Bonita Banducci: Harnessing the Talents and Contributions of Women
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Nov 19, 2016
Awakin call with Bonita Banducci 11-19-16
Host: Deven Shah Moderator: Lynn Lawrence Guest: Bonita Banducci
Deven: Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. My name is Deven. I will be your host for the weekly Awakin call. Welcome and thank you for joining the call.
Today our guest speaker is none other than Bonita Banducci. Some one who really embodies today's theme of - " Harnessing the talents and contributions of women."
Our guest speaker, Bonita, Our guest this week believes that greater consciousness about how women and men relate to each other, and of their complementary strengths, can be powerful keys to enhanced creativity, performance, and humanity at all levels. She believes that difficult situations can become teachable moments.
I offer this seed question for reflection
What have been some of your teachable moments regarding gender dynamics in the workplace, and what have you learned?
Here are a couple of thoughtful reflections from our callers.
This is from David Doan: I have learned that there are differences between the way women and the way men work. I hope women don't give up or lose their way of dealing with things and become secondary to men. Because the way of men is already being done, the way of women is different, valuable and needed contribution to the workplace and to any situation.
Grace Barbara reflects: I have learned that when a man and a woman are strongly planning and perform together they can strengthen their personalities and life becomes easier regarding gender issue. I have found it fabulous to work with men without any difficulty.
Our moderator is Lynn Lawrence. She lives on a ranch in north of Idaho, where she home schools her sons. Before that she worked in web technology in Silicon Valley as an engineering manager. Since starting her career, she often found herself in the Bay area. When she can, she drops into Awakin circle in Santa Clara. Her interests include poetry; fiber arts like weaving and basketry and also in the process of education called learning.
Lynn, when I think about working together and experiences I have had for the past 20 years, one thing that comes up so strongly to me is - emotions are playing such a powerful role in communication. I have noticed that women actually have strength there overall. I just see women being more emotionally expressive, more willing to focus on relationships and trust, which is a powerful dynamic for the work environment. That is so priceless.
So Lynn, could you share your perspective on today's reflection question and also lead the conversion with Bonita.
Lynn: Based on what you just said Deven, I think that my first reflection would be that - we are going to be discovering in the future that what you have described as emotion is more valid than we can imagine right now. We will have a broader vocabulary and more assurance as we go forward and it won't sound so ethereal, may be. That is my own sense of what we are discovering. So it makes the work of people like Bonita so very valuable, this emerging work. Deven: So well said. The whole idea of new vocabulary as to how we explain, articulate and understand this. I am very excited about the call!
Lynn: Certainly! In introduction, Bonita is - understanding the work place cultures of men and women and
Understanding the workplace cultures of men and women -- and then "deciphering and naming in language the unique contributions women make in such a way that men can understand that contribution in their world of skills and objects and tools" -- is what Bonita Banducci has dedicated her career to. Bonita boasts an expansive and powerful resume focused on workplace gender issues. Perhaps her storied career should come as no surprise, as her name in both Spanish and Italian means “Beautiful Great Leader”.
She is a teacher, consultant, author, coach, and has developed original methodologies to identify how the talents of women can be put to greater use within business contexts. Bonita’s work has been guided by the belief that greater consciousness about how women and men relate to each other, and of their complementary strengths, can be powerful keys to enhanced creativity, performance, and humanity at all levels.
Named one of 100 Women of Influence of Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal 2014, she was also a representative of the Commission on the Status of Women of Santa Clara County at the UN NGO Forum World Conference on Women held in Beijing, leading a workshop on Creating Partnership of Women in Business with Women in Development for Sustainable Global Development.
So I got to spend sometime with Bonita last week. Her life's work-which she labels- Gender competence and practices from that very dynamic perch called Silicon valley, resonated strongly with my own background of what technology in that same place. Along with private consulting and workshops, she teaches a course in Santa Clara University called Gender and Engineering. However these aren't the only times you will find her teaching, as Bonita has passion for teachable moments. Our time spent together tuned into transformative experience for me and I sense her proven method so valuable as a catalyst for impact and also so timely just now.
I thought we will circle up more in the way of learners around the knowledge she brings and very elliptically, during this call touch on pillar of Bonita's work- Key leadership competencies, which when viewed via her model can be instantly, positively transformational.
To finish setting the stage for this teaching, I would also like to point out that at Servicespace we focus on small acts with great love that create positive ripples in the world. While Bonita's significant work is not small, there is an immense amount of her love here that has been a driving force throughout.
So with that I would like to say- Welcome Bonita!
Bonita: Lynn, thank you so much. What an extraordinary introduction. Really! I will say that what emerges out of this call is also an important piece. We have planned it but there is also the emergent. I know that, just the fact that we are in Servicespace has recalled to mind of how I considered to be a master of service when I decided to taken on this gender work. But I was afraid because it was so volatile and sometimes confrontational. And then I said to myself, "Well, I consider myself to be a master of service. I never want to rock people’s boats. But may be I could of greater service by rocking the boat a little bit here."
And that's what gave me the courage to take on this work. Gently rock the boat and actually work at disarming this conversation around gender. So thank you very much Lynn!
Lynn: So we start with the epiphany. Carol Bartz brought this epiphany right?
Bonita: Right. I will give a just a little background. I had been an entrepreneur myself and had seen so much of my different way of approaching business compared to my partner who had originally been my boss. I was cued to this curiosity about what it was that women bring to business. And then I had my epiphany about, may be I could be of greater service by doing this work. I made a commitment to do more intense research into the larger business community. Being that I was positioned in silicon valley, when the opportunity came to be in a project with Sun Microsystems to explore for the vice president of the one of the divisions- what is the contribution that women make that could be strategic advantage in the global market place, was certainly a big opening for me to articulate what my experience had been with map onto women and men in larger business arena. At that time we used say and we can still say it, that whatever is created in Silicon Valley is exported to the world. So it was great for me to have this opportunity to do this research and the interview with Carol Bartz broke everything open. Carol Bartz was second in command, at that time in early 90's. She was the vice president of worldwide operations and I interviewed her as to what it was that she brought to the executive team. I asked her, "What is it that you bring that wouldn't be there if you weren't there?"
First of all she clarified that she did not thin it was her gender, and this is one thing that I have found and it is another story to tell about how women often think the way we think is common sense. It doesn't have to do with their gender. She said what she does bring is the ability is to see all the different ramifications of a given issue that for the most part the senior executives would prioritize. What is the highest priority problem? What is the highest priority solution? Put the solution against the problem and then fight any fires that happened. Carol said to me, she likes to prevent fires. So that is how her looking at all the different ramifications of a given issue was then brought to the table with regards whatever the problem was. And that was a difference that she brought, she like to prevent fires. Right there I was like, " Wow! That's what I have been looking for!" Last management guru I read was Peter Sange, who was talking about how we need systems way of thinking. And I identified myself with that and said, “It’s time someone started talking about the way women think" Here I found that right at the top of the Sun Microsystems.
Thirty seconds I was in awe and then she added, " For this I am considered to be not a team player." And I was stunned. And I immediately recognized that not only are what I now call relational competencies, invisible and un articulated, as indeed we don't have a language for a leader being a fire preventer. Not only are these competencies unarticulated but they are often misinterpreted as being not competent. And if you breakdown, looking at American sports analogy, why she wouldn't be team player. First of all, she wasn't following the call of the quarterback or the coach. She had a different idea. Second of all, she was stepping into other people’s turfs. She wasn't just playing it from her own position as head of worldwide operations. She was getting into R & D and finance, human resources, marketing. So you are getting onto other people's turfs. Thirdly, she is stalling the action. Because she has a much more complex solution. You can't just forge ahead and put into action and fight any fires. You have to have some mitigating of all the different things that need t be taken into account and obviously take more time and attention and involve more people.
Lynn: So I think one of the things I loved the most in your vocabulary is that you don't use gender labels really at all.
Bonita: I use the terminology fundamentally to connect to cultures. So I use individualistic and relational. Now usually it is collectivist, but collectivist has other connotations. So I like the word relational. It relates visually to relational database compared to a spreadsheet. We need both.
Lynn: So what you were saying about Carl Bartz just a moment ago is that she doesn't have a linear solution. She has something that is going in many different directions at once.
Bonita: Right. It's relational. We could call it connecting the dots. We could call it systems thinking. Peter Sange, the management guru, was the one in the early 90's sating that we needed systems way of thinking. In fact, I'll just extend the story often one direction. Because I found, interviewing several of the executives, I found they had Peter Sange's book on their desks. One of them I interviewed in particular, I asked, what are their perceptions about why women were not being promoted?
We had the data. We knew where the ceiling was then, which was at Director level in early 90's, who are the spokes people for their company. In any case I would ask, "What is your perception about why women are not being promoted?"
This one fellow said, "Well, they are not ready yet."
I asked," What does ready look like to you?"
He said, " They would be competent"
I said," What would competency look like to you?"
He said, “They would be able to get right to the heart of the matter. Women keep bringing all these peripheral stuff."
To me that was the systems thinking, connecting the dots. It was like the perfect match up of misinterpretation of what the competency is.
Lynn: You have a really great visual as we roll into these competencies and identifying the vocabulary that I love, individualistic and relational, you have a visual that is a computer model....
Bonita: I started to add different dimensions to this work. In the last 5-10 years brain scientists started to enter in to deciphering and understanding gender differences.
So I brought that in. I felt that, especially my class of engineers, these are graduate students of engineering at` Santa Clara University, they need to have somewhat of a framework of linearity to it.
So I have a model like a computer. There is the brain science, which is the hardware, and then there is the operating system, I consider the lens, the cultural lens or the individualistic and relational lens through which you can interpret things. And then the Apps are the competencies- the behaviors and also communication differences. And that's how these differences come into life. So that's my model that helps to organize all these different things. We are not going to be talking much about the brain science today, but it is very consistent with what I sound through other means of psychology and sociology and linguistics. Particularly this emphasis on connecting, that often women have. I want to take a just a moment Lynn and sidetrack and say- whenever we are talking about these differences, One reason why I use relational and individualistic is because I don't want to say that all women are one way and all men are another way. There definitely influences for men to have a more interdependent lens, a relational lens. Culture has a lot to do with that. And there are more individualistic. In fact the women that worked with in the Sun project was a consultant who was highly individualistic. So we had to work things out between ourselves. So I found that is why it was useful not to be talking about masculine and feminine or male and female. I didn't want to have these competencies and lenses attached to biology. We need to listen for them and understand people's thinking from that point of view without attaching it to whether they are a man or a woman.
Lynn: I love this notion that there are these "apps" that we can take with us. You have already touched on one, which is the fire fighter vs the fire preventer. I think that if we step into that, since that encompasses a bit of your history that would be a great one to step into first.
Bonita: I gave a presentation recently at one of the companies here in the valley and afterwards one of the women came up to me and said, "It was just last week that my boss said to me that he doesn't hear anything about my project." She said to me, " I can see now. I am a fore preventer. And I need to be able to articulate all the different things that I do to prevent fires."
We can also associate that with continuous process improvement, for instance. One of my favorite stories is about a woman who was in charge of company acquisitions within a large company. She had been told by her boss, even though she did a great job of purchasing these companies, creating connection with them and seeing how they relate to the companies and bringing them into the company, she would not be ever a leader because she was probably best utility player in the company. Meaning that she could play all these different roles but then she would never be a star player. In my interview with her, all these relational competencies that you are talking about, these are what you need for a CEO.
I said to her, " Did you put these competencies on the job qualification for the leadership position?'
She just looked at me kind of blankly and said, " I will now!"
Lynn: Lot of vocabulary for that doesn't even exist.
Lynn: You are very deeply steeped in the background of systems thinking and this is part of your history that I think would be wonderful to share the early restaurant days.
Bonita: Ok. I even remember the day that I had to sneak into my own store, because, my partner who was also my husband at that point, and I couldn't sit down and talk about how I thought we needed to make some changes. So I had to sneak into my own store early to figure out how to be able to turn the business around. I had a retail store in Union Square in San Francisco, which was bringing the health food industry out of the back streets of America. The restaurant was the first restaurant reviewed in the vogue magazine. It was supposed to move to Saks Fifth Avenue. But that's a whole another story. But just to give you the picture of the strengths of the visibility of these businesses and their importance to the community and the way they lead social change in business, they were also a part of business for social responsibility. But I had to sneak into my own store, my restaurant, to figure out what it was that could allow for more business. We had customers streaming out the door. But I couldn't seat them. I couldn't turn the table fast enough. So I had wanted to use the computer capacity of the cash register. This was when they first started coming in. We had a computer cash register, but it wasn't programmed. My partner had said it's too expensive to program. And I snuck in and called the cash register company and I said, " How expensive is it to program and could I program it possibly?" They said, " Of course! It's built for you to be able to program it."
So I got the material to program the cash register, which greatly sped up the process of moving people through. I won't go into the details of that.
Lynn: A totally systems approach and very organic- " let's figure it out" approach.
Bonita: Also, women aren't supposed to be good at spacial perception. But I also figured out, even though we have been an award winning restaurant design, we have been written up in Interior Design magazine, I actually went against the design of the restaurant and brought in more tables, which actually made it even more festive. I figured out how to bring smaller tables in so that when there were just two people they weren't occupying a table for five. We could have two tables of two.
Lynn: In our tech world now, cross-functional teams are given.. We are emerging on these cross-functional solutions. Stop doing what it takes. 48:07 That was my own experience earlier on in the birth of world wide web, to attempt to do that because it was new we were doing things for the first time.
I love these tools, the vocabulary of apps. Shall we step into the next one using your vocabulary of individualistic vs relational, around how we do team work, the roles. Whether we had established the hard coated roles or whether we bring everything we've got.
Bonita: You have an interesting way of putting it into language Lynn. I really like that. I think, a different way of saying that is, are we compartmentalizing or we bringing everything together? You can see that the relationship of devils advocate in this. Playing the role of devil's advocate has been a very important part of business, of problem solving and of building ideas.
Lynn: And the way I would frame that is- looking at something critically when we are brain storming. We have this critical lens. When you are saying devils advocate, what I hear is that when we brain storm, we tend to have this critical eye. So what you are going to teach us now is may be a little bit different.
Bonita: Devils advocate usually is poking holes in the ideas, showing the weaknesses, questioning and that sort of thing. One of my favorite stories happened when I was working with the space agencies and executives there. One executive was particularly concerned about why there were no new ideas bubbling up in the organization. When we started to do this devils advocate exercise he stopped everything and said, " Bonita, we do science here." Devils advocate is science. I thanked him and I said, " Are you willing to do the exercise?"
We had deciphered by that time the other competency, which is another one, which is invisible and unarticulated. A consultant of a big consulting firm in a workshop said, " Why don't we call it angels advocate, as a contrast?” I like that. Normally, in our culture angels bring epiphanies from God. But you don't need to use that term. You can use building a case. In any case they played both angel's advocate, which is building the idea. Inductive reasoning rather than deductive reasoning and adding to the validity with new ideas. So they did the exercises and afterwards the same executive said, "We had so much fun with all those new ideas bubbling up. We didn't even play devils advocate."
And they realized that they created a culture where if you wanted to bring up a new idea, you had to stand up in front of a firing squad. This best encapsulates what I found throughout engineering and through many other organizations. This Devils advocate approach really does kill off ideas of people particularly who want to build them.
Lynn: Just one observation that we shaded on it a little and I just wanted to pull it out. When we are looking for new ideas, we want an assurance that comes from may be a mechanistic or data oriented assurance. Even beginning to step into this emergent area, I would observe that, may be there aren't the metrics for how to evaluate this process. I hear a lot about these prototypes- we got to try things and we got to fail. We got to try things and we got to fail. So I think the time really ripe now for opening ourselves up to these new types of thinking. Opening our process more. Often there is a barrier for your work, you told me because, the next thing out of peoples mouth is- what's the data behind it? I don't know that we have been able to even measure these things.
Bonita: That's true. I think thee are probably ways that we can start measuring these things. For instance, MIT and Carnegie melon have done this research. They were exploring collective intelligence. What is it that has a group be able to be more effective and have a higher intelligence rating for complex problem solving. And they were surprised to find that a major factor was the number of women in the group. They attributed to the fact that they were sharing, taking turns and also could read peoples faces. But I think it has a lot to do with these other elements. With the way they think, the connecting the dots and also the relationship part of wanting to include people and wanting to hear people's ideas.
Also, having to do with the devil's advocate and the angel's advocate, I do want to say that I have found over and over again, women have said this is why they left engineering. This culture and that they can't contribute in the face of this. And indeed, for relational people to be prepared with data ...
Lynn: As much as possible I suppose.
Bonita: Yes. As much as possible. The other aspect is - often as complex problem solvers, we want to sit down and talk it out with people. We don't want to just solve it ourselves. I have actually encouraged relational people to find other relational people to talk it out with or realize that they probably have a better grasp on how to solve a complex problem than a linear thinker. Because it almost becomes a threat to the linear thinker to bring up this complex problem. So the more relational thinker can solve the problem when you make the presentation.
We often thin that we want to include everyone on this. We want to get everyone's thinking on this. We don't want to say that we know the answer. Often it's important to be able to work it through as best you can before you actually present it to more linear thinkers, so that it looks more feasible and that it can be solved. It's a perfect example for the skills that I advocate for, which I call, adapting and adopting. It's a part of teachable moment. For example, Leslie is going to present an idea to Gary and Gary says, "I am just going to play devils advocate here." Leslie can say, " Hold o Gary. I am most creative when I can get your ideas and have building process on the idea before we start looking at the weaknesses."
Lynn: That is why I loved having this vocabulary! Not only can we see new strengths, we can also become better bridges to each other. In this situation, Gary needs it to be framed up differently and then we can come over the bridge to this new emergent area.
Bonita: Yes. When I do the exercise in class or in workshops, often the more individualistic people can't play angels advocate. They see that they have a weak muscle and I say,...
Lynn: Weak muscle! I like that!
Bonita: Yes and relational people have weak muscle playing devil's advocate. So how can we teach each other? So the adapting is adapting to people you work with, to your competency and how to work with it. And adopting is adopting the language of the other. I know that one of the concerns in the reflections was we don't want women to turn into men. To me this is a critical piece where more relational people can validate the way they are seeing something and sometimes `they need to learn to how to speak into the more individualistic world. Like- " Hold on Gary before you play devils' advocate. I want your best thinking on this.
In order to make the bridge...
Lynn: Often there is a step that is skipped which is just saying, " this is what I learned from you." the step that is validating the work that is done, before we step into the devil's advocate mode. That's really good work. I see that you spent a lot of time on that. That step is often implied but not vocalized or verbalized.
Lynn: So the next app that... If you look with the lens of individualistic and relational, it is status and independence vs connection and interdependence.
Bonita: Yeah. This is part of the fundamental lens. Often the more individualistic person is looking at who is up and who is down. And also the lower priority. Where as the relational person is looking at how do we connect and how do we work together? And this is even reflected in so many things..
I already talked about prioritizing the ideas vs systems thinking. But there are other ways this is important. In fact, even in the example of Leslie saying to Gary, I want your best thinking on this, it is looking through the lens and recognizing," I don't want to put Gary down. Because then he is going to be miffed. I want to keep him elevated without putting myself down. So I am going to ask for his best thinking. That keeps him in status that I respect his thinking and that’s what I want."
So this comes across in very different ways. If there is a behavior that establishes status, it's very likely to occur as a break in relationship to a relational person. So even with joking comments, the individualistic people, often men, will often will spar and put each other down. But you can't do that with a woman. Because that doesn't build relationship. That's a break in relationship. So these are all important aspects of the lens to be watching for and to be aware of. You can use it to empower each other as well as to know where the limits are. I like to say that there are strengths and points of diminishing return on all these competencies. I myself being a master of service, there have been times when I have bent over backwards so far for a customer, I have broken my own back. Not literally but figuratively. So there is a point of return. So that is why I think working together such an important part of this, to be able to benefit from he greater combination of the two, the synergy etc.
Lynn: I think that what is really validating is that we live in a time where it is undeniable that the collective is proven its value. Especially when we are talking about novel, urgent complex problems, crowd sourcing of solutions has proven itself.
So to move forward to next app which is individualistic and relational is individual intelligence vs collective intelligence
Bonita: Yes. I have already mentioned the research from MIT and Carnegie- Melon on collective intelligence. Another aspect of this would be- how we look at our customer base and how we work with our customers. Because we all talk about customer focus. I found a more individualistic approach to customer focus is- I am the expert and I know what is best for the customer. Whereas the more relational way of doing customer focus is - I get into the shoes of the customer and look from there. And of course I am really enamored of the emergence of what 's being called the design thinking, where the first step is empathy. It's not even looking from.. That I have an idea that I want to bring into the market place. There is a problem here. F we want to create a solution, we’ve got to listen to the people, all the users and customers around that problem in order to design it. So again here is an example of how the relational thinkers are actually really good at this. Although, ones the lens are revealed, I’ve also had the more individualistic people realize their won limits. I had one student, in a situation with a customer realized that he had gotten carried away with the vender talking about the technology they wanted to invent for this customer. And then all of a sudden they realized that they had completely gone away from what the customer really wanted. He said that he would not realize that if he hadn't taken the class. And he steered the whole ship back again to- okay first we have to focus on what this customer wants. We may go ahead and develop other technology. But let's listen to what this customer wants. So it's really beautiful to hear that both men and women realize that they have been looking at the world through a lens and not recognizing that there are different ways of looking at the world and they can all work together.
Lynn: This concept of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts and your notion of being a master of service... the next app the transacter vs the transformer- what might be the best possible outcome?
Bonita: I like to tie that into my passion- the sustainable developmental goals. We've had a history of transactional culture. We could even use the term Quid pro quo. Get something for something as a transaction, an exchange. If I do something for you, I expect you do this. Whereas a transformer might well be- I want to change the world. I might not even ask for money to do it. I just want to do it. There is a point of diminishing return on that too because we all need to sustain ourselves. For instance, generosity that comes just out of generosity rather than expecting something in return.
Now, I just mentioned the sustainable developmental goals. My entire career, I have been involved in the hunger project and ending hunger. Actually, even my work came out of that. I wanted to end the hunger within us all for full self-expression and satisfaction in the work place.
Lynn: Can you give us a little bit more back ground on the hunger project because it so seminal to your work.
Bonita: We. The hunger project was the first organization that said we could end hunger in the world. And they only could find one measurement, which was the measurement of infant mortality. To be able to measure hunger. Originally it was jus having people think that we could do it and then they set out to do it! One of the things that they established early on was that - In order to be able to bring communities out of poverty and hunger, there had to be 50- 50 representation of men and women at every decision making table. When they went into a country they had to get an agreement from the country.
Lynn: This was how long ago?
Bonita: I know it was by the early 90's. It may have been earlier but it really resonated with m in the early 90's. And that was also the time when we were discovering micro enterprise and how focusing on women and groups of women was the way to bring the women out, their families and communities out of poverty. But it was hunger project that said that we want to have 50% representation with women when we go into a country on all the projects that we are working on. So the United Nations, The UN women set out this planet 50- 50 by 2030. I was first of all so stunned that there would be s bold and then realized that it was only a reflection of what the hunger project did over 20 years ago. I think it is so exciting that we could be aiming for 50% participation of women. I do want to sidetrack here a minute. It's not about the numbers, remember. I mean that’s why I really would like to be able to write handbook on how men and women can be more innovative, together. Because its not just about putting the numbers on the table. It’s about working together effectively. And so I don't want people to get side tracked on another affirmative action thing. Actually, the hunger project made sure that they got representation from al sectors. When they went to India, they got representation from the untouchables as well as from the higher class and the middle class when they were problem solving.
I have had this vision for years of creating a world of peace, prosperity and partnership and harmony with nature. If any of you haven't, you should look up the visual of 17 sustainable developmental goals. It really is like the rainbow that I've had as part of grand finale slide for many years. But articulate it in a way that I so extraordinary. Now I can feel that when I am working with partnership of me and women anywhere, I am working on all the seventeen sustainable developmental goals, including the health and vitality of ocean and the climate, ending poverty and ending hunger. So to me, you can tell I am getting revved up, I get so excited about this.
One of the things I’d like to get back to .. Deven, when you were talking about how you loved the emotion and the relationship the women bring to the work place and I appreciate how you also pointed out that we are trying to bring this into a language that isn't so ethereal. I appreciate the ethereal language. But, in Order to be appreciated in the world of work, and the more individualistic world, I brought this other language in. For instance, One of the measurements we have had , at-least by the late 90's, the Myers- Briggs, at that time shoed that there was one dimension that was gender significant. They called it the thinking feeling dimension. I want to point out that the thinking feeling dimension actually represented decision-making. You can actually see in that the bias. Can you imagine people running the world through emotional decision making, if feeling is emotions. Actually what was meant in the Myers-Briggs is the difference between logic-based decision-making and values based decision-making. So this is an example of where the language really makes a difference once you translate feeling to values its very different in the impact and the way we want to honor it and the way we can respect it. I also want to validate that there is certainly value meaning human value in honoring the logic-based decision-making. And there is logic in values based decision-making. Again here is a situation where I want to make sure we clarify the power the actual value of the values based decision making. And that there is emotion tied to both. Because I know that there are logic based decision makers that get very angry if something isn't logical. So there is emotion tied to that. I want to absolutely underline that relationship, building things, connecting things has a lot to do with what you were talking about Deven, in terms of what women bring to the work place and I hope that you have gotten some more language out of our conversation.
Lynn: Oh Yes! I think this has been wonderful to be able to set intention for that and to send some of this into our circle. It has been fabulous.
Deven: Thank You Lynn. Thank you so much. Let me get to our first caller
My name is Dishad and I am from New York. Bonita, thank you so much for being with us and giving such a wonderful presentation, which is so needed at this time.
My question to you is that, I have worked with women from different cultures and also with men. It has always been a challenge when we are sitting in the Board room and as you said there are logic driven people who at times have been very prejudiced about their ideas and if you bring some fresh ideas towards the project, they would not even consider, when you are trying to tell them about a certain or a new idea that needs to be implemented. How do you get through this hump by using certain verbiage or certain vocabulary, to have that kind of conversation where you can build a rapport with the logic driven person to a value based and even inclining towards emotional side, which I have been very passionate about. But I think people sense that emotional language so much higher that i am kind of looking for the right kind of narrative to start and build that kind of... as you said earlier, how to start to build first?
Bonita: Thank you for your wonderful question and for sharing your experience, which is so prevalent. So there are several different things I would suggest. I am not telling you what to do. I want you to use them as a catalyst to figure out what is appropriate for your situation.
One of the things that I advocate for is for you to establish with your group upfront what they can expect you to bring. For instance if you identify with you being a fire preventer, start talking with your colleagues either individually or the meeting, that you discovered through your study of business and leadership that you are really a fire preventer. Convey that they can count on you for being able to bring ideas to the table that are going to prevent fires.
That way it sets up what we call listening. It sets up how they are going to be listening to you and what their expectations are from you. It even sets up that you are going to have different ideas. But if they want to prevent fires, you are the incredible resource for them.
So that is one thing I would suggest. Really establish yourself with some of these words. Like, " I like to play angels advocate and build ideas or building the case to create ideas." That's where this language is helpful. We can talk later and I have a whole sheet that you I can send you by email to help you get some of this language you can use.
So establishing yourself upfront is a great thing. Even in the midst of it, to be able to say, " Hold on. I've got this fire prevention idea." It has to be out on the table. A lot of times relational people will enter into a conversation with - I think this might be an important thing, which is like a qualifier. We call it a qualifier trying to enter in without disturbing much. But often it will turn of the listening of the more individualist person, because it sounds weak and not forthright. So for you to find someway to be forthright, that is authentic to yourself, that is where you need to be able to speak their language that they will listen to. That’s why I said, to be able to say- Hold on! I am the fire preventer here and this is what I think is critical to be able to bring. It’s much more forth right and its also shifting the way they listen to it.
If you wanted to talk more specifically about your ideas, I would be happy to talk to you individually. But those are the kind of things that I think makes a difference in terms of shifting their perception about who you are.
There are other things like- Sometimes you present an idea and it is not listened to and is ignored and then five minutes later a man presents the idea and it is considered to be a great idea.
I have actually gotten a little bold on this one. The last time I dealt with this was with someone I was coaching. I said, " Why don't you start a hall of fame board in your famous or cubicle. Get out your phone take a picture and start taking pictures of all the people that have bought into your ideas and have them up on your wall in your office." Because that is another thing that is actually a competency. That you present ideas that people actually buy into them as their own ideas. That’s pretty incredible! You get robbed of your idea, but still it is brought to the table. I think its kind of playful and yet will give you credit in a teachable way of showing; this was my idea that you presented. Again it could stir up a little trouble but I think it is worthwhile trouble.
So anything else you want to ask about this that would make it more focused your situation?
Dilshad: I think I wouldn't take the credit that it is only my challenge because I have been working with women who have had similar ..
Bonita: Oh no. This is so prevalent. You are so right. Thank you for bringing it up because we don't think about it enough.
Dilshad: We don't think about it enough. It's not only a corporate issue but it is also non-profit issue. I would say that in various cultures, I am from India, it starts at home. I think this will not only help women in the boardroom, I also feel it works for many women to make them as empowered homemakers. This kind of communication technique also men in the home who are struggling for power control. Women can help them make a mutual decision because a lot of educated women are struggling in that front too.
Bonita: Absolutely! You have discovered my secret! I also turn a lot of marriages around in my class on gender and engineering. Turn them around or improve the quality of the marriage.
I do have a paper on my website about - what's different about women's leadership in philanthropy. That would be useful for any of you, just because it brings out a lot of these principles.
Dilshad: Thank you so much
Bonita: you are so welcome! All the best to you.
Deven: Thank you! Such an awesome question. I loved the idea of walking a fine line of being proactive and having encouraging ideas but then learning how to navigate and make it work.
Lynn: Deven, I just want to say this. Bonita's website is www. genderwork.com.
Deven: I will put that out in the thank you note post call.
Wendy: Hi Bonita. This is Wendy in Half- moon bay. I know that you work with people from all over the world. I am curious in terms of various projects you have been working on, what has excited you the most in terms of what you see developing and growing, especially in the area of men and women in partnership. Also considering the various roles that men and women have in different parts of the world.
Bonita: Lets see. For instance, being on this call! What's exciting to me is, I mean its personal but is also the reflection of where the culture is going, is the number of people that are coming to me to be aught. They want to teach the way I teach. Because my approach is not classic women's studies or gender studies or diversity studies. That's an indicator. I am really passionate about reading the culture. So I do see things shifting in the culture and I think that Sheryl Sandberg's book, even though it was controversial, supposedly it didn't cover everything, it was one of the first books read by men. I think it was a critical turning point. There is a lot of work being done now in revealing equal wage and how companies are now committing to making sure that women get equal wages to men for equal work. There is finally some research. Like the research going on with the collective intelligent and also showing much higher return on investment and sales and return or equity for companies that have three or more women on the board. Finally there is some research happening, which tells me that there is more attention to this. Certainly, the sustainable developmental goals are what excites me absolutely the most.
I don't want to leave out that there is a lot of work going on about unconscious bias. I think my work is very related to that. I still think that understanding the different competencies and the language for it is something that is needed to add to the unconscious bias work. But just the fact that there are so many companies are now investing in this. Things that I still worry about. I mentioned earlier, things where there is a focus on getting more women in and where it is just about the number and they are looking at why are women leaving?
Certainly, I am an advocate for is building the value of men and women working together. The value of women in the formula in order that the work place be really redesigned for health and vitality of both men and women. Deloitte has come up with what's called" Career mass customization". It is a software program where men and women of all levels put into the system what they want in their career. Whether it is having international experience or job sharing and spending more time with family; or promotion or move to different area for a different experience or more flexibility in work. The fact is, it is now being proven that it creates great culture, where people are happy and saving money from people leaving because people want to stay there, not to mention what people bring because they are satisfied and happy with their circumstances.
Those are the kind of indicators Wendy that I am seeing that things are changing. Yes. I am dramatically disappointed in the outcome of our election in this country. I am going to be having a global conference call about that. Through the Owl Wisdom circle, I have global gender partnership call where we are going to be talking about the election and all the ramifications of that and what we've learned. Its negative but on the other hand, the fact that we even had this horrible.. I mean, I am editorializing. That's my experience; it was a horrible experience for me, for Hilary to have lost. How its going to shake us about how we all need to be listening to each other more and be more aware of what's going on. The fact that twitter and Facebook are now re evaluating how they can keep hateful messaging and inaccurate news from being spread widely. At least there are some positive changes and instances of taking responsibility. Even CNN, I saw is looking at how they can be more responsible for their news.
Anyway that's all around the changes going on in the world that I think have a lot to do with the back lash of a women taking on a leadership. So that's a long and complex answer that includes negatives as well as the positives.
Is there anything you want to add to that Wendy?
Wendy: No. Thank you so much Bonita. Such a pleasure listening to you and hearing your wisdom
Deven: Thank you Wendy for joining us today. It is always nice to hear your voice.
Aryae: Hi Bonita. So great to hear you on the call today.
Bonita: Thank you Aryae. Thank you for making it possible.
Aryae: my curiosity and what I want to ask you is in shifting directions. You have worked with individual women leaders all around the world . I know you are working with some women leaders in Africa. I am wondering if you can share a story with us about oneof those leaders that you are engaged with and supporting right now.
Bonita: What comes uppermost to mind is Trish. We had her on the call on the Global partnership call. You can her her whole interview and her whole talk if you want through Aryae's website. She is just astonishing and she is actually a second generation. I worked with her mother who originally was working with AIDS orphans. Both of them attended what we call "the Women leaders for the World ' program, that I have been involved with for years. Trish is committed to ending tribalism in Kenya. In the near history of Kenya, they have been people using machetes against each other because of belonging to different tribes when there has been violence. It’s to that extreme. But she is working with youth and has been very active in that area and making a difference by getting people to talk to each other and listen to each other in a way that we need to do more of. And she is also involved in conservation movement, particularly protection of animals in the park in Nairobi. It was interesting even on the call how she talked about the difference the training I gave made for her. She had attended the class but I also gave a short session for her group on gender differences. That the whole devil's advocate piece. She had been verbally attacked by one of the people on the board supporting her conservation work for the organization having made the press release before the Board felt it was the right time. I guess it was a sponsorship group. And indeed he had not even read the press release. The press release was one of acknowledging all the people involved. He had just assumed that it was the group taking credit for all that was being done. And yet she was able to just listen to his ranting and raving and then call him back afterwards. Turned it into a teachable moment and talked to him about how it was inappropriate. Talked to him about what the actual press release was about. So much so that he had to acknowledge the inappropriateness of what he had done. But it was so wonderful to hear in Trish, her own self-confidence, not only to withstand the anger but also to be able to come back and teach out of it.
Aryae: That is so interesting to me. You have been talking bout the barriers to women's leadership in a place like Silicon Valley. I can only imagine what kind of barriers there might be in a place like Kenya.
Bonita: Absolutely! And yet these women are out to change that. Have engaged men in this. That's absolutely part of the game. I don't mean that in sense the sense that it is not serious. It is a serious game. And there are a lot of great men. I developed this workshop called- 'Calling out Brilliance of Women'. I finally decided I have to include,' and the greatness of Men'. Because men's greatness like yours Aryae, keeps showing up. And I love it. It’s really gratifying. So thank you. Thank you for what you are doing to bring this out by inviting me to this call and also helping in the organization and the sponsorship and the promotion of the Global gender partnership calls.
Aryae: Thank you Bonita! By the way it was Wendy who invited you into the call.
Bonita: Oh! Thank you Wendy!
Deven: Aryae showed gender awareness right there!
Bonita: Yes! That’s right! That's another thing. What Aryae did was he amplified Wendy. And that was something else I could have talked abut earlier. When you create an ally, either another women or one of the men, or couple of men in your organization, who are tuned to the fact that you are not being heard, then they can speak up. They are ready to speak up and say, "Wow! Lets get back to Wendy's Idea." Or say, " That's what Wendy suggested earlier. Wendy was there more things that you want to expand on that?"
So what Aryae just did in terms of correcting me and acknowledging Wendy for having brought me in, is another piece to this. So we call look for those allies and educate them and have them be ready or they may come to us. Great example Aryae and Wendy.
Sindura: How do gender competencies come into play in the gender wage gap? I know you touched on it a bit earlier, but if you could expand in it.
Bonita: There is quite a bit of understanding. The competencies have been invisible and unarticulated. Even to the point that women think it's common sense. I actually had women on the board of four companies that was giving a presentation at Stanford and was asked what does she bring to the board. And she said common sense, which both diminishes herself and the men that are on the boards with her. And I took her aside afterwards and told her the story of Carol Bartz and about systems thinking and fire prevention and she said, "Oh! That’s what I bring!"
And she realized she needed to bring that language to what she was contributing. And that's the degree to which tis is missing in terms of being able to value the contribution of women, in terms of being able to promote them and to negotiate. This is what I am bringing. But the other side of it; it is pretty well understood that often women don't negotiate. They have a double bind that if they don't negotiate, they don't get higher salary. But if they do negotiate they are seen as being too aggressive. This is something that again has to be turned into teachable moment. It is suggesting that the women actually have a dialogue with the person that is interviewing about this exact issue and demonstrate how you want to be a teacher and how you want to solve this problem together as a partner rather than be aggressive or blaming about it or being adversarial about it. Again this teachable moment is - how can we work on this together? How can we have this be a win for both of us and for all of us? If the company can't afford the salary I want, then how can we prove this over time or what other things can we negotiate with? How can we keep our eye on this because we want to make sure that the company represents equal opportunity?
So those are some of the things. Ultimately, Often, relational people don't ask for what they want. And that's a real big thing that we have to work on.
Sindura is there anything else you would like to ask specifically about?
Sindura: I think you really answered he question really well. This has been really interesting. Thank you.
Bonita: I just want you to know, Sindura is on a high school senior who is on a project to research the pay gap between men and women. So it's wonderful to have her on the call and have this opportunity.
Deven: Here is a question from my all time favorite service space volunteer. She is my inspiration. That is Mish. I will read her comment and question.
"Bonita, might you know how the Unites States compare to other parts of the world in this area of women in work place? Thank you for this fascinating call today."
Bonita: I want to speak from the heart on this one first. I have so many students from all around the world, who are so awakened by this work and at the same time tell me that they are surprised that United states is so far behind in this area of gender equity.
It's not like we are in the Ice ages. But compared to what we could be doing.... now that that the students who are here from around the world understand the issues that we still have at our work place.. I'd like to say; we are all in this together. And that's why it is important that these women in Kenya are stepping up and in different parts of the world. It’s important for us all to hear how they are contributing. There are countries in the world that have far more social services, for childcare, for maternity leave. Reimbursement, paternity leave, they are far ahead of the United States. And yet there re other places you could say we are ahead in terms of women in higher positions. But we still have a long way to go. I am not giving you statistically much. I was at a women's start up lab, another organization I work with, and there are women from Indonesia and Japan. They have along way to go. They are also startled that we are also working on it and have some distance to go ourselves. We have a big opportunity to demonstrate what's possible by taking this on.
Deven: Taking it on! That’s a great term. Call to action!
Next question is from Albert Rove.
He says, “Thank you Bonita with the title of this call, Harnessing the talents and contributions of women". I appreciate how your work and this conversation avoided the popular use of gender labels, stereotypes and generalities, perhaps confusing the political with the national, social and individualistic. In working with children I am wondering how you would answer a young girls’ or boy's enquiry about what it means it be a man and a woman in our current evolving social, political environment?
Bonita: What a beautiful question! Let me just take on a couple of things that come to me. First of all, there is a lot of great work being done, particularly by Michael Kimmel, who I followed since early 90's about men and masculinity. There is a great movie, Jennifer Siebel Newsom who just happens to be the wife of Gavin Newsom, our Lieutenant Governor of California, another prospect for our President. But Jennifer Siebel Newsom has a representation project and has a documentary on masculinity called 'The Mask You Live In'. It really is for us to be able to free up the young boys from having to prove themselves as a man. And to be able to allow them to express their feelings and develop relationships. There is so much more in that. I invite you into that conversation. To be a man is really beyond just having control and to be in command. I'll even say my own nephew was in a quandary. He wanted to be able to get credit for the software he was developing. He said, "I have other people with me on this project and I don't get credit. What do I have?"
I said to him, " A company?" He was startled. There is something greater that is possible when you are working in team together, when you have relationships, when you have collective intelligence. There is also something startlingly wonderful about an individual who has great ideas and who has something to contribute. But the more we can expand the definition of what it is to be a man, and what it is to be a woman, the greater the world is going to be, and the greater we will all have to be ourselves as well as the capacity to relate and to listen to others.
So I am getting a little philosophical here. On other think I do want you to know. People have asked me about boy’s aggression and what do they do about little boys trying to fight with guns and things like that.
I actually asked a child developmental expert about that. She said, ' when little boys are playing with guns and that kind of aggressive behavior, they are trying to figure out how to deal with conflict. There are other ways that they can also be trained, like giving them martial arts lessons. Martial arts, if you select the right one, most of the time they re actually given values along with how to deal with conflict. To me that is a really beautiful solution, beautiful opportunity to be teaching your children values. And I would include women in the Martial arts development as well. Those are pieces of a puzzle. But what a beautiful question that we all have to live into.
Deven: Thank you Albert for your question. Thank you Bonita.
Caller from London: Hello Bonita. Thank you for such a brilliant talk. It is really eye opening. I would like to ask where I could read or get more information on the vocabulary that I could use at work. I think I am a fire preventer, but difficult to describe most of the time what it is that I do.
Bonita: Unfortunately, I haven't written much of this. In the early 90's,I was writing a book for men and women and the agent who I was highly recommended to told me, " Bonita, you wrote this book for men and women. Only women read books. You have to re write this." I put it on shelf because I wanted to write for men and women. Now it's time. There are a couple of papers on my website. There is one where the link is broken, unfortunately. That's the one on - Take charge of your promotion’. But if you write me I could probably get that to you. The booklet- 'Closing the gender gap' that I wrote for Rural Bank of Canada is there. Also the paper on what's different between the women's leadership in Philanthropy. It includes the whole dialogue about devil's advocate. The sheet that really deciphers the language, I don't have that on the website. So send an email and ask me to send the leadership competencies list and I'll do that for you. I must admit that my website needs more attention. But there are some good things on it.
Deven: I will send an email and get information from you Bonita. Very nice of you to actually offer to do that.
One more question from the web stream .
Hello Bonita, what advice do you have in dealing with the stereotypes and misconception. For example, a woman cannot be good at technology, or not good in math or financial services.
Bonita: First of all, there is research that now shows that women are. One of the things that I love is the research from Stanford showing women are just as capable. However, often we have higher standards for understanding. So we can be given a formula to use o solve a problem, but we don't wan to just use it as a tool. We want to understand the tools. We have more questions. it looks like we don't understand, when we really we have have a higher standard for understanding. The problem is, there is a stereotype out there and there is real evidence that when it is brought up, when the gender of a person taking the test is brought up, they will actually perform more poorly on the test that when it's not, just because of the stereotype. So there are things that we have to deal with. other things just have been dis-proven like the fact that women don't have good spacial understanding. All it takes is one class working with spatial relationships and then they are up online, if indeed they show that they don't have that spatial understanding. Some women do, like I do. It is just inappropriately exaggerated. We do have to work on that. To be able to talk about the fact that women have higher standards for understanding, I think is a great way of combating that. We could go on and on about that. There is a lot of need for different ways of teaching where women are more responsive. and there are people like Harvey Mudd who are having breakthroughs with women and technology.
Deven: Thank you so much Bonita.
Lynn: I would like to read a poem around the women textile workers and their protests around 1910 . It's called bread and roses by James Oppenheim. I think it really characterizes what emerged in this call.
As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.
As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.
As we come marching, marching, un-numbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread,
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we. fight for, but we fight for roses, too.
As we go marching, marching, we're standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.
Deven: Wow! Thank you Lynn!
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