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Hacking Your Biased Brain
In this week’s episode, The Leadership Habit podcast, Jenn DeWall talks with diversity and inclusion expert Maureen “Mo” Berkner Boyt, who’s the founder of The Moxie Exchange. Maureen spent over 25 years helping organizations grow by creating more inclusive workplaces where talented people can thrive. People around the world are using her tools, micro-learning courses, and the mobile app that she created to help them rock their Moxie. Maureen holds a master’s degree in organizational development and is the author of the five-book series, Rock Your Moxie: Power Moves for Women Leading the Way. Her “Disrupt HR talk, Hack Your Biased Brain is one of the most popular talks of the movement. Please welcome Maureen “Mo” Berkner Boyt.
Full Transcript Below:
Jenn DeWall: Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall. And on this episode of the leadership habit podcast, we are focused on all things, diversity, and inclusion, and here to support us and give more insight as well as tips for how you and your organization can thrive. Is Maureen, also known as Mo, Berkner Boyt Maureen, or I’m going to call you Mo! Well, how are you doing today?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: So fabulously and really, really excited to have this conversation.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. We have been looking forward to it. I know that you just have so much experience, but I, of course, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know you. So, if you could just share with our audience just a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: You bet. My background, I had the good fortune of working directly, my first job out of college, with a gentleman that was— they didn’t call them unicorns back then, but he was a unicorn. When I joined the company, there were about 3000 employees. When I left five years later, we were over 20,000 employees, and I got to see that happen. I got hooked on how to unleash the potential in people at work because that’s really what allows companies to grow like that.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, absolutely. We know that it starts with the people and creating that right environment for them to thrive. You know, we’re going to be talking about diversity and inclusion, which we know is a hot topic right now. And it’s obviously something we want to sustain. What is diversity and inclusion for people that maybe are still a little bit unfamiliar with those terms, and why should organizations care?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. That’s so what our diversity, equity, and inclusion are actually a really good place to start. Diversity is our range of differences. So diversity is everything from, you know, really quickly people think about race and ethnicity and gender. It is so much more than that. It’s everything from class, accents, beauty. And I say beauty, and you’re like, wow. Yeah. So there’s, there’s a bias, for example, here in the US around white men who are over six feet tall, like we, so that like our diversity is this wild range. People with disabilities, LGBTQ, religion, I talked about class— class is really intersectional on so many different things. So you just think about the broad, beautiful spectrum of people that, you know, that’s diversity. Equity is really setting up systems where every single one of those folks has the same opportunity to thrive. And inclusion is really, you know if you think about showing up at work and really being able to bring it all in a way that it’s, it’s a little bit, like, I feel like I can put my feet up on the coffee table. That’s inclusion. Kimberle Crenshaw one said, and I’d love this, diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. Equity is being able to, and she didn’t say this piece of, I have to figure out who said this last part is equity is being able to choose the dance list, right? The music. So it’s, it is really about, and again, we talk about all of this because it’s about being able to unleash the full potential of everybody. Because when you do that, you make more money. You are more innovative. You are like the research just piles up that companies that are both diverse and inclusive when they win on every single possible measure.
And the example that I use, Jenn, is if you look at a picture of the team that was able to take a picture of the black hole. Now, I don’t really care about astronomy. It’s not really my jam. But when I saw that they took a picture of a black hole like that, that’s mind-blowing. That team was, again, and I can even, maybe in the show notes or something, I can send a link to the photo. Age. There are young scientists there, old scientists. Race, it was I, I have to look at the data, but it was like 15 countries, six continents over 300 scientists, like one of the lead scientists. You can’t see this from the photo. I just know, because once I saw it, I had to dig in. He was in, out in science. He’s a gay man. There are people with disabilities. I mean, it is this beautiful picture of diversity. And because of that, they were doing; they did something that people thought could never be done. And that’s what happens when you have not just diversity, but inclusion, you get a higher team IQ, lower turnover, higher commitment, IQ, patent citations. I mean, it is across the board, and you’re making more money. The reason to do it is now you should be asking yourself if this— if we are not doing this— we should be asking ourselves why, because there is also research that shows that companies that are really homogenous are in the bottom quartile for all business results. So it’s not, why should we be doing this, but it’s really you should be questioning your leadership if you’re not thinking about how to win at this.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. It’s when, I mean, there’s obviously profits, which we know. I mean, I know it’s not the primary focus of all organizations, but it’s absolutely what they need to be able to sustain operations. So there’s that. And then, because we spent a third of our lives at work, so making sure that we feel safe in our place of employment is just at a personal level so essential.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: I mean, let’s just go with, it’s the right thing to do, like that’s baseline too, right? It’s just like seeing the humanity in other people and being able for them to bring that humanity is like, isn’t that a great thing? Yeah, absolutely. I always say in this work, think about the kids in your life. And they don’t have to be your own children. They could be nieces, nephews, the neighbor kids you know, whoever those kiddos are, they’re watching and are casting a shadow, and they’re watching and think about the world you want to create for them. A world where it really does not matter who you are, where you came from, the color of your skin, who you love, what ability your body has, or doesn’t have if you have mental health issues, any of those things, it doesn’t matter. You are still allowed to show up and do great work.
Jenn DeWall: Yes. And I love even talking about mental health as a thing to acknowledge. Because I think you do talk about it. We do talk about it a lot from maybe that gender or race perspective, but we aren’t addressing mental health. And from what I’m seeing in my experience like coaching organizations, people are really starting to crack as a result of the pandemic as a result of the stress. And we need to also create a safe space to talk about mental health.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah, no, I will say that the two that get overlooked the most are mental health issues because it was, and I love seeing younger and younger, well-known people come out and say, yeah, I’ve been diagnosed as bipolar. Right? And to sort of cast that off. And, and we are in a mental health crisis right now that’s not going away, so we better be able to talk about it. The other one is people with disabilities. So conservative estimates are one in five people. One in five people has a disability. It’s probably closer to one and four, and there’s a great, this is actually disability pride month. And here in the United States on the 26th, it is the 30th anniversary of the Americans with disabilities act, the ADA, which is one of the largest pieces of civil rights legislation we have ever passed in this country.
So, you know, it’s still seen as people are like, Oh, can I say disabled? Well, that should be telling you something about your unconscious bias. And you’re able-ism if you’re saying like, can I even say disabled? The stats, Accenture, and Disability: IN did research. Unbelievable, the business results that you get when you hire people with disabilities and rightly so, they are the original life hackers. They have had to go around in a world that is not designed for them their entire lives. So if you want creativity, if you want innovation, if you want somebody thinking about like, Hey, here’s what our customer is going to think about this product or service. You better have folks with disabilities on your team.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. I don’t understand it. That’s so interesting that you say that like that one in four, what 25% of your workforce has that. I mean, I know I have Multiple Sclerosis, which is considered a disability, even though I can walk. Right. Like, so when people think about that disease, they think you can’t walk. And sure, there might be a time where I can’t walk, but it’s hard to also like embody disability sometimes because I think for fear of an employer not wanting you. Like, what if my MS goes in a different way than obviously I want it to, then does that make me not valuable anymore? Like that is a really scary feeling.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: And the, and the thing that is interesting about disability, it is one of the biases that almost all of us will end up having. Right? Yeah. Almost all of us will end up with some sort of disability in our lives. And the same thing with age and ageism. You’re going to age yourself right into your bias.
Jenn DeWall: Right, right. Oh my gosh. So check your bias if it’s about age because you’re headed in that direction. Why, why do organizations fail at diversity equity and inclusion efforts? Why do they fail?
Why do Organizations Fail at Diversity and Inclusion?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: There is a myriad of reasons, but I would say the first is seeing it as warm and fuzzy. Right. Seeing it get everything that we just talked about with the business results—and then failing to measure because of that. So I think what’s interesting about this is people get people to kick out all sorts of ways about measurement when it comes to D&I. And it’s like, do you measure your sales? Do you measure your quality? Do you measure your, your turnover? You know, any business, you know, your customer turnover, do you measure your customer satisfaction? If you see D&I as a true business driver, then you better be measuring it.
Jenn DeWall: And, you know, people just don’t, I think, realize that soft skills can be measurable. They may not be a direct, Hey, because of this, that impeded our sales. But how you communicate, but the type of culture that you can, that you create, you just have to find and look for the signs. Maybe it’s turnover; maybe it’s this, maybe it’s issues, waste, or hours wasted on conflict. You can measure this stuff. It does not have to be a direct, obvious way of seeing it. You absolutely can measure that. Sorry to interrupt you. I just think it’s so interesting that people, you know, really have a hard time with some of the soft stuff to say, well, how do I measure that? You can’t measure that. You can. And it all does impact your bottom line.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Well, and I would say this, when you look at those organizations, again, there’s nothing “soft” about this when it comes to your business results. So you can, you can measure diversity, you can measure all of those things. You can have people self-report, and you can talk about that self-reporting because it is right that we’re trying to get better at this. Because we know if we do this, its a better organization for everybody. So we tend to think of it. And, and because we do not see it as a business driver, it’s also not put on our strategic map. It’s not put on our strategic priority. We are not holding people accountable for results. And if people aren’t held accountable to results, whether that’s my pay, right, If I’m an executive, the companies that are getting this right, they Microsoft, as an example, their CEO— 10 or 15% of his comp is based on driving diversity and inclusion, right. Diversity and inclusion.
Jenn DeWall: Wow. 10-15% of compensation! There might be some people that are saying, how could you possibly attribute that much to diversity and inclusion?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Microsoft knows that it’s a business driver, right? So that’s one, that’s one failure, right. We don’t measure it. And then we don’t hold people accountable. So I think that’s the other piece. Until there is both either pain or gain that I feel, as a leader, I’m not incentivized to spend my time or my talent working or my budget working on that. So we have, there has to be accountability. There has to be measurement, right? There has to be prioritization. And then there has to be pain or gain for leadership in actually moving the needle.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. Pain or gain. A mindset. Right. Like, I think this is what we’re seeing is just so much of the opportunity to educate people. Oh, there are so many people that like, I don’t even think. And, you know, I know that you know, this more than anyone else, like they don’t even realize that they have biases. They think that like, Hey, I am totally inclusive. Like I, you know, I am a great leader. We all have our own judgments. The accountability, the measurement piece. And then that mindset piece that, Hey, check yourself before you wreck yourself to quote some type of song. I don’t even know where that came from, but yeah, we have to understand that and take ownership of it.
Everyone is Biased
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. We actually—one of the foundational pieces that everybody needs to understand in this, that is that every single one of us is biased. It’s the way our brain functions. It is, it is literally built. The neuroscience that’s coming out around unconscious bias is awesome. What’s interesting is we cannot stop at knowing there’s research that says if I just find out and do research and, and maybe I go through an unconscious bias class, I will actually behave in a more biased way because I think I’m not biased anymore. The example that I use is to imagine I were a diabetic. I could do a ton of research on how my pancreas secretes insulin. Right. But I couldn’t turn around and say, all right, do it right pancreas. Like I know now, so I’m fine. It’s the same thing with our brain. The research is telling us that it’s unconscious bias is firing in our medulla, our left frontal lobe.
Right. It is how we very quickly filter and sort information back in the day it was, are you safe or not? Should I run or should I stay, right? Should I fight? Or should I get out of here? Right. So, but now we have millions of bits of literally millions of bits of information coming at us all day long. If we didn’t have our unconscious bias, we’d be curled up in a corner, sucking our thumb, right? So our bias helps us filter and sort really quickly, safe, not safe. Is somebody, and we have positive and negative bias. So what we have to understand is that we’re holding up a mirror that reflects our reality and our biases, not the reality and the bias. So we have to put, we have to pause and put bias interrupters in place so that we actually can look at people in situations and make those unbiased decisions. We have a whole toolkit because it is, I mean, there are things I don’t trust a single thing my brain thinks anymore. Because-
Jenn DeWall: That’s interesting! And it’s hard, but I love that you have that awareness around what is coming up for you.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: So one of the, I always say curiosity is an inclusion superpower. So if you question yourself and think to yourself, what’s the bias here? Not is there a bias, but what bias could be firing right now. Right? Could I have a bias? And again, there’s positive and negative. Am I giving somebody the benefit of the doubt that shouldn’t be getting that? Or am I doubting somebody that I shouldn’t be doubting? And so it’s you know, what else could be true? What’s the bias. This was the original thought that I had about this person. What else could be true? And putting as much process and system in place as you possibly can to hack your biased brain. And you know, we, we talk about this at, you have to, you have to look at it at a systems level. You have to look at it at a team level, and you have to look at it at an individual level and every step of the way you have to be interrupting bias.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. Yeah. And so it’s breaking it down. So if we’re thinking about where to start, you know, one of the first places is understanding, it sounds like that it occurs at all levels and that we have to pay attention to it at these levels, whether it’s a systems level, a team level or an individual level, but for those people that are either watching or listening to this, hearing our conversation, what, what tips would you have for them to either become more inclusive as a leader or an organization? Where do they start?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah, I think, I think the first is having the conversation. So let’s talk about at the leadership level. Taking a hard look in the mirror, looking at your results, right? Face the brutal facts, Jim Collins. Where do we stand right now? And what do we aspire to, right? If we know that this is about driving business results, and by the way, there is a leader that I worked with. Now they’re a winery. They’re more than a winery. They’re a wine company. They own, I don’t know how many vineyards in Canada. And we were, I was in talking with their team, talking about unconscious bias, talking about all of this. And he looked at his team. He said, isn’t this the coolest leadership challenge? Like, isn’t this an amazing opportunity for us to really look at our leadership, look at how we’re behaving, and create an organization?
He said, you know, we get as leaders, we see a lot of the same problems. Like, Oh, we’ve got a supply chain issue, or we have this, we, he said, this is new. This is different. This is exciting. And that’s, so I would say as an incentive, thinking about this as like, you know, this is politically correct, or this is like, like what a cool challenge, how to become a more inclusive leader. Because we know the end result of that is better business results. So for me to step into this with curiosity, to put it on our strategic map, to start to measure it, and then to say, how can we give every single person in this organization tools? Right? How can we create a common language? How can we say at work, you know what, we’re on a journey we’re gonna screw up. Right?
Jenn DeWall: Because your bias is still there, you have to still work through the fact that this is something that was programmed in that you, it takes, it’s a process, not a single event.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. So we say, right, it’s a journey. Like anything else you can’t, you would never stop looking at quality. Right? If you’re producing a product, you wouldn’t just say, okay, we got it right now. Now we’re not going to, and we’re going to, we’re going to stop.
Jenn DeWall: Right – just check that off your list.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: We are never going to check this off your list. It’s a part of how you do business. So start with that, taking a look in the mirror, where are we now? Where do we want to be? How are we going to measure, how are we going to incentivize? And how do we get tools to every single person? You know, then again, that goes back to the systems level. Okay. If we’ve measured and, and we don’t have people with disabilities, as an example. How are we going to go out and actively recruit? What is our brand out there telling people what’s our social media look like? What does our website look like? Who’s on our recruiting, all of it. So lots of steps to take.
Jenn DeWall: So it’s, we have to understand where we are. And I like the one point that you had said, making sure that the tools are available to everyone. Yes. What do you think? Like where’s the failure there? Where do organizations typically fail? I think it just starts with the leadership team, and it’s supposed to trickle down. What’s going on.
Diversity and Inclusion is Everyone’s Job
Maureen Berkner Boyt: It definitely can start with the leadership team, so this is another reason why, why D&I has stalled is, Oh, that’s HR’s job, right? Send it to human resources. Or if your organization’s large enough, Oh, the D&I is going to take care of that. Instead of saying inclusion is how each one of us shows up every single day. The example that we use is this being an inclusive leader; being an inclusive organization is cultural, right? It’s how it feels every day. And that’s how you and I treat each other day in and day out. It is like the choices that I make in leading a healthy lifestyle. I have to wake up every day, think about what I’m going to eat, how much exercise I’m going to get, how I’m going to manage my stress, how much sleep I’m going to get. Those are all; there are choices that I’m making all day long about. Am I going to eat the apple, or am I going to eat the Fritos? Right? Am I going to blow up when something goes wrong? Or am I going to take some deep breaths and think about how I can manage that stress? Am I going to take a 15-minute break now and again, and get up and stand up and move my body instead of sitting at my computer all day? Those are all choices that I make that lead to a healthy weight, healthy blood pressure, healthy cholesterol. I don’t get to get there. And then be like, now I get to sit on the couch and eat Frito’s all day!
Jenn DeWall: Yeah.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: I wake up the next day, the next day. And sometimes I’m going to mess up, and I’m gonna be like, I’m going to have a bad weekend, or I’m going to have a bad day, and I’m going to eat too much. I’m going to drink too much. I’m not going to manage my stress. I get up the next day and make the choices again. So that over time, right, that arc is a healthy lifestyle. But day in and day out. Inclusion is the same thing. It’s what are the choices that we’re going to make about who we’re going to hire. About what, how we’re going to run our meetings, are we going to allow interruptions? Are we going to always ask the women to take notes? Or are we going to put those interrupters every single day? So that the arc over time is an inclusive culture, but it’s everybody engaging in that, but you can’t have an inclusive culture if it’s just a subset of people that it’s like, Oh, they’re going to fix that. It’s you and I all day. Right? How does, how does our team make decisions in an inclusive way? How do we, you know, do the hiring, the firing, the promotions? Who gets to have the really cool stretch assignments, all of those are a part of inclusion.
Jenn DeWall: Well, and I like that, it’s, it’s a top-down, but it’s also a bottom-up approach. We can’t just put it on one or the other. And I think it’s important because I guarantee if there’s, you know, for the leaders that are listening, just evaluate your organization, be curious, I love that. You said curiosity is just, you know, one of the places that we can really begin, that’s the piece that we have to have, but be curious. Because I think the more that you look at this earlier on in your career too, as no matter where you are, but also earlier on, recognize, like, are there themes? Could there potentially be biased in my organization? Because I could say that. Yeah. Oh yeah.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Okay. There is definitely bias in your organization.
Jenn DeWall: Right. It’s not whether it could be, but it’s what it is. Because I know that from, I worked at an organization and it’s not that I directly experienced the bias in this way, but what I would say is that I could very easily— based on someone’s appearance— say, I guarantee that person will get to this level, that person will get to this level, this person will get to that level. And I wasn’t even part of those decisions, but it was just such a groomed like this is how everyone had to show themselves. It was like the beautiful-people awards. Not necessarily what we want when we’re thinking about decisions and where they need to be about equality and diversity and just the value of all those people. But, you know, so if you’re working at some of those organizations, check yourself because that’s not the right way to do business. And it’s also going to cost you in the long run.
Understanding how Diversity and Inclusion Affects Careers
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. There are a couple of, and some of our bias, like the strongest, is “like me” bias where
Jenn DeWall: So much “like me” at that organization.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Well, almost, almost every organization is, and the way this shapes up. So the way unconscious bias impacts careers is— I say it’s like headwinds and tailwinds. So if I am, and for the most part, I’ll talk about US-based for a moment. If in the US, it tends to be if I am a white, male, cis-gender, which means that the gender, the sex I was born with. So, I was born the female sex, and my gender aligns with me. Like I identify as a woman, cisgender heterosexual, able-bodied right. Like all of those things and tends to be not as much anymore, but Christian, right? Like I have a positive bias. Right. We see white, able-bodied cis-men as leaders. We see them as capable. We see them as capable of like, then let’s take the reverse of that. If I’m a black female with a disability who’s queer. Right? Any one of those things, I have headwinds. Things are a little harder for me. Even me with all kinds of positive, right. That my skin is white, I’m able-bodied, I’m cisgender, I’m heterosexual. All those things, I’m still a woman. Right? So I still have these, these slight headwinds. Over time, what that looks like is my career looks like this. It feels like death by a million paper cuts sometimes. You can’t quite put your finger on it. It’s the I’m getting interrupted in the meetings all the time. I’m being asked to get the coffee. I have been asked to prove it, and prove it again at my work. People think that I’m lucky versus I worked really hard. And that’s exhausting, right? That’s exhausting over time.
One of the things that is really, I think, can be groundbreaking beyond like curiosity, understanding every single person is biased. It’s not one group doing it to another. Is this idea of, we’re not trying to take when we talk about inclusion, diversity, and inclusion, it’s not about taking those tailwinds away. It’s about creating those tailwinds for everybody. Because, don’t, we want everybody to show up and do their best work and to bring their brilliant, all their brilliant talent and not be disengaged? Right? Or not be thwarted instead like, Oh my gosh, we’re unleashing everybody’s potential. That’s what this is about. So I think sometimes people think, Oh, it’s about taking away. No. It’s about creating for everybody.
Jenn DeWall: I love. I mean, and it sounds so much more powerful. And again, it goes back to what you had said before. This is an opportunity for you as an organization to make a better place for all to work. What an exciting challenge. Mo, what advice or tips would you have? Like, how do you tackle it? How do you even begin to chip away at something? Especially if your organization might be in the infancy stages of an approach around diversity, equity, and inclusion, how do you tackle it? Or what are some ways or tips that they can tackle it?
How can Leadership Approach Diversity and Inclusion?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Well, for sure, framing it up as exciting, right? Like some people, like, if you feel like if your leadership team is coming at this like you’re getting, you know, sent to the executioners, like that’s, that’s going to come out instead of like, this is, this is exciting. And we are, we have an opportunity, every single person to be better. So we’re going to learn together. We’re going to make missteps together. We’re going to create a culture. That’s a growth environment that we’re not like blame and shame has no place. Right. And I think that’s the other thing. We can’t allow blame and shame around where we are now or around mistakes. Hundred percent guarantee, 100% guarantee people in your organization, and you are going to say and do the wrong thing. I actually put out a LinkedIn post about this. This is the work that I do. And I said, here are three mistakes that I made in the last three weeks. Right. Because it’s going to happen. So I think we— I think setting that context, this is exciting. This is a journey we’re doing this because everybody gets to win. We’re creating tailwinds for everybody. We’re not taking anything away, and let’s learn and grow together. Right. So let’s commit to calling it out if we see something in a way that is not blaming or shaming, that it’s like, Hey, I know that you would never want to be the person that makes somebody feel othered, or like they don’t belong.
Be open to hearing an opportunity to get better. And then you’re addressing these things in real-time. So I think that you know, coming out and saying, we didn’t know what we didn’t know before now. We all- let’s learn together. Let’s get better together. That’s a pretty cool place to work in and of itself. And then you can start to look at things at the systems level. Measure. Right? Make some people accountable, right? Like, Hey, here’s, here’s the plus. If we start to make progress, here are some consequences if we don’t. And then, look at the systems level, start with your recruiting. What’s our employment brand. Scan your website, scan your social media. Think about who’s on your recruiting teams. Have you do you have folks trained? Do they understand unconscious bias and how it pops up? I mean, there there’s so much research, you know, like looking at resumes, blind screening who sits on your committees, what your candidate pools look like.
Sponsorship Vs. Mentorship
Maureen Berkner Boyt: I mean, I can, that’s like off the top of my head, quick stuff. Right. As leaders think about your, “like me” bias in your development opportunities. Mentorship and sponsorship. And if folks don’t know the difference between the two, mentorship is giving advice. Oh, if I were in your shoes or when I was in your shoes, here’s what I did—a sounding board. Sponsorship is really mentorship on steroids. It is taking that person under your wing and saying, come with me. I’m taking you with me to the top. And it’s spending your capital, right? It’s spending your capital within the organization, putting their name in for stretch assignments, for promotions, advocating for them. It’s a very active relationship. I guarantee you you’re already sponsoring somebody in your organization. You just don’t know. And so it’s really intentional about both those mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, because sponsorship if there was a secret sauce to getting into leadership, it’s sponsorship. 30% more pay raises promotions and stretch assignments.
And so if leaders simply have a conversation and say, I need to sponsor somebody who doesn’t look like me, right? Because my “like me” bias is going to kick in. I’m going to look down and say, Oh my gosh, he reminds me of me. When I was that age, I’m just going to invite him to go golf, or I’m going to, I’m going to include him on that email stream about this decision that we’re making. I’m going to get him exposure to the other leaders. I’m going to get, make sure that he goes to that conference. You know, all of these, all these development opportunities that happen instead, it’s saying I’m going to sponsor somebody that is not like me. That, you know, maybe it’s a woman. Maybe it’s a person with a disability. Maybe it’s somebody different racial, ethnic background than mine. Maybe it’s somebody LGBTQ, like all of those things, I’m going to sponsor somebody. That’s not like me because I understand that sponsorship is the path to leadership. I’m going to use my capital because I know the business results, right. And that person is qualified, right? It is not that they’re not qualified. Great examples. Indra Nooyi, former CEO of Pepsi, co Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox, Sheryl Sandberg, current COO of Facebook, every one of those women, right? Two of them are women of color. So they’re women. Two of them are women of color. Every single one of those women brilliant worked her tail off. Right? Managed her career was really savvy, and managing her career. And every single one of them had a very powerful sponsor within their companies.
Jenn DeWall: So I didn’t realize that! That there was that sponsorship. Okay. Awesome. I mean, obviously, I know those names, but I definitely didn’t realize that.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: They got to where they are because of the power of sponsorship. So think about who you’re sponsoring. And then you’re looking at who gets to go to the conference, all those things. There’s a great the former CEO of Kaiser Permanente put in place, what he called the rule of two, that only two people could look the same. And then the third person for consideration, for a stretch assignment, a promotion development opportunity had to look different. The organizations that we work with, leaders come back to us all the time and say, Oh my gosh, that’s like, we have great talent all over the place. They just weren’t the first people I thought about. But when I put that pause in place, when I put that bias interrupter in place, it caused me to look again and go back and see those folks that I hadn’t before.
How to Get Everyone Involved
Jenn DeWall: I love that. And I like the expression of a bias interrupter. What do you say to the people? Because I think that there are some people that are a little threatened by diversity and inclusion because then they feel like they won’t have options anymore. Which, I mean, the one thing you can say is, think about other people have been living. They didn’t have the options. Like, what do you say to the criticizers? I mean, because we need to get them on board too, because they’re in organizations and we need to help educate and inform them, like, how can we still quell the people that may have benefited from it, but need to do better? Do we fire them? Do we like— what do we do?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. I think that’s where thinking about, so there are a couple of things, and this is often gets missed that the people that are the most inclusive get ahead, those that get along and get ahead—so having them understand how it benefits them in their career. Excuse me, being inclusive is a piece that we often miss. Right. So also thinking about and showing some of those having them understand, think about the last time somebody on your team quit and what a pain in the butt, it was having to bring a new person on board, get them trained up, get them up to speed, all the extra work that you had to do all of the, well, how about 22% less turnover on your team? When you’re, when you have inclusive teams. How about greater team commitment? So the person sitting to your left and the person sitting to your right, even in that virtual zoom room, they’re bringing their A-games instead of just showing up and taking up space, right? So it benefits you directly benefits you to have an inclusive team, and opportunities are not pie, right? So when we’re creating tailwinds for everybody, the company is growing, we’re doing better financially. There’s again, more opportunity for you. So instead of being threatened by it again, it’s like we all get to win and win more. When we’re inclusive, that benefits you, that benefits your paycheck, that benefits the opportunities that are gonna come your way, that benefits you day in and day out with the people working with you, pulling their weight. Yes.
Be Aware of the Most Common Biases
Jenn DeWall: That’s the whole like together, we rise. Not looking at it from a place of scarcity, but recognizing that if one person succeeds, that doesn’t mean you fail. It means that we all, when we rise by lifting others, like if that was going to tackle and try to understand where to start with my own biases, like what bias comes up with me. Are there a few that are more prevalent? That you’d say, okay, check this bias, this bias, and this bias first.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. So in the workplace, the two in the workplace that pop up the most are actually age and disability. So ageism kicks in around people’s early forties. So it’s earlier than people believe.
Ageism & Ableism
Jenn DeWall: And what does ageism mean? Is that when you’re in your early forties, you think someone is too old or too young to be able to do specific tasks.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: That, that means that once I hit my early forties, people younger than me are looking at me and saying, Oh, she doesn’t, she can’t learn new tech. Or right. She’s not as engaged. She’s just taken up space. Right. So we’ve heard too. So ageism kicks in, particularly in the tech industry. And people with disabilities, right. We tend to think of people with disabilities as just not capable. And so start, start with those two and then certainly race, gender, and LGBTQ, the more subtle are I talked about beauty bias. So we tend to, and I skipped a really big one. So let me go back to that. Maternal bias is enormous.
Jenn DeWall: So that’s the women who have kids.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. So maternal bias has crashed and burned more careers for women than you can imagine. And that looks like she can’t be both a good employee and a good mom. Now that she’s had- I left a company that I loved, absolutely loved because of maternal bias. My boss started to, you know, say things like, you know, you should really be, you know, to be a good mom, you should really be staying home. Right. Or, you know, maybe you want to take this part-time. Or, and, and I looked up, and nobody that had attained the leadership was a mom. There were dads, right? Because we don’t do the same thing with fathers. So maternal bias is enormous. So I would, you know, to combat maternal bias, you assume that she wants her foot on the gas pedal of her career just like she had it before, don’t start doing things like, oh, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna give her that project. Cause it’s really challenging. And she’s got a baby at home, right. Where you think you’re actually helping her, that’s hurting her career. Let her tell you. Let her tell you.
Jenn DeWall: Yes. I mean, just so many, whether it’s just so many assumptions about that, whereas I know plenty of women that are both moms that are extremely career-driven and want to be successful and want the opportunity.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: I took all the training that that company had given me all of the training to an organization that didn’t care if I had kids or not. Right. So they, I never quit working. Right. I never quit working. I just took, I just took my skills and my assets to a place that valued me for my output. Didn’t care about hours, you know, hours in the seat, they were willing to be flexible. There’s a really fantastic company, Moss Adams. They looked at who was coming out of school with finance degrees and who is getting their CPAs. And they saw it was more women than men. And then they looked at their partner group and said, Oh, if we want to keep growing, we have to figure out how to keep women on the partner track. They came up with a flexibility policy that is open to men and women. That’s brilliant. You already have to be a high performer. And if you have a life event, which for women tends to be, I just gave birth. Or 80% of caregivers for sick and elderly are women, right? So we get sandwiched. They said, okay, we hire for retention. We know these things are going to happen.
We’re not going to let it take somebody off a partner track. So people that are already high-performers it’s for a period of time, generally a year, it’s gotta be good for the company, and it’s gotta be good for them. We’ll work out a flexible work arrangement. Because it’s easier to see you through that little bit of time and to have this benefit of a diverse partner group than it is to let you know, to take you off the partner track or to lose you altogether and have to hire somebody new and get them up to speed and onboard the clients. Moss Adams continues to be one of the fastest-growing service organizations in the country. This is US-based. They started in California, they’re as far East now, as I think they’re all the way into like Minnesota, Wisconsin, right? And they just keep acquiring these firms, growing organically. They’re killing it. Right? Because they figured out how to interrupt that maternal bias. That’s one example of a- and they have a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I love it.
Jenn DeWall: I’ve really enjoyed our conversation today, Mo, any last things that you would want to share with people before I go to our final question?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. Hack your biased brain, right? Like, see this as the exciting opportunity to grow as a leader, which then has the ripple impact of growing your organization, which has the ripple impact of the good things that happen out in your communities. And, and see this as I see it as that exciting challenge. It’s like a healthy lifestyle. It’s how you show up every single day and hack your biased brain. What else can be true? Be curious!
What is Your Leadership Habit for Success?
Jenn DeWall: Be Curious! And hack your biased brain. I love it. We are all biased. You every single person listening. Right. We always wrap up every podcast with one closing question, which is, what is your leadership habit for success? What do you do to maintain your success?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Ooh, I have to pick one—my morning power hour. So yeah, I wake up every morning, and I start with gratitude. So the things that I’m grateful for then I set my top five priorities for the day. And those priorities are tied to a month. Like monthly, quarterly, annual, and five-year goals. So what do I need to do today? That gets me to five years, and sometimes those are small, and sometimes those are big. And then I read something to learn. Sometimes that’s a podcast, you know, listening to a podcast. And so I learn. I used to say I read, but I learn. And then I do some exercise, and that can be introduced weights and core in my basement or a walk. And not until I’ve done all of that, then I check my email.
Jenn DeWall: And then you get into it. One tool that could help someone’s leadership habit for success is one of the apps that you offer and, or the app that you offer, I should say. But we talked about, you know, diversity, equity, and inclusion, but you actually have a tool that leaders and organizations can use called the Everyday Inclusion app. What is that? Cause I know, we’re going to share that with you, with listeners, that’ll be in the show notes that I’ll obviously be in the bumper, but what is that in your words?
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Yeah. You know, we really looked at this idea that we’re addicted to our technology. We check our phones, on average, 52 times a day. And if we spent one of those times just with an inclusion nudge. A little inclusion tip, like maybe it’s about to be Ramadan, and I can go, and I can look up Ramadan. Or I just met somebody with a disability, and I want to know what words to use, or I want to figure out how to run an inclusive meeting. That’s all in the app. And it’s right in the palm of people’s hands. So it’s one to two minutes a day, right? Just that making inclusion a daily habit.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. Everyday inclusion. I love that. That’s a great way to hack your bias, just paying attention to it. Yup. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I’ll provide a link in the show notes as well as in the bumper for you guys to connect with Mo. But just to remember, and in Mo’s words, get out there and hack your bias to create a better place that will yield higher profits when you bring everyone to the table. Thank you so much, Mo.
Maureen Berkner Boyt: Well, This was so fun. Thanks, Jenn.
Jenn DeWall: Thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit featuring Maureen Berkner Boyt. If you want to connect with Maureen, you can find more resources and also demo the everyday inclusion app to help your organization make inclusion a regular part of the way you do business. You can head on over to everydayinclusionapp.com, or you can follow the link from our show notes. If you enjoyed today’s episode, don’t forget to share it with your friends and rate and review us on your favorite podcast streaming service. And please stay with us for the entire month of August as we provide more content surrounding the very important topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion.