Gender balance is such a big topic but so relevant and complex. As Head of “Women at Cornerstone”, a safe space to talk about gender, unconscious bias, and career development, I must ensure we talk about it and find ways to highlight positive messages. Last month we had Sarah Spence under the spotlight. If you missed her incredible story you can read it here.
This month, I am talking with Gary Evans, Senior Director, Client Success EMEA. Gary has been with Cornerstone for 10 years and manages my team. You may think, how will you be able to have an open conversation about bias with your boss’ boss. Well, this is Cornerstone and Gary embodies our culture like a true Cornerstar. Here are some of the things we discussed in a recent interview.
Q: What is the gender balance like in your part of the organisation among employees and managers?
A: 50/50 for my management team. Including myself, we are 62.5% female and 37.5% male for the overall EMEA Customer Success Management team.
Q: How do you think that you’ve achieved that, even if unconsciously?
A: Having always worked in HR, I’ve always been involved with ensuring any type of discrimination is not occurring and avoided. I was conditioned at an early age to treat everyone the same regardless of hierarchy, race, gender, or anything else and empowered to enforce that equality. Generally, the demographic within HR was always higher towards females and I’ve worked with so many great people, that it is easy to see gender doesn’t influence capability.
Q: Could you share a few examples of where you have observed unconscious bias? How have you managed these situations?
A: I’ve experienced a couple of instances where the maternity policies of various countries are new for people to deal with in terms of allocating work, planning transition plans, and so on. It’s often treated as being something difficult to work with which can project onto the individual. I’ve also heard about instances where female appearance is commented on, which I don’t hear about males, and this can make them feel like they have to absorb it, as speaking out would bring worse consequences. If I ever witnessed this myself, I’d come down on anyone like a ton of bricks! For anything else, I’m trying to open my mind and be really tuned into anything I’m doing as it’s unconscious and hard to spot. I do know I’ve used terms like “good night ladies” or “good night girls” and have been asked a few times to use different terms.
Q: Why do you think Women at Cornerstone as a network is important?
A: Lovisa told me it was – kidding! A team is as good as its differences, not its similarities – it’s what we achieve that’s important. Discriminating against anyone only holds back potential.
Q: What advice would you give to managers who haven’t thought about gender bias before (unconscious or otherwise)?
A: It’s the differences in your team, not the similarities that make your team powerful. Celebrate them! Try and compare similar situations to each other to see if you reacted or acted differently. By trying to become aware of your bias you are already doing half the job.
After the call, I shared a Ms. Monopoly video with Gary and he bought it for his kids. And as they say, kids have no filter, they are direct and spontaneous.
Thom: Did women really invent the DNA Model and the bulletproof vest?
Daddy Gary: Yeah Thom, and ice cream makers!
Thom: Woah. I want to invent something cool like that!
About the AuthorFollow on Linkedin More Content by Lovisa Taylor