In this week's blog, Sr. Dir. of Sales Operations at Blue Shield and Co-Founder of the Manning Up for Gender Inclusion Program also at Blue Shield John Murphy along with Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a CEO lead public policy and advocacy organization begin sharing how they advance gender equality at work. Jim was also recently named one of the top 100 movers and shakers in California politics.
This video and following transcript are from a panel entitled, "Allies In Action" that took place at the Better Man Conference 2017-Engaging Men As Allies. We begin with Jan Hutchins introducing the panel moderator, Rachana Bhide.
And the next is Allies in Action, people who are here to talk about the next phase. The Founder of The Corner Of The Court Project is going to be the moderator. It is a unique approach to inclusion that features women’s’ stories with male allies. She began this project during her work with her Masters Research at Colombia University (she couldn’t get into a good Ivy League school) where she found that men had natural abilities to play ally roles but often weren't given the reinforcement or tools to know how to make an impact. She has seventeen years of experience in leadership development recently leading the Austria-Switzerland-Germany Change Management Consulting Group at Accenture. She is also an engineering talent partner at Bloomberg and she’ll introduce the partners for her panel. (Jim) Wunderman is in the group, so it’s going to be a fun time.
TODAY WE ARE LOOKING AT GENDER EQUALITY FROM THE LENS OF BOTH HEAD AND HEART WITH TWO INSPIRING GENTLEMEN
We are going to kick off our fireside chat, which is all about "Allies in Action" and this is really going to be a celebration of everything that we've done today. It’s been a tremendous day so far and we're going to be looking at all those things that we've covered and do it from the head and the heart and we're going to do it through the lens of these two inspiring gentlemen that I’ll introduce now.
First, we have John Murphy. John is the Senior Director of Sales Operations with Blue Shield of California. He’s worked there for fourteen years. At Blue Shield, John is the Co-Founder of the Manning Up for Gender Inclusion Program. You can think of that as a dinner party like atmosphere for men and women to come together and discuss key themes around gender equality in the workplace. Manning Up has heavy support from the Blue Shield CEO and top management. John’s Co-Founder, Angela is also with us today in the audience. Angela, where are you? There she is. (Points to Angela in audience) Well, I thank the whole Blue Shield contingency for being our sponsors. Thank you for everything you’ve done.
John says that gender equality is not a zero-sum game, that by being inclusive we can grow our businesses so there are opportunities for men and women. Having spoken with John, I know that he is very well-known for his commitment to inclusion and he is a dedicated father to a daughter and a son which has influenced a lot of his stories which he will share with us this afternoon. John, while I think your golf game still needs some serious improvement, it’s still a delight to have you here. Please welcome John.
We also have Jim Wunderman. Jim is President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which is a CEO led public policy and advocacy organization. The Bay Area Council, since 1945, has worked to make the Bay Area the most innovative, globally competitive and sustainable region in the world. Jim has been CEO since 2004, and recently was named one of the top 100 movers and shakers in California politics. Jim’s work at the Bay Area Council has him working on supporting significant legislation such as San Francisco’s Paid Family Leave Act. Jim will also share with us some great research and resources from his council’s work in our discussion. Jim has four children, including two daughters, who have recently entered the workforce. Jim we are delighted to have you here today.
TO GET MORE MEN INVOLVED IN ALLYSHIP, I DO IT IN A MORE INTIMATE ENVIRONMENT
This is "Allies in Action, it’s our fireside chat and as mentioned we're going to get to the head and the heart of what it means to be an ally. John, I’ll start with you. You have essentially, at Blue Shield created a space for men to discuss gender equality. How do you make this an effective discussion? Is there a formula you follow? What are some things that have made that successful?
First, before I answer that I do want to say that I'm not a D & I expert, I am not a professional speaker. To be on the stage with some of the speakers we've had today is a huge honor that I’ve been selected to be here. So bear with me, I may not be as polished with my one-liners, the stories but I am very excited to be here. I was approached about a year ago or so I’ve only had this for a year or two (and I was approached) to help get men more involved, I said, "In order to do it my way I would have to do it in a more intimate environment" and that’s where the dinner party concept came from. And bringing people in to initially talk about it and...I think someone showed it earlier...start with awareness and really share stories amongst each other on why this is important to whoever is in the room.
THERE ARE MANY SIMPLE BEHAVIORAL THINGS YOU CAN DO IMMEDIATELY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Once you get the awareness, then we start talking about behavioral changes. It’s not like you have to completely develop a behavioral change complex plan that takes a year. Literally you can be an inclusive leader overnight. You just make sure that the people who have ideas get credit for their ideas. Gender, race, whatever it is, if that person has that idea, they should get credit for it. There are just so many simple behavioral things that you can do immediately to make a big difference.
John, if I understand correctly you’re looking at building awareness and if behavioral change happens, that’s great but that’s not the focus of every single meeting that you have?
AWARENESS AND THEN BEHAVIORAL CHANGES
Yes, the awareness discussion goes on for a long time because we're drinking wine and we're telling stories, so that tends to go on. Then we start talking about the different behavioral changes. We always bring in and this is Angela’s idea, a senior executive into the discussion because it helps validate that what we're talking about is important to the organization. And then we actually give each one of our participants a feminist fight club book that they can read and hopefully take home with them. We try to follow up with them to see how they’re doing. Once we have awareness, we talked about behavioral changes you can do and then we like to follow up with the men who have participated. And I’ll be honest, some have really gravitated towards it and others we've had a hard time... (they) loved the discussion...they had a good time and then we're finding that they’re not following through on some of what we had hoped for.
JIM WORKS WITH CEO'S, HOW DOES HE INFLUENCE POLICY CHANGE?
That’s a great start. I'm going to get back to you about how we can sustain some of the behaviors that you guys come up with. Jim, I’ll ask you, you played a key role in influencing and supporting legislation. We saw from John’s example that there is a lot of senior level support, you have senior executives come in. You work with CEOs and you have 275 CEOs as part of your council. How do you use your role to make policy changes?
Thank you for having me here, it’s an honor to do it. The council has been around for a long time and it’s a way for top business leaders in the Bay Area to work on stuff that’s important to the Bay Area. The first big project was the building of the BART System. We've been involved with a lot of the infrastructure and a lot of the issues you read about in the paper. A lot of them are typically, I would call them, more gender-neutral issues. They sort of affect the genders more or less equally, we don't think about them in those terms. Historically, we work on those things. So we bring these folks together, we form committees, focus on these various issues and hopefully come to a place where the combination of work by the executive leadership...and these really smart people who lead top organizations...can work together with our professional staff and make some recommendations.
We have an institute, The Bay Area Council Economic Institute, that often studies these various issues and analyzes their complexity and applies them to how they affect the economy. That gives us some tools to go ahead and advocate for solutions. So we're not a think-tank, we think of ourselves as more of a do-tank kind of an organization and we've had a certain amount of success. The issues we work on are a little frustrating and they tend to be generational. There are a lot of folks who would like to see solutions come to things in quick sound bites and thirty second commercials and most of the things we work on aren't like that, they take time, and hopefully our members understand that.
WE NEED TO LOOK AT THIS AS A STRATEGIC ISSUE BECAUSE WHEN WOMEN ARE SUCCESSFUL IN THEIR PROFESSIONAL CAREERS THE COMPANIES DO BETTER
In the case of gender equity, one of the things we've been looking a lot at is the workforce and this is where a not-gender-neutral issue arose. A number of our members (who) may be in this room, approached the executive committee which runs the organization and tells us where to focus our efforts. They told us, “We really need to think about this as a strategic issue for The Bay Area because when women are successful in their professional careers, when they’re elevated in positions in management, when they run companies, when they serve on boards, the companies do better.” There’s a lot of research to that effect.
We had those conversations initially. There were some folks who were a little reticent, said, “Why should we change focusing on other things, we need to stay really focused on just a few things that we do well.” Other folks said, “No, it’s kind of time that we moved on and we realize that importance of this.” I think I was one of those people and I wasn't always one of them, but I came to that conclusion. The nature of the organization is that it’s truly business led, it’s a group that’s kinda unique, and when we speak we kind of do it with a pretty good voice. Once in a while, like in the case of the Parental Leave Act in San Francisco, we weren't necessarily joined by other business associations in the city, which caused a little bit of a fracas.
Being CEO-led allows you to do bigger things and be more visionary. The kind of people that Victor was talking about who are courageous, to a big extent those are our members and they afford us the opportunity to maybe take a step out front and not be so conservative and avoid controversy, things like that.
To that point, and either Jim or John, what are some things that men then do as allies to carry forward so it’s not a once and done. What are some behaviors that we can take away that make this behavior sustainable?
...TO BE CONTINUED...
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CALL TO SPEAKERS!
Better Man Conference 2018: Call To Speakers, Panelists, and More
We invite business professionals, concerned citizens, expert practitioners and allies to share their voices for the 3rd annual Better Man Conference. We are securing dates and locations soon, but looking forward to these timelines/locations:
- BMC San Francisco- October 26, 2018 (Application deadline August 15th, 2018)
- BMC New York- November 6, 2018 (Application deadline August 15th, 2018)
We expect 150+ people in NYC and 250+ in SF. Previous registrants were 60/40 Men/Women and included:
- Executives, Leaders, Emerging Leaders, Change Makers.
- Human Resources, Diversity Staff and Council Leaders.
- Learners and Leaders seeking workforce inclusion.,
The conference theme, STAND UP. SPEAK UP. IT’S TIME. is intended to educate, inspire and move male allies into action in support of women and target groups. Given the context of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the focus of The Better Man Conference is on galvanizing men inside organizations by providing them with the tools to support partnership and the role that healthy masculinity plays. Learn more or apply here.