CGP 17 | National Carers Week

National Carers Week: Show Support For Your Working Carers

Statistically, three in five women say that their caring role has blocked their career progress. For men, one in five say caring had stopped them from applying for promotion or a new job. As we can see, the act of balancing work and caring responsibilities is a challenge that poses a risk to the growth of both employees and the business. This June, we will celebrate National Carers Week. It brings a good opportunity for you to show support for your working carers. Join Sherry Bevan in this episode as she highlights the difficulties working carers face, what it says about being a woman, how it affects the gender pay gap, and what this celebration can do to your people. It is time to take better care of our working carers. Let them know you value them. 

Listen to the podcast here

National Carers Week: Show Support For Your Working Carers

Welcome to the show. I work as a Leadership Consultant partnering with cybersecurity and technology companies to help them develop and retain their female talent so that they close the gender pay gap. Thank you so much for joining me. I’d love for you to check out this episode and then come back to the next episode. To make it easier, you simply need to subscribe to the show. Let’s get into this episode.

The Challenges Faced By Working Carers

I would like to share some thoughts on how you can use National Carers Week to support your working carers. National Carers Week is in June. It’s a really important week to demonstrate that you support and value your working carers. Before I talk about how you can make use of National Carers Week, let me first try and set the scene for you to give you some context so that you can understand how many of your staff does this potentially affects. You might’ve seen in an issue of HR Director that 3 in 5 women say that their caring role has blocked their career progress. That is based on some research conducted with Ipsos and Business in the Community.

6 out of 10 women, so 58%, stopped applying for a promotion or for a new job because of the pressure of their caring responsibilities. It doesn’t just affect women. It does affect men as well. For example, 1 in 5 men, or 20%, said caring had stopped them from applying for promotion or a new job. It does affect them, but it affects women much more. A much higher percentage have stopped themselves from applying for a promotion or a new job.

1 in 5 have handed in their notice and quit their job because the act of trying to balance work and caring responsibilities was too much. In fact, I’ve got personal experience of this because when my father died, overnight, I became a full-time carer for my stepmother, who was bedridden and had dementia. It was impossible to balance work and caring responsibilities.

35% of all adults and 44% of working adults do have some sort of caring responsibilities, but it’s not spread equally. What we see is that women make up 85% of sole carers for children and 65% of sole carers for older adults. What we also see is that there are more people from ethnic minority backgrounds, so 42% have caring responsibilities than those from White backgrounds.

We have rapidly become a society of sandwich carers because we’re having children later and we’re living longer.

You might not realize how this affects your company, but in fact, 6.5 million people in the UK are working carers, and when I talk about working carers, I’m talking about carers specifically who are looking after elderly parents or relatives. I’m not talking about people who’ve taken on childcare responsibilities. In this particular episode, I’m going to focus on those working carers who are looking after an elderly parent or elderly relative.

Sixty-two percent of those carers do that caring for elderly relatives on top of their full-time paid work, and the thing is, very often, they don’t tell anyone at work, but it’s hard to balance work and caring. It means that they’re at risk of exhaustion, stress, and overwhelm. This potentially can have a huge impact on your gender pay gap because it’s mostly women who take on the caring responsibility, particularly over the age of 40. In other words, that’s your senior female talent pool, the ones you hope will be your next generation of leaders or the women who should be at the peak of their careers.

We have rapidly become a society of sandwich carers because we’re having children later and we’re living longer. That peak age for being a sandwich carer is between 40 and 49. There’s no surprise that women are much more likely to be sandwich carers caring for both a young child and an elderly parent. I’ve told you quite a bit about how the percentages and the data show more women doing this than men, but this isn’t just about supporting women to balance their work and caring responsibilities. We need to make it okay for men to have that flexible working for caring responsibilities, whether that’s caring for a child or for an elderly relative.

Gender Pay Gap

Let’s look a bit more closely at how this does affect your gender pay gap, and the main reason it affects your gender pay gap is that so many carers find it difficult to balance and combine paid work with caring. What happens is that they start to reduce their working hours so that they feel able to cope. They turn down job offers or they turn down promotions, or they decide against applying for new roles going up in their career. It’s often because they’re starting to experience some emotional and physical exhaustion.

They’re often very highly stressed and overwhelmed, so they tend to start to experience difficulties with concentration at work. What happens is they start to use up their annual leave or they take sick time in order to provide that care. The result of that means they’re not getting any personal free time, which means they’re even more at risk or in danger of burnout. What we see as well for some people is they start to work at the weekends or they work late in the evenings to make up the hours that they might’ve had to spend caring during the day.

CGP 17 | National Carers Week
National Carers Week: We need to make it okay for men to have that flexible working for caring responsibilities, whether that’s caring for a child or for an elderly relative.

The Ipsos and the BITC, the Business in the Community, research came up with some recommendations for employers. Their first recommendation was that you need to consider that caring is the norm and that it’s not the exception. Being a carer affects so many of us, so you need to take that into consideration when you’re looking at your employee experience developing your policies. It’s important to champion equitable access to care for all genders, men and women, in your policies. Don’t think about this being a woman’s thing. Foster a culture that supports men to care.

Often, men struggle more with those caring responsibilities when they are the primary carer because they don’t feel it is okay to ask. They don’t feel it’s appropriate. They feel that peer pressure. Look at promoting and fostering a coach that supports men’s care, particularly being very clear that you promote and support flexible working for men.

Why It Is Important To Support Carers

Let’s look at why it’s important to support your carers. Let’s look at this from a business perspective. It’s going to enhance your reputation as an employer. If you’re an employer who is seen to promote and support a flexible working culture or a culture that supports carers, it’s going to build a strong employer brand.

That, in turn, will help you to attract good talent and keep that good talent so that they don’t quit because they’re struggling to balance work, life, and caring responsibilities. It’s going to reduce stress and sickness levels, and therefore the cost of covering sickness absence or other absence, and it’s going to increase overall employee productivity and employee engagement.

From a legal perspective, it’s important to support your carers because you have obligations under the flexible working regulations and under the equality legislation relating to disability, which could apply to carers. You can’t treat carers less favorably than others who do not have caring responsibilities. It’s important to remember that carers do have the right to take unpaid time off work for dependents in an emergency.

So many carers find it difficult to balance and combine paid work with caring.

From a moral perspective, it’s the right thing to do, and we know that working carers who feel supported are less likely to give up their job altogether or ask for part-time or flexible hours. They’re less likely to find it difficult to concentrate at work. They’re less likely to turn down a promotion or to decide against applying for a new role. They’re less likely to take sick leave to provide that care and less likely to take unpaid leave to provide that care.

We know that employers and line managers want to be supportive. They want to support, care for, and value their teammates or their colleagues who are working carers. They have that empathy for the needs of their employees, but often, they feel they don’t have the time to help or support their employees. Very often, they don’t know what they can do. They’re unclear about what a possibility is and what not a possibility is. Sometimes, they lack the capacity to do so. It’s not that they don’t want to do it, but they don’t know what to do.

What Working Carers Value

There was some research published in June 2020 by CIPD with the University of Sheffield. They looked at what working carers value. What do they want from their employer? This is a list of those things that came up in that research. Working carers want to be able to use a telephone or to have private time during the day to make or receive calls.

You can’t predict when you’re going to get a phone call from the care home to say your mother has had a fall. The carers value where employers offer counseling or well-being support, so if that’s something that you’re looking at or exploring, or if you already have it, how are you promoting that to your working carers?

They find it helpful when employers have a formal policy on offering unpaid or paid leave for carers. It makes it so much easier when there is a formal policy that everybody’s aware of, that their line managers know how to make use of that and that their carers are encouraged to make use of it. They want to know where they can go for support. It could be signposting to external sources of support. They want to have guidance on what organizational support is available. You might have policies or an employee assistance program, but how easy is it for people to find out about it?

CGP 17 | National Carers Week
National Carers Week: Foster a culture that supports men to care.

Working carers also value having a network or a forum within the company that is specifically for other working carers. That can be helpful. They value it when you take action and demonstrate your support on an awareness base. We’ve got National Carers Week from the 6th to the 12th of June 2022, so this is a perfect opportunity for you to show your support and how much you value these working carers.

What working carers also want is autonomy and flexibility in their working hours. It’s that flexible working that really is flexible. It’s not having to say in advance that they’re going to start at 10:00 AM and finish at 5:00 PM, but perhaps maybe starting at 8:00 AM one day and starting at 9:00 AM the next day, or maybe not starting until 11:00 AM, so that they’ve got time to go and deal with those unexpected minor emergencies that need to be dealt with.

Perhaps, it can also be looking at other flexible working options. It’s the ability to work from home on some days without giving lots of reasons and filling in lots of forms. Consider using job share or compressed hours. There are lots of ways that flexible working can be a real benefit, and our working carers value it.

The CIPD has lots of recommendations for you, so I’m going to walk you through what they suggest and recommend. The first thing is that you should develop and communicate a carer policy or a framework or guidance. Have a clear definition of what it means to be a carer. Develop that policy, framework, or guidance, so it’s clear to everybody, whether that’s the individual employees, line managers, or senior management. Outline the different roles and responsibilities. What’s available? Where can people go to get support? Then, make sure that you’ve communicated that approach so that you start to embed that culture of support.

If you haven’t already, take time to consider how you introduce and when you introduce flexible working specifically to support working carers. When you’re hiring, start off by making it very clear from the start that you are flexible and that you do offer flexible working practices. Be really transparent about what that means. Empower your line managers to support those flexible workers and support working carers who perhaps need more flexibility than others.

Working carers who feel supported are less likely to give up their job altogether or ask for part-time or flexible hours.

There is also providing carer’s leave, whether that’s paid or unpaid. The key thing with the carer’s leave is that you don’t always know when you’re going to need it. You don’t know when your father or mother might take a fall, or when your father gets sick and you suddenly need to be providing extra cafe. You can provide the carer’s leave as unpaid or paid, but it needs to be so that it can be requested at short notice. It’s being adaptable about it, being requested at short notice, and being empathic and sympathetic about that.

It’s great to have policies and to have support available, but what’s important is to empower your line managers so that they can support the carers in their teams. You can do that by promoting open culture. Make sure that your line managers have awareness and knowledge about your organization’s approach to supporting carers.

Provide training for them so that they know what they can do and what support is available. It’s important to engage those senior leaders so that they can support carers and start creating those inclusive cultures. We all know those inclusive cultures. When you start to build that inclusive culture, it’s making work for everyone and not just for working carers or for parents of young children.

The final recommendation from the CIPD is about providing information and peer-to-peer support. Provide information on what workplace support is available to carers. Look at developing some in-house support group or forum for your carers, and do make sure that you signpost to other sources of information. I’ve already mentioned that National Carers Week is coming up, and I have put together two awareness packs for you that you can use to support your working carers.

National Carers Week

Your ideal opportunity to launch a campaign or raise awareness and demonstrate that you care is during National Carers Week, from the 6th to the 12th of June 2022. If you’ve not heard about this before, it’s an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and to highlight the challenges that unpaid carers face. The theme this 2022 is to make caring visible, valued, and supported. To help you do that, I’ve created two awareness packs that you can use in a variety of ways to enhance your reputation as a carer-friendly workplace, increase staff engagement, and know that you can signpost staff to additional resources so that they are more productive and less likely to burn out or quit.

CGP 17 | National Carers Week
National Carers Week: When staff feels more supported in the workplace, you’re going to increase staff engagement and retention in the long run.

There are two awareness packs. One is for working carers themselves and the other one has been designed to support your line managers. The first pack is aimed at working carers. It’s to give them information and tips on how to balance work and caring for elderly relatives. It’s been designed to give them the opportunity to explore how to do that and how to look after their own well-being because often, we all know we should look after our own well-being as well. It’s important but it often gets dropped first.

The pack will also help you to signpost your working carers to their legal rights and to other support and resources that may be available. If they’re able to balance their work and their caring responsibilities better, it means they’ll be less likely to take time off-cycle to go into overwhelm, stress, and burnout. That means they’ll be more productive at work as well.

If they know what other support is available, because often, working carers aren’t aware of what else is available to support them with caring for elderly relatives, it means they’ll be less likely to need to take time off work. It means that productivity will be increased and their exhaustion and burnout will hopefully go down as well. When staff feels more supported in the workplace, it means that you’re going to increase staff engagement and retention as well in the long run.

The line manager awareness pack has been designed to raise awareness among your leaders and line managers so that they feel better equipped to support their teams and to find out more about the challenges that carers face, so they have more empathy and that they can support them more effectively and with more understanding.

It’s been designed so that they get real clarity on what support and benefits are available for caring workers, whether that’s support, benefits, and policies within your company or outside. If they’re better able to support their working carers, it means your carers are less likely to quit or turn down promotions because they’ll feel valued and supported. It’s about making sure that your line managers understand the relevant policies that you have in place.

The two awareness packs that I have available include a PowerPoint file and a resources sheet. The PowerPoint file and the resources sheet are editable. The great thing about that is that it means you can apply your in-house branding. Plus, you can tailor those resources so that you can include information on your company’s relevant policies. You can either use the pack to develop a PDF or virtual or in-person awareness sessions so that staff can benefit wherever they’re based.

You can either publish that on your internet or run some in-person sessions during National Carers Week in June. If you’re interested in this, each one of these packs is £300 or if you want to buy both, it’s £450. This is your golden opportunity to enhance your reputation as a carer-friendly inclusive workplace where you’re working carers feel valued and supported so that they don’t burn out or quit. If you’re interested, then do get in touch quickly because you want to get those wellness packs well in time for National Carers Week, which runs from the 6th to the 12th of June. Email me if you’re interested in those.

Hopefully, that’s been helpful to look at some of the ways you can support your working carers and why it’s important to do that, and what the benefits are for your employees and you as an employer. Thank you so much for joining me. If you want to check out more episodes of the show, you can go and visit SherryBevan.co.uk.

If this has sparked an idea for you and your organization, I’d love for you to book an exploratory chat with me. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do with cybersecurity and technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so that you close the gender pay gap. Get in touch with me by email at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call.

Thanks so much for tuning in. I’ll be back soon.

Important Links

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap

Five Key Trends And Predictions To Close The Gender Pay Gap In The Year 2022

2021 was a very challenging year for most of us for various reasons. We all experienced a decline in productivity and anxiety brought by the pandemic. Then, just when we thought it was all over, another surge began. And women at work are going through even more burnouts, stress, and confusion. What will the next year await? In this episode, Sherry Bevan explores the five key trends and insights that will impact the gender pay gap in 2022. This way, we could have a clear view of what we could expect this year and decide on the actionable steps we could take.

Listen to the podcast here:

Five Key Trends And Predictions To Close The Gender Pay Gap In The Year 2022

In this episode, I would like to explore some of the key trends and insights on Closing the Gender Pay Gap in 2022 in the technology sector. Before I start talking to you about trends, predictions, and insights, I want to let you know about an exciting round table that I’m organizing on the 24th of March 2022. We are going to be looking at how to attract more women into cybersecurity. There are some topics that we are going to be looking at specifically.

We are going to explore, “Why does cybersecurity need more female talent in the first place? How does it help your productivity? How does it help the quality of the products that you are able to deliver?” We are going to look at ways that organizations can tackle that unconscious bias in hiring. We are going to take some time to explore, “What role does internal mobility play?” We are going to be looking at, “What are some of the specific actions that you can take? What are the specific initiatives that are going to help you close that gender pay gap?”

If you are interested in joining the round table, I do still have a few spaces. I generally have no more than 6 to 8 companies on any round table topic. I organize this about 3 or 4 times a year. If you are interested in getting involved, then please do reach out. The topic for the 24th of March is very much focused on how to attract and retain more female talent in cybersecurity.

Let’s think about the specific topic that we are going to cover in this episode. We are going to be looking at some of the trends and predictions that I foresee for 2022. There is no doubt about it. 2021 was a tough and challenging year. For me, personally, it has been a tough year for various reasons. I had a family bereavement at the start of the year. I was trying to get my stepmother moved into a care home. It was a tough year for my children. One of them was supposed to be at university and ended up doing all of her lectures online.

You need the numbers, but you also need the analysis. You need to understand the narrative and the story behind those numbers.

One of the toughest things about 2021 is that we thought it was all over, and then we looped back around again into that lockdown with the pandemic. However, let’s stay positive for 2022. The sunshine outside my window gives me a good omen for the year. Let’s focus on what we need to do now to close the gender pay gap in the technology and cybersecurity sectors. I’m going to start by sharing a few facts, and then move on to look at some of my trends and predictions of what that’s going to look like in 2022.

Let’s start by looking at some of the facts. Women remain underrepresented in technology and cybersecurity, particularly in those niches that require disruptive skills. It’s things such as cloud computing, engineering, and artificial intelligence. One study suggests that women only make up 25% of the cyber workforce. The gender pay gap reporting regulations require employers in Great Britain with 250 or more employees to publish the overall mean and median pay gaps based on the gross hourly pay for men and women expressed as a percentage. They are also required to report on their mean and median gender bonus gaps.

The other thing that employers are also required to publish as part of their gender pay gap report is the proportion of male and female employees within each quartile of their pay distribution. How many women do you have in the top quartile or the highest-paid section of your workforce? How many women do you have in the second-highest-paid section? You have got quartiles 1 to 4. You are required to report on how many men and women you have in each of those quartiles.

Generally, what we see is that you get this pyramid shape. In the lowest-paid quartile, very often, the proportion of men to women employees is about even. It’s 50/50. Sometimes it’s even slightly higher for female employees. In the next one up, it’s a little less balanced. It may be 60/40. In the next one up, it’s less balanced again may be 70/30. In the top tier, the highest-paid employees, it’s often out of balance. You have got this pyramid effect that gets created.

Employers are also required to report on the proportion of both men and women who have been paid a bonus in the preceding twelve-month period. That gender pay gap data needs to be reported annually. What we see is that, on average, the gender pay gap in technology is around 18%, which means that women are only getting paid 82% of what men on average are getting paid.

What is slightly worrying is that the gender pay gap gets even wider for employees age 40 and above. We can assume that those employees age 40 and above are the ones who are likely to be in your senior roles. Not only is that gender pay gap there because you have got more women in the lower-paid roles and more men in the higher-paid roles, but even at that senior level, there is a gender pay gap between people on the same level getting paid quite different sums.

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap
2022 Gender Pay Gap: Women remain underrepresented in technology and cybersecurity, particularly in those niches that require disruptive skills.

Hybrid Moves From Concept To Reality

Let’s think about five predictions. I’m going to bring five trends, insights, and predictions for you. The first one doesn’t come as any surprise to anyone who has been living through it since 2020. The hybrid working model is going to move from concept to reality. We have nearly all been working in a hybrid or flexible way. What we want to see and what I expect employers to be doing more is to take that hybrid work model from that concept.

We have ended up doing that forced homework without necessarily having thought about all of the policies and best practices that go along with it. We had to suddenly move one day from working in the office, factory or client sites to working from home. We are moving now from that concept and that put together nuts and bolts to get it moving into reality. Organizations are now doing more work on developing best practices and guidelines. They are making sure that their line managers know how to support their employees in that hybrid world.

What we saw in the 2022 Global Culture Report is that for 64% of workers in the UK, what they have prioritized from their employers is needing clearer guidelines, more clarity about the way that hybrid working is going to work and how it’s going to be implemented, “What does it mean for me as an employee? What does your hybrid working look like?”

Over the last couple of years, we have all introduced hybrid working in many places but perhaps there has been understandably not as much clarity as you would have expected if you implemented that hybrid working from scratch without the pressure of a lockdown and pandemic going on. The UK workers want to see more clarity around the way that hybrid working is implemented.

One of the things that I did in 2021 is I ran a round table on the impact of hybrid working on the gender pay gap. If that’s something that you are looking at doing, getting your hybrid work model black-and-white and creating practices and policies, then check out my white paper on The Impact of the Hybrid Revolution to make sure that you are aware of the potential pitfalls of hybrid working and how that might affect your female talent in a way that’s different to how it affects your male talent.

You get highly motivated employees by creating that positive employee experience.

Moving to that reality and having clarity on the way that’s implemented is going to give you a strong, competitive edge. Particularly, what we are starting to see is salaries are going up because of the Great Resignation and more people are looking to change roles. The clear process and policy around the hybrid work model are going to give you a competitive edge.

Internal Mobility Gives Competitive Advantage

The second insight or trend that I predict over 2022 is that we are going to see more internal mobility. We are going to see employers needing to look inside themselves to find that senior female talent in particular. This is going to give you a competitive retention edge in the market. If you are finding it difficult to recruit good female talent into technology or cybersecurity, look at your current workforce. Look at ways that you can make it easier for people to move sideways inside your organization.

Look at the departments and people that you have. Who could you retrain? Who could you develop the skills more quickly and cost-effectively than buying in that talent from outside? That’s not to say I’m encouraging you to pay people less because they are internal. One of the reasons why people often leave an organization is because they can see that new talent comes in and gets paid at a higher rate. You have got this incredible workforce who already understands your culture, values, policies and best practices.

Look at your internal workforce. “Who could you retrain? Where could you develop skills?” Rethink the career pathway and ladder that are available to your staff. Doing that will help you in many ways. For example, it’s going to increase your retention figures, which means that it’s going to reduce the cost of recruitment. It’s going to accelerate how quickly those new hires become productive because they already know your values and their way around the systems. They already know what learning and development are available. It’s going to increase and speed up how quickly those new hires or internal moves can get productive.

It’s going to reduce the time to recruit, which also means it’s going to reduce the cost of the recruitment process because you do not have to pay for job ads and recruitment agencies. The other fantastic benefit to looking at internal mobility and your current workforce or making it easier to move sideways is it’s going to increase your employee engagement, which means that you are going to build an even stronger employer brand. That in itself will make you more attractive to talent outside.

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap
2022 Gender Pay Gap: Employers who provide exceptional employee experiences have highly motivated employees.

The third prediction or trend that I have for you is more focused on data-driven decisions. When we are looking at the gender pay gap, very often, what we are doing is we are looking at the numbers. It’s not just about the numbers but it’s also the narrative and story behind those numbers. When I work with clients on helping them to develop their gender pay gap narrative, it’s so important to be open, honest and not try to hide the reasons why your gap is large.

If you have made progress in that gender pay gap to be open and honest about what has helped you to get there, you need the numbers but you also need the analysis. You need to understand the narrative and story behind those numbers. Having that information about the numbers, analysis, and data means you are more likely to put into place the right actions and initiatives that will help you to close that gender pay gap.

For your resources in HR, people or talent management team, you need that data literacy. You need people who can understand and work with data. Very often, what I see when I work in organizations is you have got more data than you know what to do with. It’s important that when you are making decisions on what actions and initiatives to take, you are not just making those decisions based on hunches and intuitions. You need to have that backup of the data as well.

Focus On Data-Driven Decisions

Take a moment now to think about, “How many of the people in your team would you say are data literate? How many of your decisions are based on data? What can you do to change that? What can you do to encourage more of your team to become more data literate? How can you make sure that you base your decisions on data, not just on hunches and intuitions?” That was number four. I can predict in 2022 and I have already seen this from companies that I have been talking to in January. It’s going to be more focused on having data-driven decisions and emphasis on having data-literate staff in your team.

One of the number one causes of burnout at work is feeling that you’ve been unfairly treated.

Positive Employee Experience

The trend that I see coming up is how important it is to create a positive employee experience. Many of us have been going through burnout. There’s a study by Gallup and Forrester Research that shows that employers who provide exceptional employee experiences have highly motivated employees. That’s hardly surprising. It means they have got higher engagement and increased productivity. What that means for your clients and customers is increased customer satisfaction. If your employees love working for you and doing the work that they do, that’s going to shine through into the service and products that your clients and customers receive.

It’s about looking at each stage of that employee life cycle for the whole employee experience. It’s about looking at how you do recruitment and onboarding. Remember, first impressions count. I’m sure, like me, you have seen how willingly new employees will share photos of how they have been welcomed into the organization, particularly while we have been in lockdown. That all helps to create and strengthen your employer brand.

The next stage of that employee life cycle is about career and personal development, “What are you doing to enable and empower people to take responsibility and have accountability for their career development? What are you offering to them?” Over the last couple of years, what has been important is the overall employee well-being. We are looking after the staff that we have so that we are more likely to keep those staff. How you get highly motivated employees is by creating that positive employee experience. I can see that organizations are starting to put more emphasis on creating that experience.

Widening Gender Burnout Gap

The final insight that I would like to share with you is the gender gap in burnout. What we have seen is that the burnout gender pay gap has widened. I predict that we are going to continue to see that gap even larger. Women are more likely than men to feel burned out at work. It’s 34% of women versus 26% of men feel burned out at work. That’s from Gallup’s research. What we see is that since the lockdown and pandemic, the burnout gender gap has more than doubled since 2019.

That’s scary because that’s not right. We can all see that there are lots of different factors involved but it’s worrying that women are experiencing this more than men. What we see from the research is women in non-leadership positions are affected especially. Burnout is common. 1 in 4 men experiences burnout regularly. When you do experience burnout, you are more likely to take time off, take sick leave and quit. There has been a disproportionate increase in burnout among women since the pandemic. There’s no one factor at play here.

When women work remotely in individual contributor roles, they are more likely to experience burnout. If they are working in project manager roles, they are working in isolation almost rather than working in specific leadership roles. What was interesting in looking at the research is that when you look at the difference in burnout by gender among workers in managerial positions, there wasn’t that much difference. Where we see it specifically is for those women who are working in those individual contributor roles.

What can you do? You have got to enable the conversation. You’ve got to make that conversation acceptable and available. Talk about the causes of burnout. Educate your managers so that they have the information and resources, so they know how to get the conversation started and the signs to look out for. It’s important that you measure and track employee well-being.

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap
2022 Gender Pay Gap: By having information about the numbers, the analysis, and the data, you’re more likely to put into place the right actions and initiatives that will help you to close that gender pay gap.

One of the number one causes of burnout at work is feeling that you have been unfairly treated. Your alarm bells should start ringing if your conversations or data uncovers a gender gap in burnout. Give your managers the opportunity to manage the burnout conversation. Make sure they have the information, education, and awareness of the signs of burnout. You are being proactive and prompting those conversations rather than waiting for the person to completely burn out, take time off sick or worst, to quit.

Those are my five trends and predictions for what we are going to see in the technology sector. They are going to influence and impact how quickly we are able to close the gender pay gap. The first one was looking at how we are going to be moving from that hybrid work model concept to the hybrid reality. Employees will need more clarity on your practices and policies because that’s what employees feel is missing for them. If you focus on internal mobility, make it easier for people to make a sideways move. That is going to give you a competitive retention edge.

I can predict that we are going to see more focus on data-driven decisions, which means that you are going to need to make sure that your people in your team have that data literacy so that you are making decisions based on data, not just based on hunches and intuitions. If you want a productive and highly engaged staff, it’s all about creating that positive employee experience. I can see employers being able to go back to focusing on doing that. Finally, the last thing is about keeping an eye on that gender gap in burnout because that has widened over the last couple of years. I would hate to see that widen even further.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these key insights and trends in closing the gender pay gap. Now that you have read this, what are the things that you and your organization need to do? What do you need to change to get different results? What do you need to commit to achieving those results? If you want to talk through any of the trends and insights that I have talked about, and if you would like to have an opportunity to talk through with an external objective consultant, then please feel free to give me a call or get in touch with me by email at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk.

If you are interested in that round table on attracting more female talent into cybersecurity, then please do get in touch. The round table takes place on the 24th of March 2022. I still have a few spaces left on that. If this conversation sparked a thought in your mind, let’s talk. An exploratory call with me will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do. For me to share key insights and trends that I’m seeing from other organizations that I work with that want to do more to attract, develop and retain female talent, which means that you start to close that gender pay gap. I would love to hear from you. I will be back next time. Thank you.

Important Links:

CGP 14 | Career Negotiation

The Power Of Negotiation: Protecting Your Career From Falling Foul Of The Gender Pay Gap

As a woman, you should know your worth. Join Sherry Bevan in this episode as she discusses how women can protect their careers in this complicated world. Closing the gender pay gap requires a two-pronged approach. At the organizational level, we can implement initiatives to tackle female talent development and retention. At the individual level, there are actions that individual women can take to protect their careers from the gender pay gap. But, of course, all of these will still depend on the person’s willingness and courage to show their value.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Power Of Negotiation: Protecting Your Career From Falling Foul Of The Gender Pay Gap

Welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for joining me. I’d love you to come back next episode and to make that even easier, you simply need to subscribe to the show. Let’s get into the show. In this episode, I’m doing something a little bit different and we’re going to explore what individuals can do to protect their own careers from the gender pay gap.

When we think about the gender pay gap, one of the questions I often get asked is, “Who’s responsible for closing it. Who’s responsible for dealing with it? Who’s responsible for making that gender pay gap go away?” I’ve always believed that we have to take a two-pronged approach. We need to tackle it at the organizational level because there is unconscious bias and things don’t work the way we want them to work but we also need to tackle this at an individual level. That’s what I’d like to explore in this show.

In the very first episode of this show, we looked at equal pay and why equal pay is not the only solution for closing the gender pay gap. Equal pay is the law. You have to pay people the same amount of money for doing the work that is of the same value but we still have a gender pay gap even though equal pay came into law many years ago now. Since 2017, companies with more than 250 employees in the UK have been required to report on their gender pay gap. That is calculated as the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women as a proportion of men’s average hourly earnings.

If we look at the most recent gender pay gap data, we can see that overall, in the UK, the gender pay gap is 18%. In other words, women earn 82% of what men earn. However, what we also see from the data is that the pay gap is highest for employees aged over 40, which is quite interesting. It does vary from sector to sector. In information and communication, it’s 18%. If you look at professional science and technology, it’s 16.2%.

You have to pay people the same amount of money for doing the work that is of the same value.

When I’m working with companies, when I first approach them, often, they tell me, “We’ve got an equal pay policy. We’re okay.” I hear from individual women, “We’ve got equal pay law. Why is there still a gender pay gap?” Some people don’t believe that there’s a gender pay gap. “We’ve got equal pay. There can’t still be a gender pay gap.” One thing we know for sure is that the evidence tells us otherwise. We’ve got equal pay but there is still a gender pay gap. It’s complicated. There are so many different factors.

We know that there are fewer women working in senior roles, which are getting paid more. That’s going to affect your gender pay gap. We know that women are less likely to negotiate on their starting salary and that affects your gender pay gap. Women are less likely to get promoted. Women are more likely to work part-time. There are more men than women in the higher-paying sectors such as technology and financial services. We know that women tend to prefer to work from home more often than men do.

What we also see is that while homeworkers may be 13% more productive, they get promoted less often. That’s something that I explore in more detail in my white paper that got published on The Impact Of The Hybrid Revolution On The Gender Pay Gap In Technology. Do pop over to my website and grab your copy of that white paper for more information about that.

For example, if we look at women in sales and technology, although women hit or exceed the quotas that have been set, they are often paid less in salary and commissions over time. Putting aside your role as an HR professional or a diversity and inclusion leader for one moment, putting aside the whole range of initiatives that hopefully you’ve got going at your organization to tackle this issue at the organizational level.

What I’d like to do in this episode is talk about what women as individuals can do from the other side, at the individual level. It is this two-pronged approach, tackling it at the organizational level and on the individual level. When I work with women on a one-to-one basis, I talk about introducing or implementing the triple-A plan. Tackling that pay gap and initial starting salary is important because whatever starting salary you get, that is going to affect over time your salary, pay rise, bonus and eventually your pension contribution.

CGP 14 | Career Negotiation
Career Negotiation: It’s important to talk about what you want. Talk to your manager about your ambitions, about where you want to see your career going, and other growth opportunities that you want.

It’s a knock-on effect because very often, your pay rise, bonus and pension contributions are done as a percentage of your salary. If one starts at $50,000 and one starts at $60,000 and to make the sums easy, let’s assume a 10% pay increase the following year, the women would be on $55,000 and the man would be on $66,000. If they then get another 10% increase the following year, that will add $5,500 to the woman’s salary and $6,600 onto the man’s salary. You can already see how that gap between the two is starting to widen.

Let’s look at the triple-A plan to protect your career from the gender pay gap. This is what individual women can do to protect their careers from that gender pay gap. The triple-A plan is about always asking for more, articulating your ambition and then auditing the work you do and the value of that work to the business. Let’s start with asking for more. In fact, I encourage my one-to-one clients to always ask for more.

Do women negotiate less often? Yes, they do. There have been numerous studies on this. The one that I’m referencing was published by Robert Half in 2018. They surveyed more than 2,700 workers employed in the US in professional environments. This survey was conducted by an independent research firm. What they looked at was the percentage of workers who tried to negotiate higher pay in their last job offer. They looked at this by gender and age. When we look at the overall figures, 39% of people try to negotiate higher pay, while 61% didn’t.

Overall, not even everybody tries to negotiate a better job offer. When we look at the figures by gender, what we see is that 46% of men, nearly half will negotiate or did negotiate a higher pay in the last job offer. Whereas for women, only 34% tried to negotiate higher pay. Interestingly, the data that they published also looks at age and it seems that the older you get, the less likely you are to negotiate on salary, which surprises me. When they’re looking at the 18 to 34 age bracket, 45%, they try to negotiate higher pay, 35 to 54 dropped down to 40% and then for 55 plus, it dropped down to 30%.

It’s all very well me telling you to always ask for more. How do you do that? There are a few different pieces involved. Before I start to talk about how I tackle this with my one-to-one clients, what I want you to do, first of all, is to check out the book called Ask For It by Linda Babcock. She sets out all useful strategies, how to structure that conversation and get what you want. The first thing to do when you’re asking for more is to take care of the mindset piece.

Make the most of the opportunities you’re offered, and don’t feel that you’ve got to say yes to everything.

Often, we don’t ask for more because we look at salary negotiation. We look at this as something personal and whatever you get offered is about your personal worth but it’s not. What you’ve got to remember is this is a business negotiation. It’s not a personal negotiation. Take care of that mindset piece first and get yourself into the frame of mind that this is a business negotiation.

Do your research and preparation. Find out what the salary ranges on that job are. If it’s not published and you are going through a recruitment agency, ask them. If it’s not published and you are going through it directly, who do you know works at the organization? Also, look at what the market research is telling you. What are these types of roles being advertised in the marketplace? When you’re talking about salaries and doing that negotiation, stay calm. Don’t allow this to become an emotional discussion. Try not to take it personally and talk about salary ranges.

The other thing that often my clients say to me is, “What if it’s not negotiable? Should I ask first?” Don’t ask if it’s negotiable. Assume that it is. Assume that it’s okay to ask for more. If it’s not negotiable, they’re going to tell you anyway. Why ask? Even if they say the salary is not negotiable, I would still ask. Don’t forget. Your job offer negotiation isn’t just about salary. It can also be about the hours you work and the benefits you get. It’s not about the actual money on the paid price.

When you’re talking about salary or job offer negotiation, it’s not just about the salary that you get. It’s also about looking at the benefits, flexible working, increased holiday and pension contributions. It’s not just about the money. If they present you with a job offer, you can go back and say, “That’s less than I was expecting for someone with my experience.” You can be very specific and tell them what you’re expecting. You can also give them that salary range.

The key thing here is to be ambitious and ask for more than you want but certainly, more than you expect. What we also know from the data is there’s a direct correlation between how much you asked for and how much you get. You’re going to be kicking yourself in the foot if you ask for an extra $10,000 and they say yes straight away because, “Could I have asked for an extra $15,000 or an extra $20,000?” Always be ambitious and ask for more than you want or expect. That’s part one of the triple-A plan is to ask for more always.

CGP 14 | Career Negotiation
Career Negotiation: While homeworkers may be 13% more productive, they get promoted less often.

Part two of the triple-A plan is to articulate your ambitions. What we often see is that the people who get promoted are the ones you’ve talked about and articulated their skills and their ambitions. It’s important to talk about what you want. Talk to your manager about your ambitions, where you want to see your career going and the growth opportunities you want. Don’t assume that your manager will hear about everything that’s available and will always be looking out for you. You’ve got to do some of this work yourself.

If you hear about an opportunity in another team, an opportunity to go on secondment or an opportunity to get involved in a project that’s not directly related to what you’re doing, ask about it. Articulate your desire and what you want to get involved with. That’s important because it keeps you in front of mind. The other thing when it comes to articulating your ambition is, very often when we look at the way the girls at school and then as women when we get to university, the way that we tend to behave and communicate is different from that of boys and men when they get to school and then university.

Women often are brilliant at working hard. We graft, work hard and get great results. While you’re at school, college or university, that’s brilliant because you work hard, you study hard, you do your revision and you get brilliant grades at the end of it. That works when you’re at school or in the education system. In the workplace, that is completely different. People might notice that you’re working hard or see that you’re getting good results but the thing is, everyone is so busy working hard themselves.

People need to be reminded and be told that you’re getting these results and that you’re working hard. Working hard on its own is not enough. You need to be getting the results. You need to articulate your ambition and make sure that people know that you are ambitious and you want to move on and make progress. The final piece in the triple-A plan is about auditing the work that you do. What’s important is that when you’re working hard and getting those good results, audit the work that you do and how valuable is that work that you do to the business.

Audit everything that you do and grade it from 1 to 10, where one is the business couldn’t care less about that piece of work, to 10, where it’s absolutely critical and has a direct impact on the profitability of the organization. Review the work that you do. If you’re doing work that’s less than 7 out of 10, what can you do to make sure that you’re getting the opportunity to do work, to work with clients or projects that are graded 8, 9 or 10? When you’re doing work that is valued by the business, you are more likely to get seen. You’re more likely to get noticed and therefore, get promoted.

Always be ambitious and ask for more than what you want or expect.

Don’t get caught up in being busy and doing stuff that doesn’t affect the bottom line. Although, I have to say sometimes that can be smart and strategic. When I worked at Arthur Andersen many years ago, I volunteered to get involved with organizing the dinner dance for the firm, which took up an awful lot of time and energy but it was great fun and fantastic. It was a small group of us.

Sometimes, it can be smart or strategic to volunteer and get involved in things like that. I did this because I wanted to have fun and I love organizing events and doing that thing but also strategically, the managing partner was on the organization committee that year for the dinner dance. I wanted to get the opportunity to talk about my career and articulate my ambitions in front of him.

Doing stuff that doesn’t affect the bottom line isn’t always the most valuable use of your time but sometimes it can be smart or strategic to do that. Make the most of the opportunities you’re offered and don’t feel that you’ve got to say yes to everything. Be strategic, audit the opportunities before you say yes and do the ones that you can see will be of value to you in your career or have direct value to the business.

That is my triple-A plan for women who want to protect their careers from that gender pay gap. The triple-A plan is to always ask for more, articulate your ambitions and then finally audit the work that you do and its value to the business so that you can be sure that you’re doing work that is valued by the company.

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you’ve got something valuable from this episode, exploring what individuals can do to protect their own career from falling foul of the gender pay gap.

If reading this has sparked an idea for you and your organization, please do book your exploratory chat with me. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology and cybersecurity companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talent so that more of them get promoted, which means that you close the gender pay gap. You can get in touch with me by email at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. Thanks for reading. Speak to you soon.

Important Links:

CGP 9 | Imposter Syndrome

The Impacts Of Imposter Syndrome On The Gender Pay Gap And What To Do About It With Clare Josa

Imposter Syndrome is already an issue for leaders, but the stigma imposed by gender only amplifies it. This can manifest itself in your organization in many ways, one of which is through the gender pay gap. Today, joining your host Sherry Bevan is the leading authority on Imposter Syndrome in the UK, Clare Josa. She speaks on her landmark research study about Imposter Syndrome to clearly define the phenomena and its impacts on the gender pay gap. She also discusses concrete examples of how it affects employees and leaders in the workplace. Plus, Clare shares tips for companies on how to be more proactive in dealing with Imposter Syndrome to promote an equitable workplace and empower its workforce. Tune in to this insightful discussion to learn more!

Listen to the podcast here:

https://oembed.libsyn.com/embed?item_id=20671205

The Impacts Of Imposter Syndrome On The Gender Pay Gap And What To Do About It With Clare Josa

I’m excited, because in this episode we’re exploring how the imposter syndrome affects your gender pay gap. I’m delighted to be talking to Clare Josa. She is the UK‘s leading authority on imposter syndrome. She’s the author of eight books and an expert in the neuroscience and psychology of performance. Her original training as an engineer specializing in Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing means her inspirational approach is grounded in practical common sense, creating breakthroughs, not burnout. Naturally, we’re going to be talking about imposter syndrome and I hope you get something valuable from this to help you close your gender pay gap. Clare, welcome. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you so much for having me on the show, Sherry.

I’m delighted to have got you on because you’ve got so much experience but I’ve thought for those people reading, who maybe don’t know what we’re talking about when we refer to the imposter syndrome, perhaps you could start by giving us your definition of what it means.

Imposter syndrome is the secret fear that people are going to find out that we’re not good enough, that we’re faking it, that they made a mistake hiring us, that we don’t belong. It’s something that keeps us awake at 3:00 in the morning. I often define it with my clients, my students and my readers as the secret fear of others judging us, the way we’re judging ourselves. It’s different to self-doubt. What we found in the 2019 imposter syndrome research study is self-doubt is about what we can and can’t do. It’s about confidence, skills, and capabilities. Imposter syndrome is about who we think we are. It’s down there at the identity level, much deeper. Somebody running self-doubt might think, “I messed up that presentation.” If you’re running imposter syndrome as well, you’ll think, “What if they find out I’m not good enough?”

It’s that difference between who you are and what you think about yourself, your confidence in your skills and your experience.

I talk about the imposter syndrome gap as being the gap between who we see ourselves as being and who we think we need to be to do, achieve something or step up for a goal because sometimes we can run. That’s the self-sabotage of imposter syndrome kicking in. Sometimes we can’t. We build over that gap, what I call the bridge of coping strategies. How will I succeed despite imposter syndrome? It takes huge amounts of energy. It causes anxiety. It means that we’re hypervigilant, that’s fight-flight-freeze response is constantly engaged, looking for threats. We can cope most of the time but if something major comes up like pandemic, working remotely from home whilst juggling educating children or having to handle being the only one in the office when everybody else is remote. This thing can mean the previous dormant imposter syndrome comes out to play with gusto.

What led you to become an expert in this area?

I started out in Mechanical Engineering. My Master’s degree was in Mechanical Engineering. In Germany, you don’t get much more left-brain than that but I’d always been passionate about how people ticked. After fifteen years in engineering, I studied to become an NLP trainer. I moved to become the head of market research at one of the world’s most disruptive brands, which was great. That was the link between the engineers, the marketing team and the customers. It’s like a three-way translator. There came a point where I was studying more about how to help people change their lives, how to help them to help themselves. Looking at what I knew from Six Sigma about how to take the fluff out of those processes and make them more reliable and concrete. Back in 2003, I left, set up my own business. One of the things I was doing back then was executive mentoring.

Imposter syndrome is the secret fear of others judging us the way we’re judging ourselves.

My first client had this weird thing. They were confident. Everybody thought they had the act together and it was 3:00 the morning they were dying inside. My next client and then my next client and it got me researching what is going on. The coaching skills I’ve learned weren’t touching it. I needed something deeper. That was several years ago. The rest is they say is history. I have spent the last several years specializing in the imposter syndrome work that classic tools don’t touch.

We talked about what the imposter syndrome is but what we haven’t talked about is who experiences it. Who has it?

Everyone. There’s no it’s men, it’s women. There’s no you’re old, you’re young. We found in the 2019 research study that 52% of female respondents had struggled with it daily or regularly in 2020 alone, to an extent that it impacted their work and their home life. The figure for men was 49%. Pretty much the same. The difference was how they handled it. Women were twenty times more likely than men to go and talk to someone to ask for help. Men were five times more likely than women to turn to alcohol, drugs and medication to push on through. The other huge thing and this is relevant to the gender pay gap, the male respondents tended to do that feel the fear and do it anyway thing. Pushing it down, pushing on through, “I’m terrified. It’s causing me anxiety. I’m drinking too much but I’m going for that promotion anyway.”

They would get to that stage. When they got promoted, very often, the job title gave them the external validation they needed to mean that they could settle into it. What we found with the female respondents is they would hold back stepping up. They would even volunteer other people if they got the tap on the shoulder to go for the next role. Thirty-seven percent in 2020 alone had not asked for a pay raise they knew they deserved as a result of imposter syndrome.

Sixty percent we found were routinely not taking credit for what they’d achieved, even doing that classic, “I had but,” if they were praised volunteering self-criticism, meaning that they want not to top of mind for those promotions and opportunities. They were not letting their light shine because, for them, the emotional side of imposter syndrome was simply strong. It held them back. It caused them to subconsciously self-sabotage rather than step up to the next level and pushing on through it for them was much less of an option.

I was about to ask, what did your research tell us about how imposter syndrome affects the gender pay gap? You answered it succinctly there but what more does your research tell us about the imposter syndrome and the gender pay gap and how it has an impact?

We found that there were three hidden drivers of the gender pay gap, which most organizations aren’t aware of, they can’t address. One of them was the alpha male competitive culture at the most senior levels in too many organizations still. There comes to a point where if a woman gets promoted beyond that level, she either has to change how she behaves to become more of a man or she has to find ways to cope with being in a highly competitive alpha male environment.

Even some of the most heart-centered organizations I’ve worked with in those top couple of levels, it’s suddenly a complete culture change. Women don’t feel like they belong. They feel that fear of, “What if they realize they made a mistake hiring me or putting me in this role?” They also found at those senior levels that the spotlight that was on them for being a female in that role rather than a person in that role meant that their secret fears of, “What if they realize I’m not good enough?” It was like having a supernova shining on them. That was one aspect.

CGP 9 | Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: Imposter syndrome is the secret fear that people are going to find out that we’re not good enough, that we’re faking it, that they made a mistake hiring us, that we don’t belong.

 

The second factor that was driving the gender pay gap that we found was the lack of flexible working. The expectation that at the more senior levels, you’re going to do the longer days, you’re going to do the overnight when we can travel, that you’ve got to wave goodbye to school concerts and all that thing. Many women felt they didn’t want to have to choose. Even if a company offered flexible working because you’ve got this internal dialogue where you’re judging yourself and you’re worried that others are doing it too. If you accepted the flexible working, you were worried that people were judging you and that somehow would see you as not pulling your weight not being good enough. That was factor two. Factor three was all of the self-sabotage that comes in there from imposter syndrome.

If you imagine, you’re going to step up to a leadership role, you’re going to take responsibility and you are going to be visible at that level. If it’s 3:00 in the morning, you’re lying awake and your inner critic is telling you all the reasons why you’re not good enough, it’s extremely hard to feel congruent and safe doing that. One of the other things we found is that at senior levels, women were likely to apply for a promotion externally to leave a company they love because they were scared of what they perceived as the shame of failure if it became public knowledge that they’d gone for a role that they then didn’t get.

I hear that with a lot of technology companies, where women have applied for promotion and not got it. They’ve then left the organization or they haven’t even applied internally because they’re worried about failing in their eyes. They decide to go for that promotion outside the company, which means you’re losing good female talent.

Somebody else is gaining from the hard work that you’ve put in working with that person and developing them over those years.

We’ve got these three hidden drivers that often companies aren’t particularly aware of. If they’re hidden and you don’t know you’ve got them then there’s not an awful lot that you can only manage what you can see, can’t you?

It’s one of the reasons why I’m passionate about this and my podcast that you are sharing is important because secretly, we know if we have an alpha male culture at the senior level. We will never admit it to the shareholders and we don’t have to wash our dirty linen in public but we know. Secretly, we know whether we’re expecting our leadership team to work hours. That means they’re choosing between career and children, loved ones, care, responsibilities or having a life. By raising the awareness and asking the question, if we were honest, we took our emotions and our biases out of this, are any of these three factors at play? With that third factor of imposter syndrome, there’s something that a lot of companies have been doing that is well-intentioned but it’s making it worse, which is giving women that helping hand. It will seem as quotas or positive discrimination and it’s not being phrased like that.

If you take somebody who secretly believes they don’t belong, that a mistake was made hiring them, who’s scared they’re going to be found out as not good enough and a fraud and you give them that pushups the next level then it amplifies those feelings. They can then look around. I remember when I had imposter syndrome in my engineering days, I was promoted extremely young to senior engineer. The rumor that went around the factories are, “She got the job because she’s a girl.” My imposter syndrome meant I believed it. It can undermine the integrity and respect of female leaders if you are in any way saying to have given them the advantage. I talk about equity instead of equality.

There was a fantastic meme on social media. The dad taking two children to a football match. One was older than the other they couldn’t see over the barrier. The dad got two equal boxes. One child could see over, the other one still couldn’t. Equity is giving that second child the box that they need so they can both see but this does not come in the form of quotes and positive discrimination. It comes in the form of, what does this person needs to be able to thrive? Do they need support in ditching imposter syndrome? Do they need us to put serious work into the flexibility of hours? Do they need us to create a senior-level environment and culture where anybody can thrive with God as if their gender, their ethnicity, their socioeconomic class? Looking at what you need to do to create equity so that it’s fair for everybody rather than giving people that helping hand creates this feeling of resentment.

Make asking for help with imposter syndrome as acceptable as asking for help with Microsoft Excel.

I’ve got clients where there were men who thought they were about to get the next promotion. A woman then got it out of the blue. Everybody knew it was because they’d been told they had to have a quote on the board. That woman had to leave because nobody would respect her authority, even though she might have been the best candidate. We have to be careful at how we handle this, how we communicate it and how we’re being seen to be fair.

What can companies do then in practical terms to stop that imposter syndrome affecting the gender pay gap?

One of the first things is that we need to be training leaders in imposter syndrome in being able to spot the signs. We’re good at hiding it when it’s running because we feel ashamed. It’s an identity level. It’s about who I am as a person. We put a lot of effort into hiding it. By the time we ask for help with it, it means it’s got to a stage where that bridge of coping strategies is no longer enough. It takes courage. Training managers to be able to spot the warning signs. For example, one of the things I do is I train imposter syndrome first status in an organization so they can be a point of contact because it’s removing the taboo. I’m on a mission to make asking for help with imposter syndrome as acceptable as asking for help with Microsoft Excel macros.

Nobody would think twice if they suddenly had to do something complex on Microsoft Office but saying, “I need training on that.” We need to get there with imposter syndrome because it can lead to mental health issues, anxiety, depression, stress, burnout. It can trigger all of these. Having that HR, in-house coaches, leaders, line managers, having the basic awareness, having key points of contact in the business who can help, you can do more than just offer tea and sympathy. Also, having programs that give people practical tools because not everybody needs a full-blown, “Let’s dive in and deal with imposter syndrome.” Sometimes it might be training in how to choose which thoughts to feed. How to be able to press pause on that inner dialogue? I have my Inner Critic Bootcamp program that they can study for that in six weeks, which helps to stop the cycle.

Sometimes they might want to dive in more deeply and work with somebody. You might want some in-house mentors who’ve trained in the deeper work to clear out imposter syndrome particularly if you have people who are stepping up from line management to leadership roles. What triggers imposter syndrome particularly is any shift in identity. For example, becoming a parent, returning from maternity leave. We see it a lot with university students when they graduate. Becoming a leader, a shift in identity opens up that imposter syndrome gap between who you see yourself as being and who you think you need to be. Actively putting imposter syndrome clearing programs into your leadership development strategy, meaning that anybody who is running it without shame, without taboo, without judgment can have a route they can follow that says, “I want to clear this out.” They get to fulfill their potential.

One of the things that happen if somebody gets promoted because part of them is saying, “I want to do this role.” Part of them is screaming, “What if they find me out?” They can turn into a micro-managing boss in as little as a few weeks. The symptoms, the stress, and the anxiety of imposter syndrome can be pushed on down through the team quickly. It can turn a rising star into someone that’s creating a toxic team without even realizing.

Which is another big issue for organizations because that will create other employee engagement issues and employee retention issues.

If anybody in that team was running imposter syndrome, they were at the coping stage and it was dormant then it can trigger it for them as well. In terms of the gender pay gap, having that clear strategy is yes, you would give your team members the development they need to get ready to be leaders. That is not just the practical external strategies. That also has to be the inside work so that they can let go of whatever might be holding them back from becoming a leader that inspires people to thrive and create successful, happy teams.

CGP 9 | Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: It can undermine the integrity and respect of female leaders if you are in any way saying to have given them the advantage.

 

This is what we all want at the end of the day because it means that you improve productivity, profitability and your reputation as an employer in the workplace. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about this. I know I could talk all day on this topic because your knowledge and expertise are valuable. If people want to get in touch with you and find out more about what you do, how can they get hold of you?

The research study white paper that might be useful for readers is at DitchingImposterSyndrome.com/research. I’m on LinkedIn, @ClareJosa. There’s only one of me on normal days. My main website is ClareJosa.com. That’s where you can find all resources. I’ve got things like an advice guide that can be useful for someone who does have imposter syndrome. That’s completely free. That’s at ClareJosa.com/advice. That helps you to know what to say, to know which mistakes to avoid and to be able to start supporting that internal discussion to remove the imposter syndrome taboo and get people to support that they need.

Thank you so much to my guest, Clare. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about imposter syndrome and how this can impact the gender pay gap. I hope you, as readers, have enjoyed reading this episode, too. Thank you so much, Clare.

Thank you so much, Sherry.

If this has sparked a thought in your mind, I’d love you to come and book an exploratory chat with me to give you an opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work I do at technology companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talents that you can close the gender pay gap. Email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. Thank you for reading.

Important Links:

About Clare Josa

Clare Josa is the UK’s leading authority on Imposter Syndrome, the author of eight books, and an expert in the neuroscience and psychology of performance.

Her original training as an engineer, specialising in Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing, means her inspirational approach is grounded in practical common sense, creating breakthroughs not burnout.

CGP 8 | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives

Initiatives And Actions You Can Do To Close The Gender Pay Gap

Some women still get paid less than men for the same work in a company. That’s the hard truth that’s still happening nowadays. In this episode, Sherry Bevan gives a broad overview of all the different approaches used by organizations that want to strengthen their female talent pipeline to close the gender pay gap. She dives deep into various initiatives and actions that you can take in your organization, based on whether the evidence tells us it works or not.

Also in this episode:

  • Your last chance to book a place on the Executive Round Table on Tuesday, 5 October!
  • A brief summary of the four main causes
  • A tour of the initiatives to close the gender pay gap based on the paper published by the Government Equalities Office

Listen to the podcast here:

Initiatives And Actions You Can Do To Close The Gender Pay Gap

Thank you so much for joining me. I would love you to come back next episode. To make that even easier for yourself, you need to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player. I don’t know about you but I’m noticing more and more people going back into the office. The trains and the roads are busier, and I’m hoping that means that the local businesses who rely on the commuters are starting to feel that pressure ease up too.

As to me, I’m super excited about what’s coming up in October 2021, and especially when I’m hosting an executive round table on the impact of hybrid working on the Gender Pay Gap in the technology sector. Visibility in the workplace has always been important, having that strong personal brand so that you develop a professional reputation has been an expert in your domain or your field.

Although, we do know that in some organizations or even in some teams, visibility in the past and now as well has also been about presenteeism. What we do know is that the hybrid work model is most here to stay. We also know that those more likely to want to work from home in that hybrid work model are people with disabilities, parents of young children, and women. I’m wondering, how will hybrid working affect the visibility of women, in particular, in your organization?

Does it mean they’ll be less likely to get noticed because they’re more likely to be working from home, to get promoted or to move up the career ladder? In turn, how will that affect your gender pay gap? These are some of the questions that I’m going to be discussing with a small group of HR leaders from other technology companies, including Sky, Microsoft, Sage, so that together we will have the opportunity to learn from each other about what’s working and what’s not in the hybrid work model and discuss the potential impact on the gender pay gap. There is still about time to get involved.

If you’d love to join us on the 5th of October 2021 at the executive round table, reach out to me. For now, let’s get into the show. In this episode, I wanted to give you a broad overview of all the different approaches and initiatives that are used by a whole range of organizations that want to strengthen their female talent pipeline so that they close the gender pay gap. Before we look at the different initiatives that you could implement, first, let’s take a couple of moments to think about the main causes of the gender pay gap.

Four Main Causes Of Gender Pay Gap

If we look at papers published by The Fawcett Society, they suggest that there are four main causes and these are discrimination, unequal caring responsibilities, a divided labor market, and men in the most senior roles. If we start by looking at discrimination, it’s illegal but some women still get paid less than men for the same work. There’s a lot of discrimination, particularly around pregnancy maternity leave. Pregnant Then Screwed estimates at 54,000 women lose or are forced to leave their jobs every year, simply for getting pregnant.

CGP 8  | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives
Gender Pay Gap Initiatives: When you put together a short list of qualified candidates, whether you’re recruiting for a new hire or working on your promotions round, make sure that more than one woman is included.

There’s research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Department for Business in 2016. That showed that more than 3/4 of pregnant women and new mothers, that’s the equivalent of 390,000 women, experience negative and potentially discriminatory treatment at work each year. That is 1 of the 4 main causes of the gender pay gap.

The next one to think about then is unequal caring responsibilities. Women play a greater role in caring for children, as well as for sick or elderly relatives. As a result, more women work part-time. We know that part-time jobs are typically lower paid with fewer opportunities to make progress in your career. In the divided labor market, women are still more likely to be in low-paid and low-skilled jobs affecting labor market segregation. Eighty percent of those working in the low-paid care and leisure sector, for example, are women.

You might think that this divided labor market doesn’t affect the technology sector but I encourage you to go back to the interview of Jo Stansfield in episode four when we talked about the hierarchy that exists in the technology sector with women more likely to be in the lowest status roles. The final cause is men in the most senior roles. Men make up the majority of those in the highest-paid and most senior roles. For example, only 5% of FTSE 100 CEO are women.

What You Can Do

That’s a brief overview of the four main causes of the gender pay gap, but what can you do about it to close the gender pay gap in your organization? First and foremost, you don’t close the gender pay gap by simply focusing on pay. It’s more complicated than that. In my experience, there are three key areas to look at, how you attract staff, how you develop those staff, and retention, so how you keep and engage those staff. The thing is you can’t do everything at once. It’s important to prioritize where you’re going to spend your time, energy and budget.

Perhaps one of the most important things in order for any initiative to be successful is to get the support and the buy-in at the most senior levels of the organization. You can do that by demonstrating the business benefits. How does it affect profitability, productivity and reputation? There are lots of business benefits to increasing gender diversity and inclusion but we’re not going to be looking at those. We will look at those in a future episode.

While I could break this down into how you attract, develop, and retain your female talent, I’ve wanted this episode to be much more action-focused. What I’m going to do is I’m going to share the learnings from a fabulous resource that I highly recommend on the government website published by the Government Equalities Office. If you’ve got time to read it, I encourage you to start with the paper called Reducing the gender pay gap and improving gender equality in organisations: Evidence-based actions for employers.

In order for any initiative to be successful, it has to get the support and the buy-in at the most senior levels of the organization.

Initiatives That Work

First, I’m going to talk through the actions and initiatives where there are published quality evidence that these initiatives work, which means that you start to close your gender pay gap when you start to implement these initiatives. This is from the published research, the actions that are known to have had a positive impact in the real world.

The first thing then is to include multiple women in the shortlist for recruitment and promotions. This initiative then is about ensuring that when you put together a shortlist of qualified candidates, whether you’re recruiting for a new hire or you’re working on your promotions round, you need to make sure that more than one woman is included. What we do know from the published research is that a shortlist with only one woman doesn’t increase the chance of a woman being selected. It’s about having multiple women on those shortlists.

Number two, then is about looking at using skills-based assessment tasks in recruitment. Rather than relying only on interviews when you’re recruiting, what you can do is to ask candidates to perform tasks that they will be expected to perform in the role that they are applying for. You then use their performance on those tasks to assess their suitability for the role. What’s important is that you standardize those tasks and how they are scored to ensure fairness across candidates. That one is about using skills-based assessment tasks in recruitment.

Sticking with the recruitment and promotion idea then, the next idea for you is to use structured interviews for recruitment and promotions. As an HR professional, you know that structured and unstructured interviews both have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, it’s much more likely that unfair bias will creep in and influence decisions in an unstructured interview.

Whereas if you go down the structured interview route, this will ask exactly the same questions of all the candidates in a predetermined order and format. It means that you can grade the responses using a pre-specified, standardized criterion. That means that the responses are comparable and you reduce the impact of that unconscious bias. Staying with the attraction theme then, the next one is to encourage you to encourage salary negotiation by showing salary ranges on your job ads.

We know that women are less likely to negotiate their pay. As a leadership consultant, when I work with women on a one-to-one basis, salary negotiation, the when, the how, and the if always comes up. There are lots of reasons why women are less likely to negotiate on salary. It’s partly because women are put off because if they’re not sure what a reasonable offer is, they don’t negotiate.

CGP 8  | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives
Gender Pay Gap Initiatives: Women are less likely to negotiate their pay. It’s partly because if they’re not sure what a reasonable offer is, they don’t negotiate.

Therefore, you can make a difference by clearly communicating the salary range on offer for a particular role to encourage women to negotiate their salary. This helps your applicant know what they can reasonably expect. In addition, if the salary for a role is negotiable, you need to state that clearly because that can also encourage women to negotiate. When women don’t negotiate and they end up with a lower salary, it means that longer-term, they’re going to end up with smaller bonuses and pay rises, which are typically done as a percentage of that start salary.

If women negotiate their salaries more often, they’ll end up with salaries that more closely match the salaries of men. That means that you’re going to have an impact on your gender pay gap. The next one then is to think about introducing transparency to the processes for promotion, pay and reward. Transparency means being open about those processes, your policies, and the criteria for decision-making, which means that employees are clear about what’s involved and that managers understand that their decisions need to be objective and evidence-based because those decisions can be reviewed by others.

When you introduce transparency to promotion, pay, and reward processes, it can reduce pay inequalities, which means that in turn, you’ll start to close your gender pay gap. The final one in this section on what we know has a positive impact, it’s about appointing diversity managers and/or appointing or creating a diversity task force. Diversity managers and task forces monitor the talent management processes, such as recruitment or promotions, and also diversity within the organization.

Having a diversity manager or a task force can reduce bias decisions in recruitment and promotion because people who make those decisions know that their decisions may be reviewed. It’s that accountability that can improve the representation of women in your organization. When you’re thinking about your diversity managers, there should be somebody who has a senior or executive role within the organization. They need to have visibility of your internal data, and they need to be in the position and have your authority to ask for more information on why decisions were made so that they feel empowered to develop and implement diversity strategies and policies.

Initiatives That Show Promise

Let’s move on to think about the actions that from the research, they have promise but they need further research to get more evidence on their effectiveness and implementation. The first one is to think about improving workplace flexibility for men and women. Advertise and offer all jobs as having flexible working options, such as part-time work or remote working, or hybrid working, job sharing, or compressed hours. The more that you talk about your flexible working policies, the more likely that women will fly in the first place. Often, when I work with women on a one-to-one basis, if flexible working doesn’t get mentioned anywhere on the company’s website or anywhere on the job description, they will often talk themselves out of even applying.

Allow people to work flexibly where it’s possible so it’s not just a policy but it’s happening on the ground, so to speak. Encourage your senior-level leaders to role model working flexibly, and to champion flexible working. If they work themselves flexibly, encourage them to talk about it so that others see that this is a normal way of working, even if you’re in a senior position. Finally, workplace flexibility is about encouraging men to work flexibly that it’s not seen as a female-only benefit. It’s not just something that women want.

The gender pay gap widens dramatically after women have children. This could be reduced if men and women share childcare more equally.

The next one in this section then is to encourage the uptake of shared parental leave. We see that the gender pay gap widens dramatically after women have children. However, this could be reduced if men and women were able to share childcare more equally. Shared parental leave and pay enable working parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay in their child’s first year. The actions that show promise here are when organizations offer enhanced, shared parental pay at the same level as enhanced maternity pay or when they encourage the take-up of shared parental leave.

For example, when you inform future fathers that it’s their legal right to request shared parental leave. When you provide future parents with guidance and personal support, to understand the scheme, and when you share and promote examples of senior leaders who’ve taken shared parental leave in your organization. That one was all about encouraging the uptake of shared parental leave. Following on from that, it’s about recruiting returners. Returners are people who’ve either taken an extended career break for caring or for other reasons and are either not currently employed, or maybe they’re in roles for which they’re overqualified.

When you recruit returners, things that you can do, for example, is to target places where returners are likely to be looking, ensure that your recruitment processes are returner friendly, and offer support before and during the assessment. Remember, these people who’ve taken an extended career break may have lost a bit of confidence but they certainly haven’t lost the skills and the knowledge.

The next one then is to think about offering mentoring and sponsorship. They’re quite similar. Mentors provide guidance and advice to their mentees, while sponsors support the advancement and visibility of the person that they’re sponsoring.

There is some evidence to suggest that mentoring programs work very well for some women but not for others. At the moment, it’s not clear based on the existing evidence whether sponsorships are more effective than mentoring, or whether it’s the other way around, or how best to run mentoring and sponsorship programs so that they’re effective and they make a difference. There’s not enough evidence right now to make a recommendation one way or the other.

The other thing that you could do and offer some promise is to offer networking programs.

There was some evidence that suggests that formal networking programs where members meet and share information and careers advice can be helpful for some women but not every woman. There’s more work needed here to understand the effects of networking programs or other diversity programs, and whether they need to have particular features in order to be successful in helping you to close your gender pay gap.

Finally, set internal targets on the basis that you can only manage what you measure. You need to set internal targets, so equality goals and these goals need to be clear and realistic.

You need to be able to track your progress. You could have a generic, overarching goal such as improve gender quality at my organization or reduce my organization’s gender pay gap but those aren’t specific. Therefore, they’re more likely to be unsuccessful. One way of increasing the likelihood that you reach your goals and that you will do something to improve gender equality and close that gender pay gap is to set very specific time-bound targets. What change will you achieve? By when will you achieve it?

CGP 8  | Gender Pay Gap Initiatives
Gender Pay Gap Initiatives: One way of increasing the likelihood of reaching your goals and doing something to improve gender equality and close that gender pay gap is to set very specific time-bound targets.

Initiatives With Mixed Results

In this final section then, I’m going to share those actions or initiatives that have some mixed results. The jury is still out because sometimes the result is positive but sometimes it has a negative impact. As yet, there’s not enough evidence to say for sure, whether that’s down to the way it’s been implemented or whether there’s something else at work here.

The first thing that we’re going to look at are unconscious bias training or diversity training. Unconscious bias training is often where a new organization starts. It’s easy, practical and tangible but it can sometimes be seen as a bit of a tick-box exercise. “We’ve done unconscious bias training. We’ve done our bit.”

The thing with unconscious bias is it can influence a person’s judgment without them even being aware of it. Unconscious bias training in the workplace aims to make people aware of those potentially harmful unconscious biases and to reduce the impact of those biases. While some types of unconscious bias training may have some limited positive effects, there is no evidence that this training changes behavior or improves workplace equality. Certainly, there’s no evidence that it does this on an ongoing or a permanent basis. It’s like everything. We learned skills, but then we need to practice those skills so we’d learn about unconscious bias, but then we need to practice listening and becoming aware of our unconscious bias.

Again, when we look at diversity training, that can help raise awareness but it’s unlikely to change behavior. It’s only through changing behavior that you’re going to start to close your gender pay gap. There’s been some research in the US that has found that mandatory diversity training either doesn’t change the number of women in management positions or reduces it. In other words, it’s backfiring.

This might be for a whole number of reasons. Is it that people resent being made to do something and so don’t take the training seriously? The training might also bring to mind some unhelpful stereotypes, which people then act upon but it might be that the training makes people think that the organization has now solved its diversity problems. “We’ve ticked the box, now we’re good.”

Another aspect of training that organizations will often embark on is leadership development training. Leadership development programs aim to teach qualities, including management skills, self-confidence. Certainly, in the leadership development training that I do, we look at networking and how to articulate your ambitions. There are some very small-scale studies of the effects of leadership training programs, women, particularly in medicine and academia.

However, there’s no high-quality evidence that such programs definitely help women progress. Sometimes people feel that these programs imply that the women themselves are the problem. It’s not about fixing the women. It’s about fixing the culture and the work landscape. While leadership development training can be a fantastic initiative to introduce, it doesn’t necessarily, based on the evidence, translate itself into hard results in terms of closing your gender pay gap.

Performance self-assessments. In terms of performance in the workplace, there is some evidence that women underestimate their abilities or that they’re more conservative in their assessment of their abilities than men are.

Unconscious bias can influence a person’s judgment without them even being aware of it.

The size of this gender difference can vary depending on the type of performance that people are asked to self-assess. There’s not enough evidence to know how differences in self-assessment affect women’s progression at work. However, if this is something that you’re interested in, I do encourage you to read episode five, in which I interview Shirin Nikaein about how performance feedback affects women’s career progression. Again, in episode six, when I explore how performance self-assessment has an impact.

The final initiative that I’m going to talk about, diverse selection panels. Again, not enough evidence yet to say definitively, whether this will have a positive impact but it does seem that having a selection panel with a mix of men and women seems to help women’s prospects sometimes but, and here’s the kicker, sometimes a mix selection panel or a diverse selection panel hums women’s prospector other times. Some studies show that the more women there are on a panel, the more likely women are to be selected for a role, while unfortunately, some studies find the complete opposite. The effect can also depend on the role being recruited for or the role of the women who are on that panel, who are on that selection committee.

There’s not enough research at the moment to understand the conditions under which a diverse selection panel is or isn’t effective for improving gender equality and, in the long run, closing the gender pay gap. That’s it for this episode, a broad overview of the many different actions and initiatives that you could choose to prioritize in your companies that you start to close the gender pay gap. This overview is based on the Government Equalities Office paper, Reducing the Gender Pay Gap and Improving Gender Quality in Organisations, Evidence-based actions for employers.

I encourage you to go back to that government website for the links to specific research and evidence on these different initiatives.

I hope you found this episode useful and that it sparks some ideas for discussion in your organization.

Please, do reach out and book a call with me if you’d like to explore any of these initiatives and actions with an objective leadership consultant. I offer exploratory calls that you can ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so that you can close the gender pay gap.

Simply email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. One final shout-out, don’t forget, if you want a place at my executive round table on the 5th of October 2021, please do get in touch. I’d hate for you to miss out on this opportunity to discuss the impact of hybrid working on the gender pay gap with your peers from other technology companies. Thank you so much for reading. To find out more about me and my work, pop over to SherryBevan.co.uk.

Important Links:

How Performance Feedback At Work Influences Your Gender Pay Gap With Shirin Nikaein

Performance feedback is often used as a tool to measure competency and is, therefore, a gauge for employee success, with good feedback often rewarded with better pay or promotions. Yet, in the case of women in the workplace, it can also be the cause of a gender pay gap.

Join Sherry Bevan as she explores this issue with the CEO and Co-founder of Upful.ai, Shirin Nikaein. Shirin and Sherry discuss performance feedback and how it can negatively impact the gender pay gap. They also talk about ways to resolve this issue. A thought-provoking discussion that leaders need to tune in to.

Listen to the podcast here

How Performance Feedback At Work Influences Your Gender Pay Gap With Shirin Nikaein

I’m absolutely delighted to be talking to Shirin Nikaein. She is the Cofounder and CEO of Upful, an HR Software as a Service startup. She’s got many years of experience leading engineering analytics and product management in many tech companies, from startups to large enterprises. She’s the former lead engineer for the Beats by Dre headphones and her previous artificial intelligence products have been used by clients including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, UPS and Tinder. She’s graduated with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. We’re going to be sharing some ideas and experiences on how performance feedback affects the gender pay gap. I hope you get something valuable from this to help you. Welcome, Shirin. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thanks for having me, Sherry.

This is such a fascinating topic and I know when we first got talking about this, we could have just talked for hours. I thought I’d start by asking you to explain to me, how do women sell themselves short in their own self-assessment? Lots of us have heard about imposter syndrome. What do we do to ourselves? How do we sabotage ourselves?

In how we do self-ratings, even in the language and how we explain what we’ve done, our accomplishments, not just in self-assessments when it comes time for a formal review. It also shows up in how we write our resumes, where we’re typically giving more credit to our team. We explain our accomplishments as like we contributed to a team effort or we didn’t necessarily need it. We were more afraid of taking credit for something that we led because there is somewhat of a backlash if we do try to take credit for it. I understand why some women are afraid to do that because we might get labeled as having a big ego or being a little bit arrogant. There’s a double standard that we’re dealing with.

On top of that, we also have the category of women who are suffering from imposter syndrome. This group of people doesn’t even see themselves as having had as great of an impact as they did. They don’t realize that they have led or contributed in a significant way that led to some kind of big accomplishment. It’ll show up in the language and language is probably softened. Even the numerical ratings are also lower than that of white men. That’s how we sell ourselves short.

We’ve both mentioned the imposter syndrome there but just in case there’s anybody reading, who hasn’t heard of that before, it’s a new term for them. Would you mind just giving us a brief explanation of what we’re talking about?

Imposter syndrome is an internal belief that we’re not good enough. We don’t fit in. If you have a different definition that you would like to add to, please do. It’s like we don’t see ourselves as the typical CEO or leader. We don’t see enough of that in either media or in the world and we’re not exposed to it. In our heads, we don’t think we fit in. When we get to that level, we still don’t think we fit in. The problem is, oftentimes, we are just as capable, intelligent and able to perform but in our heads, we don’t believe it yet. We think that we’re being fake. We feel like we are faking our way and most of us are not. We’re just as capable as the next person.

Imposter syndrome is the internal belief that we’re not good enough or we don’t fit in.

Sometimes what I hear women say is that it’s a lucky fluke that they got to where they are or they worry, they’re going to “get found out.”

They attribute it to luck rather than their own accomplishments and experience.

We’ve talked about how women tend to sell themselves short in their own self-assessment. How does this influence the feedback that they then get from their own managers on their performance?

In a lot of companies, what they do is because it’s difficult for managers to remember everything that every one of their direct reports has done throughout the year. This is for companies that maybe only do it once or twice a year. That’s part of why a lot of companies have moved to do it more frequently because you don’t forget all of these things that happen throughout the year. When a manager has to remember, maybe they have ten direct reports and they have to remember all of the big things that everybody did? They can’t remember that on their own.

What they do is depend on reading everybody’s self-assessments and evaluations. The manager will look at these self-assessments. They’re going to be impacted by the language in it, by the ratings in it and the content of it. Whatever the woman wrote about her accomplishments and growth throughout that year, this manager is going to make an assessment based on reading that. If that self-assessment is already lower in terms of the ratings and the way that the accomplishments are described, the credit that the woman took for her contributions, the manager is negatively going to be anchored by those lower self-assessments.

There has been a study done, I believe. I don’t know if it’s been released to the public but there was a public presentation on it back in 2019. It’s a study done by the Harvard Kennedy School for Women and Public Policy Program and the University of Exeter. The study was done by Iris Bohnet, Oliver Hauser, and Ariella Kristal. The paper is called Supply- and Demand- Side Effects in Performance Appraisals: The Role of Gender and Race. They looked at how people like white men versus women did their self-assessments and what kind of numerical scores they got.

They looked at how those self-assessments anchored manager assessments. You can see that there’s a clear anchoring effect. However, the manager assessments do bring it closer together. The difference between the self-assessments was big and the manager assessment did minimize that gap a little bit but it was still very clearly anchored by it. That’s where we’re getting these results from this study.

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance Feedback
Performance Feedback: Subtle differences in language in an evaluation have a huge impact on whether somebody gets promoted or gets a salary increase.

Also, that influences the managers and how they view that individual woman or man. It’s also going to affect how they view whether or not that person is ready to get promoted as well, which I think you’re creating this spiral effect almost. If you sell yourself short in your self-assessment, therefore, your manager sells you short as well but he or she is influenced by what you’ve written. It keeps ongoing.

I have an example of two sentences that we could dissect and talk about how great the difference is in these two sentences. This first one is about a man, let’s say the name is Tom. The sentence says, “Tom seems hesitant in making decisions. Yet, he is able to work out multiple alternative solutions and determine the most suitable one.” That’s one. The second sentence is for a female, “Amanda seems paralyzed and confused when facing tight deadlines to make decisions.”

Imagine that these are the exact two same scenarios. These are how differently it was described based on gender. The problem with this is when you say that “Amanda is paralyzed and confused,” first of all, how do you know what’s going on in her head? How do you know if she was confused? Using the word confused makes it sound like she’s incompetent. The fact that the way that they said it, “She’s paralyzed and confused when making decisions,” that’s it. They left it like that. It makes you question whether she has potential for growth but then when you look at the sentence for the man, Tom was just hesitant. How do you know what was going on in his head? There’s no outward observation that you can make to see what’s going on in someone’s head.

They called it hesitant, which doesn’t indicate any type of incompetency as confusion does. They did say, “He came up with multiple solutions and then picked one.” They did. In the end, he came to a decision. That’s good. It seems like he has more potential and doesn’t need additional training for this but for the woman. It sounds like, “Something’s wrong with her. She needs more training and she can’t even think.” These very subtle differences in language in the evaluation have a huge impact on whether somebody gets promoted or when they will get the next salary increase. It also affects what projects they get assigned to. The woman might not get assigned to the most strategic or visible project but the man will because the way that the languages presented shows that they still have potential and they’re still competent.

That’s great knowing those two examples and you can see how the language has a big impact on not just what that manager writes but future managers and what they might interpret or perceive from that feedback.

Just like that, you’re saying that Directors and VPs might read these manager assessments and make decisions without ever knowing that employee. That’s why the language is incredibly important because there is so much meaning behind it.

One of the things we talked about previously was likability and how that impacts performance reviews for women versus men?

When women break stereotypical norms, they are punished for it.

There were two studies that I wanted to mention with respect to ability. One of them is the Heidi and Howard Study. Heidi Roizen is an actual VC and basically, there was this experiment conducted at the Columbia Business School with the business school students. The students get to see two case studies. They’re the exact same case study, but one of them has the name Heidi and one of them has the name Howard.

Otherwise, everything else is exactly the same, just the name.

Just the name and that indicates gender. This case study was about a successful venture capitalist. They asked these study participants to rate the competency and the likeability of this VC. Heidi and Howard were rated highly on competency but Heidi was rated very low on likability. The study participants said that, “Heidi is power-hungry. She is self-promoting and not humble. They would not hire her and would not want to work with her.” It’s the complete opposite of Howard. This is the exact same person on paper. The only difference is gender. You can see that there’s a clear likeability penalty when a woman is exhibiting stereotypically masculine traits in a stereotypically masculine role. That is when they break the stereotypical norms. They are punished for it.

It’s almost as though it’s okay for a man to be ambitious, self-starter and perhaps aggressive in his approach maybe but as soon as a woman displays those same characteristics, it’s wrong. It’s a bad thing for a woman to be displaying those same characteristics because we perceive and expect women to behave in a softer, more feminine way.

It’s about the expectation and whether we break it or not. There are other studies that talk about how women who are in stereotypically more feminine roles, like marketing, don’t necessarily break the stereotypes. There isn’t as much of this double or punishment because they’re in a stereotypically female role.

It’s interesting because what we talked about in the last episode was how there’s a hierarchy in technology and that often women will end up in roles that are seen as less technical, less demanding and therefore get valued or paid less. For example, product management or training are seen as better suited to a typical female skillset and that perhaps a network architect or lead engineer is better suited to a male, the stereotypical tendency. That’s interesting that you’ve raised that as well.

There’s the double standard for if you’re a female and you’re in a more masculine role or position but even if you don’t behave in a masculine way and you’re in that role, you’re just not going to get anywhere. You’re not going to grow as fast as the others. Either you might have an easier time in that role because you’re not being punished but you’re also not going to grow. There’s this double bind.

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance Feedback
Performance Feedback: Directors and VPs read manager assessments and make decisions without ever knowing an employee. That’s why the language is so incredibly important because there is so much meaning behind it.

We’ve already talked a bit about this but it’s going to affect how quickly different groups of employees get promoted, get salary increases or the size of the bonus, even that they get as well.

How it affects how people grow? It affects your earnings, salary increases, what we’ve talked about before, whether you get promoted or not and how quickly you got promoted. There’s a term for this. It’s called promotion velocity. Promotion velocity is the measurement of how quickly people grow in an organization, how quickly they get promoted. What does that time for the promotion? Companies need to be tracking this, measuring this, slice and dice it by different demographics in their company or organization.

They need to look at based on gender, race, ethnicity, even based on other factors that we haven’t uncovered yet. Even do it by department, it would be interesting to look at that. Just to see certain groups of people getting promoted at a quicker rate or a slower rate than others. Is there some reason for that? It might uncover some issues with bias and discrimination. Companies need to start tracking it. It’s still somewhat of a new term. It hasn’t been tracked historically. When companies care about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, this needs to be one of the things that they measure. There are some simulations done. There’s one that was done at Rice University that looked at two identical people that had a 5% difference in performance ratings. What they found was that a tiny 5% difference equated to creating a two-level gap over the course of seven years.

When we talk about the gap, it’s very much talking about promotion velocity. It’s also pointing out the fact that so many companies are focused on, “Let’s hire more women into these managerial or leadership roles. Let’s hire them externally.” The problem isn’t just that we’re not giving them the same opportunities in terms of hiring, recruiting and acquisition. It’s about growth within the company as well because they’re just not being promoted at the same rate. It truly is an issue with how we’re evaluating them, not necessarily whether they’re capable, competent or whether they need more development and training. Those are all things that are important too. Even when two people are totally equal, there is a gap and that needs to be solved.

This simulation at Rice, as I mentioned, was done for two identical people. The difference wasn’t even based on race or gender. If you can imagine that if race or gender was factored in, that gap would be even greater. When we look at diverse representation, when you look at different levels within a company from entry-level up to CEO, the diversity decreases as you move up the company ladder. This has a lot to do with promotion velocity or different differential promotion velocities.

It’s quite incredible how over time, naturally, that gap is going to be exaggerated and to be felt even more as people move up through an organization.

There’s one more study I can mention here because it goes back to likability, breaking the stereotypical norms and that punishment for it. This other study was done by a New York University psychologist. I believe her name is Madeline Heilman. The participants in this study were basically given two identical scenarios and the difference is gender. They were asked to evaluate the performance of either the male or female employee who did or didn’t stay late to help colleagues prepare for an important meeting. In the case that both the man and the woman said, “Yes, I will stay late and help you prepare for this meeting,” the man was rated 14% higher than the woman.

Diversity decreases as you move up the company ladder, and this has a lot to do with different promotion velocities.

That’s a huge amount.

This is not even the 5%. This is 14%. When both of them said yes, the man was rated at 14% higher. Now when both of them said, “No, I can’t stay late to help you prepare for a meeting,” the woman was rated 12% lower than the man. Identical scenarios and the only difference is gender. What they found was that a woman has to say yes all the time and help her colleagues in order to be at the same level as a man who always says no.

Further, they found that the reasoning behind this is because when both of them said, “Yes, I’ll help,” the woman was expected to be helpful. That’s why she didn’t get extra points for it. When the man said yes, they didn’t expect him to be helpful. When he said yes, “He’s generous. This guy’s amazing.” When they both said no, it’s because the expectation was for the woman to always be helpful. When she said no, she was punished for it. She was considered to be selfish. When the man said no, people assumed that he was busy doing something more important. They didn’t make that assumption about the woman but for the man, “He must be busy with something more important. It’s okay.”

That’s a double whammy. It comes back to perhaps society’s expectations of what we perceive, how a woman should behave and that she should be helpful and all of that kind of thing, which is absolutely fascinating. We’ve talked a lot about the different factors and what’s involved. The differences between how men and women may be perceived in terms of feedback. What can HR leaders do to encourage a more positive feedback culture?

This is something that I learned from one of the companies that I interviewed. They can ask or do a survey to ask people how they prefer to hear feedback. They put together a survey and ask people, “When do you want to hear it? How do you want to hear it? Who do you want to hear it from?” This can help managers or colleagues prepare for how to have those conversations or if they do it in writing, how to go about it? Putting together a little survey like that to understand how people want to receive it if they want to ask for it ahead of time if they want it to happen in private or in the moment as it’s happening. All of these preferences would be great to know because then people can be more effective in delivering that feedback.

Also, HR should make sure that there are different options for how to give feedback that people are comfortable doing that. Whether it’s in writing, in person or maybe in some cases, it should be anonymous. In other cases, maybe it shouldn’t be anonymous. Maybe it has to go through a third party that HR could put together in place some tools to facilitate this. Maybe even to facilitate it in real-time, any time throughout the year, not just once or twice a year, because we know that there are a lot of cognitive biases that can impact how feedback is given. Recency bias is a big one. As time passes, we forget all the details and we become less accurate in how we remember things. Our memory does not work like a videotape so we need to be aware of that bias when we’re giving each other feedback. The sooner you can give the feedback, the better. There are tools that will help facilitate that as well.

I know your product Upful will help to reduce bias in performance reviews and employee feedback. Tell me a little bit more about your product.

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance Feedback
Performance Feedback: HR should make sure that there are different options for giving feedback so that people are comfortable doing it – whether it’s in writing, in person, or, in some cases, anonymous.

Upful is a coaching tool. It’s software that analyzes language in performance reviews or in employee feedback. It could also be applied to job candidate assessment notes. It analyzes the language. It looks for vague, subjective, extreme, speculative and potentially biased words or phrases. In real-time, whoever is writing this, coaches them to be more meaningful, objective and inclusive in their language choice. If somebody was giving even positive feedback, like if you said, “Sherry did a good job with X, Y, and Z,” the coach might then pop up a little message off to the side and say, “That’s great.” Can you let her know what was great about what she did? She might do it more in the future.”

It’s all non-accusatory so that people don’t have a defensive reaction to the coaching and it’s all private. Only the person writing it gets to see these coaching moments. It either reminds them of best practices, asks them to provide an example or it asks them questions to provoke deeper thinking. Another example of the coaching that we do is with this double bind or the double standards that women face. If you were to say that, “Sherry is always aggressive in meetings.” The coach might say, “I might flag something about the word always because that’s an extreme word. How often is it truly always? We might coach around that.”

For the word aggressive, we might say something like, “How is she being aggressive? Can you give an example? Could it also be considered assertive or confident?” Now, we’re planting seeds about alternative interpretations that the writer might then think about and reconsider. Basically, we’re trying to make the quality of the review, better and more accurate representation of someone’s performance and potential but also make it more meaningful so that the person receiving that feedback can actually learn and grow from it.

Lots of HR teams will give feedback to managers on how to conduct performance review meetings or how to write performance feedback. This is supplementing that by giving you that coaching tool on top of it that reinforces and reminds people about the bias that may be slipping into what they’re writing without them even realizing it.

We don’t because it’s not accusatory. We don’t call people out. We never say, “You’re being biased. You said something bad.” It’s always done in this subtle soft way so that nobody reacts very defensively to it. We even try to inject some humor into the way that we do the coaching because that’s our take on it, our little spin on how to make it a little bit more friendly and for people to learn from. We’re using Behavioral Science methodologies that are proven. There are tons of studies that show this type of methodology can help change how people think and behave and we’re utilizing those methodologies in our product.

That’s absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for joining me, Shirin. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about how performance feedback is affecting the gender pay gap. I hope that you enjoyed reading this episode. Thank you so much for joining me. If this episode sparked a thought in your mind, I’d love for you to connect with a chat with me so that you can ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, retaining your female talent so you can close the gender pay gap. Thank you for reading and we’ll be back in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Shirin Nikaein

CGP 5 Shirin Nikaein | Performance FeedbackShirin Nikaein is the Co-Founder & CEO of Upful.ai, an HR / DEI Tech SaaS startup. Shirin has nearly 15 years of experience leading engineering, analytics, and product management in many tech companies, from startups to large enterprises. She’s the former Lead Engineer for the Beats by Dre headphones, and her previous Artificial Intelligence products have been used by clients including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, UPS and Tinder. She graduated with a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from USC and an MBA from UCLA Anderson.

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy

Breaking The Tech Industry Hierarchy To Close The Gender Pay Gap With Jo Stansfield

There is an assumption that women can only do certain things and that they aren’t qualified for more technical roles in the tech industry. Now is the time to break that hierarchy and give everyone equal opportunity. Joining this episode is the founder and director of InclusioneeringJo Stansfield, to talk about how the hierarchy affects the gender pay gap. Learn how to break the perceived status of women and how they can learn different skill sets. Learn how to be flexible so that you can move up the ranks and break the pay gap.

Listen to the podcast here:

Breaking The Tech Industry Hierarchy To Close The Gender Pay Gap With Jo Stansfield

A very warm welcome to Jo Stansfield. We’re going to be talking about how the hierarchy in technology teams affects the gender pay gap. Before we do that, I’ll let you know about Inclusioneering, where Jo works, is a social enterprise specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion solutions, and consultancy for technology and engineering organizations. Before we dive into the content of this episode, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s read, shared or subscribe to the first few episodes of the show. I do appreciate and value every single one of you, so thank you for that.

A very warm welcome to Jo. Before we start exploring this fascinating subject of how the hierarchy in technology teams works, what it is, and how that might affect the gender pay gap, I would love you to tell us a bit more about you and Inclusioneering.

Thanks, Sherry. I’m very happy to be here and talk about it. It’s such an important topic. My name is Jo Stansfield. I’m the Founder and Director of Inclusioneering Ltd. We’re a social enterprise specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion, and consultancy for taking engineering firms to help them transform their culture and achieve much better results from their teams in terms of their productivity, innovation through building much greater inclusion and equality in the team. I came to this by route of being a woman in tech myself. Most of my experience in my career has been working in tech teams, doing the engineering, and leading engineering teams to be developing enterprise software. I had a bit of an awakening that being a woman in tech was quite a big deal when I had kids.

Suddenly, I realized that my identity isn’t how I feel about me. It’s also about how other people see me, the assumptions they make, and the expectations they have too. Becoming a mom made it clear that people’s expectations of me didn’t match the ambition and the drive that I had to be doing so much more with my career. That set me off on a path, decided to retrain to understand much more about what’s going on and what are the factors that people create. These assumptions, expectations, and all of the underlying social interaction behind them. I decided to take an Organizational Psychology Master’s Degree as you do, and that led me on completing that to be able to make use of the research that I carried out about taking engineering teams to set up Inclusioneering and build on the findings from all of the research that I did there.

Tell me a bit more about your Master’s because it sounds like you had this awakening when you became a mother and realized that other people’s perceptions of you weren’t what you had. Tell me a bit more about what you looked at in your Master’s.

I signed up for the Master’s Degree while I was leading some technical departments and some of the first things that taught me a lot more about leadership. What it is to be a leader and different styles of leadership that we can take. All of this was building on some strong psychological foundations, looking across dimensions of cognition and social psychology, how people relate, the origins of bias and prejudice, and all of this being rooted in stereotypes. This leads to the attitudes that we form, which lead to the decisions we make and the actions that we take. All of this came together to support me in the leadership role that I had at that time, but it became a growing interest to focus on the diversity aspects.

Why gender and ethnicity matters in closing the gender pay gap.

From that point on within the Master’s Degree, I’m focused on pretty much every single piece of work I could do towards understanding the dynamics of diversity within teams in organizations. We also had lots of topics around coaching, which is now quite integral to part of the work that I’m doing. Looking at organizational development, and change are the things that impact how an organization operates. There’s a lot of foundational stuff that now supports the work that I’m doing to be working with organizations for change.

What specifically did you learn that you’re bringing into the workplace when you work with employers?

In terms of the dynamics of diversity, I think this is where a lot of the key things start to show up. The research that I carried out was very focused on what happens within tech and engineering teams. Can we see anything in the day-to-day experience of people in their teams that highlights things that might predict why we don’t see women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds progressing in the same way that white men do through their careers? All of that research was built upon the social psychology foundations I talked about. It’s understanding the impact of stereotype expectations between different people and how that can lead to bias in terms of what we expect of each other. That can also lead to different kinds of status expectations too.

One thing that I’ve found fascinating in the research, and as I’ve been talking to people about it afterward, is how this status expectation starts aligning between what we see in society and the different types of roles we’ve got in our teams. Within a tech team, you’ve got your developers, testers, user experience, and documentation. There’s a bit of a power hierarchy going on there between all of the different roles in the team. Very often, the developers, architects and the most technical roles are the people who have got the most influence in the team in terms of the direction the team takes. What we see happening is that it starts to align with these kinds of social groups as well.

Women will often find themselves gradually being moved into more people roles regardless of how technical they see themselves. They quite often become project managers or user experience, whereas the men often in the developer roles having that higher status technical work. I’m beginning to understand the dynamics of power, status, and how that influences who really gets the prestigious work. It’s quite fundamental in the work that I’m doing to help build greater inclusion within tech teams to be able to recognize people’s strengths regardless of stereotype expectations that we might have of them.

That resonates because when I was head of IT, I had it fairly mixed team in terms of numbers of men versus women, but all my trainers were female. All of my techy people were male and the service desk was a bit of a mix. I always found that the service desk was a team that always seemed to be at the lowest end of the hierarchy regardless of how senior you were in that service desk team. That resonates because I can see lots of the women that I have worked in their tech careers have ended up migrating into a project management role so it’s interesting that that’s what you’ve found in your research. I can see how it aligns with what’s going on in society as a whole.

It’s interesting to see how that alignment happens without anyone consciously thinking about it. There’s that gradual shift of people moving towards roles that line up with their social status as well. One thing that I found interesting after doing the research is that I’ve been talking to people about race as well as about gender. One thing that I’ve learned is that very often, black people find it very difficult to get the most technical roles. They’re not taken as seriously as their white counterparts, so they’ll enter their career through a different route such as testing. There’s the challenge to overcome the hurdle from moving from a tester into one of the more technical developer roles that is still to overcome. Often, that’s a transition that people don’t manage to make.

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy
Tech Industry Hierarchy: People need to understand the impact of stereotype expectations between different people. That can lead to bias in terms of what people expect of each other.

One thing that’s heartbreaking about it is that organizations are busy saying, “Where’s the diversity? Why can’t we recruit more diversity into these roles?” I’m busy talking at conferences to people saying, “I’ve been trying so hard to get a developer job. I’ve trained myself in my own time and I’ve done all of this extra project work in my own back, but no one is taking me seriously and I can’t get that more technical job.” There’s a bit of a disconnect between what is there and what we’re recognizing in terms of people’s preferences.

Do you think that’s to do with us as individuals and the way that we present ourselves in the workplace or do you think it has to do with the way that the heads of IT, CIO, CTO, or the head of HR, how they view people or is it a bit of both perhaps?

It’s been a bit of both. Expectations are very pervasive. Everybody has expectations based on stereotypes of pretty much everybody else. I’ve found that women stereotype women as much as men stereotype women. It’s a cultural phenomenon rather than a particular gender against the other gender. It’s something that’s built into all of us of what we expect from each other. We internalize that, too, sometimes. I’ve talked to quite a few women who know that I’m quite good at the people tasks. I want to do the technical stuff, but I can see the people things are what people want me to do.” That expectation gets built into the path that we put for ourselves as well. There are both aspects of it giving that nudge towards the more stereotypical expectation for everybody.

Do you think that women, on the whole, tend to have a more collaborative style of leadership, tend to be better at relationship building? Is that why we end up in this hierarchy of roles in technology?

It can be. It’s important that people do build on their strengths to take the next steps to develop themselves. Talking to women in the tech team often do see in themselves the greater ability to those relationships and help the team to collaborate than they see amongst the rest of the team. They feel like, “Someone has to do this job, so it’s important for me to step up and do it.” I think that there is that greater skill, but of course, everybody is different. What’s important is that we can recognize strengths based on what that person’s saying, doing, and what we hear from them rather than judging based on expectations due to their gender.

We’ve talked about how the architect is at the top of the hierarchy and perhaps, IT trainers or service desk at the bottom of the hierarchy. Not that I believe that, but that’s what the technology society feels that. What can the employers do differently to try and balance that out?

There are a few things. Firstly, it’s about giving everybody the opportunity to progress in their careers and breaking this pattern that I keep seeing where the women or the people in the ethnic minority groups saying, “We want to move into this particular area, but we can’t get there.” It’s making sure that there are opportunities for people to develop and move sideways into different roles. It’s important for that mobility between these hidden parts of the hierarchy. It’s also important to be reviewing pay scales and pay structures in terms of the pay gap, what is fair pay within each of the different roles, and making sure that that is equitable by gender so that within the different roles, there’s equal pay for the work that’s been carried out.

Status expectation starts aligning between what you see in the roles you’ve got in the world.

That’s something I noticed looking at an organization where the more technical roles were on a higher pay scale than the less technical roles, but the less technical roles were in some arguably more important and delivered more value to the business. It is about getting that equity across work that’s of the same value.

It’s interesting how work does get valued. There has been research that showed that for some fields, when more women enter those fields, it’s got the impact of de-valuing that particular piece of work because somehow, it’s not seen as such high status anymore. The organization is questioning what the value is coming from work and being sure to value equally things that are delivering that equal pay too.

It’s a tricky one because you want everybody to be doing the work that they’re good at, they enjoy, and get the most joy, but equally, you don’t want it to be that they’re excluded from a particular type of work because of the colour their skin, their gender, age, or anything. We’ve talked about network architects being at the top of the hierarchy. What is the best way for people to get that sideways move into that type of role or to go from testing to developing, for example?

A lot of the work that I’ve been doing is with agile teams who are self-organizing teams. Their team are empowered to make the decisions about how they do the work and break down the work to solve a particular challenge that their customer has got. Something that I advocate for is to be able to listen to people regardless of the formal job title they have. Everyone has got something to contribute into that understanding of the customer’s needs and turning that into what the solution will be. There’s great scope within agile teams for people to develop flexibility in the type of work they’re doing and to develop skills that are maybe adjacent to what they’ve started off with.

The work that I’ve been doing with agile teams and developing a program for is to help them to understand where that hierarchy is in their team and start breaking down some of the silos that get formed as a result of it. They enable people to contribute more broadly. This is great for individuals but for the team too, because you’ve not got all of these single points of failures that quite often form when the same person always gets the same type of task.

Do you find it had something to the team dynamics, somebody who’s primarily done testing starts to understand the developer’s role or the developer starts to understand the architect’s or the user experience role? Do you find it must add surely to the richness and the quality of the products you produce?

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy
Tech Industry Hierarchy: Women will often find themselves being moved into more people roles, regardless of how technical they see themselves as. People need to build inclusion so that they can recognize each other’s strengths.

I can speak from my own personal experience having had a range of different roles within tech teams over time, some large and some small companies. Having that understanding from doing aspects of the work of the other roles transforms people’s ability to work together and collaborate effectively and appreciate the challenges and the inputs that they’re getting from across the team.

It always used to drive me nuts. I used to get very frustrated with our network architects because they would say, “Take the server down at 3:00.” We say, “I can’t just take the server down at 3:00 because that’s when the lawyers are going to be busy finishing their pitch documents or their tenders.” “What about 4:00?” I think, “Are you for real?” They don’t have any concept of what’s going on outside of their immediate silo I guess, which always struck me as quite bizarre that if you work in an organization, you’ve got to understand how the end users work. It always used to frustrate the hell out of me, but that was because I would always be on the more people’s side of technology. We’ve talked a bit about that hierarchy and how that reflects in society. What do you think we can all do to make a difference and change?

It’s important for team members to be reflective about what they see going on in the team and help essentially empower each other to be able to contribute their best. Looking around the team and asking yourself the question of, “Who’s not here? Who’s not in the room as we’re making decisions?” That’s a real key question. Often, when someone physically may not be there, they might be nobody of a particular gender represented in the room where it could be a specific person is excluded from a particular decision-making context or it could be that they speak up, but no one listens to what they have to say. The first thing that we can all do quite simply is to ask ourselves that within our context when we’re making decisions, who’s not here and how can we help? Bring them in and make sure that they’ve got a voice within those decisions.

In the work that you do, do you see that’s starting to make a difference where you’ve done that type of work with organizations?

There’s always something that people contribute that you don’t expect. When you get a different voice in the room, it opens up understanding it’s not just seen otherwise. One of the reasons this is so important within tech especially is as we’re building more systems that are making automated decisions about people, particularly with regards to artificial intelligence, the only way that we’re supporting the potential pitfalls and issue areas are when people who understand its application and how it can impact people who’ve got experience of that who can see from their own experience something that others who don’t have that experience or don’t notice. Often, it’s that broader understanding of the domain that comes from having lots of different diverse people represented is important for getting solutions that are equally beneficial for everybody.

Very often, you don’t know what you don’t know. If you don’t have that lived experience, it might never hurt you to think about X because X isn’t anywhere on your horizon. I guess the higher up levels in the hierarchy ensure, invite or encourage the lower-level hierarchy to speak up, the more often they will have the confidence to speak up. For it to make a difference, it’s the stone in the pond and allowing the ripple effect to work its way out.

One case study that I love is this book, Rebel Ideas, by an author called Matthew Syed. He wrote about how one particular airline had transformed itself. It had a bad safety record based in South Korea where it’s a hierarchical society. They discovered an awful lot of the accidents that were happening. The second-in-command pilot had seen what was coming but had been unable to speak up effectively to warn the captain that there was a problem that needed urgent attention.

People should give everybody equal opportunity to progress in their careers.

What they did was train everybody to set expectations, empower the more junior members of the crew to be able to speak up, and raise the safety alerts. That completely turned around the safety record and, nowadays, an exemplary airline that has no issues at all in that regard. The oil and gas industry made very similar recommendations as a result of the deep-water horizon accident that there were lots of warning signs that weren’t effectively heard. Being able to recognize what the people who are on the ground are saying, but not at that point in a hierarchy where you expect to listen to them. That stuff really matters. We’ve got to hear what that is because that’s where some real key insights are coming from.

It’s incredible how the Korean Airline was able to turn around their safety records simply by influencing the hierarchy and giving everybody the permission to speak up and say something. That seems crazy that you’re having an accident because you’re too scared or you don’t have the right status to speak up about something. Thank you so much. I enjoyed this fascinating conversation. Finally, how can readers reach out to you to find out more about the work you do or the work that Inclusioneering does?

I’m quite active on LinkedIn. You can find me quite easily on LinkedIn under my name @JoStansfield, or you can take a look on the web at Inclusioneering.com. You can find me there too.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this conversation between me and Jo, where we started talking about the hierarchy in technology teams and how that affects the gender pay gap. I hope that’s been helpful for you.

Important links:

About Jo Stansfield

CGP 4 | Tech Industry HierarchyJo began her career as an engineer, progressing to senior management in leading global product development teams delivering enterprise software for the oil and gas, automotive, aerospace and marine sectors. Working in male-dominated industries sparked Jo’s curiosity about the lack of diversity she encountered and inspired her to pivot her focus from the technical to the human dimensions of engineering.

Having recently completed her MSc in Organisational and Business Psychology, Jo is now able to leverage her business psychology skillset in pursuit of companies’ DEI agenda.

Jo’s experiences have reinforced her belief that diverse perspectives and talent recruitment are fundamental to the sustainability of the technology industry, and for the markets and communities it serves.

CGP 2 | Promotion After The Pandemic

COVID-19 And The Gender Pay Gap: Why Women May Have Less Chances Of Promotion After The Pandemic

40% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to work from home after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, and many of these are women. The danger is that women will become less active and less visible in the workplace. With less visibility comes lesser chances of promotion.

In this episode, we explore:

  • why Covid-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a bigger impact on women’s careers than on men’s, even in the technology sector
  • how the future workplace and the introduction of hybrid working is going to affect women’s career prospects
  • the risk of hybrid working on the visibility of women and how this will have a negative impact on your organisation’s gender pay gap
  • what you can do to stop this from happening and protect your reputation as a forward-thinking employer striving to attract, develop, and retain female talent in its workforce.

Key resources mentioned in this episode:

Annual report 2020 of the Women and Work All Parliamentary Group

Hackajob’s survey on What Do Tech Talent Want in 2021

Stanford Graduate School of Business: Does Working From Home Work?

PwC’s Women In Work Index 2020

Find out more about the Women In Technology Leadership programme HERE.

Book an exploratory chat:

Book an exploratory chat with me! I’m offering exploratory calls with me so that you can ask any questions you have about the work I do with technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so you can close the gender pay gap.

If you’d like a totally transparent conversation about how working with me could support your organisation’s talent goals, email me to book a call now: sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk.

Sign up to newsletter:

If you’re looking to stay in touch with the latest industry trends, research, and best practice to develop and retain your female talent so that you close the gender pay gap and bring major benefits to your organisation in 2021 and beyond, sign up to my monthly newsletter here: http://www.sherrybevan.co.uk/newsletter-signup/.

Connect with Sherry:

Email me: sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SherryRB

Connect with me LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherrybevan/

Listen to the podcast here

COVID-19 And The Gender Pay Gap: Why Women May Have Less Chances Of Promotion After The Pandemic

Welcome back to this episode in which we’re going to explore how COVID-19 is having a bigger impact on women’s careers than on men and what employers can do about it. I’m sure if we were all back in the office, we’d be swapping stories of how we got the barbecue out for the first time, how busy the beaches and parks were, how good it was to have a sunny bank holiday weekend whereas there’ll be many of us also wishing at the same time that it would rain because the garden needs a good soak. I’ll happily confess that I’m in that second camp wishing that it would rain so I can get my plants a good soaking. I’ve been sheltering from the sun so that I can finalise the preparations for my next Women In Technology Leadership Programme, which started on June 28, 2021.

Not only has COVID-19 affected our conversations after the bank holiday weekend. I don’t know about you but it seems that every week there’s a new report being published on how COVID-19 is having a negative impact on women and on their careers which means that longer-term, the gender pay gap will widen. You might be thinking, “It’s not a big problem for us in technology,” because after all the lockdown has mainly affected those sectors where women are overrepresented, such as hospitality, arts, retail, childcare which have all been shut down for long periods of time.

What you’ve got to remember is that across all sectors, including technology, women were more likely to be trying to balance full-time working and full-time homeschooling. The report from the Women and Work All Parliamentary Party Group shows that women were more likely to have requested furlough holiday or unpaid leave so they could homeschool despite their worries that this would put their careers on hold and that in the long-term that ultimately pay the price by missing out on promotion opportunities. Indeed, we know that many women decided to quit the workforce altogether rather than risk complete burnout of trying to do it all.

Explore the growth mindset so that you can identify any limiting behaviours.

The good news is over the years, all countries across the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have made consistent gains towards progress for women in work. In the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Index they studied a range of factors, including the gender pay gap and female unemployment. It showed that progress for women in work is expected to fall more than 2% between 2019 and 2021. It warned that progress towards gender equality needs to be twice as fast as its historical rate, simply in order to undo the damage caused by COVID-19 to women in work. As you know, gender pay gap reporting has been compulsory for employers in the UK with 250 more employees since 2017. This means employees must report the salary difference between male and female workers. In 2020, compulsory reporting was suspended at the outbreak of the pandemic. It’s not going to restart until October in 2021.

There’s a great quote that I’d like to share from Laura Hinton, who is PwC’s Chief People Officer. She says, “It’s paramount that gender pay gap reporting is prioritised. We’ve targeted action plans, put in place as businesses focused on building back better and fairer.”

Indeed, the CMI strongly recommends employers to develop time-bound, target-driven action plans to address the issues arising out of your Pay Gap analysis.

Having a published action plan sends a clear commitment to your staff, customers, shareholders and to other stakeholders that you understand what is causing any pay gaps and more importantly, that you’re going to take meaningful steps to address those challenges.

CGP 2 | Promotion After The Pandemic
Promotion After The Pandemic: Many women decided to quit the workforce over the past 12 months rather than risk complete burnout of trying to do it all.

COVID-19 has brought positives too. We’ve all experienced more workplace flexibility than we might ever have imagined years ago. In September 2020, CIPD published a report on new ways of working post-pandemic. It showed that 40% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended. If you compare that before the pandemic when they expected 5% of their workforce to work regularly from home, many workers don’t want to go back to the standard 9 to 5 in the office.

Technology is not an exception. In a survey by the tech job market platform, Hackajob, 86% of technology professionals want a work-from-home arrangement after the pandemic. Of the 1,700 technologists surveyed, only 14% of them want to go back to a company office on a full-time basis. Around 25% of them want to work remotely on a permanent basis and 60% had said that they’d be happy with a hybrid solution so that they work from the office occasionally and spend the rest of the week working from home.

We’ve seen a flurry of hybrid working announcements from forward-thinking employers. As we know genuine flexible working has always been very appealing and very persuasive to attract the best female talent. Deutsche Bank confirmed it has moved to adopt hybrid working and plans to mix office days with remote working. The Bank of Ireland has said they will implement a hybrid working model for its workforce and it’s going to establish hubs that will allow staff to use desks and attend meetings. Although flexible working was already in place before the first lockdown, the pandemic has accelerated the longer-term strategy for the bank. Accountancy firm KPMG told 16,000 staff that they can leave early one day a week, as part of a move towards more flexible working after lockdown. This is part of their strategy to promote wellbeing.

Not all organizations are going down this route. We’ve seen from Google that they’re actively encouraging staff to return to the office for at least three days a week. Goldman Sachs has told its UK bankers that they need to be ready to return to the office when lockdown restrictions are expected to be lifted. While we’ve all been working from home, it didn’t matter where you were based. We’ve all been equally remote and therefore equally visible. While working from home has brought its challenges with home life distractions, trying to balance that working from home with homeschooling, fighting over who gets the home office space versus who’s going to be perched at the kitchen table, there’s less of that water cooler chat where you can share challenges and get fresh insights.

Many of us do prefer to work from home because it allows for a better work-life balance. You don’t have the stress to commute. Very often it means you can be more productive with fewer distractions. The danger though from a gender pay gap point of view is that if more women than men take up the option of remote working, women will become less visible in the workplace. We know that visibility matters even when management says it doesn’t. A new study from the ONS, the Office for National Statistics, says that people who mainly work from home prior to the pandemic were far less likely to receive a promotion or a bonus compared with their office-based counterparts.

Visibility at work is a critical factor for progress at work. Less visibility will lead to women being less likely to get promotions and the accompanying pay rise which means that your gender pay gap will widen as a result. This isn’t a new problem for remote workers. If we go back to 2015, researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that while people working from home were 13% more productive, they were not promoted at the same rate as their in-office colleagues. The study’s lead author commented that it was striking that promotion rates plummeted. It was roughly half the promotion rate compared to those in the office. Why is that? What can we learn from that as we go to a more hybrid working practice in the future?

CGP 2 | Promotion After The Pandemic
Promotion After The Pandemic: Many of us prefer to work from home because it allows for a better work-life balance.

This study suggested that there were two key reasons. First, if you’re working from home, you don’t have the same opportunity to develop relationships and managerial skills. Secondly, you may well have those skills and the skills to develop relationships remotely, but you don’t have the same opportunities to demonstrate those skills and relationships. It’s out of sight, out of mind. In another study published in 2019 reported that remote workers whose promotion prospects suffer because of lack of FaceTime find that their workload increases. This comes back to the presenteeism thing. Office-based colleagues are often perceived to be working harder even if they’re working badly, whereas those who work from home often end up going above and beyond to make up the perceived difference, so they don’t get forgotten.

When we look at who wants to work from home, those with a higher preference for working more days at home tend to be people with disabilities, people with children and women. The danger is if you let people choose, it’s likely to be the young, ambitious, single man who doesn’t want to work from home. They’ll come into the office and be visible. Therefore, charge ahead in their careers while others who feel invisible fall behind and don’t get promoted, which means that in a few years’ time, you’ll observe an even greater lack of diversity in your leadership. However, it’s within your control. You have the power to determine the long-term effects of the pandemic on your female talent pipeline. You can raise awareness of how communication and behaviour at work affect how you’re likely to be perceived by coworkers and senior management.

You have the power to determine the long-term effects of the pandemic on your female talent pipeline.

You can teach employees how to get more visible so that they make a big impact in the workplace even if they’re regularly working from home. You can educate your female talent so they know how to appreciate their unique strengths so that they can clearly articulate their skills, ambitions, value to the business and be able to communicate that to their senior management. You can communicate the importance of setting and maintaining clear boundaries so that your female talent doesn’t start to burn out because they’re going above and beyond to make up that perceived difference. If they burn out, then ultimately, they’ll quit. You can support your promising female leadership talent to build networks both internally and externally, so they feel less isolated, which means they’re more likely to put themselves forward for promotion.

You can do this yourself. You can design and deliver a series of workshops, run brown bag lunchtime drop-ins. You could publish useful career advice on your internet. You could run your own internal leadership development program, invest in executive one-to-one coaching or send your female talent to an external leadership development program such as the one that I run. The additional benefit is that you’re sending a powerful message. It clearly communicates your organization’s awareness of the impact of COVID-19 on women’s careers. It will demonstrate your commitment to female talent development and your commitment to closing the gender pay gap.

Why is it important? How does it help you to close the gender pay gap? First, it enhances your reputation as an employer, taking proactive steps to develop, retain its female talent, helping them to show up and be more visible even if they’re working more often from home. That means you’re more likely to attract the best female talent in the first place. My program offers blended learning and development in a structured format in which we explore the key principles of authentic leadership so that participants develop their leadership skills, they get to improve on their negotiation skills, build and nurture their resilience, enhance their communication skills and raise their levels of emotional intelligence and self-awareness. All of this means that they’re going to be better informed and equip to take personal responsibility and ownership for managing their own career with more confidence and purpose. It’s not all down to you.

During the program, we’ll take time to allow the participants to get crystal clear on their strengths and how to leverage these. We explore a growth mindset so that we can identify any limiting behaviours. The idea of that is that women then can continue to grow and develop even after the program finishes. Whether you run a leadership development program in-house or send your staff to an external supplier, it builds an internal network. There’s more cross-departmental promotion of your female talent. The end result is your participants will come away feeling inspired, encouraged and motivated. They become leading role models, which means you start to see a ripple effect across the workforce.

One of the big benefits of a leadership development program is that participants will build and develop that own circle of trust, their internal career support network. This means they’ll feel less isolated and more supported. Therefore, they’re more likely to put themselves forward for promotion because they know they’ve got those cheerleaders in their team. If you’d like to discuss how the Women in Technology Leadership program will stop COVID-19 from having a negative impact on your organisation’s gender pay gap by raising the visibility of women, book a call with me and let’s talk. Thank you for reading. We’ll be back in the next episode.

Important Links:

Love the show?

Subscribe, rate, review, and share!