On Season 4, Episode 34 of Unleashed, Alison Fragale talks to us about the unique challenges and biases women face in the workplace, and what each of us can do to help level the playing field. Which, by the way, creates more opportunities for all of us.

Actions You Can Take Right Now

  1. Sing the praises of one woman or person of colour. Take 30 seconds to share the good work someone is doing. Be a sponsor in that moment. Do this once a week.
  2. Ask about diversity before agreeing to any discretionary ask. If asked to be a part of a team, or task force, or board, etc – ask first about the diversity of others who were invited. Avoid “mantels” – a panel of all men.
  3. Invite an ally to take (specific) action. If you fall into an under-represented group, invite allies to the table. Ask someone to take a specific action to help boost you up. Spell out how you want them to promote you.
  4. Show up with a learning or beginner’s mindset. Show up curious and have better conversations about equity and inclusion.

View or listen to this and other past episodes at www.unleashresults.com/unleashed-series

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Each episode of Unleashed is hosted by Results’ CEO Jeff Tetz who spends most of his day exploring what makes high performers tick and helping build a community of leaders who want to learn and grow together. Follow Jeff (Twitter; LinkedIn; Instagram) for more great leadership insights.

Episode Highlights and Excerpts

  • Women are far more likely to assume they won’t make the shot, so why bother taking it. Women are less likely to put themselves out there by asking for the promotion or new opportunity. This comes from a fear of failure.
  • Women hold less status – on average – than men. When you feel this, as most women do, failure is more of a threat than it would be to higher status people.
  • How do we get around this? Women need to start measuring their success differently – start measuring shots on goal instead of wins. Also women should get themselves a coach or mentor – someone who can validate their approach to a tough conversations or negotiation. 
  • Women are far less likely to endorse or promote their own work.  Women are far more likely than men to believe that their work will speak for itself. 
  • The opposite is actually true; science and research tell us that men hold more credibility than women. It’s the same for other races – we unconsciously penalize them for work that is equivalent to Caucasian men. 
  • We can’t impact our unconscious brain – the whole point is it’s unconscious – so we aren’t good at seeing our own biases & blind spots. Groups are better at spotting biases. What we all need are people around us who are willing & able to speak up & point out our biases when they occur. If we can get good at pointing out other people’s biases, we’ll solve 100% of this problem. 
  • This same problem exists, and we need to mitigate for it when it comes to evaluating resumes. Create a rule in your recruiting process that the evaluation of candidates won’t even start until you have a diverse selection of candidates. And ensure your processes don’t automatically weed out women with gaps in their resume created by raising children. 
  • Women have forever felt that if they’re too aggressive, no one likes them, and if they are too sweet, they do not power or progress. What women need to realize is it’s not a choice they have to make – they can be both and become a likeable badass. 
  • This whole challenge is about managing change, and we know how to do this. 95% of people will move if you try to move them. We need to invite men into the party – spell out to them how we want their help. Eg) doors we want opened, ways to speak up for us. 
  • Science and data tell us this: If we can grow through diversity by levelling the playing field for women, we will create more opportunities for advancement and success for everyone.
  • If you’ve been laid off due to covid you need to change your narrative – talk about how wonderful the experience has been – and then focus on proving your value in the role and the unique contributions you can make.

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Alison Fragale

Alison is a research psychologist and a tenured professor at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, where she joined the Organizational Behavior faculty in 2004. Her academic research focuses on negotiation, and the determinants and consequences of power, status, and hierarchy. Prior to her academic career, Alison worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Company, Inc., where she advised numerous automotive and financial services organizations on corporate strategy, post-merger integration, and change management. Alison is passionate about sharing her knowledge of how humans think, feel, and act to help professionals tackle their biggest challenge — understanding and managing the people around them.

Alison currently resides in Chicago with her husband and their three children, who are all named after professional athletes. She also loves, in no particular order: cheap coffee, not-so-cheap wine, fabulous shoes, home organizing, sushi, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Orange Theory workouts, Hallmark movies, and The Golden Girls. She always orders the bread pudding and starts listening to Christmas music on Halloween.