Wendy Hanson 0:24
Hey folks, do you want to be a better manager or better leader? Take a good listen to my podcast with Michelle Redfern. We talked about diversity and how it really builds the capacities of an organization. And what are some things that you can do as a manager and a leader to make that happen? And what can you do if you are looking to have a bigger voice? It really is such an important issue for today. And I hope that you will enjoy my conversation with Michelle who was just a brilliant woman who makes things happen. Greetings, so happy to have you all here and I am so excited about our guests Michelle Redfern. Michelle is founder of advancing women an enterprise providing research and advisory services on equality, inclusion and gender diversity. She is co host of a career that soars the founder of a woman's network women get it and co founder of cw CDW cultural culturally diverse women and workforces. She is a proud ambassador of honor a woman flexible working day and girls uniform agenda. Do you get that she's really all about women, okay. She has held executive leadership roles at ASX and FTS. He listed companies on nav Telstra and surco. During her 30 year corporate career, I hope I didn't blow that too bad. Michelle is a graduate of aicd holds an executive MBA with distinction and holds various accreditations in organizational diversity and coaching. Michelle is an in demand speaker and regular contributor to the discussion about equality and inclusion in sport and business workplaces. Now, Michelle, I read your bio, and I can't think of anybody better than you to talk about women leaders. But tell me what do you really do?
Michelle Redfern 2:28
What do I really do? Because you know, when people say hi, how are you at, you know, well, before the plague when we had networking events, but yeah, what do you do? Michelle? I certainly don't read them that. I just say that there's two things I say, look, I have a I have a diversity and inclusion consulting. And then people typically go so what does that mean? So listen, I just do two things. Number one, I fix the systems or fix systems, in workplaces and, and more broadly in industry, I hope and the world that prevent women from all walks of life, reaching their full potential. So I'm really wanting to help boards, CEOs, executives, leaders in organizations look at all of their, their systems, their policies and their practices that exclude every human from reaching their full potential. And then I say, and the other thing I do is, is I help women navigate the system because there's not fixed right it and it's, you know, we're doing all of us are doing lots and lots of work to fix those systems. But in the meantime, I work with women directly, whether they're in organizations or with as I do with a career that soars with the fabulous Susan Cohen to know women directly to help them navigate the system of work that isn't yet fixed. So I'm like a human GPS. And and you really, really want to help women? Well, we want to close the leadership gender gap, we want to have every human feel included and like they belong. And, you know, women, women need their board of directors, their own personal Board of Directors, so I feel like I can be that for them. That's great part of it. Yes.
Wendy Hanson 4:11
There's been two situations that have come up in the news recently won the, the mayor in Paris had gotten a little finger wagging at her and almost a fine because she had too many women on her. Yes, yes. On her board. And thank goodness, they decided not to find her for that. But it brought up that whole gender equity, like what are we worrying about that for? And then when you and I were prepping for this, we were also talking about how it's so heartfelt right now to have Biden, our President Biden and us to help try to fix the system a little bit by bringing women in and diverse people into the discussion and into the decision. So absolutely. things that have happened.
Michelle Redfern 4:55
Yeah, and just it's interesting. Last night, I was watching a current fair's program here in Australia called four corners. And one a terrific reporter was in Washington and kind of, you know, working through the the events of the sixth of January, the storming of the Capitol. And she was she was in a another part of Washington, which is a really, frankly, it was described as a poorer black area of Washington. And the day of the inauguration, there was a young activist there, I should have written her name down because it escapes me now. And she was just working doing her stuff. She was helping homeless people she was helping people organize and things like that. And the interviewer said to her, why are you watching the inauguration? She said, Because Joe Biden is an old white guy, and he doesn't represent me or my interests. And I thought, but back to our conversation, and I thought, No, he doesn't. But gee whiz, he's doing what great leaders do to say I am but a section, in fact, a very privileged section of the community. But I'm going to surround myself with folks who are representative of the community, to advise me to guide me and to help us make policy, that system work that I talk about to make policy that is inclusive, that will, you know, bust those intergenerational layers of inequity that that people like that, you know, that the young woman was talking about? So, yes, I was really reflecting on a conversation. It is very, very heartwarming, and a real, familiar real beacon of hope that arguably, the world's most powerful leader is running by my playbook, frankly, not to be too egotistical. But yes, surround yourself with people who are who are representative of the whole community that you're in service of.
Wendy Hanson 6:47
That's so much about what you do trying to create that systemic change. And we talk about it can only happen from the top, well, it can happen from the bottom up in the top down, it has to happen all over. Yes, absolutely. So bringing in women and more diversity of thought and practice is so important. What my goodness, why is it so hard? Like? How is it give us some examples of how it's done successfully? Because people need to know we're very pragmatic on the show, you know, what am I gonna do when I hear this, this podcast? What can I do afterwards,
Michelle Redfern 7:20
as a really, as a better manager, as a great leader, the first thing that I say to watch out to my clients or people that I work with is to stop and consider where you are right now. And that's Yes, you can look at some numbers. And I should, if we just talk about gender for the moment, Wendy. So in Australia, we have a really sophisticated and game changing legislation around equal opportunity. And we have a an organization government organization, called the workplace gender equality agency. And as a result of that agency in the legislation that goes around at all, all employers with more than 100 people have to report in every month of the department every year around the gender composition at all levels, and across a number of parameters. And for me, the advice I give to to leaders and managers say, look at your look at your data first. So where are you now? And where do you want to be? But then that's, that's your quantitative data. The qualitative is, is then how this is how you go deeper? What is the experience of women in my organization, and leaders and managers must understand that to invoke the empathy gene to say, Well, my lived experience as well, I'll use myself because I am not representative of the broader community. So I'm 55 years old, and white. I'm educated and in relative terms on effluent. I am not representative of the gender gap. I'm not representative of the equity gap, more broadly speaking in workplaces anymore. And as a leader, and certainly as a board director. I make it my business to find out what the lived experiences of people, particularly women in my organization. So what's getting in the way, what's it like to work here? And so that qualitative research is really important. And then figure out what to do about that. So sit in it for a while. There's a terrific article that came out last year after the George Floyd murder, and I should have had it written down Wednesday, but I'll find it and send it to you. It's and it's around. Now why I'm not talking to white people about being black anymore. But one of the one of the bits of advice that this the author gave was sit in your yuck for a while. And you know, when you start to uncover Have a look at the lived experience of folks in your workplaces, you're going to uncover some gaps, you're going to uncover some things that perhaps are disturbing to you, you're going to sit in that for a little while, not just leap into the white knight action, sit in it, reflect on it, and then design a solution with those people in mind, preferably with those people as well. So yeah, so in summary, where are you now? What are your numbers? What is the lived experience of the folks that I'm trying to make a better workplace for? And then as a leader, and as a better manager? What am I going to do about that? Yeah.
Wendy Hanson 10:34
And we also chatted a little bit about when you bring a woman into an organization, you just can't bring one woman into an organization, you know, there needs to, you need to really bring in more numbers you talked about three is a really good number. Because when people think they've solved this, like, check off the box that I got one woman on my management team, or one woman here, that really is such a disservice, isn't it?
Michelle Redfern 11:01
Yeah, it is. And the, there's a couple of things that happen. And again, over like my own experiences being an only or an other woman. Now, in fact, I got very used to be an only or an other woman in my management career, very fortunate to come to management relatively young, in my 20s. And, in in the particular areas that I was in, I was often the only woman. And while still got very used to that there was a couple of things that happened. I had to really, emotionally intellectually justify my opinions and my existence in those teams, and particularly when there was debate, or contentious matters to deal with. So only is and others are the only woman and the other is justifying her experience, a big part of her existence in that in that environment, takes up a lot of emotional energy. The other thing that happens is that, and it certainly happened to me is assimilation, you start to become like the dominant herd, you actually get that herd mentality, Hi, I'm gonna, you know, what does it run with the hairs and hunt with the hands you become one of them. And therefore, that diversity of thought and experience gets lost. And then the third thing that happens is you can just get shut down, because you're the only lonely voice. And it's easy. And we know, all of that. I mean, even just the last couple of weeks, I've been sharing some insights around how women are struggling to get heard on zoom meetings, and I'm really calling on allies, particularly male allies, to make space for women on zoom meetings and in meetings. So as an other or an only, you're really battling against all of those things. And there's kind of this maybe there's some confidence there as well, I don't know. But when you say get two or three, preferably three women, you start even up that at So number one, this space. Number two, it becomes the norm, hey, we've got some different voices here. My, that the one of a great example of that is I joined in Australian, we have Australian rules football here of which I'm slightly tragic about. And I've been a football director a couple of times over. And I joined a board of one of our state leagues A few years ago, along with another woman. And we were just kind of following along great board really, really good, good men. But we were we were, you know, it was quite kind of unusual. And the board that so the chair, the CEO, and the board had a very clear mandate, we will be a gender balanced organization in a very male dominated field. So they are very clear on their mission. And Merrill, my board colleague and I were part of that strategy. You know, I don't know, I think we're four or five months into our tenure. And one of the gentlemen stopped to the meeting. He says, You know, I just want to say, it's just so I've been on this board for four or five years, is so refreshing to come to board meetings there because Marilyn, Michelle is asking us different questions. They're adding different perspectives. I guess I'm really having to think it's not just turning the wheel, big problem turning the wheel. He said, I'm really enjoying this. So it was a really good example. Marilyn are very different women, very different business backgrounds, but we would bounce off each other. But we added the richness to the conversation. We added those different voices. And you know what, those men enjoyed it. I think a couple went, Oh my god, he goes Michelle again, sometimes, but you know, I would say that. That's right. But we could take up some space we could give our ideas we were invited and included and very very overtly included. But the other Participants in that team enjoyed the diversity of thought, the diversity of discussion, and it became rich and enjoyable. And so this is what I said about gender equality is not a zero sum game here. There is so much in this so many benefits for men, so many benefits for men who want to be better managers and great leaders for diversity. And you know, as you said, we could talk for 35 years. But one,
Wendy Hanson 15:33
done that, yes, because it is it changes the dialogue of things, and you just don't go down the same path. We all have different perspectives. And we have to invite them and not just the one we have to invite an absolutely yes, I had a quickie story. A couple of years ago, I was working with a big publishing advertising company and their IT department, they were pretty huge. And they were trying to have more diversity. So they brought women in to the tech teams. One, they put one on each team, say one on each of five teams. And they wondered why they they didn't stay, there was no reaction there. And then they said, let's do an experiment. And let's take a cluster of women and put them on one team. And they were able to find that, you know, they still had men on the team. But there were still there were more women, there were probably five women on this team. Retention was great relationships, because we know we have to have relationship at work where people respect each other and can really have a conversation. So that to me, just meant so much. And at the time it looked like wow, is that a little backwards? That we're just gonna stick all the women on one team, but no, that's how we got them to stay. And the retention was great.
Michelle Redfern 16:44
I think and you know, to flip that around, Wendy, I can recall a couple of occasions when I've run International Women's days events, or women's networking events, where there's been a man in the room. And there's been quite a lot a bit bit of a flurry. And, and more often than not the man said, Wow, kata who I'm outnumbered here. And so I ask, I asked, particularly men who are managers and leaders to say, imagine what it feels like to be in a in a warehouse full of women, and you're the only man, what is that feeling you have? And how do you deal with it? Because that's what happens when you have one woman. She's dealing with that all the time, you're just here at this one event for one hour or two hours. And you're kind of going oh, you know, how do I manage this? That's what her life is all the time. So this is why we want more. Because it's exhausting. And it's and and frankly, it can be bloomin well intimidating. And when people are exhausted, intimidated or justifying their their appearance or existence in that forum, you're not getting the best out of them. Right? That they are their energy is being used on other stuff rather than bringing the best.
Wendy Hanson 18:02
I love that. And we know that leaders need to take a real stand on this. They are the ones that need to be able to set this up. And and if they want to have great teams, the suspension of their own ego to bring people on, what are some things that leaders need to do as they look at their own organizations and say, Wow, I guess I might have an issue with this. Because we're not just talking to women, we're talking to women leaders, men, leaders, every leaders everywhere.
Michelle Redfern 18:29
One of the first things would be does my organization and particularly the parts of the organization that make decisions about our customers, about our people and about our shareholders outcomes. Do they will look like me? Do they all sound like me? Do they have they had the same background as me? If the answer if the answer is yes, you got work to do to say how might I diversify that? So what can I do? at a very practical level, my current team? How can I make sure that everyone? How do we harness the collective brilliance of my current team? Because that there will be managers listening who have diverse teams already? how might I do that? I am going to be a really, really deliberately inclusive facilitator of team gatherings. Now the gatherings can be via email via a team meeting via zoom, whatever it may be, how can I how might I ensure that everyone's voice everyone's ideas come to the fore they have to feel like they're included and they belong, then they belong. When you and I had a prep meeting, we talked about mad sad, glad really terrific technique around setting up a meeting or a group meeting to help people share what's on their mind in in in the context of whatever it might be, but part of it and feel free to share that with your listeners in your your cohort when But the principle around any kind of icebreaker, any kind of inclusive meeting or inclusive facilitation is the leader has to be very self aware, very and very authentically vulnerable. In my own playbook that means I have to suspend my ego because I put my ego to bed at the doorway of of the of the you know that, that the gathering to say I am not the smartest person in this room, there is collective brilliance. So, what if I really opened my ears and close my mouth? As my beautiful nannies to say, Michelle, God gave you two ears and one mouth, please use them in proportion. Thank you, Nana. So how can I open my ears and close my mouth and help? But how can I help quieter people or people with different different interpersonal preferences and styles bring their brilliance? Because not everyone's like me? Not everyone's gonna,
Unknown Speaker 20:56
Michelle Redfern 20:57
I'm gonna talk until someone tells me to show up because I am confident that I mean, I'm outgoing. So how might a more introspective reflective person who isn't doesn't have the preference to speak in the moment? How might we get her or his or their perspective? So that inclusive leader has to think of different styles and different methods to harness that brilliance? In a meeting? It might be, you know, as I said, we've got techniques like mad, sad, glad we've got everyone give an update. It might. They just have to pay attention to it, they'll find their own style and their own rhythm, but pay attention to the fact that not everyone's going to want to chip in and share everything. Yeah.
Wendy Hanson 21:43
And give them ways to be able to do that. Yeah. For those that really don't want to speak in front of the group.
Michelle Redfern 21:50
Yep. Yeah. And sticky notes are a great, I just thought, you know, the post it notes are our, I think they're the one of the best things ever invented in the in the world, because you can, you know, reflection is such an important part I, I think out loud, which is, can be quite irritating to a lot of people, but it's the way I process information. But there are, you know, if I think about my life partner, my wife, she, she likes to stop and consider and come back with a considered response in the moment, you know, put on the spot in the moment, not her preferred style. I mean, she's very senior now and can do it, but it's not her preferred style. So, leaders Be aware that there are many, many different styles and preferences. How might I bring out the collective brilliance of this team of individuals who are diverse, right? Pay attention,
Wendy Hanson 22:42
pay attention and ask them? How can I bring you into this meeting? Google project Aristotle, where they talk about psychological safety and the importance of teams and people speaking out, they talk about when people have equal time and voices. And Eileen Fisher does this in her meetings, when she runs meetings for her team, she starts her team with a one minute meditation, and then goes around and make sure that everybody is heard. So that you equally keep going around and getting that because she needed to create that space for people.
Michelle Redfern 23:18
It doesn't go and it can feel it, it doesn't and it can feel quite clunky at the start, but certainly, you know, have an agenda written and and you know, for because all of us can get caught up in the you know, the the not the heat of the moment, but just that the hustle and bustle and the flurry of a discussion. But if I've got an agenda in front of me, and I do it, I had it yesterday with a client meeting, I had the things that I really wanted to make sure, but I had notes about who I typically don't hear from, and I really invited those people into the conversation. Hey, Joe, I we've had a conversation about this a few weeks ago. Would you be Would you like to share what we talked about? Because I really are really appreciated, and I think everyone else will. And the other thing is kind and it's compassionate as well. You know, I think kindness is such an underrated leadership skill. So
Wendy Hanson 24:12
I agree. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And let Joe know, upfront if Joe really has a problem speaking today, by the way, is it okay, like until people get into the groove? Like, absolutely be an ally. We talked about allies and always have absolute melting things happen? Yep.
Michelle Redfern 24:31
Yep. And, you know, and I agree, Wendy, that's, that's really good advice. And how do you know that? I had a group of women that I'm running a mentoring group with last week and one of them is has just taken a leadership role a step up, and she has a new team. And so I said, Okay, what's your first what's the first thing you're going to focus on? As you said, engaging more people having a conversation having a one on one? what makes them tick, you know, What makes this team great? What could make it greater? What are your expectations of me? You know that I'm still flabbergasted at how many leaders and managers are in teams where they haven't had a one on one they don't know, they're people that don't know. You know, I've had some terrific leaders in my life, and I've had some not so terrific. And I think you'll learn as much from the not so terrific, right. But the terrific leaders are the ones who sat me down and said, Tell me about you. What do you love doing? What are you really good at? And what? What do you kind of not like doing? And what Aren't you good at? And then let's work the work together with what you're, you know what we call that the positional purpose? What is it that you're here to do to help the organization achieve its financial, and strategic outcomes. And let's map that together. Now, in my case, if I've certainly, fortunately, never been given this, this job, but if someone has said, Michelle, we'd love to sit in that corner office on your own, and do analysis of spreadsheets all day. Seriously, I'd rather eat my own head, you know, I can kind of do analysis on spreadsheets for a nanosecond. And they're like, Oh, my God, give me people, I need to talk I need to be I need to, I'm an extrovert. So where do I get my energy? And it's not Yeah, I'm okay at it. But it's not my brilliance. It's not, it's not my brilliance. My brilliance is with customers. It's with clients. It's with, you know, strategy and things like that. So put me in my zone of brilliance. And then find someone to whose zone of brilliance he's analyzing spreadsheets and men will make a great, great team. You got to get to know me, please get to know me.
How many average organization what
Wendy Hanson 26:42
my brilliance is like EPS, you know, notice my brilliance, and then acknowledge it, because then I feel seen and heard, and I'll be using my brilliance more, but then say, How do I bring you into this meeting? You know, because you're, you know, we meet we so that everybody realizes that all of these perspectives is what's going to make this rich? And you said, How can we be better as a group of humans? Like, it's not just we need to, we need to bring out our human kindness and as a group of humans, how do we bring everything together? Absolutely,
Michelle Redfern 27:13
absolutely. Spot on. And you know, I think the other thing too, is be ready when you're asked that to all of us have got people who are looking at saying, Is she the one or is he the one? When someone when a when a leader sits you down and says What are you great at please be ready with the answer. So do the work, folks. What am I great at? What could I be greater? At? What do I need to be better? At? What can I can't just go You know what? I'll be okay, I'll be okay with 70% there. Be ready because you will be asked, you will be asked Wendy, what are you great at and where do you see yourself going? Be really to say Listen, I'm not entirely and I never had a career plan. But I knew what I wanted, I wanted to go up, I wanted to be in positions of power and influence to shape companies and get them to outperform. And I knew what I was really good at. And I was able to say, this is what I'm good at. I'm great at leading people, I'm great with clients, I can, you know, I can do lots of things to influence and persuade people to do stuff that perhaps they might not have wanted to do. That's what I'm good at, to put me in my zone of brilliance. So be ready with that as well. And some
Wendy Hanson 28:20
leaders are, we're all different, every leader could be very different and very different skills. And unfortunately, some of them that are may be introverts and don't think of this, like, not that posturing of being able to call people out, it just is not their comfort spot. Find a partner on your team, who is able to do that. Because some of us, you know, I believe one in one is three, if not four, or five, you know, and that doesn't stand up for just my poor math skills. But you know, I do think when we have more people together, putting our heads together, we're going to make better decisions than people like just going alone, or just two people and leaving out the rest of the team. Yep, we've got
Michelle Redfern 29:02
to get back to our earlier part of our conversation is, and more people that don't look like me sound like me or have my lived experience, the more diverse that team is, you get that beautiful, you know, that is the birthplace of, of innovation of creativity. And that's the stuff that high performing leaders, high performing teams and high performing. Organizations have to have and it's the leaders job to, to harness that and create it and create that space to make it happen. Right.
Wendy Hanson 29:35
And the diversity is so important. And today we're kind of focusing a bit on the diversity of having women in on this team because this is it's it's terrible to have to be calling this out at this day and age, but we do. So we call out the things that have worked really well and we just keep calling them out and we just keep as one of the the items in Google X. Aristotle is like speaking truth to power How do you get to stand up in a group and be able to be heard, no matter what your style is?
Michelle Redfern 30:06
Yeah. And I think when it comes to, to women, I want to also make a point with some some terrific statistics. Why are women important? Because in your, in your organization, it doesn't matter what organization it is, and what its what its goods and services are, it will be wanting to grow. And the most powerful consumer group in the world is women, women control or influence, up to 80% of buying decisions in in the family unit. Now, just imagine, I recall seeing an Ellen and Ellen Funny Clip a few years ago about big pins. Now big pins made big pins for women. And of course, what color were they windy? Oh my god yet? So Ellen's got a terrific clip on that to say, Oh my god, are we lucky to get big pins that are pink or women? Like seriously, who thought of that? That idea that that was a really good example. And there's been you know, I think there's Doritos for women. And, you know, these ridiculous ideas that say, hey, women, let's put a pink label on it, or let's do something about that. Because, hey, that'll be great for you. But I can guarantee you there was no woman involved in the creation of those products and services. So when you have women there, they can say, "Hey, thanks guys, nobody wants this."
Wendy Hanson 31:44
It's gonna turn them off!
Michelle Redfern 31:47
It might turn a nine year old girl on because my girl cool pink pants, but you know what, for those of us who have got money, and influence, and when I talk about money and influence, as we see more women ascend into power, not only did I have personal resources and influence, they have corporate resources and influence, you know, buying power on behalf of corporation. So, you know, managers and leaders pay attention to getting women onto your team, because they will help you create products, goods or services that will appeal to all sections of your community and help your organization grow.
Wendy Hanson 32:28
Right, so if nothing else, do it for the sake of your business growth, and then absolutely good things happen. Right?
Michelle Redfern 32:35
Well, your shareholders will be pleased.
Wendy Hanson 32:37
Yes, yes. Ah. So as we finish up, which we could talk about this for hours, but we try to keep this at about a half an hour. What's one thing if people could take away one thing from this that you say, Ah, I hope they get this and they walk away. What would it be? Michelle?
Michelle Redfern 32:54
Just one Wendy, wow. Okay, just one thing is returned to your workplace after you've listened to this and look at the composition of your workplace, please look and see, "Is my target market for my organization represented in my organization at all levels?" There might be women, but are they in senior positions? There might be women of color, but are they in senior positions? And if they're not, what might I do about that? Yeah, so that's, that's the one thing.
Wendy Hanson 33:32
I would consider that homework.
Michelle Redfern 33:35
Yes. No one ever goes away from any session with a me without actions. Yes, he's one thing.
Wendy Hanson 33:41
We're coaches, yes, we're constantly have to lead with something that you're gonna take away. Well, this has just been lovely. I just know, we're gonna have a part two to this. So everybody can hear what sir. But if you want to figure out how to connect with Michelle and learn more in our show notes, if you go on bettermanager.us we're going to have the transcript of this we are going to have all the social media links for Michelle so that you'll be able to reach out and, and and find her and maybe you can be part of a career that source, yeah, they can learn more about that. And I will put the Mad, Sad, Glad idea that we just floated out there so that people know, this is a good thing for a meeting, you should go look at it.
Michelle Redfern 34:24
It's just one of many tools. But when you start paying attention, think how might I start researching and you know, you have also BetterManager's got so many great tools for to be better managers.
Wendy Hanson 34:37
Well, thank you from across the globe.
Michelle Redfern 34:41
Wendy Hanson 34:43
is such a pleasure and to our our next conversation, which will be soon we will be continuing this. So thanks so much, Michelle.
Michelle Redfern 34:51
My pleasure, Wendy.