
people to make you feel better – emotional support. You need intellectual supporters too who will
actually say, “No, you were wrong, but maybe you should think about it this other way,”
so you need that. Then the final piece, I would say, is this
whole thing about, as women, finding your tribe. I think really having those people around
you who not only can support you when it comes to finding a job or looking for the job or
thinking about the next promotion but can make the right connections for you and can
help you think through things in the right way. I think about that often as I made this big
jump to a new company after 25 years. It was really my tribe. I had a son who was going into high school
and so, as a mom, what did I think? Oh, my gosh. Can I do this to my son in high school? It was people who said, “You know what? He’ll survive.” When I was negotiating salary, it was a good
friend of mine who understands comp who said, “No, no, Michelle. You have to ask for more here. Here’s what you have to look for.” It was that tribe that supported me. Personally, those are the things you have
to do. Really think about your support system. Understands how you use that. Then, as I’ve moved on further in my career
as a woman executive, I think we have to think about what are the three things we start to
change in the world of business. The first is, how do we create more line leaders
in positions of leadership throughout our companies? One of the things I talked about was putting
women on boards and what a difference that made. If you put women on boards, three or more,
you’re more likely to have a female CEO. Women in these positions just think about
this more often. Whether you’re a first-line manager or whether
you’re the CEO of a company, we have to start thinking about that more broadly. The second is the talent management piece
that Joan talked about. What is bias in our system? Do we really have succession management that
works? What does that look like? Are we meeting the needs of our employees? Do we know what the root cause is? That’s the second thing we work through. Then, as we think about the big picture of
where we’re going over time, how do we create a language that just really thinks about the
worker in 2020 is different than the worker employee in 2000 and has our workplace caught
up with that? I think women are sometimes on the cutting
edge of helping us get there. Are we building that throughout our organization? I’ve dealt with it personally and now I think
a lot about how do I deal with it as a leader within an organization. I want to just back up a couple of things
that Michelle said, which are always brilliant, which is what gives me so much energy. Her stories like those she just shared are
in the book. When she talked about women on boards and
CEOs, just this past week another female was named CEO in the Fortune 500, which was Heyward
Donigan, the CEO of Rite Aid, so that brings us to a record number of 36 women holding
the position of CEO at the same at in Fortune 500 companies. That equates to like 6%. It’s not enough. Again, this is happening. We’re seeing this rise happen while more Fortune
500, Fortune 1000 boards are having an increase of women representation. At the same time, you see the IPOs that were
announced just in 2019, from January to August, about 100 of them; 40% of them had all-male
boards, and so we need to stop and think about, this is why this is a business case. It’s not changing as fast as it should, and
that’s why you have to have business policies and leaders that are championing it and investing
in it in big ways. I just wanted to add that. The piece about relationships, I’d love if
we went there a little bit more and talk about what women need there. Joan, I think, just where VC money is going,
right? Yes. That whole piece of Melinda Gates has a big
part of it in her book, right? Yes. Great book. Where VC money is going. Yeah, exactly. What’s interesting is, actually, Melinda Gates
has a great video out right now that’s meant to bring some humor to a topic that is really
bringing us a lot of grief. She has comedians talking about gender bias. Google that and check that out. It’s the relationship piece because that’s
why we stick together and, actually, that is the thing, how lucky I feel to write a
book like this and continue to build relationships with women. I often discover that women, either by happenstance
or through a crisis, realize that they need more women in their corner. Women need to support each other and we should
feel and have permission to ask for help when we need it. We’ve been talking about having mentors and
sponsors. There’s a lot of information and guidance
out there, but women need peer allies. You need women that are sounding boards, as
Michelle was talking about, to work through those decisions. I love that advice about emotional and intellectual
partners. I have found, when I talk to women in finance
and healthcare, even in sports, that it lines up with a study I just read that was said,
for 77% of highly successful, high achieving women, women with MBAs, that they had surrounded
themselves with a tightknit group of women, about two to three women. These aren’t best friends. These aren’t the person they get to see very
often, but they are women that bring a diverse network to the table and they believe in each
other professionally. They know that they can call each other when
they need that energy, that endurance, that validation of, “You’re not crazy. You’re not being emotional. Yeah, you do deserve that,” or like Michelle
said, maybe they’re in that situation, “You could have gone about it differently. Here’s your style and here is something that
we could work on.” I think the more that we have that transparency
with each other in the workplace, even, talking about what our pay is, what our bonus was,
interviewing women in wealth management—you can read in my Forbes column—the number
of women I’ve talked to in that space that say women don’t talk about money with each
other in the way that men do. Maybe they use it in more of like a braggadocios
way. But I can tell you that, on college campuses,
a lot of the young men I even talked to are posting their job offers on Facebook and women
are scared to talk about it. Yet, right now, I’m seeing, at the top MBA
schools, women on average getting higher offers because there are less of them in MBA programs,
which we need to increase, but also companies are valuing them. So, we should talk about the fact that this
is what we deserve and this is what our income potential is. That helps you have more confidence to negotiate
if you aren’t there. My biggest sponsor in my entire career was
a man. It was a man who promoted me to my first few
VP positions and this was the same man, a man who got me my first retention bonus. It was the same man who said to me when I
took that VP job because I was like, “I don’t know. Could I do it? It says it needs these three qualifications,
and I only have two.” [Laughter]
He actually said to me over lunch, like, “Michelle, you’re the only person who doesn’t think that
you can do this job, so get with the rest of us.” I think that that’s not to say that there
isn’t a place for men in this. There is 100%. But there are some things that, as you look
to build relationships and some of these natural relationships that can happen with women,
what I sometimes see even women doing is they get into some of these relationships. As we have more and more executive women,
they become even better at then having the compensation relationships with some of the
men, et cetera, because they just get better at the conversations, right? What happens on a golf course on a Saturday
afternoon where maybe we, in the past, haven’t been invited, but we’ve created that at our
own cocktail party. Then, suddenly, it’s not weird for us to be
talking about compensation because we’ve done it in habitats where we are comfortable before. I think, ultimately, what we don’t want to
have is, there is the women’s conversation and then there is the men’s conversation. But what we want to do is, I think we want
to build in women the ability to be able to have these conversations anywhere and to really
float in and out of them so that we are actively involved in where the conversations happen. What are the characteristics or are there
characteristics of certain companies that women can identify as being, “Yeah, there’s
an opportunity here in this place,” or, “No way, and I need to jump ship”? What about that? I think how I would approach that question
is what I’ve seen and experienced. On college campuses, let’s say the MBA programs,
I can tell you that women, and men who are also champions of this cause, they’re going
to your website. They’re going to the About page, and they’re
seeing if you’re walking the walk. You can say and throw all these amazing things
at them and say, “This is a great place. We value you and inclusivity, flexibility,
and integrating work and personal life,” but, when they click that About page and it’s an
all-male board and they don’t see themselves, they don’t believe. If it hasn’t gotten there in the past 30 to
100 years, it’s not going to get there. That’s the first thing is that they’re really
seeing and judging. Eighty-six percent of millennial women are
choosing a company that has gender-diverse leadership or choosing not to go there. They’re making big decisions based on that. When you’re inside a company, I think that
it’s this idea of really reflecting on what’s happening around you, what your experiences
are, and where you think the hang-ups are. Where are the kinks in the chain here? I think the successful formula is having leaders
that are inclusive, obviously, but they’re resonant and resonant means that they really
spend time helping people understand that they’re not replaceable, that they have true
alignment and there’s some meaning to their contribution to the bottom line of the business. That’s being a resonate leader. The third is a courageous leader. Courageous leader, nobody gets this type of
topic right and perfect, but courageous leaders ask the questions and they allow these conversations
to happen. One of my favorite moments this year since
launching Dig Your Heels In, I was leading a workshop at Major League Baseball for men
and women. It was a really hands-on workshop where I
wanted to talk to them about the lay of the land, the data and what it shows. I actually wanted them to work on specific
scenarios where bias exists. Let’s say one team was working on the fact
that men interrupt women three times more often than other men, and women can’t get
in a word edgewise. Another situation where they’re working on
the fact that, from a talent management or looking at promotions, women are judged on
their behaviors and their communication style versus their real business impact and results. By giving them the data, telling them why
it happens, telling them why that it matters, and then letting them feel safe to talk about
it and telling them up front, “Hey, you can ask whatever question you want. This is a safe environment. You didn’t cause this. This started hundreds of years ago. But you are the problem if you don’t change
it moving forward.” I got such tremendous response from the men
emailing me afterward, talking about it afterward, that they felt like, “Okay, I heard that thing
about interrupting,” manterruption or mansplaining, when men explain or say an idea—after a
woman said—ten minutes later and get the credit. They’re like, “I heard of that, but I didn’t
understand, so that happened once; this happened to me.” For women, it’s like 10,000 papercuts. It’s happening over and over again and the
consequences are graver. That’s the thing, I think, is helping everyone
understand that there are things that you can do each and every day to improve the day-to-day
experience that start to move the needle in these bigger ways. Michelle, let me ask you something quickly
because we’re going to soon run out of time and there’s a whole bunch of things I want
to ask you about. Again, I’m holding up Joan’s book, which is
titled Dig Your Heels In, and the subtitle is Navigate Corporate BS and Build the Company
You Deserve. Michelle, I think this applies to men as well,
but how can women identify the corporate BS so that they do not fall prey to it? I think Joan alluded to it a bit, but yeah. Mm-hmm. I think it’s pretty easy to identify. [Laughter]
[Laughter] That’s what’s unfortunate. I think it’s all around you and you can identify
it. I think one of the hard things is, like, am
I dreaming this? No, people do repeat each other a lot. They do speak over each other. All of those things are real. The hard part is, what do you do about it? I would take that to say, the answer really
is in courage, I believe. It’s having the courage to speak up, it’s
having the courage to behave differently, and it’s having the courage to stick with
it when it’s hard. Michael, you and I have talked before. You talk a lot about business turnarounds. I don’t know that I see a business turnaround
and career work really different. Anything really tough in life requires two
things, I think: courage and grit. You have to have the courage to say, “This
is going to be tough. I’m going to fall down. I’m going to have to get back up. Some people are not going to want to associate
with me after I do it. It’s going to be a much more difficult path
than walking the straight line, but I want to do it because I can make it better on the
other side. Some of the corporate games and some of the
other pieces in organizations, that’s the kind of commitment they require, but you can
really leave a mark on an organization. I think people want to get to the great things
that organizations really do. In the case of what I do, we make medicines. That’s why we came here. In the case of what tech companies do, they
make great technology. I think, having the courage and grit to change
those things is why I stay. I think it’s the reason to dig your heels
in. Two things: The first thing about politics
is that it is always going to be there. It’s probably not going to go away because
it is a result of working in a dynamic, complex environment with different people making decisions
and having to influence one another. I tell women because this is the thing that
ekes them out, it disgusts them, it’s why sometimes they look up to the next level and
they say, “Ugh. I don’t want to be up there. I don’t want to behave like that. I’m fine right here.” The problem is, number one, you have to be
aware of it but you don’t have to lower your standards or your values or play into it. I’ve been teaching women how to become cultural
anthropologists. You need to study how power is distributed
in your company. You need to be aware of how decisions are
made, and you can do that by observing meetings. You can observe that by watching how different
leaders respond and what they recognize, what they reward. Being educated on it and also sharing that
education with others around you but talking about it openly helps everybody have more
transparency. I think that’s the first thing because I think
that really, really gets in the way of women going after more influential and more visible
positions. The other thing is that navigating conflict
and tension. I believe that women sometimes struggle with
this because we weren’t given the permission, the skills, or the knowledge growing up to
really handle conflict because of the stereotypes around good girls and how we were supposed
to behave. Be nice, but not too nice, or we’re a pushover. Be devoted. Put everything including our company before
ourselves and don’t get too emotional; we should let things go. Being a good girl at work means taking on
the office housework, taking the notes, doing all the things that you don’t actually get
rewarded for in performance management at the end of the day. You may be good at it, and it may fall on
your plate, but it shouldn’t be your responsibility. It’s being in a room. A client enters and he addresses the man at
the table when you’re the one in charge. Or it’s just the fact that you feel like you
have to shrink yourself or not assert yourself in the way that you want to because someone
in the room is speaking louder than you or being more aggressive towards you. I study all these things not only in women
at all ages in the workforce but in girls too. These seeds are planted very early about how,
again, girls and women can navigate situations that give us tension. Here is the issue. As a leader, you cannot avoid tension. You have to handle conflict. Twenty percent of managers deal with the conflict
every day within their job. What I found is that 64% of women are facing
these microaggressions. You were saying, “When do we identify corporate
BS?” It’s happening every day. It’s being talked to in a condescending way. It’s the fact that women are twice as likely
to be seen as somebody at a junior level than men. It’s all these things. The idea of, like Michelle said, having courage
and grit to speak up when it’s happening. First, it takes women to know that, again,
you’re not alone in this. One in five women are alone, the only in a
room, on a team. There’s still not enough of us representation
wise. Two, these things are happening and somebody
may not be a bad person. They may just be completely unaware. That’s why I think the unconscious bias training
is pretty rampant in corporate right now. That’s just the thing that I think is important
is for women to really study and understand the culture and look at it a little bit more
in an objectionable way so that they don’t take themselves out of the game. I think the one piece of advice I would give,
whether it’s dealing with corporate BS or whether it’s staying or it’s how to choose
a company, choose a company, choose to stay if you can be 100% your because any minute
you try to do something else that isn’t yourself, you don’t bring your best to work. If you’re not bringing your best, then why
stay? To me, the biggest piece of advice is, if
you’ve made it this far. I know it sounds like kindergarten advice,
but maybe everything we did need to know we learned there. Yes. Be yourself, 100%. If it doesn’t work someplace, it will work
someplace else. If you’re managing people, find a way to let
everyone bring 100% themselves because any minute they’re not doing that, it’s minutes
that aren’t going into your business. We are out of time but let me ask you one
final question and I’ll ask each of you just to answer it very, very, very quickly. What advice do you have for men? For men, it’s to be an ally. What I’ve learned from men since, actually,
they’re three times more uncomfortable mentoring women since #MeToo and #TimesUp—and that’s
bad news. We need men. We need you to be our partner. We need you to be our ally. We need you to be our mentor and our sponsor—is
to feel comfortable talking about these things. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a woman
to the same place you take a man that you’re mentoring—a sporting event, a bar—don’t
do it with the male either. Find a place where you feel comfortable for
both. I think, for men, it’s like, recognize that
this benefits you, this doesn’t work against you, and that we really want you to talk to
us about what you don’t understand about our experiences. I’ll go back to where I was earlier. Be yourself and find ways to create opportunities
for others in your organizations to be yourself. If a basketball game is where you get great
work done, believe it or not, some women love basketball too. I think that the more that we can bring our
full selves to work, the more that I think we can all accomplish for our customers. Okay. It was a great show. We’ve been speaking with Joan Kuhl, who is
the author of Dig Your Heels In. It’s a very insightful and very interesting
book, as was this conversation. We’ve also been speaking with Michelle Carnahan,
who is a senior executive at Sanofi, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the
world. Thank you both very, very much for taking
your time and sharing your insight and wisdom with us today. Thanks for having us. Thank you. Everybody, thank you for watching. Before you go, subscribe on YouTube and hit
the Subscribe button at the top of our website and subscribe to our mailing list. We have incredible shows coming up. Check out CXOTalk.com and keep joining us. Thanks so much, everybody. Have a great day. Bye-bye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *