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WGT: Gender balance - what it is really about with Dawn Leane [transcript]

Please enjoy this transcript of my conversation with Dawn Leane.


This week I spoke to Dawn Leane who believes organisations should focus on developing a culture of diversity and leadership among staff members rather than simply implementing policies of compliance when trying to create a more balanced workforce. I ask Dawn what specific initiative organisations get wrong and we also discuss the need for self-advocacy.

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Well, hello. Hello. Hello. Welcome back to another episode of we got this podcast now I've been spending a lot of time recently. Focusing and working with the topics of diversity inclusion and belonging. And one of the first things that comes to mind when we say diversity is gender equality or gender balanced to be precise.

We've been talking about this for. For quite a long time. And some of our, some of the initiatives that we've seen around and what the cumbersome organizations companies have been doing, I've been more successful than others. And I've been wondering why that is. And one conclusion that I've drawn is that.

We've been doing a lot of talking, but have we do have we been actually doing a lot of the doing. And if not, why are we stuck? And I've, I think it's because it's a topic that can be a little bit. Fluffy. If we don't have a good idea of how to handle it or how to put structure around it, maybe set some goals.

But preventing it from becoming a numbers game. And this is where talking to Dawn Leane. Who's a consultant who offers female focused. Coaching mentoring and training to both individuals and organizations, empowering women to use every single action to change the narrative. Has been really, really helpful because we both agreed that most organizations focus on activities

that are simply not working. That they're just not enough. And the actual change needs to happen with the culture of the organization to be able to actually. Make the difference that we really need.

Together with Don, we talk about some of the broken practices and Initiatives that organizations use to address this issue. But we also cover a very important element that. Women do not have the same role models that men do. In terms of getting to the most senior positions with organizations, men have these trailblazers women don't, they are being created as we speak that are more and more women who do blaze that trail, but that makes it far more difficult for women.

We also talk about women challenging the myth. And the need for them to self advocate, to given us permission to go for the senior roles or go for roles that would traditionally be classed as roles for men.

It has been a very interesting conversation for me as a person who works with a lot of organizations. But also to me as a man. Because encouraged me to self-reflect. And explore some of my blind spots. Because Don has raised. A number of interesting points that may be not the, I did not consider before, but definitely did not give enough attention to. So I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Dawn Leane

Lech: [00:03:17] my usual first question is when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Dawn Leane: [00:03:23] I that's a really interesting one because actually I use this myself too, when I started a lot of my training sessions. And so I'm always fascinated by the answers and the kind of the journeys people have been on. So when I was when I was younger, I, I wanted to join the air Corps. My brother was in the army.

And I had a serious case of hero worship as you tend to do with it with the older brothers. And I was absolutely fascinated by everything he did. And he was, although he was in the army, I was really, really keen on the air Corps. That was what I wanted to do. And I'm aging myself, terribly hair by saying this, but certainly in those days, women didn't join the air Corps.

And in fact, women who joined the army were probably going to be confined to a desk job. So I think it's, It's quite interesting. Maybe that that was my first ambition. And I've almost come full circle in terms of the work that I do with women today.

Lech: [00:04:11] It's an amazing question, isn't it? Because it opens up so many roots of why people wanted to be a certain things and then kind of has that surprisingly deep self-reflection that's required to be able to answer that question because a lot of people like go. What did I want to do? And there's a bit of poet.

And then when we did trace back it's surprising how often it does match for us in terms of what we wanted to be. My we're not maybe doing it now, but there are very, very strong traits and elements of what we wanted to do and what we do now. What, what is that for you? Cause you said that it did come full circle for you.

Dawn Leane: [00:04:44] So, I guess I didn't realize it at the time. I felt a little bit, you know, as a child, a little bit annoyed, a little bit peaked up, perhaps I wasn't going to be able to follow the career pathway one. Did I went off in a totally different direction. I never really thought about it, I guess, as a gender based issue.

Beyond that, just, you know, that was how it was on. It's just, I didn't think of it that could possibly change in, you know, in the near future. On it, it was very interesting. I went into, then I suppose my whole career has been based around either HR or learning and development or recruitment. So very much by empowering and enabling people, but the whole issue of gender.

Has really come to the fore in the last number of years. And I suppose it would maybe late into there somewhere in may from that time, that sort of sense of, you know frustration and, you know you know, I'm just probably a very strong word, but you know, the lack of equality and the lack of opportunities.

For women, particularly in the workplace. So, I mean, that's probably brought me to where I am and I've had to course along that way, all kinds of experiences. So, you know, my, my very first job was I was sitting in a factory right. Adjacent to the store's department where, you know, materials came in and materials with diet and that in itself was cool in education.

I can tell you, you know, I learned an awful lot of life lessons just from, just from sitting there and working with all of these guys. And you.

carry that forward with you. And of course, you know, where. But it's the accumulation of all of your life experiences. Good, bad and indifferent.

Lech: [00:06:09] We've been talking about. Discuss it. And we obviously, we knew we got to focus on on gender balance. And we agreed that we're not going to go into detail what that is, because it's a topic that is front of mind for a lot of people. And I think it's got to that point where the awareness is that that it's something that we need to address something that we need to look at and continually work on.

But the element that is missing. The actual, how, and most of the, where organizations go wrong, where do you suggest a conversation like that can start in, in between us, but in terms of kind of something that can help organizations actually look at gender balance within their teams within the organization.

Dawn Leane: [00:06:55] Sure. Well, I, I guess my last job in corporate life was as HR director and we were challenged, I suppose, by our boards going back quite a number of years. They formed a diversity committee as money organizations are turning at the time. And they said, you know, obviously we need to look inward before we started looking at.

So I was HR director with chartered accountants Ireland. So you'd have equivalent bodies, you know, in the UK, the states across America. So professional body, we've had a lot of members and our board where we're thinking about it in terms of our membership. But Yeah.

you know, before I get started out, they want you to look internally in the organization and say, well, what is sort of the gender balance within the organization?

And I remember being asked to do that piece of work and it was something that we hadn't really done before. And I knew sort of intuitively that we weren't, we weren't in any trouble here. You know, we, weren't going to look at the results and go, God, we really need to do something here. And when we ran the numbers at that time, we had, you know, we had over 30% female representation on the senior management team.

You know, we had 50, 50 male, female Managers. And we had in terms of looking at the, kind of the professional categories like, so, so LA came to two people working in those kinds of areas, you know, women, eight numbers men, I think it was something like 61 to 39. And that really got me thinking. So it wasn't something that we had been paying particular attention to, and we hadn't been running these numbers.

We hadn't been running campaigns, but yet we had results that a lot of organizations would really add. I got of started thinking, well, how did we, how did we get here? And the answer, like, like all of these things could go back to culture. If you create the right culture, and if you create the right environment, you don't necessarily need all of these interventions.

And in my work, I see an awful lot where organizations, particularly in, I work a lot with financial services companies and there's a lot of regulation around it. And it's becoming a much bigger issue for them. You know, in terms of a business issue while they've done a nice to have, or a CSR type issue.

So, you know, they're taking it very, very seriously. And what they tend to do is they look at the numbers and they, you know, look at all these reports that come out and you know, they go, well, we, we really needed to do something here. And what they do is they try to solve the problem by putting in policies and procedures or by building, you know, employee resource groups.

And all of these things are band-aids because if you don't get the culture right, then all you're doing is just putting a sticking plaster on it. You know, I give you an example, you know, we talks about maternity leave? You know, we all know that you can't discriminate against a woman on the basis that she's pregnant or she might be pregnant or she's in the age cohorts where she might be pregnant, or she has young children, but we know it.

happens It's just dressed up with something else it's presented in a different way. And so what happens is when we try to address this without actually tackling the organizational culture, then all we do is we just get people who know and learn how to be compliant and know what to say or not to say.

And what box to tick. but we don't actually change attitudes. And I think that's what happens in my experience, working with organizations, they, you know, very, very well-intentioned, you know, they put a lot of time and energy and resources and commitment into all of these solutions without ever really getting to the heart of the point.

And cultural change, you know, needs, it needs a sustained effort over a long period of time. And our organizations then sometimes think, well, you know, we've been throwing money at this thing for a year or 18 months, and we're not seeing the numbers coming through, so it's not working, but a they're doing the wrong things and B they're not giving it, you know, a sustainable.

And that's completely understandable, you know, businesses and business to make money, to make money for its shareholders or to make money for its investors, you know? And then things come along all the time. Be it Brexit be a COVID that shifts the organization's priorities, but would they have got sustained effort?

We don't organizations don't get to make the cultural change that happens. And you've got all these microphones. So even in good cultures, you know, we have pockets of counter culture and it's very much down to maybe the individual managers. So if, give you an example, I, I coached a woman who was in a S in a financial services company.

She, this company is well-renowned spends a lot of money advertising, all the great stuff they do in diversity and inclusion in general, and specifically for women. And they do a lot of really good stuff and they do have good friends. But in her department, her manager was a male and his wife did not work, stayed at home looking after the kids.

And that was fine if that was her choice, but you know, her bosses boss was in the same situation. So their perspective on her as a working mother with three children was very different and their expectations. And so she found that. You know, not a, not a direct discrimination, but an indirect, they were almost being too benevolent.

So, you know, it was, well, we won't send you on that trip because you've got young kids at home and we want to put you on that project because it requires long hours or because it requires travel and she wasn't being given the choice. So, and that's what happens, you know, if the culture is, is right, you can do it.

And if the culture is not my, it really doesn't matter what you do. You can spend, you know, hundreds of thousands on this and you can talk about it. You can, you know, put your banners up. You can have your ERG, you can do whatever, but you won't get through it.

Lech: [00:12:14] I've been working with a few clients, discussing the, kind of the process that you can follow and that they follow individually and organizations. And I've done a fair bit of research into that. And the one thing that actually, first of all surprised me most of all is one, one example that you gave is when organizations.

Do all of these things and say, you know, show showcase them numbers as a, as an employer, branding drive CSR drive, whatever the, the, the, the thinking behind it is. But then in reality, what happens in the, under the hood is only for the people who work in the organization to know. And what I think two examples that came up most often is actually face.

I think it was Facebook and Google who were doing a lot. Ah, continuing to do a lot. But they tend to focus on the numbers and it's the numbers that kind of make it bit of a game, especially when it comes to belonging when it comes to diversity. And I think that's part of the part, part of that problem, that it's kind of a bit of a sticker, which we do have a tendency as humans.

And as a result in our organizations, we tend to pot plasters and. Treat symptoms rather than the cause. And we want a quick fix solutions. Give me a pill that will fix the problem. The problem that will go away tomorrow when we know it's not going to happen. And things like culture, things that originate from them from culture, because it's not just a diversity that comes from bacteria.

It's the entire. Of the business and the environment that you create for your people and what the organization stands for. It will take time to evolve. Ironically, it takes seconds to break it and undo all of that work. It takes months on that. To build it.

Dawn Leane: [00:13:57] Yeah.

Lech: [00:13:57] You said that you gave a couple of really good examples in terms of, in terms of making it things tangible in terms of culture, like the maternity giving people the choice of, yes, I've got a family, but I can, I can cut.

I've got mechanisms at home that will support me through this. I want to be involved in this project rather than making that decision for, for the individual. And you also said that kind of, that you managed to get that balance inadvertently within the organizations that you had that across, that the business that you worked at And I kind of wonder what does that mean, actually, tangibly, even, even further, what can organizations do?

What elements of culture can they touch that are most significant to a diversity in gender balance? In, in, in, in particular.

Dawn Leane: [00:14:44] Sure. I mean, I think, I think companies have very, very good intentions. So I think that's the first thing to say. Like I don't, you know, I mean, I think companies would really, really want to improve gender balance. But I think sometimes they over-engineered. Because when we look at organizations and organizational behavior, you know, we do love our processes and we do love our frameworks and, you know, all of these kinds of things, systematic approaches to it.

And the idea of having a sort of a looser approach is counter-intuitive actually one of the best things that I, that I have experienced in companies who do really well in this space. Yeah. They are focused on output rather than hours or location or, you know, structures. It's very much, look, this is what I've taken you on to do.

And I remember my own, my only experience in, in my last role, you know, I would have very short conversations with my CEO about what my objectives for the year were because they were fairly clear. And so she didn't have to have big lengthy going through sheets, ticking off things that were done. It was looking.

Keep doing what you're doing. Here's three or four key things that we need to add to that that are going to be a priority this year. And off you go and kind of figure out how to do them within the budget and with then, you know, the, the level of autonomy that you have in terms of decision making. And that was what mattered.

And I think when, when, when you focus on what you want to achieve and less about trying to. You know, a stranglehold on how people work and where people work, which really doesn't matter at the end of the day you can achieve more than bringing in all the employee resource groups in the world and bringing all, and all the mentoring programs, you can do all that kind of stuff.

But if you're not allowing people to manage their work lives and their personal lives themselves, then you know, you're, you're very limited in what you can do. So I think that's the biggest thing that I would biggest piece of advice I would give to organizations is actually maybe do less rather than trying to do too much.

But do the right thing.

Lech: [00:16:34] This brings to mind the guest. I had look kite from Radiko. They're an SEO based agency in in Kent. And they've introduced just what? Just not what you said. They gave people autonomy. They, as Luke said, they decided to treat people like adults, believing that they will do the right thing. And that worked wonders, wonders for them.

In terms of the growth of the organization. It was not to tackle diversity was not to tackle belonging to now that they, their aim was to create a great place. To work. And by going through on the cultural revolution that inadvertently led them to becoming a self-organized company where there are no real managers is as in the traditional sense where they're basically more like taskmasters than the actual managers, they're kind of more leaders and coaches and that type of setup.

And it worked a treat for them because last year they became the fourth best place to work in the UK. So it's, it's, it's definitely working interesting that you, you mentioned that in, in this context as well though, Going for all the bells and whistles as many organizations do in terms of all the, this initiative is actually what will deliver the result that we want to deliver.

I wonder how much of that is still unclear for many organizations, because you mentioned that in your organization, you worked at you, the first thing you did, you understood what's going on for your, for your organizations in turn, the results that came out were fairly surprisingly positive for you. But I think many organizations still don't even get that far, but even if they did.

They do, but they don't know what to do now, because then it all often becomes a pivot, a numbers game, as we said, but also

Dawn Leane: [00:18:11] Yeah.

Lech: [00:18:11] it tends to be fluffy. The people don't know how to put structure around. They don't know what to do with that. And I was talking with another guest, Anna Angwin from Taxify, who's how they've gone on a, on a journey like that to improve their diversity and belonging.

And she described some, some great ways of doing that. But from, from taking your stance from kind of a. An external consultant point of view, who works with organizations, what is the, how can make, how can this be made more tangible within organizations once they identify what it is that they want to focus on, how they link it to their values, they link it to their needs.

You mentioned culture, obviously that's an important element, but in terms of goal setting, because let's face it, it's easier to have a score when you have a goal to achieve some, when you have a goal, but how not to make it a numbers game.

Dawn Leane: [00:18:59] I think too many organizations look outward and on the look about it from, you know, in terms of how they're going to be perceived in the market. And particularly when it's really hard to attract and retain talent. And that's more difficult in some sectors than others. Like I work with some tech companies and, you know, their problem is it doesn't matter what they do.

The pipeline is not there. So, you know, no matter what, what strategies they put in. If there aren't the same, you know, I spoke with someone the other day and they've said to me, you know, we've got 5,000 employees and of those, there are 20 female engineers. So no matter what that organization. You know, th the chances are that those women aren't gonna make it through the pipeline of, you know, of, of, of kind of over 5,000.

So depending if I think, you know, the thing with culture is it's very specific to the organization. So I kind of always, I'm always careful about prescribing a one size fits all approach. And I think the first thing any organization has to do is start. You know, thinking about how we're perceived or how this looks, and actually look internally into the organization and say, what's going on for us?

You know, where are we on this journey on what are the things that might be unique to us that are inhibiting us on what are the strengths that we have that might be unique to us that we can really leverage. And the other thing is that every organization has a tolerance for what it can, you know, for, for your change process.

And that's different too. So what you don't want to do is go in and turn everything on its head and just say, this is how we're going to do everything from now on what I find works best is kind of an iterative approach. So some companies, depending on the nature of the company, they're more conservative than others.

They struggle more with change than others. And if you come in and launch this big change program on them, Their reaction is going to be a, hang on a second. You know, this is just too much and this isn't going to work. So you have to know the company that you're working with. You have to know the organization, you have to know their culture really, really well.

And then it's about, you know, looking at the small things. I'm a big fan of getting the small things, right. When everything else will follow. So there's no point in going out and, you know, talking about all the great work we do with women. If actually we don't touch tackle, you know, casual sexism in the workplace.

So language or jokes or those kinds of things, and that's all too often what happens. So there's a big gap between what organizations say is important and then what people actually experience. So definitely start by looking inwards in the organization and like any kind of org project or, or change project.

It's about, you know, the diagnosis, first of all. So, you know, I say, where are you? And then how can we enable people? You know, what are we going? What are the things that we're going to do that will make a difference in this disco? And as I say, they are that they're the, it's the rewriting, the job descriptions.

It's looking at the wording, it's looking at the small decisions. And if you can get those right consistently and build on them, you're going to have far more success than, you know, all the bells and whistles, all the advertising, all the stickers and labels and the brands. You know, I, I've been, I've gone into organizations to remediate damage done where they've brought in a consultant to talk about unconscious bias.

You know, the only people in the room were men and, you know, they're bringing in a group of male managers and they, you know, almost beat them around the head with this. And they come out feeling like, you know, oh my God, like, you know, we're terrible people and that's not the approach at all. So, you know, all of these things in isolation can be very counterproductive if you don't take account of the environment you're going into and the message that you want to deliver.

And, you know, men are, are part of the solution and men are part in this and, you know, telling them that the, you know, they're part of the problem basically, and they just need to be much more aware of their unconscious bias and they need to pay attention to this and the need to do that. And you know, that that just alienates people and, you know, all the research says that that has the opposite effect.

Lech: [00:22:40] When you introduce change you get kind of internal resistance to any type of changes, especially ones that come from HR departments or the higher up that tend to be an organization wide initiative and especially around the topic that is first of all, very, very sensitive.

Second of all, riddled with political, correct. That is something that we'll definitely, and I've seen it cause many internal oppositions to such introductions are changing. And how, how can you deal with that?

Dawn Leane: [00:23:13] So you know, I think first of all, yeah, any top and change or any change that comes from from HR, you know, is always going to be problematic. You need buy-in from people from the very outset and the right people in the organization. A side of my core role. I do a lot of work with people with disabilities and intellectual disabilities and their employability and that?

sort of market.

And again, that was, you know, we found that to be a barrier for organizations and, you know, maybe recruiting somebody with an international disability or, you know, with Asperger's syndrome or whatever, because of the fear factor and the fear of getting it wrong. And what happens if I say the wrong thing and you know, how do I find the right terminology and how do I deal with that?

If there's a problem. And once you could actually overcome that and say, well, how do you deal with the problem with anybody else? You know, what do you do with, you know, when somebody else steps out of the line or, you know, has, you know, it was consistently late, you know, six mornings in a row. Like what's the conversation you have with them and why should it be different?

I think it's, it's taking that kind of fear factor out of it. You know, when it comes to, I think if we start focusing on things like that, The language, which is important. But if we, if we focus too much on that and not on what it is we're trying to achieve you know, again, we're not going to go through a sales.

So I think organizations have to accept, but there will be a little bit of pain along the way. There is a little bit of learning involved in this. But you know, as long as the, the positive intent is there and they're bringing people into the conversation, the people who are most impacted by conversation and they're listening and they're asking questions and they're on a learning curve, like I'm, I'm working with an organization at the moment.

And that's their message we want to do, but. And we're learning, you know, help us learn, help us improve. And I think that's a valid message rather than, oh, we've got this, you know, we've, we've got this down to pat, you know, we know all the right things to do, and then people's experience in the organization is very different.

So I think in terms of bringing people along, that kind of open-mindedness open to learning is the first. The second thing is to have champions in the organization. People are the thing that's going to be senior management. Of course you do need senior management support for ADI initiative, but it's getting the right champions.

It's getting the people who actually have influence within the organization. So, you know, leadership comes up at lots of different levels and that might be the shop's George, or it might be the receptionist, you know, it might be the manager it's, it's likely to be. A good cross section of people in the organization.

But if you can get onsite, the people who actually have influence with their asset, the employees. So I did some work with a factory there a couple of years ago. And one of the things we did was we got, we got on board. It was around the broader diversity and inclusion piece. And we got on board there that he was basically, this guy had worked in the, in the stories.

For years and years and years you know, as people came in, he was, you know, he was a role model to them. He helped people, you know, improve on the job. He he'd been there forever. He would have been somebody that you might've taught her fairly entrenched views and wasn't perhaps going to be the most progressive, but actually he was really keen and he really bought into, but and he was very good at then influencing other people and his area.

He was also really good at calling it out when he saw people saying or doing something that was not, you know, that wasn't the right thing to do or say, which is another key, you know, we can certainly talk a good talk about it, but unless we're prepared to actually stand up and speak out or, you know, call somebody on that.

Then again, you know, we're just paying lip service to it. And so when you have the right champions in the organization, not necessarily based on level, but based on the ability to influence others, then that certainly makes any change.

Lech: [00:26:44] Talking about continuing to talk with in looking at internal aspects, especially when it comes to balancing how we have different roles within organizations and kind of the balance between genders. There tends to be that we often look, as you said outside in terms of, okay, there's an imbalance between, between within the role, let's recruit more men, more women for this particular role.

Well, that is a solution. That's probably not the best solution and not the first solution considering the people you've got within the organization, because you might have people who are perfect, who would fit, fit. The bill would match all the criteria that you need in terms of reaching whatever goal OKR you've set in terms of diversity and belonging.

But they're just not getting that opportunity because they're not getting promoted through the ranks. So again, it's looking at that internal process of how people get promoted. How does that sit with what, from what you've noticed and, and also maybe not necessarily internally within organizations solely, but also career progression in general for women and co going into certain roles at more senior levels.

Dawn Leane: [00:27:52] I think that there are two aspects to it. The organization element and what the organization needs to do, but there's also, yeah, women need to give them permission. To put themselves forward for these roles too. And one of the biggest learnings that women have when I work with them is that it's not a little bit coming in and doing a really good job, getting the results and waiting for the tap on the shoulder, you know, that tap on the shoulder, it might happen at your first promotion, maybe at your second.

It's not going to happen after that. And in fact, one of the things that you're being judged on is your ability to self-advocate. So it's, it's really important that the organization yes, creates the right condition for that. But that women themselves and feel, you know, feel comfortable in doing it. So last year I was working, I was coaching a client and she was based in a financial services firm in London.

And she had, you know, she was part of their top talent and they had invested a lot in her and they had really high expectations of her. And she came to me herself because she she'd been promoted every two to three years. And then eventually she'd got to the point where she just plateaued and nothing was happening for her.

And she was still delivering. She was doing really great work. She was getting the results. You know, there was no question about her performance. She was getting older. Signals from her manager about, you know, her ability and her potential and her future in the organization, but nothing was happening. And I, one of the things that came out of the coaching and that we did was she went and she knocked on the manager's door and she said, you know, you know, this is what I believe is next for me.

Here's where I see my next role in the organization. Being the things that I think that, that have to happen in order for me to get there. And she said, the first thing, her manager Satch worker was what took you. So. Because while she was waiting for the tap on the shoulder you know, that she was being judged on the fact that she actually wasn't self-advocating and they saw that as a flaw in her.

So I think for women, you know, the reasons women and the most senior roles in organizations and Annie representative number is actually quite quite a relatively it's a recent concept. I suppose we go back, you know, 50, 70 years. We didn't have the back of those kinds of numbers and senior roles. And so there's a lot of sort of unwritten rules and norms of behavior and workplaces that women have to have to navigate in order to be successful.

And very often it's of, you know, that, that, you know, Johari window, like it's, you know, don't know what they don't know. So, you know, where I come in in terms of the FEMA focus training that I do and working with with women as individuals and groups aside from the corporate work. Isn't helping them to understand what those expectations may be and helping them to, you know, to be able to self-advocate to see where they need to be, because yeah.

Up to a point we're promoted because we're very good at our jobs. And then we get to a certain point and that's expected that high-performance is expected. And the things that prepare our career or career forward after that point are whole other set of competencies and behaviors. And unless somebody tells you that you don't necessarily know it's much easier for men to see that because they've experienced that day three generations of men in the workplace, it's, it's more difficult for women to understand what they are.

Lech: [00:30:58] So here's that trailblazing element to that, that. Not only need to have, as you said, self advocate for themselves, but men had that benefit of seeing this happen. That's kind of what they're followed. They've got that examples. And as I said, the word trailblazers, it's a very interesting way of looking at candidates as, from obviously from a perspective as a man.

So easy to have these biases that obviously, why don't we do that? You see, you know, you've got the right today. We've we live, we've got this culture again. We talk a lot about this, but talking is not enough. It's enabling people to be able to do that. And it's an it's I have to say it's a very interesting.

Thought process here that, that women do need to, especially in the example that you gave, that they have to give themselves permission to do that to be able to go into that role and say, yes, I've got the right to do that. I need this and that and that. Yeah. And it's having that guidance, that coaching that is so useful for, for people in general, because let's face it.

Men, men do come in these situations as well, where they don't, they like that. Self-belief although they have more examples to follow. This is another thing that is often on my mind because we tend to talk about agenda balance when it comes to, we tend to talk about diversity. One of the first things that we talk about is gender balance was this host.

That come into diversity, but that's maybe for another thing for another podcast episode, but in terms of that gender balance, one thing I've often seen the always. Made me wonder is we for the fall obvious reasons we have that we strive to put more women in certain positions, and that becomes an OKR goal, a challenge or an issue to address.

Let's put it that way because that's how often it's framed to get more women in certain roles, because there's a disproportionate, there's not a balance, but when it's the other way round, when there's more women in certain roles, That hardly ever becomes an OKR or a goal to put more men in that. So I guess where's the balance in finding the balance?

Where is that a spot? Do you think?

Dawn Leane: [00:33:11] I, you know, for me, it's about equality of opportunity and that I think the best person has to win. So we have all these conversations about, about quotas. And I do understand the argument for quotas. And I do think there are times when they are necessary, but they are not. Of themselves to solution.

And I think when we get the process, right, and there is equality of opportunity for both men and women you know, it becomes almost more fluid. It becomes easier. And we're not trying to, as I said before, over-engineer a process or a manager. So, you know, it's, it's looking back along the, the kind of the chain and saying, well, where are the, where are the blockers?

So, you know, for, for women in the most senior roles and organizations, it's much easier for them to be promoted into roles that are like HR roles or marketing roles. And you seem what you're famous tire representation of women and C senior levels and those type of roles. You see it less so in tech or less.

So in, in. You know, in financial areas. So it's looking at, in those industries and go, what's the blocker. And as you say, the other side of the coin, like why are we getting so many women, isn't it that they decided to take to pursue a career in this profession? Because that's the easier way to progress to senior levels.

You know, why, why are so few men. Perhaps progressing in, in, you know, through the ranks and these particular professions. So yeah, I think when you get your process, right, when you're genuinely open, when you're genuinely inclusive and you offer everybody the same equality of opportunity, then you know, there's things that over time owned themselves age.

But you know, if, if you're working in tech and you've got an organization where you've only got 20 female engineers, You know, you're not going to get any serious representation at that senior levels there. And so what you need to do is go back and say, well, where's the first, you know, where's the first blockage in the pipeline here.

Maybe third entry-level. So whose responsibility is it to get representative numbers at entry? Right. And all too often, people think, well, that's HR, I've worked with, with tech companies. And I said to them, why do you not have any women on your team? Well, because I only get sent men to interview, you know, from, from the HR team, I was like, right.

So here's responsibility as that. What about teacher? Or they just give us five men at eight years. One it's like, no, you know, what's your part to play in that? Do you go out and speak to schools? You know, do you speak at conferences? Do you build your network? Do you have a diverse network? Hey, you know, what do you, what do you do as a man?

And all too often, it's well, that's, you know, that's not my responsibility, but it's everyone's responsibility. And, you know, until everybody in the organization, everybody takes equal responsibility. Again, you know, we're just going to keep hearing the same things coming up against the same issues all the time and not making any progress.

I mean, progress has really stalled over the last few years and in some, some respect for going backwards in terms of female representation. So, you know, I think it's, it's definitely. Important that everybody, everybody who's in a position of managing people, you know, asks those questions when it comes to hiring and the wider diversity, not just women, but you know, where are you now?

Where are my people from different socioeconomic backgrounds? You know, where are the people of color in the hiring line? You know, where are people from all kinds of different backgrounds? Because yeah, sure. If, if you just get five, you know, middle-class white men who went to similar universities, you know, similar schools similar backgrounds and then.

That's that's all you're going to get. If you don't actually upset the apple cart and go back and go into, hang on a second. I'm not interviewing for this role until I've got a really representative or good cross section of candidates to interview.

Lech: [00:36:34] That's very, very interesting in that sense that we, we do, we do follow a lot of organizations and a lot of teams, a lot of managers just kind of go, did you know this? These are the candidates that have been given. And we don't question that. And as I said, we are getting to the point where we're going backwards.

The usual point for me is that I, again, often, often one day is the difference. Between equality and equity. And when do we use which, and again, such a political great dad personally, I can share the, for me, the diff the greatest difficulty is often in the political correctness of these discussions that you often in the, in the kind of the woke culture that we live in, you can say something that is misinterpreted if literally canceled for sharing your belief.

Although. You might know when we dug into a little bit deeper to what you meant, even the topic that I've just mentioned. The question that I just asked you, where is the balance and finding, making men the priority in filling certain roles? Yes, it's been in the reverse for decades and it has to be balanced out for sure.

But again, I've noticed that throughout history, not just kind of in the organization, just in general human history, from, from racial religious to now gender situations, we tend to go from one extreme to the other, rather than trying to find that middle, middle point. That was so often so difficult to find enough.

And sometimes we want, we want to fix that. I've got a thing of feeling we want to fix that point. That is just one. And I think accepting that it's always going to be fluid it's one way or the other end. Depends on the needs. In this particular case of the organizations, but also of the individuals, what they want, what they don't want and kind of how that fits in with the values providing you're guided by the right values and that you're doing the right thing in kind of the general sense of, of the, of the concept.

Then you, yeah. You go into something. If you were, if were to summarize everything that we said, are you fished out? First of all patients from organizations that they, it's not something that who will happen overnight, as we know it will probably take several months it's identifying and looking internally at what's going on.

And it is looking at kind of that individual responsibility within organizations. Is that fair? Do they miss something out or would you add anything to that?

Dawn Leane: [00:38:52] Hmm. No, I think that's, that's key. As I say, you know, it's, it's better to make small areas of change that?

you can sustain that works with the culture of your work. Springing you forward done. Yeah. Done. As I say over-engineering and, and I think, you know, in terms of individual responsibility, part of that is, is women's responsibility to so, you know, it's just that, that whole, a bit that he'd self-advocate and to actually challenge themselves.

So, so yes, I work with organizations, but I do a lot of work within organizations with women. And I do a lot of work with women independently in kind of leadership, development, training, and development for. Who are ambitious and kind of navigating those environments. And there are three key things that come up in all of those conversations that I have with women on they are always, they always believed that the thing that holds them back is a lack of confidence.

Is, you know, concierge kind of be it and then families. And I think very often what happens is we don't as women interrogate those. We, we hear them off on and off. So, you know, the lack of confidence thing, I I've seen seminars on improving self confidence for women. You know, women themselves.

I've, I've been to so many conferences where. Competent intelligent, accomplished room and stand up and say, oh, women will only apply for a job if they've got like 90% of the qualifications and manual chances are among 40. There's no actual academic research that supports that. And yet we accept it because we hear it so often and the numbers may change slightly, but we actually accept it.

And they're the kinds of things like when we talk about confidence, What are we talking about? It's, it's, you know, I rarely met women who aren't confident in their ability, it's confidence in how you're going to be received and the environment. And unless, you know, we're careful about the words that we use.

And we, you know, we throw around this thing about women, lack confidence. That's putting the responsibility back on women, the thing, you know, women, you just need to put on your big girl pants and be a bit more confident and everything will be Okay.

And it's not, not actually looking at. What's happening in the woman's environment and the organization is the psychological safety, you know, is she, does she feel that she can speak up?

Does she feel that she can contribute to meeting? Does she feel that she can, you know, she can say that's actually not a great idea or, you know, that's the wrong way of approaching something and it's by creating the environment for that, the same thing happens when it comes to you know, lack of role models.

You know, as women we're told constantly there are, you know, there are lack of role models and because our lack of role model. Can't see it can't be at all the time. You know, that almost becomes an excuse. It almost becomes a way out because there are a lack of female role models, but, you know, I can, I could list 20 women.

Who've had nobody showing them the way who are as we discussed earlier trailblazers. And, you know, certainly it's easier if you've got a role model, but you know, I've, I've had three really strong role models over the course of my career at one woman and two men. You know, so men are part of the solution.

Men are part of the advocacy, the sponsorship Yeah, they're cut out of these programs. Cut out of ERG groups that are solely for women in organizations. So I think it has to be a broader approach. And then though, issue of family, you know, we touched on that at the start, you know, family, most women, I know who have families.

I know last ambitious because either they have children or because they have caring responsibilities for parents or whatever. It doesn't diminish their ambition. Often. It actually strengthened it. But again, there's that sort of perception out there that women aren't as committed. So I think women need to challenge themselves and they challenge some of these myths that they hear all the time and not just accept them, you know, apply a little bit of critical thinking and and, and challenge themselves to South Africa.

Lech: [00:42:31] I think that's a great way to, to sum it up. In terms of everything that we've discussed, we've, you've added you've summed it up. You've added some new things that I think are great points for people to self. On both. Both for men, both for women, I nearly said on both sides and I'm acutely aware that saying sides, it just emphasizes the problem.

Then all sides in this that are, that just we're we're one group. And we just need to figure out how to make it all work for for us, for as individuals, but also as organizations What have you got going on in the next few months? Any interesting projects, any initiatives that you're really focused on or looking forward to, to working on and getting your teeth into?

Dawn Leane: [00:43:10] Yeah, I I've actually finished my book on I'm going out, looking for a publisher at the moment. So I finished a book on leadership. It is all about those, you know, navigating that it's very much a kind of a manual for women. I've interviewed a lot of senior women in business, in, you know, in society, in different roles.

And I've asked them, you know, what lapses they would like to pass on a terminal. The leadership journey. And then I've done some of my own research too. So so hoping to have that published within the next year, that will be super, and then working on a conference in November for women in corporate roles.

So aimed specifically at that, I was in corporate life and again, a range of speakers on all of those topics on, you know, family on confidence, on challenging, really challenging women actually, and saying, look, you know, here's, here's how, you know, here's what you are. Of the, the responsibility is, and here are the ways in which you can drive the conversation yourself.

You know, I always say to the women, I work with every email that you send to every phone call, every meeting, all of those things are an opportunity to shift the culture in terms of how you show up and how you, how you represent yourself. So so that conference is, I think the 12th of November here in Dublin.

So we're looking forward to that.

Lech: [00:44:21] Brilliant. I'll be sure to include the link in the show notes for people to be able to access that. And one that once your book. Next year or whenever it might be I'd like to have first dibs on having you back on the show again, to talk about it.

Dawn Leane: [00:44:33] Absolutely.

Lech: [00:44:34] It was, it was a joy to have you thank you very much for taking time and sharing some, some fantastic wisdom with us.

Dawn Leane: [00:44:40] Thank you for the opportunity.


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