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Six things we can do today to help women succeed in the workplace

“That’s What She Said” author Joanne Lipman shares what she has learned about discrimination and the failures of “diversity training,” on Recode Decode.

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Crowd at Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women at Santa Clara Convention Center on February 24, 2015.
Crowd at Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women at Santa Clara Convention Center on February 24, 2015.

The inspiration for journalist Joanne Lipman’s new book came in part from an unsuspecting businessman on an airplane to Des Moines. He and Lipman were sitting next to each other, having a nice conversation, until he asked why she was flying to Iowa.

“I said, ‘I’m going to speak at a women’s leadership conference,’” Lipman recalled on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “And suddenly, this lovely man, he freezes up, he gets that deer-in-the-headlights look, and he goes, ‘Sorry I’m a man!’”

“Then he launches into this whole thing about how he had just gone through ‘diversity training’ at his bank, and how awful it was and they beat him up, and it felt like you were being sent to the principal’s office,” she added. “He says to me, he took one message away from diversity training: ‘It’s all your fault.’”

More than three years and a lot more air travel later, Lipman has written “That’s What She Said,” a practical guide for men and women, who she said desperately need to talk more candidly about working together. Below, we’ve highlighted six of Lipman’s pieces of advice from the podcast.

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Here are six of Lipman’s top suggestions:

  1. Don’t outsource diversity to Human Resources. “For women as well as for African-American men and women, [diversity training] made things worse,” she said. “The problem isn’t the training, per se, it’s that it’s outsourced to HR. The ownership of workplace equality has got to sit with the CEO and the CFO. They need to see it as a business imperative. Every piece of research tells you that when you have more diverse groups, you are more successful.”
  2. Don’t obsess over the Harvey Weinstein types. The #MeToo movement has successfully rooted out several bad actors, but “if we only focus on the sexual predators and sexual harassment, we are totally missing the point. That will waste this moment. Not every woman has been sexually assaulted at work, but every single woman knows what it feels like to be marginalized and underpaid and overlooked. That’s what this moment is about.”
  3. Make sure the people doing the hiring are diverse. “We all know at this point that if you have an opening, you should have a diverse slate of candidates. But in my research, what I found is that is simply not enough. You actually need a diverse slate of interviewers, and that’s been a big, big issue with the tech firms. You bring in a diverse slate of candidates, but you’ve got a bunch of white guys who all went to Stanford who are doing the interviewing.”
  4. Don’t decide for her. “I cannot even tell you the number of times I’ve been in a small group of leaders, talking about an opening and somebody will say, ’Susan would be great for that!’ And somebody else will say, ‘Oh, she just had a baby,’ or, ‘Her husband has a big job, he’s not going to want to relocate.’ There’s always some reason.”
  5. Understand why she’s crying. “I had no idea, but men are terrified of women crying in the office, which leads them to not give honest feedback. Science says women do cry more than men, but when they do cry it’s because they’re angry or frustrated. Men don’t see it that way, they think feelings have been hurt. A woman crying in the office is the same thing as a man screaming and yelling and getting angry.”
  6. Hire somebody your mom’s age. “Age discrimination is rampant. Particularly for women who have maybe taken off some time for their kids or who have dialed back, they are invisible. They would add trillions of dollars to the economy.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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