Is it actually OK to discuss gender differences in the workplace? For years, the mere suggestion that men and women might think differently would have meant a mandatory sensitivity training session. Things are changing, though. Gender expert Barbara Annis provides breakthrough, science-based ideas and solutions that will improve results and maximize team performance.
Barbara is the founder and CEO of the Gender Intelligence Group (GIG). She works to build greater understanding of the unique differences that men and women bring to businesses. She encourages people to move away from the concept of “great minds think alike” to “great minds think un-alike”.
Recognizing and learning more about gender differences highlights important characteristics and strengths that benefit everyone.
Using scientific studies and data from clients, Barbara shows that it’s far better to understand gender differences rather than hide or ignore them. She encourages companies to do their research and check their assumptions. They should steer away from basing assessments and work expectations on “sameness.”
According to Barbara, the key to a diverse and effective work force is building on differences and strengths.
Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.
Roger Dooley: Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast, I’m Roger Dooley. Today, we’re going to talk about a topic that is interesting but might make a few listeners uncomfortable. Our guest is Barbara Annis, a fellow Wiley author and co-author of the new book, Results at the Top: Using Gender Intelligence to Create Breakthrough Growth. Barbara is a thought leader in the field of gender differences and diversity. She first coined the term “gender intelligence” more than 20 years ago. Her company, the Gender Intelligence Group, helps get better results by seeking and blending the contribution of both men and women. Barbara, welcome to the show.
Barbara Annis: Thank you. My pleasure.
Roger Dooley: Well, let me start by asking you if you get pushback from people who have been- Particularly women, I guess, but also men who are supportive of equality where it seems like it’s been decades, if not centuries, to get to a point of near equality in the workplace. And they might say that talking about differences, even real ones, could in fact set that back.
Barbara Annis: You know, it’s interesting that you should say that. We don’t find that pushback anymore, but certainly when we first began there was that. I had that pushback myself. I mean, I was the first woman in sales at Sony. The only woman, actually, in sales at Sony, and then advanced to various levels of management. And, had you come into my office at that time and said, “Oh, there are these incredible gender differences” you know, I would have probably escorted you nicely out of my office, right? ‘Cause I had assimilated. You know, I’d taken on very male leadership behavior, you know? I felt that I had to at that point in my career, fit into the culture, right?
But really, what we’re talking about here is really moving from the concept of, “Great minds think alike” to, “Great minds think un-alike.” What is that un-alikeness? And the fact that there are these scientific facts of gender differences that are so compelling, and so striking, and so important to understand because they actually create a competitive advantage.
Roger Dooley: Well, yeah. Even you bring up science, and I think of scientists as being sort of rational, hard-headed folks that go where the science takes them. But for starters, I guess, way back in 1992 John Gray wrote a pop psychology book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. I’m sure many of our listeners have heard of, or read, and just about everybody who read it thought that it was hilarious because they could see the same behaviors in their family, and their friends and it just seemed so real.
And of course, humor has its basis in people’s perceptions of reality. But at the same time, talking about gender differences then, in a business or science context, as you described was off limits. Even scientists were afraid to look for gender differences for a while. You know, they would have difficulty getting projects approved, getting grants, and funding, and so on. But that seems to have changed. What happened in academia that let researchers follow the science now?
Barbara Annis: Great question. I mean, it’s just so fascinating to me that before- We actually didn’t really start seriously researching gender difference from the brain and other organs, the neuroscience of those differences until 1990, which is amazing. Before that, neuroscientists, or scientists in general, studied men. They studies male bodies, they studies male animals, male species, et cetera because they had the assumption- And they called it the bikini line. You know, other than the bikini line, men and women were more or less the same. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
You know, since 1990 actually, the US health department went to Dr. Miriam Legado who is one of the scientists. After she would do research- She’s a heart expert, and she would do research on the women’s hearts. And she literally said, “Why would I wanna do that?” Because she had the assumption that men and women, more or less, had the same heart structure, same symptoms of heart attacks, et cetera, which was actually not the case. And that’s why the US health department came to her with a lot of money to do the research. And she found that this research just emerged, you know, all over the place. In particular, in various parts of the body in terms of organs, but also the brain; that the brain is actually constructed differently in men and women.
One thing I just want to warn everybody, as you’re listening to this, there is a bell curve here, in everything. After listening to this podcast, you can’t assume that all men are this and all women are that. That’s not the case. There is a bell curve, and you know, 80% of women fall into these tendencies, and 80% of men fall into these tendencies.
Roger Dooley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You know, I think in the book there’s a great illustration showing these overlapping bell curves, and I assume that’s more of a qualitative graph. But, I think what it shows is that you can’t generalize about an individual, even when you know the characteristics of an entire population. And I think that’s not just true of gender, I think we make those kinds of assumptions about all kinds of populations, where just because something is typical, or average, for a group doesn’t mean you can’t have … Not just one or two outliers, but really sort of a whole range of people who don’t fit that, you know, that center part of the bell curve. In the illustration in the book, you show how the two curves actually have a significant overlap in the middle so that those women may have more male characteristics, and vice versa.
Barbara Annis: Yeah. You know, what’s interesting about that, Roger, is that I- When I first saw the science, and I read about it, I went, “Oh, my goodness. I have a male brain.” Right? Because I tend to be very factual and unifocal, et cetera, right? And so, I actually decided to get my brain tested, and when I went through and got it tested I had a total female brain. It was incredible. I mean, I couldn’t believe it. But I had adapted certain behavior, right? In fitting into a certain culture at Sony, or just in my life in general, I was trained a certain way. So, I had those tools that I applied, but my brain was really hardwired differently.
Roger Dooley: Right. Well, I guess there is a couple of lessons there. First of all, that just because somebody’s brain is predisposed to operate in a particular way doesn’t mean that they can’t do things in a different way if that’s what the situation calls for. Then also, of course, there’s quite a bit of research on neuroplasticity that shows that we can change our brains as we learn skills, do things, and so on. But what are the key differences, from brain science, between male and female brains? I mean, it’s kinda startling that you would say, “Well, gee, I got scanned and I’ve got a total female brain.” What are the differences?
Barbara Annis: Yeah. Let me say, and let me address the neuroplasticity, that’s an important point. That’s kind of the young part of the brain. There is a hardwiring with gender difference between men and women, and boys and girls. So, those who are parents or have brothers and sisters do understand that, right? We do a lot of work with high schools on the teenage brain, and the fact that boy teenage brain is very quite different in terms of how it’s wired out between girls. And if we don’t know that, we misinterpret these differences, right?
But what I really want to talk about is that the part of the hardwiring- So, if you imagine neuroplasticity as this. So, hardwiring. Let’s say you hae an apartment building, right? So, the apartment building is the hardwire of the brain, and you can’t change the structure of the apartment building. You’d have to tear it down, right? But you can move furniture around inside of it. But, the hardwiring. So, part of the hardwiring, and I’ll just take you through a few kind of high level, is that men and women tend to de-stress differently, as an example.
If you were to look, and I think there’s a picture in the book around the brain differences between men and women, men and women tend to de-stress differently. So often, I ask women all over the world, “How many of you have ever asked a woman- Or, sorry, a man when he’s resting, ‘What are you thinking?'” And they all say in one voice, “He says, ‘Nothing. I’m not thinking about anything.'” Right? And men will say, “Of course, that’s true.” Right?
And actually, when you look at the resting male brain, it’s at rest even when it’s relaxing, and it’s very low activity going on. And that’s an important thing to understand because often, as women, we misinterpret that as he’s either withholding, not communicating, not interested, not caring, and this goes for boys as well. And actually, men need to de-stress to rebuild that testosterone. That’s part of the necessity of staying healthy, right? And women’s resting brain is as active as when men’s are when they’re awake working on problems. Right? It fires all over.
So, women actually need to de-stress quite differently than men. So, women need to talk it out, vent it, speak it out, you know? To clear their mind, to build their oxytocin, which is their de-stress. That’s the feel good hormone for women, right? Hormone. So, that’s one quite simple example that seems to resonate with all men and women all over the world.
Roger Dooley: So, I want to get into the applying the science in the workplace. But, before we do that, there is sort of another very different track of research that I think is relevant as well, and that’s the science behind group diversity and performance on various kinds of tasks. Why don’t you explain a little bit about that? We’re not just talking gender diversity, but really various kinds of diversity.
Barbara Annis: Yeah, so it’s called collective thinking. So, what MIT and other studies have seen is that- And it really is more bent towards the greater gender balance, but also diversity of thinking. But, the gender is really the lens in which they’ve seen. So, for example, MIT studied 190 teams that were more effective on innovation and strategic thinking, and they found that the correlation throughout 190 teams were that they had more women on the team, right?
Now, let me say something about having women on teams, because you can have great gender balance in this world of ours, or in companies, and have zero gender intelligence. Because, if you have sameness thinking, you’re not gonna be able to capitalize on these incredible differences that men and women- Which we’ll get into a little more around the brain base, right? But there is a correlation that when you have greater gender and diversity of thinking that you produce better results. And some companies literally have a 34% additional profit margin when they see they have great gender balance and diversity of thinking.
Roger Dooley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And how do you measure that, even? How do you rate a company as having great, sort of, diverse gender thinking versus one that maybe has gender diversity but doesn’t really take that to the next level? Or, obviously you can count, you know, males and females to get the most basic numbers.
Barbara Annis: Well, that’s what they did. It was supposedly the longest study that’s ever been … That I know of. There are 60 studies around the world right now that have really looked at this, and out of the 60, 58 studies have shown that correlation. Two have not. One in the Philippines, and one in South Africa didn’t really see any difference in terms of having greater gender balance. But, 58, which is pretty solid, right? Saw that difference. And it is representation, definitely. And it’s not a 50/50. It’s just, you know, they took 25 companies that had the highest representation and then measured it over a course of 19 years, as one study did, and they saw that correlation around 34%, in comparison to the other companies, so. And these are Fortune 500.
Roger Dooley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, you know, and that’s probably a good time to bring up something that’s kind of in the news today, and Mary Barra is the GM CEO and has been … I think she’s approaching her third year anniversary now, and she’s taken a company that, under its male CEOs, really had being the biggest car company in the world as their primary goal. Executives used to wear lapel pins with their target market share, and everything was really built around global domination, if you will. And sometimes, obviously, at the expense of quality and other things. And now, Barra has taken GM out of the running for number one, pretty much, at least for a while, by selling off unprofitable divisions. And, am I reading too much into this if I suggest that maybe this is in part a gender thing, and a difference in the way she thinks than her predecessors have?
Barbara Annis: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, one of the things that the hardwiring- So for example, the corpus callosum, which is the bridge to connect the right and the left hemisphere, is more connected in women. Men tend to use what we call convergent thinking. Let’s converge on it, let’s measure it. What’s the next quarter? Let’s get that little pin on our chest, kind of thing, right? You know, so, we’re measuring, and we got the hierarchy and who’s on top, et cetera. Right? And women tend to use divergent thinking, right? Let’s look at it. I mean, there’s a lot of myths out there around women being risk adverse when they’re actually not. The research actually shows that women are more risk wise, right?
So, for example, Mary as an example. I don’t have a direct, you know, research on her. But certainly, the track record shows up this way, then there is that divergent thinking. I mean, you’re looking at- You know, let’s look at it holistically here, and where are the areas where- You know, not making the money? And let’s drop that. And keep in mind that she came into the role of CEO at the worst of times, right? There was a whole recall of cars, and other things that happened. Often, we find that women CEOs tend to take charge either right when that happens, or something happens right after. And they knew this was … About to transpire as she was appointed CEO. So, she had a lot stacked against her.
Roger Dooley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Is it a competitive thing in part? Do men skew more toward doing things for competitive reasons versus, maybe, what’s best for the shareholders? I mean, I think we see this not just in, say, GM saying, “Okay, we can dump these unprofitable divisions. We’re gonna lose some unit sales, but maybe we’ll return more money to the shareholders.” But, you see it in big acquisitions too, where companies make these giant acquisitions. They get into bidding wars and the track record on those isn’t that great. It seems like most of those are male driven. Of course, just because of the dominance of males as CEOs, you know, most business decisions, I guess, are male dominated. But I see that as kind of an analogous thing, where some of these ill-considered acquisitions.
Barbara Annis: Very much so. I mean, this is part of the brain base differences. And I would call it more alpha male, if you look at the bell curve, right? Because, you know, men who are more alpha leaders tend to be much more competitive, much more. The amygdala, which is the competitive kind of heart of the brain, is larger in men in general, right? And it triggers aggression, it triggers action, it triggers stimulate competitiveness. And of course, if we look at the football fields as an example, they- You know, on an average where men will have, you know, 200% more testosterone than women, which is the competitive hormone. And it increased 500% on, not the golf game, but the football game, right? As football players.
But back to your comment around this, that’s how we’ve structured business, right? Business has been structured around, “May the best win.” Right? I mean, I know how many offices I’ve been to where I go into the board room, and they call it the war room, or, “Beat the competition.” Or some kind of quote.
Roger Dooley: Right. I think probably war metaphors, and relatively violent sports metaphors dominate thinking.
Barbara Annis: Still today, right? Even though it is changing, right? It is changing, and the Millennials are changing it too. But to really understand, and there’s one thing that is important also around the brain base, that’s the pre-frontal cortex. So, what that is is the- It’s in the front of our head here, and it is the consequential thinking of the brain and, it also manages the amygdala. So, that fight-flight competitive thing. And it’s more wired, and larger, in women. And also, if you’re a parent, or you coach boys and girls, it actually develops much earlier in girls. Between 12 and 14 in girls. And in boys, it develops between 18 and 22.
So, you know, I have sons and I remember, as teenagers, I would sit down. And consequential thinking means, “Well, if I drive at this, you know, speed, what will happen? Or, if I jump from here to there, what’s the potential impact?” It’s all about impact, right? That’s the risk wise part of the female brain, right? I remember with my sons sitting there, and you know, they would have driven my car or done something silly. And I’d say, “What were you thinking when you did that?” Like, “What could you even have thought up to do that?” And, you know, their answer would be, like, “No. Nothing. I don’t know. I don’t know.” Right?
And I’ve really got to learn about this pre-frontal cortex. We usually see it in colleges, you know, where men- Or, young men, take these ridiculous risks. I don’t know if you saw yesterday in the news, Harvard accepted some students, but they did some racial joking online, on social media, that was very off-putting. And they actually declined their admissions. That’s the consequential thing. And we need to understand that boys don’t think it through, right?
So, you know, forward back into adulthood. That pre-frontal cortex. Women will says things like- And I saw this on Wall Street, with the senior women leaders. They would say, “Wait, wait, wait. If we do this, what impact could it have over here, over here, over here?” Right? But back then, it was you just being a disturber, or not a team player, right? Sallie Krawcheck, for example, is the perfect example of that. You know, she would speak up. She was viewed as not a team player, but she was actually using- Her pre-frontal cortex was saying, “This has impact here, guys. This has huge potential impact.” And that’s kind of the combination of what both men and women can bring.
Roger Dooley: Right. Well, I think that diversity thing comes into fighting confirmation bias, which is really huge when you’re into, say, board decisions or management team decisions, where there … You tend to get momentum building around, particularly if there is a, perhaps, a charismatic leader, or just a strong leader. If they want to go in a direction, you sort of build this consensus. And it’s very hard to call that into question.
We just recently had a discussion with Bryce Hoffman on about red teaming, and that’s sort of a formal process of saying, “Okay, we’re gonna have a group, or even an individual, who basically looks at our decisions and directions and tells us why they could be wrong, and makes a forceful case for that just to get us to think about it.” But what you’re describing there, where somebody who isn’t on board is viewed as being not part of the team, that’s one good way to end up with really bad decisions.
Barbara Annis: Yeah. That’s what we call groupthink, right? It’s all about great minds think alike, right? Which is where we want to move away from.
Roger Dooley: Barbara, you coined the term “gender intelligence.” What do you mean by that?
Barbara Annis: Yeah. So, I mean, I started when I left Sony. I really was looking at gender equality, and I was looking at women graduating in greater numbers. Overall, you know, in different parts of the world, but certainly in North America and many parts of Europe, right? And now it’s consistent throughout the world. So, we’ve been at gender equality for 40 years, right? And gender equality created all well intended. Feminist movement, all of that, was well intended. But, it created this, what I call a form of enlightened denial. And what I mean by that is that- And I’m Danish. If you hear an accent, that’s what that is. So, in Denmark we’ve been in gender equality for 50 years, right? And yet, we have the same numbers of representation of women in senior management as they have in the US, right?
So, gender equality equates sameness, or egalitarian thinking is how I put it. Egalitarian sometimes can create sameness, right? Versus gender intelligence, which is about really talking about the differences, and recognize those differences, and the advantage of those differences. So, really, not equal in numbers, but equal in value is what gender intelligence is about.
Roger Dooley: And recognizing those differences, and working with them, rather than just trying to squash them or ignore them.
Barbara Annis: And we have clients who have applied this. I mean, American Express, Deloitte. I mean, there are many, many examples inside the book, all of my five books, around the examples that when you apply gender intelligence it actually accelerates creating a culture of inclusiveness, which appreciates all forms of diversity. We call it the domino effect. And that’s not something that we came up with in our boardroom, it was something that we actually saw in the client engagements, where they really saw that acceleration of engagement of all diversity.
Roger Dooley: So how can businesses, whether they’re large or small, move toward a better place here. I know that certainly- Maybe we’ve got a handful of Fortune 500 CEOs among our listeners, but most of the folks are probably either part of a smaller organization, they’re in a lower level position in a big company, or perhaps are entrepreneurs with their own smaller business.
What are the first things that a company would do to start working on this problem, particularly in a situation where maybe they don’t have infinite resources. Where, you know, the CEO of a huge company can say, “Okay, we’re gonna do this, and here’s the budget” and so on.
Barbara Annis: Yeah. I mean, that’s so important. ‘Cause, I mean, you- This audience, as you just referred to, is our future. It’s our future of business, it’s our future of growth, right? So what can they do? Well first all, we used a model, and they probably know this model, called KSI. So, K stands for knowledge. S, strategy. I, implementation. And often, what companies regardless of the size, they tend to go to strategy too soon. They don’t stay in the knowledge space long enough to really understand exactly what’s going on, what you’re solving for, right?
I mean, if the whole concept of really first understanding the business case, understanding that 85 consumer spending is done by women, and women make decisions quite differently than men. And if you understand that, we had one client, as an example, in the financial investment … A mid-sized company, who came to us and said, “Help. You know, 71% of our female clients have fired their financial advisor within one year of their spouse passing away. And we’ve been trying for two years to get them back, and we can’t. What’s going on?” So really, the knowledge space is we understand the blind spot.
So, obviously, they really got that they had blind spots in how they related to female clients, right? How the women clients actually, literally, valued different type of relationship. Not a transactional relationship, which is what they did all the time. And of course, they made a bunch of assumptions about who the key decision maker were, and who they should pay attention to, which was the man. You know, all of those things. They’re typical assumptions. But that knowledge, really understand what are our blind spots? What are the assumptions that we’re making, right?
How can we understand how we work better together as a team, both men and women and how we really understand our client base, right? In a much more effective way. And that, by the way- You know, the easiest thing to do was the simplest thing. It was to read the book, or one of the books, that I’ve either written or co-authored, yeah.
Roger Dooley: Well, that makes a huge amount of sense, Barbara. And I think, in terms of creating internal change, I suppose the first thing to do would be to make an assessment of where you’re at, somehow, and then try and find those biases that might be part of your recruiting process, or your hiring process. Because, I think one thing that behavior science has shown is that there certainly exists overt bias, where people are prejudiced about particular groups. But, there’s also a lot of non-conscious bias where you have feelings about certain groups that you’re not even aware of consciously, or you assign if somebody looks like a skilled programmer they probably get a little bit higher rating when you’re interviewing programmers, even though their appearance has absolutely nothing to do with their coding skills.
Barbara Annis: I mean, the diagnostics are important, right? So, we built a series of diagnostics in terms of how you assess people with a cultural diagnostic, which we can do with a company of 12, or a company of 2,000, or more, right? To really understand exactly what you’re solving for. And what’s really important about this is you need to ask some very interesting questions around men and women, but also diversity. And in particular, when you look at diversity and ethnicity, you need to put a gender lens on that. Because, men and women in the different ethnic or cultural background have different experiences and different things. So, it really is about doing your homework, do the diagnostics, look at the assumptions, and the most important thing is we make a bunch of assumptions.
I mean, one example that I actually personally recently had- And I think I’m a pretty self-aware person, having been done this work for 27 years. You know, I have a place in Sedona where I do some strategy work and deep dives on gender intelligence, and I invite people in. At my door came this woman. We were doing an e-learning, called training online, transformation of learning experience on gender intelligence, so it’s an e-learning platform. And the team came in, and one of the programmers was a woman, right? And she had tattoos all over. She looked very different than I would think of a programmer. And I sorta had a surprised, not shocked, but surprised reaction, right? She was the most brilliant programmer in the room. The most brilliant. But my assumption was, “Oh, my god. She must be new. She must be in training.” You know what I mean?
So those are the things that we always need to question, you know? Our own assumptions. And of course, doing a diagnostic, you’re gonna see things. We had one technology company who found that they had high achieving women. So, the women were really in the sales and other sides of the company were really producing great results. But, they weren’t making the high potential list. Like, very few of them. About 7% of them. 7% of the high achieving women didn’t make the high potential list. Why? Well, the way they were assessing was based on sameness, right?
So, when you hear things like companies called it, or Google called it, a cultural fit. Right? You want to be very careful when you use those kinds of words, or everything is based on merit. You want to pay attention to that. Because, are you making assumptions based on sameness like I did? You know, I had a certain stereotypical view of what a programmer looked like when she walked in the door, right? And it blew my mind. Like, completely blew my mind. And I’ve used her for other things.
Roger Dooley: Right. I think that whole idea of cultural fit has a lot of pitfalls in organizations to do with gender, race, background, education, and so on. There tends to be this feeling that, “Okay, well somebody really has to fit in to be part of the team.” When in fact, the team might be better off with somebody who doesn’t fit in quite as well and certainly is different than the rest of the people on the team.
Barbara Annis: Yeah. The entrepreneurs that really do things really smart, they hire people that are different than them, right? I had one CEO who said, “You know, I hire people who disagree with me.” I have a CEO of HeroX as an example, right? He hires complete diverse people who disrupt his thinking.
Roger Dooley: Well, that’s sort of the red team approach again. You get people. Or, the team of rivals approach, referred to by President Lincoln a century plus ago, that you need that diverse thinking. You need disagreement to make good decisions, and unfortunately that doesn’t happen in every place.
So, Barbara, do you think there’s hope for Silicon Valley? It seems like an environment that’s dominated by coders who expect people to work insane hours, a preference for hoodie wearing Stanford grads and the like. And all this tends to kind of skew in male direction. Is there a solution? Should we be getting more female coders in the pipeline, and get them to forget work life balance, at least for a while? Or should we be changing the culture?
Barbara Annis: It’s about culture. It’s all about culture. I mean, Silicon Valley, we do a lot of work there, and it worries me. Silicon Valley actually worries me, because it has become- I mean, I remember speaking about five, six years ago to five of some of the top companies in Silicon Valley. I had one-on-one meetings, and they would say things like cultural fit. They would say things like, “Nah, we’re good. We got two of these, and three of those, and five of those” and, you know, whatever the numbers thing that they were looking at, right? Because they have a lot of diversity, right? And they have a lot of young people, right?
So we make an assumption that because there’s diversity, and there’s young people, we don’t have any gender issues. And of course, since then, it has come out that absolutely they have gender challenges and issues, right? So it definitely is a culture piece, right? I mean, I’ll give you an example that’s very well known around an accounting firm that was recruiting 55 to 62% women accountants in 15 years. But, they had a turnover rate of 27% women within three to five years, versus 10% men. And this goes straight to Silicon Valley, ’cause that’s what’s happening, right? It was costing them 190 million dollars in the US, and 40 million in Canada, right? They assumed completely the stereotypical assumption that women were leaving because of work life reasons, right? And it was a complete myth. It wasn’t the case at all.
Only 7% of women found the work too demanding. Only seven. The rest were two-fold. One was they didn’t feel valued by the culture or their manager, and they didn’t see a future kind of career projection in terms of their future inside the company, right? And those tend to be the two themes that we see all over. So, back to Silicon Valley. If we could get one or two of the top- The most admired Silicon Valley companies to really take on the culture conversation and be an example of what it would look like to have women thriving as programmers, as coders, as- You know, in all the levels of leadership which they don’t have now, especially at the top of the house, right? It could be a beautiful example for the world. That’s one of my many visions.
Roger Dooley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, we can hope. And I think it seems like there is an effort in these large companies to do things better, but seems like it’s also very slow progress. You know, just a week or two ago I had Ken Blanchard, the One Minute Manager author, on the show. He’s got a new book out about mentoring. What’s your gender intelligence take on mentoring?
Barbara Annis: Great question. So, what we find when we do diagnostics is that men and women tend to get mentored the same way, and women- And also, one thing that’s really challenging that we see in diagnostic is that men tend to be more careful in bringing … Giving sensitive, direct feedback to women. So, if that’s the case, that’s really crucial. ‘Cause that can have a huge impact on mentoring, right? Men are very comfortable mentoring men, and sometimes there’s an added uncomfortableness, kind of comfort zone- Lack of comfort zone, mentoring women or giving feedback to women.
So again, you know, to build awareness and training around that. I mean, we’ve done that with many, many companies that really, men were- Not only in the mentorship but also sponsoring women. How can you be really effective at doing that, and what’s the role of a mentor, and the role of the mentee, and the role of the sponsor, and role of the sponsee. So, that’s a really important thing because it’s been historically so natural for men to sponsor men, because that’s who they knew, right? Historically, especially in big companies, right?
But we even see it in entrepreneur. I mean, I’m part of the EO, Entrepreneur Organization, which is kind of the older version of YPO, right? I see that natural comfort level that men have with men in providing connections, or sponsoring them, or saying, “Come to me. Come to my cottage.” Or, “Let’s go golfing together.” All of that stuff, right? And women often- I mean, one of the top challenges that women experience is feeling excluded, right? From the real meeting after the meeting, right? So mentorship, thank you Ken Blanchard, imbed gender intelligence in the mentorship, ’cause that’s gonna be really important.
Roger Dooley: So, where do you feel we are now, Barbara? Are you hopeful? Are things moving more quickly in the right direction, do you think? Or less quickly, or just staying the same?
Barbara Annis: I think what’s happening, and this is something we need to kind of shift, because we have really looked at the glass half empty for a long time, right? Why haven’t we? We’ve made tremendous progress in education. I mean, more women are graduating than men overall. Right? Overall. Science and engineering is a different story, but overall more men than women. I wish that it was both men and women at the same, right? But the future of talent is really about having women and men at the table at all levels, right? And I see companies who have doing that. And I’m lucky enough to be able to see that, but most people don’t get to see that, is that I see progress.
I mean, I was just with a client last week who has, in consulting, has 41% female partners, and they have three of their four businesses run by a woman CEO, right? And they’ve got the best results ever, in history. I mean that’s extraordinary, right? There’s a Canadian bank, RBC, that has 42% women in senior management and they’re the number one bank on the different metrics. So, you know, I see progress but, boy, do we need more companies to get on board. That is for sure.
Roger Dooley: Great. That’s a good place to wrap up, I think. Let me remind our listeners we’re speaking with Barbara Annis, co-author of the new book, Results at the Top: Using Gender Intelligence to Create Breakthrough Growth. Barbara, how can our listeners connect with you and your content online?
Barbara Annis: Absolutely connect with me via our website, and just put contact on genderintelligence.com.
Roger Dooley: That’s easy enough. Well, we’ll link there, and to any other resources we talked about, on the Show Notes page at rogerdooley.com/podcast. And, we’ll have a handy text version of our conversation there too, so that you can either read it or download it as a PDF. Barbara, thanks for being on the show.
Barbara Annis: Thank you, Roger. My pleasure.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at RogerDooley.com.