What You Can Do About the Unconscious Bias

Guess what friends, inequality in the workplace is real. Even if you think you are doing a good job taking it on – it seeps into the daily routine without you noticing.

Ask yourself, what can I do? Have a growth mindset and realize you can always do better. Talking about the issues is the right first step.

Having spent my entire career in a male dominated industry – technology and sales – I encounter sexism, gender inequality, unconscious bias, stereotypes, harassment and ignorance on a daily basis. Having had a Jesuit education (Santa Clara) where the focus on Social Justice is palpable, my job search post-graduation required finding a company that would care about their employees, diversity and thus, equality.

Pre-IPO Yelp was my first post-graduation career move, they maintained and still maintain a core value of diversity. My second job at Betts Recruiting had an empowering female CEO as it’s leader. And so now, as a senior leader myself at a mostly male recruiting firm in New York, I have taken those lessons and and am taking action internally and externally. I have organized key hiring initiatives towards diversity, and now expect the same standards of our Venture Capital partners who are working hard to hire women into leadership roles (like me).

The truth is – despite being fortunate enough to work for these companies who take these issues seriously – fighting inequality is still an ever-present project. It is still there lurking in the shadows. It still slaps you in the face when you least expect it. It still lingers in a conference room long after a meeting has ended. It is the words that echo in your ear – weeks later – whispering:

“Can you do this for me…. because you are a woman?”

“You must think this way because you are female.”

“It would be so much better coming from you…. because you know.”

If these organizations who are doing a great job still struggle, then the rest of the working world does too.

The most prevalent and obvious issue in the workplace around inequality is the wage gap. As the General Manager for a Salesforce headhunting firm, it is where I can make the most impact.

So what do you do?

Awareness is the first step. But it isn’t the only step

We must next make changes, big changes.

Salesforce’s own story is worth noting. Marc Benioff was approached by two senior executive women about the discrepancies among female and male employees’ pay and advancement. They started the conversation, they generated awareness. Salesforce then dedicated itself to take action, to date they have spent a cumulative six million dollars across 25,000 employees to fix statistical gender pay gaps. While we all don’t have the capability to spend $6M, we can start by talking about it, educating leaders, training hiring managers, and engaging co-workers. And perhaps most importantly, put plans in place to take action in our own organizations.

One of the first changes I made in our CRM when I joined TwentyPine was to add a field for gender. This easily implementable change empowers my team to leverage our data in order to better participate in the discussion, and use our knowledge and experience as a resource for the companies that come on board as our clients.

We took the preliminary data to the NYC Salesforce User Group to present our findings. I was blown away at how receptive this comparatively small cross-section of the ecosystem was to hearing us out and pledging to take action at their own companies.

You too can start the discussion, raise awareness, put together a plan, and take action. Bring it up at work and at the User Group meetings. The results are undeniable, I’ve seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again. For me, pay equity is the aspect that I can most affect, but it may be different at your company. It may include fixing maternity and paternity leave policies, executive presence, health insurance policy, leadership accountability, or core values.

What happens when you start this discussion?

Your business, your team, your culture, and your industry all change for the better when you focus on empowering women and creating a workplace that values gender equality.

You’ll find it in the bottom line.

Women who are treated fairly, will stay longer at companies – loyalty and retention are a result of an organization taking care of their employees. Women move into leadership positions when they know they are being treated equally and fairly in the workplace. Studies have proven organizations with female leadership are more profitable. The NY times published an article highlighting this:

Having women in the highest corporate offices is correlated with increased profitability, according to a new study of nearly 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries.

A diverse team provides better customer service, greater innovation, increased adaptability.

We take it seriously at TwentyPine. You should too. It is both good for your business and is the right thing to do.

Jamie Coakley, General Manager


A Note from the Organizers of the Women In Tech Conference*

For more tactical suggestions, hands-on activities and stories like these, consider attending a conference for women in tech & their supporters like WITness Success 2017 in Chicago later this summer. Take in content on increasing diversity and narrowing the pay gap in conference sessions like “Let’s Talk Diversity: Diversity Inclusion in Today’s Workplace,” “Women in Salesforce Careers: Getting What We Deserve” and even a resume workshop, register now!

*This is not a paid advertisement, we just want to support this totally awesome event.