Have you ever been asked to take notes during meetings, even though it’s not your job? Have you been passed over for an assignment because your boss assumed you’d be too busy taking care of your kids? Two-thirds of women say they’ve faced sexist behavior just like this at work — and there’s such a wide spectrum of ways we can be made to feel less-than, ranging from being interrupted in meetings, to sexual harassment.
Oftentimes it can be hard (if not impossible) to confront the offender, especially if the discrimination is subtle. But women should never stay silent, especially in 2022. Gender-based microaggressions can have a hugely detrimental impact on women’s careers and our mental health. So how can we best respond to discrimination, support our coworkers, and foster real change in the workplace?
Our guests for this episode have decades of experience tackling those very questions. Katie Lacey and Lori Tauber Marcus have spent their careers working as executives at companies like PepsiCo, ESPN, Crane Stationery, Keurig Green Mountain, Peloton Interactive, and The Children’s Place. Both women are part of the Band of Sisters, a group of six executive-level women who authored the book, You Should Smile More: How to Dismantle Gender Bias in the Workplace.
Jean, Katie, and Lori talk through the most common gender-based microaggressions they’ve experienced at work, and why it’s so important for women to confront them. It might seem like a good idea to keep the peace and let sexist comments slide, but those incidents can wear on us over time.
“You’ve got to acknowledge them,” says Katie. “If you blow off every small moment, two things are going to happen. The first thing is it’s not going to change, because there’s absolutely no reason that anybody’s going to change. The second thing that’s going to happen is you’re probably going to blow up on one of these small moments. It’s going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back that’s just going to make you go completely nuts. So you have to act on them.”
One specific microaggression that we unpack is how women are often excluded from workplace social activities. What do you do when you’re not invited to after-work drinks or golf with the new client? Katie and Lori’s advice is simple: Just show up. (And don’t be afraid to bring a friend.) We also talk about how men can be allies in those situations, and how managers can step in to fix the problem — because it shouldn’t just be on women to stand up for themselves.
Katie and Lori also give their takes on today’s job market. More than half of women want to leave their current employer in the next two years. And when we do leave, we want to make sure that we’re getting hired at companies that value us and help us advance our careers. Katie and Lori tell us how we can look at a company’s diversity metrics to evaluate if they’re truly supportive of women.
“Look at representation, not just by level, but also by function,” says Lori. “I would look at representation in P&L owners and general management roles, because that’s really the heart and soul of a commercial business.”
In Mailbag, we help a father give financial advice to his three daughters, and we offer tips to another listener on negotiating health and retirement benefits at a new job. And in Thrive, how to protect yourself from inflation, and other findings from the State of Women 2022.
You can find out more about Katie, Lori, and the Band of Sisters on their website.
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