Transcriber: Ivana KoromReviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz A few years ago, I had a corporate feminist dream job.
Launching a company's national initiative to recruit more female employees.
In the finance sector.
But first, I had to getthe signed-off support of all department heads.
So I spent months perfecting the proposal, presented it and won the support of almost everyone.
But in this team, there were two menwe'll call Howard and Tom.
Howard just would not get back to me.
I emailed him about the proposal, I left him voice mails, I'd roll my chair back and forthduring meetings, trying to make eye contact with Howard.
(Laughter) He'd just take out his phoneand start scrolling.
And then I started to question myself.
Had I been diplomatic enoughin that email? Too demanding in that voice mail? Does Howard hate this proposal or am I just overreacting? It's probably just me, I thought.
And then one day, I'm walking down the halland here comes Howard.
He's holding a packet of papers, sees me and lights up.
He says, “Sara, Tom just emailed this to me, you should take a look.
It's a proposal for usto recruit more women.
” (Laughter) “I think Tom has a really great idea here, and we should all get behind it.
” Howard proceeds to handmy own proposal back to me.
And explains to methe many merits of what I wrote.
(Laughter) Howard was never againstrecruiting more women.
But he needed to hear from a man why it was important to hire more women.
And as this scene played out, I said nothing.
Because I knew somehow that I was a guest in a place that wasn't meant for me.
And so instead of questioningmy environment, I questioned myself.
I wanted to know how so many talented womenwho worked long hours and started their careers with confidence all became trained in this kindof self-doubt that makes them say, “It's probably just me.
” How was that still possible? Aren't things getting better? Opportunities for womenhave increased over the last 50 years.
But over the last decade, progress has stalled.
Experts have previously identified 2059 as the year the wage gap would close.
But in September of this year, these same experts announcedthat according to the most current data, we'll have to adjust our expectations to the year 2119.
(Audience murmurs) One hundred one years from now.
Looking beyond the wage gap, women are stillunderrepresented in leadership, receive less access to senior leaders and are leavingthe fastest-growing sectors, such as tech, at 45 percent higher rates than men, citing culture as the primary reason.
So what have we been doingto address gender inequality? Why isn't it working? Many businesses thinkthey're addressing the problem, because they provide training.
Eight billion dollarsworth of training a year, according to studiesfrom the “Harvard Business Review.
” These same studies also concludethat these trainings don't work and often backfire.
Research tracking the hiringand promotion practices of 830 companies over the course of 30 years found that white men who are askedto go to diversity trainings tend to rebel by hiring and promoting fewer women and fewer minorities.
The other solution has been to ask womento change their own behavior.
To lean in.
To sit at the table.
Negotiate as often as men.
Oh, and get more training.
Women currently earnthe majority of college degrees, outperform their peersin key leadership skills and are running businessesthat outperform the competition.
It doesn't look like education or skills or business acumenare the problem.
We're already empowered.
Enough to make an impacton the businesses that are ready.
These approaches fail to addressthe key systemic problem: Unconscious bias.
(Applause) We all have bias, it's OK.
It's lodged in our amygdala, it keeps ticking away when we go to work.
Bias affects how much I like you, what I believe you're capable of and even how much spaceI think you take up.
Thanks in part to the Me Too movement, awareness of gender bias has spread.
But the harassment storiesthat made headlines are just one piece.
You don't have to harass a womanto limit her career.
The messages women send mearen't about being harassed.
They're being tolerated in the workplace.
But they're not being valued.
I don't know anyone who has ever said, “You know what I love about my employer? They just tolerate me so well, I feel so tolerated.
” (Laughter) To break the inertia, we need to take a step beyond Me Too.
Beyond just being tolerated as women.
Our organization decidedto tackle the problem in two ways.
First, if we're all biased, our workplaces need to beactively antibiased by design, not by trying to change mindsetsone training at a time.
So our team began by identifyingover 100 cultural levers that can be adjustedto counter the impact of bias.
We found that small tweakscan lead to big changes.
And they cost a lot lessthan eight billion dollars.
So what do these small tweaks look like? If a woman is asked to state her gender before filling out a job application, or performing a skills-related test, she performs worsethan if she were not asked first.
So how can businesses avoid activatingthis self-stereotyping bias? Move the gender check boxto the end of the application.
In a national survey that we conducted, men were 50 percent more likely to state they had received multiple, frequent evaluations over the course of the last year.
As opposed to one single yearly review.
Here's why this matters.
“Fortune” magazine reviewedperformance evals across industries.
And found that criticism like thisrelated to personality, [“Watch your tone!”] but not job-related skills, appeared in 71 of the 94yearly reviews received by women.
Of the 83 reviews received by men, personality criticism showed up twice.
But in businesses that conductmuch shorter, highly frequent reviews, say, five-minute weekly evaluations focused on specific projects, the personality criticism vanishes.
And the perceived performance gapbetween men and women is nearly nonexistent.
While yearly reviews relyon overall impressions, which are like petri dishes for bias, short, objectively focused evaluations eliminate this feelings-based gray area.
Now, some businessesare consciously taking these steps to counter the impact of bias, while others just doa good job of advertising.
We wanted to find outwho is actually getting it right.
So we put a poll on Facebook, we asked women in workshops how they were choosing employerswhere they would be valued.
The most common response that we heard? “I Google it.
” So we googled it.
(Laughter) Specifically, we googled”best employers for women in tech.
” Our results showedthree completely different lists.
One business shows upas the top employer on one list, doesn't show up at all on another, some lists offer no criteria and some are purchased ads.
They're paid for.
Employees and employersboth want clear benchmarks that go beyond good intentions.
The LEED certificationgave businesses this clarity around environmental stewardship by outlining the exact stepsthey need to take for certification.
We wanted businesses to havethis kind of playbook for gender equity.
So for our second act, we took what we had learnedfrom testing these cultural levers, we partnered withthe University of Washington and created the firststandardized certification for gender equity in US businesses.
(Applause) Thank you.
(Applause) To create this standard, we had to learn what mattersand what doesn't.
We found out that what matters is not the total percentageof female employees.
Or the number of board membersthat are female.
Those are what we call vanity metrics.
They can be bought, while the culture insidecan still be out of balance.
The factors that matterand that should be measured are under the surface.
For example, even in organizations whereequal percentages of women and men state that they have hadaccess to a mentor, men's mentors are more likelyto be in senior positions.
Reviewing our survey results, men were twice as likely to state they had been offered an opportunityto shadow someone in a senior role.
We're all used to hearingabout the wage gap.
Hidden opportunity gaps like theseare just as influential.
So when assessing a company's culture, we measure these gapsbetween men's and women's experiences.
And the smaller the gap, the more equity is center of the culture.
We also searched our findings for the tenets of workplace culture that are most important to menand most important to women.
We learned that only three factorsconsistently matter to men, while a dozen matter to women.
And they only share one in common.
Topping the list for women: Paid family leave, health care for dependents and feeling that their ideas are heard and they're properly credited for them.
These are a few of the 188 indicators that determine whether or notan organization meets our quantitative standardfor workplace equality.
Based on the data that matter.
These are the factors to create a culture of equity that lasts.
Not just for a month or for a quarter but for years.
So where does this leave us? Women in the workforce todayare constantly told, “You can be anything you want now.
It's up to you.
” Women of color, for whom the wage gap is even larger, have heard it.
The two-thirds of minimum-wage workerswho are women have heard it.
Workers who don't identifyas male or female and hide their identity at work have heard it.
If they can hear, “You can be anything you want now, it's up to you, ” I believe it's timefor our businesses to hear it, too.
Eliminating workplace biasis a tall order.
But we can't affordto let half our people go on being ignored.
We've given businessesa framework for real change.
Businesses can be anything they want now.
It is up to them.