Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy and Director, Harvard Kennedy School
Manager of the Social Sector, Inter-American Development Bank
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, eBay Inc.
The global sweep of the #MeToo movement has highlighted the challenge that sexual harassment poses to women’s professional advancement. But other structural barriers in the workplace and enduring legal double standards also inhibit women from reaching their full economic potential. In 2018, fifty-nine countries still have no legal prohibition on harassment in the workplace, and more than one hundred still have laws that prevent women from working in certain jobs. This panel discusses how legal and policy reform in the workplace can promote women’s economic empowerment and broader growth.
LIPMAN: So welcome to the third session of today’s Council on Foreign Relations Symposium on “Women and the Law: Leveling the Economic Playing Field.”
I’m Joanne Lipman, I’m the author of That’s What She Said which is about closing the gender gap at work by bringing men into the conversation. I’m also the former editor-in-chief of USA Today, chief content officer of Gannett.
Joining us, we have Iris Bohnet, who is the Albert Pratt professor of business and government and the academic dean and codirector of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School. We have Marcelo Cabrol, who is the manager of the social sector for Inter-American Development Bank. And to my right Damien Hooper-Campbell, vice president and chief diversity officer of eBay.
So what we’re going to be talking about with this distinguished panel, we’re going to be looking at the structural barriers to women’s advancement in the workplace. And whether they’re legal, they’re policy, it’s about culture, and we want to start really talking about solutions.
The global sweep of the #MeToo movement has really highlighted all of these challenges, especially sexual harassment, that are posed to women’s professional advancement. In 2018, this year, there’s still fifty-nine countries that have no legal prohibition on harassment in the workplace. There’s more than a hundred countries that still have laws that prevent women from taking certain jobs.
And the issue goes beyond sexual harassment, it goes to the everyday issues that women are facing. There’s the gender wage gap, but there’s also things like being ignored, overlooked, not taken seriously, marginalized in the workplace.
So what I’d like to do is to start with our panel by asking a question that I think is on the minds of probably everyone here, which is about the #MeToo movement because we’re hearing more and more in the news about men who are saying I’m never going to work with a woman again, I don’t want to talk to a woman, I might get falsely accused. And I’m wondering if you feel that we are seeing a #MeToo backlash.
And perhaps, Damien, you’d like to start with it.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: Sure, thank you. And thanks to the organization for having me here today. It’s a blessing to be here today.
Yeah, absolutely, right? I’m about radical transparency. I think that there’s definitely a backlash. I think—and I’m generalizing—but I’ve split it into probably two groups. I think there are some folks who are legitimately saying I don’t want to be in a room with a woman. Whereas before I might go to drinks and it was I knew that there was not going to be an issue, I think that there are some men who are now saying I need a chaperone, right, which is the silliest thing ever. And then I think that there are some men who are saying, OK, I don’t think that it’s actually that egregious where I need to totally change my behavior, but I’d like to have a conversation about this.
And so I think there are just two ballparks, right? One group who are—who are absolutely saying—they’re being a little bit extreme. And I try to be empathetic with everybody. And so, to a certain extent, I understand it, the other extent, I’m just, like, just behave like a good human being. And then on the other end, I do think that there is a yearning from men in particular to have a real conversation about what this all means.
LIPMAN: Marcelo, what’s your point of view on this? And how do we convince men to have that conversation?
CABROL: Perhaps two different conversations are—I work mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, so let me say that, as this very moment, #MeToo is changing fundamentally the way we talk about these issues. So I think that you have to see it in an evolutionary way, you know? You might have a backlash here, but certainly in Latin America it’s changing the way we see this.
#MeToo in Latin America and the Caribbean has brought some level of being uncomfortable. So discomfort is a super important part. And I have an anecdote because I always remember this one. I’m Argentinian. Argentina had a very bad financial crisis this year. The IMF was one of the institutions that came to the rescue. And the minister of finance came to Washington with seven men, OK? And Madam Lagarde, that was here a moment ago, made a very important, uncomfortable moment for them. He actually said, by the way, he was short on women.
Why is this important? It was an uncomfortable moment. But immediately in Argentina and in the region, we started—we renewed the discussion about the participation of women in higher places.
Now, what we see here in big corporations in Latin America and here, it’s already a little bit of a backlash in the mentoring programs that we’re looking at. The mentoring programs are becoming a little bit more difficult to pair men and women in this position. And we’re working on that and we’re trying to see how we can do about it.
I know—I totally agree that—(inaudible)—you know, (is ?) just triangulate and triangulate infinitely, but I think that something has to be done about that.
LIPMAN: So let’s talk about what can be done about it. And I know, Iris, you are heavily involved in the research on certain policies that have been put into place. And I wonder if you could talk a little bit about it, because we’ve heard this morning already on a couple of different policies, and we’d like to hear what you have found. Let’s talk first about the gender wage gap analysis, that’s something that in the U.K. it is now law, it is now the law that you have to report your gender wage gap. And if I’m not mistaken, I believe that the report has shown so far this year that there are exactly zero companies that pay women more than they pay men. (Laughter.)
You’ve actually—you helped work with the U.K. on that law. Can you talk a little bit about what it has shown, and is that a policy that is effective to create change?
BOHNET: So it’s a bit too early to tell what’s going to happen in the U.K. But, I mean, I love the fact that then you broaden the #MeToo question to, you know, other inequities between men and women because I do think that’s a discussion that we have to have, that this is part of a structural inequity and not just an outlier.
And that might also sometimes help—just answering your first question a little bit—that might sometimes also help bring men onboard and saying this is part of a bigger picture and let’s kind of analyze the big picture.
And, yes, so transparency is one way to go about this. And I think the background of the transparency idea is twofold. One is it’s good people making bad choices in that they might not know. So we’re currently working with a company where we provide information on the gender promotion ratio. So every manager now knows how likely a woman or a man is being promoted based on the available pool in their team, again arguing that, partly, this is just I wasn’t paying attention, I was just—you know, I brought only men to Washington—and it required Madam Lagarde to kind of point this out to me—some of this conscious, some of this is unconscious.
So part of transparency is just to say let’s make this—bring this in the open. And then secondly, and of course, that was a big motivation for the U.K. as well that, once it is in the open, others will pay attention, too, and it will create all kinds of interesting dynamics. I mean, the press might write about it, NGOs might talk about it, employees might care about it, clients might care about it, and companies start to compete with each other. And I think that’s maybe one of the beauties of transparency.
And that’s why I’m also so excited about the Council’s work on creating indexes, an index now on workplace inequality, because, again, the more we shine the light on something, the more it is out in the open and we can actually talk about it.
So in the U.K., we don’t have data yet on what, you know—the next—the next wave. The next wave will have to show, you know, next March, next round of pay gap data will come out, has it changed?
But what it did do was something that I don’t think the designers fully expected. And it created a demand for solutions. So many companies, which reported a gender pay gap, added reasons for why they have the gaps they have, so they were forced or felt compelled to analyze, to decompose the very big gaps. As you probably know, I mean, the gaps, the gender pay gaps, were, like, 30 percent, 40 percent, were often very big, but this is a macro definition of the gap. So the economists in the room will not be used to that. In economics, we normally say holding everything else constant, not comparing apples and oranges, you know, same education, same experience, and everything, are you paid the same? And that is one way to define the pay gap.
Another way is to say, well, we have to be holistic because even differences in hierarchies or differences in jobs, so engineers making more money, let’s say, than HR professionals, all of that should be part of this. And that’s how the U.K. defined it. So it’s a very big definition. It’s really, literally, on average, how much do the men in your company make as compared to how much do the women in your company make?
So now we have everything. We have differences for same jobs. We also have differences in hierarchy, which turns out to play a huge role. We also have differences in the jobs that you chose, the careers that you chose.
And so what most companies did, which wasn’t required by law, was to now explain, to decompose and say, you know, now that we saw 40 percent, we really wanted to understand. And, you know, half of that is differences in hierarchies, half of those—you know, a third is X, Y, Z. So I think that’s been very helpful and a good movement.
And then a second thing that happened was demand from the companies, so what do we do now? So we helped create guidelines, which are publicly available on the website of the U.K. government, for companies on what we know, what works, what can you do to close gender pay gaps. And that, I think, is a success story of transparency at this point, that it motivates people to, A, be aware, but then, B, to demand solutions. And that’s really the place we want to be in.
LIPMAN: So awareness is clearly the first step, awareness of the problem. And actually, Catalyst had a survey that found that, when they asked professional men, slightly more than 50 percent of professional men said they were not even aware of what the issues are. And I think that does bring up a really important point that came up in the previous session, which is about men.
Now, we’re looking out at membership here, which is almost entirely female in this room, and yet, this is an issue that concerns all of us. So, yes, shout out to the men who are at today’s sessions, but why are there not more of them? What can we do to make men, to help men understand that this is their issue, this is not a girl issue, that this is an issue that is absolutely essential for all of us?
Damien, if you’d like to start on that.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: Yeah, I agree. It’s not a girl or a woman issue, it’s a human issue. And I think in any organization it starts from the top. My role was created by our CEO, and when I interviewed with him, we had some very clear and uncomfortable, but straightforward conversations about his level of comfort with being out front on these things. And he has shown up as being out front on every single thing, whether it was gender pay equity analyses, whether it was sending the note to the company after kind of the #MeToo movement kind of hit its—you know, its high point. So I think, one, it’s got to start from the very top and it can’t just be the women in the company. In fact, research will show, you know, that there’s a diversity tax that women and underrepresented minorities actually take by being the ones who are vocal there.
I would say the other thing that you’ve got to do is you’ve got to—your narrative—oftentimes in diversity and inclusion at least, I’ve seen people in my role come in and whether it’s, you know, attacking people about white privilege or attacking people because they are male, we know, again from research, that your brain’s going to do one of two things. It’s going to either, you know, run into the flight or the fight. That’s not helpful.
And so there are a couple of things that we do intentionally. One is, when I started, we messaged we want to hear from everyone, diversity is not just around women and underrepresented minorities, and we made that very clear in every single conversation we had. Our employee resource groups—oftentimes at companies, you see, you know, employee resource groups that are focused on women where it’s only women in that room and a man walks up to that door by accident many times, opens the door, and, like, closes it quickly and takes off. Right? (Laughter.)
And so one of the things that we have—again, I believe in repetition breeding repetition—one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve said these groups are unapologetically going to focus on gender-related issues that are focused on women’s advancement and empowerment. However, we need men in the room. And so I’m proud to say that our Women in Technology Employee Resource Group right now has two men on the leadership team. And what that does is it raises awareness, but it also offers, you know, the women who are in that group a different perspective on how men might be feeling about certain things.
And then the final thing I’ll say is, you know, we—and these are all, I think, around culture. There’s a lot of things that we do around policy, but these are around culture and behavioral change. We just launched a series called Courageous Conversations, right? Like, when I was younger, my mother and others said you don’t talk about politics, you don’t talk about race, you don’t talk about religion. And what we know is that the future of work and companies that are really going to thrive are companies that run towards those issues and talk about them proactively. And so our Courageous Conversations series was launched to create facilitated spaces that are safe—but please, let me be really clear—are not always comfortable. They’re safe, but they’re not comfortable so that we can run towards conversations around race, ethnicity, and gender.
And then we curated that list to make sure it wasn’t just women and minorities who self-selected into that conversation and there were no men who were in the room. We curated that list. We took a video, we put a nice little video together, and then we are marketing that video so that other men will see, oh, that guy was in the room? So they actually meant it when they said everybody’s welcome.
So I don’t think that there’s one quick thing that you can do. I think that this is a long-term game, but it’s about being consistent in your messaging and being consistent in making it welcoming, yet being OK with it being uncomfortable when people are in that room.
LIPMAN: I think you raise a very important point about culture.
I’d love, Marcelo, to talk a little bit about that because I would imagine the experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, you have some other cultural issues that you also are dealing with.
CABROL: Yeah, and I will go back to the issue of culture in a moment, I mean, you mentioned it because it’s super important.
But, you know, the anecdote about Madam Lagarde going to—receiving the minister of finance of Argentina, it’s a—it’s a telling one, again, because almost a hundred percent today of the ministers of finance out there in Latin America and the Caribbean are male. OK? So we tried everything with them. We tried, you know, this is the 34 percent of your GDP increase that you might have if you gender parity. We tried issues of inclusion. We tried all the economic analysis with them. They are not completely compelling, we don’t see the changes that we want to see there.
What is working is to create a community of conversation around them. And I’ll tell you exactly what it means. It means, essentially, the president, other cabinet members, and asking, like Madam Lagarde asked, why do you have so little—in Argentina, for example, I go back to Argentina, but I can use any other country—you have only three ministers out of 11 that are women? So, you know, asking those difficult questions is something that changes behavior, but also bringing the private sector into this conversation.
We often separate the public sector and the private sector, yet we don’t see changes if they don’t work together. So having events, having conversations in which CEOs—which, by the way, tend to be overwhelmingly men, OK—get together and start conversations that are focused on budget, focused on productivity, focused on inclusion. It’s what’s really changing the conversation today in Latin America. Only with the public sector, we cannot do it, only with the private sector with quotas or with certification programs that we’re doing, it’s not working. You have to put it together.
LIPMAN: You know, you mentioned—
CABROL: I’m sorry, about the culture issue. Sorry. I promised that, I’m sorry.
So micro issues, you know, leadership means also learning micro conducts that we as male are not wired to actually incorporate very quickly. And I’ll tell you two that are working very well in my own organization and I see it every day and I’m super happy that they’re happening. I’m sure that you know about them, but they are working fine.
The first one is no interruptions, which I just did, I just interrupted you. (Laughter.) But, you know, we have, like everybody else, a lot of meetings, I would love to say that all of them productive, but some of them are productive. But the no interruptions, it’s key.
And the other one is amplification. I see women amplifying and men now amplifying what women in that room have said, which normally, you know, they tend to be the first with original and created ideas not being amplified. So I think that that’s—those are the culture, I think small, microculture of things that we need to also work on.
LIPMAN: Those are two great examples. Actually, in That’s What She Said, in my book, I talk about both of those examples. And the interruptions piece of it is incredibly important. Women are interrupted three times more frequently than men are. Northwestern University did a study of the Supreme Court of the United States and found that the female Supreme Court justices are interrupted three times more frequently than male Supreme Court justices. So it does apply to all women.
CABROL: We are practicing that.
LIPMAN: Yes. I love the no interruptions rule.
On the policy front, you know, one of the other policies that Christine Lagarde also did talk about, she said she became a convert to the quota system.
And I would love, Iris, if you could talk a little bit about that. There has been research on those countries—and there are a number of countries, particularly in Europe and some of them in Latin America—that have now board quotas for women. What does the research show us?
BOHNET: So maybe let me start with the oldest and most researched example, which is not board quotas, but quotas in politics. As you probably know, about a hundred countries have some sort of quota system in politics. Many people kind of are not aware of that, it’s not always at the kind of parliament level, but could be at the party level.
But the example that I wanted to share with you is from India. India amended its constitution in 1993 to mandate that a third of all village-head positions—so think mayors or pradhans—had to be female. And this is interesting from a research point of view because the third literally was picked out of a hat, just randomly assigned. So it’s not just, you know, villages, which were already more gender equal or where there were strong women were picked, but it was random. So that was interesting. And a number of papers have been written on this experiment to learn from that quota, and that’s why I’m starting with that because it is the best empirical evidence that we have to date.
And so just a few things that we have learned. First, it requires kind of takes two, going to call it takes two. And that is, the first woman, although research already shows, she’s more likely to provide public goods for the community, does not like the job, does not want to be reelected and is not reelected, and is generally perceived as not successful. She’s still an aberration, right? One, the first ones, like, must have been a mistake or whatever, luck, or she was the cousin of the former mayor. People made up all kinds of theories of why we had a woman all of a sudden.
But then research shows that in villages which have been exposed to two women now in those twenty-five years, even mindsets are starting to change. So now people start to associate political leadership with women. And in fact, in two studies shows that a core career aspiration of parents is for their daughters to go into politics, which, of course, you know, is also a bit irrational in the sense there are not that many mayorships available. But it is what we call in behavioral economics the availability bias. Now a role model, somebody, is available to me so I can imagine that this could be something for me as a—as a young woman or as a parent of a young woman for my child. So I think that’s the beauty of quotas. They can change numbers very quickly and they can change what we think is possible for ourselves very quickly.
Other research shows that women are more likely to speak up in town hall meetings in villages, which, again, have been exposed to more than one woman, and research also shows that we get more reports of domestic violence and domestic violence is more likely to be prosecuted in towns with female leaders. So it has real policy consequences.
The last one I would say—I will say is it’s also interesting, and maybe Madam Lagarde mentioned that already, but we’ve had great hopes for these women leaders to, I mean, make kind of huge strides. So I think we also have to temper our expectations a little bit. I mean, these women made strides, but it’s not that they’re just better or, you know, that that is—this is just putting too much weight on the pure business case. But they did make some different choices.
So women tend to focus on public goods, interestingly enough, that women care about. In India, that turns out to be water. That’s a woman’s job to go fetch the water. It also turns out that’s good for development, right? So that’s the circle that you can make on the business case, but it’s a bit of a longer circle that you really have to understand how those decisions are made and then why you want to have diversity, because you want clean water, but you also want to have roads and, you know, you want to have a good—all kinds of different things. So that’s the quota in India.
Norway, I mean, various countries, Spain, various countries in Europe have introduced quotas on corporate boards. The U.K. has not. The U.K. has set a goal, a soft goal, to introduce gender diversity in the FTSE 100 companies at 25 percent, which they have reached. So I’m also happy to talk about that. They didn’t rely on quotas. They used much more behavioral science, many more of the strategies that we just heard explained.
And it was so—actually, I was really excited when I heard the two of you talk about how to change behaviors. It is about what I sometimes call norm entrepreneurship. Right? We have to change norms. We all are norm entrepreneurs. And that can be—you become a micro sponsor, as Marcelo said, we help each other and we highlight interruptions and other microaggressions, or we create role models, you know, that’s exactly what you’re doing at eBay, and you create a movement. And that’s what has to take place.
But, again, so Norway, Norway introduced quotas between 2003 and 2006, and the evidence is mixed what the impact of the quotas was. We have to take into account that this is almost perfectly correlated with the financial crisis, that is 2007 and 2008 we had the financial crisis. That meant that for companies to be profitable and sometimes even just to survive, often that just meant laying off people. And so what the research shows was that companies that had more female directors were less likely to fire people and that did not help them economically.
But, I’m just going to say “but,” I’m an economist, so I have to stay on the private sector and constraints, we didn’t find—there are some things that people thought we would find—it was literally called this, it’s not a beautiful term—but their criticism was, oh, these will be recycled women. Women will then serve on twenty boards because there’s only five women in the world who could serve on the boards—(laughter)—and so they have to all serve on twenty boards. That did not happen in Norway.
What did happen is that Norwegian companies had to redefine the definition of a board member—and that also happened in the U.K., by the way, without quotas—in that there was this understanding that you have to have been a CEO to serve on a corporate board of a big company. And it is just true that we don’t have many female CEOs of big companies.
And so both Norway, U.K., Spain, Italy, everyone who has introduced quotas had to broaden the definition of what board membership looks like, and that meant for Norway, where we have the data, that the female board members tended to be better educated than their male counterparts and they tended to be younger than their male counterparts and they tended to have less corporate experience in that sense than their male counterparts.
Now, you know, overall, was it a success? Was it? I think that what the data kind of suggests is Norway is doing just fine. Italy is doing not so fine, but not because of the corporate boards. (Laughter.) You know, so it actually was less of a thing than you might have expected. And that may be the biggest takeaway.
You know, like, India makes us optimistic that it does play a role. You know, you can say maybe corporate board members are less visible then your mayor, right? So expecting that that’s going to change dramatically how people think about leadership might have been a big expectation because how many board members do you know of big companies in the U.S.? It’s not—you know, they’re not like mayors. So it was less dramatic and it was still the right thing to do.
And so going back to what you talked about this morning also, it is about the business case, but it has, at the end of the day, it has to be about the human rights case.
LIPMAN: So we’re going to do a quick lightning round here and then we’re going to go to questions from our members.
And that is, there’s been a lot of good ideas, we’ve heard some of them floated here—gender wage gap analysis, boards, amplification, no interruptions, there’s others we didn’t even get to talk to—talk about, like blind auditions—there’s a variety of measures. And we’ve got the #MeToo movement going strong. Why have we not made more progress?
BOHNET: We’ve focused on the wrong thing.
LIPMAN: Focused on the wrong thing.
BOHNET: We’ve focused on the wrong thing. We did diversity training, we did leadership training, we tried to fix the women, but fix mindsets, we haven’t fixed our institutions yet.
CABROL: Again, going back to my region, it’s a—it’s a culture issue. It’s, you know, I come from a region that I’m not proud to say has the highest incidence of violence against women. And that’s—and that’s also part of the conversation, a key part of the conversation. I think that we have structural issues still to deal with in that sense in order to move to a much more productive agenda of gender parity and inclusion.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: For tech, I think we have unreasonable expectations that this will be a quick fix like an app rollout would be. Right? (Laughter.) You walked—we walked into this building today, those of us who were able, came to this building today. And you don’t have to answer this, but how many of you thought as you walked into the building about whether or not the building was accessible to people who are physically challenged? Now, those of you who did may either be physically challenged or may have people in your lives who are and you have a lived experience. But for people who don’t have lived experience around gender, ethnicity, like, this is—they’ve been learning a certain way for all of their lives. And you can put policies in place all you want to, but the work around the human being takes time and we’ve been unreasonable about how quickly we think this is going to be solved.
CABROL: I want to add something because what I’m struggling with at this point is whether I have a very narrow agenda at the bank or if I should have a wider agenda. What that means is a—(inaudible)—for us. What kind of game do we have if we put together the issues of exclusion out there into the equation? That is to say we have Afro-American communities in Latin America, they have a huge level of exclusion from the labor market. Are we talking about the same issues or not?
Ten percent of our kids, like, you know, normally happens, they have different learning differences. We don’t have the policies out there to include them in normal classrooms.
So where I’m struggling today is whether we are at the moment of expanding this conversation to diversity, including gender, or keeping up with gender, which we have done some progress, but we’re still not there. Sorry.
LIPMAN: That’s a fantastic point about it’s not just diversity—it’s not just women, it is diversity, it’s inclusion. And thank you. Yes.
CABROL: But sometimes they tell me that that’s, you know, distracting the agenda from what really matters.
LIPMAN: An excellent point.
We have time for some questions. A question right over here. Please state your name and just ask one question in the form of a question. (Laughter.)
Q: I’m Jewelle Bickford. I’m a partner at Evercore, but I also started the Paradigm for Parity movement with Ellen Coleman, the former CEO of Dupont. And we put together a five-point action plan which McKenzie, Catalyst has adopted. It’s on their website.
My question to you is, we are finding that flextime or what we call the millennial mindset for women, is probably the single-most-important issue to keep women in the workforce. Would you agree with that or is there some other? Please.
BOHNET: So I agree that flextime is very important, but I’m always very nervous when something is feeling gender specific. So the flextime, I think, will not be successful if it is particularly women or only women who work flex and not men, because then the economist in me will say, oh, now companies will take that into account and will start to discriminate and if they don’t like flextime they’ll be more likely to hire men. And so we have some evidence on that on maternity leave versus parental leave, that maternity leave can hurt women and parental leave—or better, care leave as I like to call it—is the way to go.
LIPMAN: To take it one step further, actually there is a company in Boston by the name of Humanyze that is the first I’m aware of that actually has mandatory paternity leave, because they found that even when you offer family leave men do not take it. And therefore, they have forced the men to take paternity leave so that—and precisely, the reason is for gender equality so that the women are not penalized.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: And there’s—sorry, just to piggyback—there’s also an issue. So I believe it is effective, we’re doing it in a couple of cities where we’ve launched something called Retail Revival. In Akron, for instance, in Ohio, we’ve created jobs where people can full-time work from home. And what we’re seeing is we are capturing more women, but also more single parents, more people from different socioeconomic groups.
The challenge is, if you haven’t changed your culture, right, a lot of the projects that are assigned are assigned because people can go over to each other’s offices and grab coffee or can grab lunch in person together. And so you also—I think it’s a great policy and it will open up your talent pool. But at the same time, you have to be really structured about how people are evaluated and how jobs and the visible roles are actually distributed. Otherwise, you know, it will leak, that pipeline will leak over time.
LIPMAN: A question over here.
Q: Hi. I’m Lauren Leader. I run All In Together which is a women’s political leadership organization, but I also work with a lot of the Fortune 500 on diversity issues and have for many years.
You know, whenever we talk about quotas, you know, it’s always an eyeroll in the U.S. because, like, it’s so off, it’s been so out of the realm of the possible until now because of California, which you didn’t mention. I started working with the New York state legislature to think about a similar bill here in New York.
What I wanted to ask is that we’ve had hundreds in the Paradigm for Parity, there’s so many now, hundreds and hundreds of CEOs who have signed on very visibly to support gender equity and diversity, the make-a-million pledges, the 30% Club, et cetera, they all commit to it. But as far as I know, most of them have still opposed public policy measures that would actually force their hand. So I’d love to know your thoughts about, given what happened in California, you know, are we—is this a moment maybe where more CEOs and executives may sign on to some of their—they say they’re going to do it anyway, why should they oppose the bills?
CABROL: I’m going to sound here anticorporate, so just give me one second here. OK? (Laughter.) That’s what I think at this point, that, you know, a big event in which big pledges are made, big corporate programs alone do not work, at least do not work in Latin America and the Caribbean. Just let me—let me preface, let me say that at least.
So what we found essentially is that, if there’s no tax incentives, budgetary conversations, and other things that are, I mean, enforceable regulations there to make those pledges work, we are making very, very little progress. That’s why it’s so important to have public and private conversations together and not separate. I’m, you know, I’m reinforcing that point because I went to many—and here, I’m going to be a D.C. guy—many New York events in which big pledges have been made and then we see nothing in the region. Sorry.
LIPMAN: Question over here in the middle of the room.
Q: Thanks. I’m Arlene Getz. I’m with Reuters.
I also had a question about the quota issue. I think between you and Christine Lagarde you’ve made an excellent case for quotas. But at the same time, I think, you know, many women do not want to feel that they’ve been appointed to something just because they’re making up a quota. And it also undermines their stature, as was pointed out by an earlier questioner. So I wonder what you and the panel would think about something like sunset clauses for quotas. Do you think that would make it politically more palatable? It would open the door, you know, your point about showing mothers and their daughters that this is a possible aspiration, but at the same time you’re not locking in corporations and governments to something that, you know, would be in perpetuity.
BOHNET: I think it’s very interesting. It’s a very interesting idea. I have nothing substantive to say as in, you know, would it work or not. But I do want to add to what you said, that there are other examples. So I want to bring up the U.K. again. The U.K. did not do quotas and still reached their goal. They now have 30 percent women on their corporate boards, but it was a different approach. And it required—so I completely agree with everything that was said, a pledge alone is not going to do it.
But then if you want to create a movement, there are other instruments that you have. So when—so I advised on that, so I wrote a case study on it so we can learn from what actually happened. But it was, in the end, it was a coalition of the public sector, private sector, headhunters, the media, The Financial Times played a huge role shaming and naming companies. The headhunters, in the end, competed for who could please more women on corporate boards. We had some chairmen who did backroom diplomacy. There was peer pressure between the companies. So I’m just saying it is possible to do it without quotas, but it does require much more than a public pledge.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: And we could have a whole other session on quotas, OK, because I feel very strongly about it. There is no one-size-fits-all to this. I am of the mindset that at eBay we will institute quotas really not so much, but goals and targets and hold people to those after we’ve tried a couple of other things. I see that personally as a time’s up, I’m fed up, you don’t want to do this out of behavioral change or norm entrepreneurship, we will institute those kinds of things.
The point around people getting into a company, turning around and finding out they were part of a campaign or that a four-times multiple was put on their head as a referral in terms of a bonus, right, versus a man, like—the imposter syndrome for women and underrepresented minorities is already such a real thing that I do think it has unintended consequences.
I also think about the managers who are hiring, who say, oh, HR—I’m talking about in corporations—HR has just thrown another policy that is telling me who I have to hire. There’s a resentment that also comes with that. And so I think that, at the board level, we’ve been at this for so long as a, you know, as a society across the world, I think it was time for that.
We’ve been at this for two-and-a-half years at eBay. And let me just throw out a couple of numbers. This is not to brag, but just to give examples of ways to drive change maybe without targets. There is not another chief diversity officer in tech, to my understanding, who also owns university recruiting. I own university recruiting, so when I took it over, 27 percent of our intern class were women. This past summer, 46 percent were women. I didn’t set a quota, I said we’re going to do better at the top of the funnel and being intentional about going out and speaking to communities and making sure they’re there.
This is our second year that we’ve done gender pay, you know, equity analysis. In the U.S., women make 100.1 percent of what men make. Globally, women make 100.2 percent of what men make. And that was an analysis that was done across most of our organization. Our SVP level, so those are the eleven people who report in to our CEO, five of them are women. And the woman who runs our StubHub business, multibillion-dollar business, is a woman by the name of Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, who created theBoardlist. We didn’t say we are going to put a woman in this role. But we got very intentional when we recruited and went out in saying, we are going to get top talent from a much broader pool than maybe historically we have, and we’re going to structure the interview process so that we’re not just bringing great people in, but we’re also giving them a balanced chance to get through.
So, you know, I do think that there are some CEOs who don’t need a campaign, and I applaud those campaigns because they drive awareness. There are some who don’t. There are also some who will just talk the talk and won’t walk the walk. And for that, I do think that there are certain companies that might need to have quotas or targets instituted, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all.
LIPMAN: Question over here.
Q: Hi. Mariela Dabbah with the Red Shoe Movement. And I absolutely adore this conversation. I admire Iris profoundly.
And this is what I want to ask you: It’s been proven in her book, which I highly recommend to everybody, what works in gender equality by design. Right? So it’s been proven. She’s done all the research. All of you are actually implementing design decisions so that people don’t have—you don’t have to change people’s mindset; you just change the design and then nobody has to make a decision every five minutes, whether—do I turn the light when I leave my hotel room, or you have to take the card with you and the lights are off. Right?
So this is like we’ve already resolved that there is a vaccine for a certain disease and we keep on talking about, is there a vaccine for this disease? Yes, there is a vaccine. So why is it that in this particular topic of equality, of inclusion, we keep on having these conversations where we’re reinventing the wheel when the research already is there? For us, to show it, adopt it, do it, move on, next—that’s my question. (Laughter.)
CABROL: I agree a hundred percent. (Laughter.)
Q: And I’m from Argentina. (Laughter.)
CABROL: (Laughs.) I totally agree. I could almost guess. (Laughter.)
We’re a little bit Italians—(laughter)—you know, Spaniards, a little bit of everything.
I agree 100 percent. But legacy, it’s a real issue. I mean, we’ve been applying some of the ideas that Iris brought to the table. We’ve been experimenting, for example, with behavioral nudges for women finishing secondary education in Mexico to go to nontraditional careers. So there’s information, and they are working. But they’re working to the tune, at this point, of five hundred women in a huge country.
So the real issue, what’s coming for us, is how we make this something that is universal, and it really changes the conversation. Legacy is what we are dealing with now. So we need decisions, even though we know that design has to be different.
So, for example, we know more now about the quota systems for parliamentary conversations. Argentina was one of the first ones that had, actually, a quota system for political parties.
We know now if we need to put together now a quota system for parliamentary, we are going to do it much better, and we are working on that. But that takes times. So we have to take into consideration legacy, and then taking up to scale behavioral changes, design changes. And this kind of thing also takes, you know, quite a bit of technical capacity. So that’s the other thing that you need to upgrade in order to work on that.
I was telling you a moment ago that when we talk about women—institutions that deal with women issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, we are normally talking to the weakest, least-funded institutions of the lot. And that’s another conversation that we’ll have with the minister of finance, another legacy.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: I think we have grossly under-focused on the human aspect of all of this. You’re going to hear me go back to that time and time again. I am both Guyanese—so Caribbean, South American—and I am African-American. At one point, when I was at Morehouse College, I wanted to be a psychologist, and I started to read and study, and I said—and I saw research that said that the black community and underrepresented minority communities under-leverage and utilize psychiatrists and psychologists. The vaccine is there for much of the trauma that the communities that I represent and come from have been through. The cultural stigma that’s attached to it is part of why people are not taking that vaccine, and part of why people in the black community will use pastors and barbers and stylists.
And so I agree with you. The list of ideas are there. I’m going to read your book. The list of ideas are there. (Laughter.) OK? They’re there, but like, we still have under-focused on the human aspect of this and getting to a place where we can have an honest conversation and accompany it with the policy and vaccines. And I think that is why we’re still having this conversation, and what I’m hoping is, is that all of us will go out and be champions to say, great, here’s the idea, but getting a human being to change behavior and to adopt that idea, not because they’re forced to do it but because they actually give a crap about equality and think that it’s right, and they personalized it. That is the hard work that I don’t think has been done across all industries.
BOHNET: Can I jump in just—I’m going to try this very quickly, but—so I want to leave you with some optimism, too. So I’m a little more optimistic than you are.
I think Damien reminded us it does take time. So this is not us, you know, saying you have to change from today to tomorrow. It does take some time.
But here’s some reasons why I’m optimistic. So there’s now I think about fifty startups in this space, have taken insights from my book and others to translate them into software. So technology can also be part of the solution, which is helping to make it easier for all of us to actually implement, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now.
So I give you a very small example. There’s one start—it’s called Textio.
BOHNET: They “de-bias” job advertisements. Seems like super trivial to you. It is. It is actually super-low-hanging fruit. I often start with this in saying, oh, this is the lowest, easiest thing you can do. It is actually implemented now by enormous number of companies, probably eBay, you know—
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: We use them.
BOHNET: I’m sure. (Laughs.) I’m using them at Harvard. It—so there are—that makes me more optimistic that we’re understanding that part of the answer—I mean, I’m completely with the human—part of the answer is we also have to make it simpler for people to do this work. And I also think that’s a mistake that we have made in the past in that diversity is the business case, it’s all a good thing, just do it. No.
BOHNET: It’s hard. Homophobia is real, and some of us have a lot of privilege; others don’t. We have to address these things.
So acknowledging that behavior change is really hard, but we have now a lot of insights into how to make that happen, which we can deploy. That makes me more optimistic.
But, you know, I thank you for the question. I think we can, of course, run out of steam and feel depressed, but I do think there are some real companies and we’re—for example, we’re working on a platform right now to document success. So we want to show—showcase—so how has—how is Rwanda now the number one country in women’s political participation? Nobody knows this. How did they do it or how did it happen? U.K.—how did they, you know—Justin Trudeau, Canada—what did it take to gender-based budgeting? There are examples of organizations which have had some success and then learned from them and hopefully create that movement. You know, more of that movement and kind of say this can happen and it can happen for you, too.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: And I think you said it, but let me just accentuate. That company, Textio, that Iris mentioned, founded, led by a woman.
BOHNET: I did not. Kieran Snyder. I did not mention it, but yes.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: Yeah. Yeah.
LIPMAN: Question over here?
Q: Bettye Musham.
I think one of the obstacles to women being recruited for boards is if you look at a lot of the boards, the same people are on the same boards. So every friend of the CEO is on his board and this creates a big obstacle. And until you get rid of the locker room camaraderie on the boards, there’s not going to be any room for women. So I don’t know how you do that, but it’s a real problem. And it’s a problem for the success of the company because they all sort of are afraid to differ with the CEO. So it’s an obstacle; it’s also a problem.
LIPMAN: And companies that have more—the most women on their boards of directors, the research shows us, are more financially successful than those with the least.
There’s a question over on this—right over here. Yes.
Q: Hi. Darin Kingston, Global Development Incubator.
I was wondering, sort of building off your last point, if you all could comment on—I’ve spent the last seven years in very young organizations, startup organizations, and the sort of subtext of this conversation is changing institutionalized behaviors, and obviously the norms are always there and the biases are always there. But what are some of the most, like, two or three concrete, important things that new organizations can do to bake these lenses, these processes into their recruiting processes from the outside? Because you’re dealing with all the things we are talking about, plus time pressure, plus limitations of network effects, and the realities of who’s starting these organizations in the first place. And so just—I’d be interested for comments on that.
CABROL: No good news, probably. I’ve been dealing quite a bit with startups in Latin America and the Caribbean. They are great. They are doing great jobs. They’re having the same problems that we have here in the U.S., in terms of being gender-inclusive. Same type of problems of stock and flow, essentially—you know, the pipeline of women working in the core areas. I’m not talking about marketing only; I’m talking all the core areas. It’s very weak. So the bad news, I guess, is that we are not there yet.
The good news is that what we need to do concretely is to start from the very, very, very beginning of the education process, including women in STEM. And I know that it has been said a hundred times, so don’t worry; I know that.
Where we are experimenting now is with very concrete things that we can do at the classroom level. For example: Do you create or not a club that is dedicated to women in STEM, which is exclusively for women? How do you change the behavior, by the way, of the teachers? And we’re experimenting with that. We are hoping that that’s going to change eventually the pipeline that women that goes to nontraditional careers but also when we go to the startup place, the startup conversation, we will have there a different mix than we have today.
One last thing: Maybe the only good news in the short term is that we are working in Latin America with venture funds, investing in, you know, dedicated lines that work with startups of women founders. And they are performing super well. We started this, you know—and I’m going to say this in a hateful way—an affirmative action program, and it ended up being a real success program for us, in terms of which startups are actually making headway in their business—(inaudible).
BOHNET: Can I add, just quickly, one thought on what you can do today? Don’t underestimate HR. That is my kind of biggest message—(laughter)—honestly, the home of bias is informality. And many of the tech startups are so enthusiastic about the tech and want to run, and, you know, and then they fall into the same trap that your boards fall into. They hire their friends from the other garages and other developers.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: That’s right.
BOHNET: And, you know, we’re all so cool and—so formalize HR; really try to do it. And I understand it’s expensive. You know, small—but again, use another startup. Another one is called Applied. They do the whole kind of HR system for—in a de-biased way, for other startups.
So that is my biggest advice: Informality really, whether it’s on boards, where I just talk to my friends at the golf club and I hire my friends, you know, (colleague CEO ?). Informality is the home of bias, and the more you can bring this into something more formal I think the better you are.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: Three really quick ones: one, influence the funders—not just funders who fund women- and minority-owned startups. Influence funders—Freada and Mitch Kapor—Mitch Kapor, you know, founder of Lotus 1-2-3—big-time commitment, that in order to be a portfolio company, you have to have a commitment to diversity and inclusion. So influence funders. Get founders of startups to be vulnerable and transparent about their needs. Put it on Medium. Put it on Twitter. I guarantee you they will find the pipelines that they need.
And then, you know, the last thing is you’ve got to really make this a part of the business for these startups. They have to understand and see the examples of startups that started really small that did not focus on HR that ended up firing their leader because of HR- and human-related issues—(laughter)—right, like these things have happened. And so I think hiring an expert early—I just—great point.
LIPMAN: We have time for one more question. Gentleman over here?
Q: Hi. Matt Reid. I’m the Marine fellow here at the Council, infantry officer.
So I just came from an infantry regiment as the CO, integrating females into the Marine Corps. So probably not much harder of a culture to get into—(laughter)—but, you know, we fought that constant yin and yang of quality versus quotas versus diversification. You’d think it would be pretty easy to measure in the infantry. Right? Is she strong enough? Does she have the endurance? Can she carry the load? Can she shoot straight? But then: How straight do you need to shoot? How much of a load do you need to carry? How much endurance do you need to have?
Q: So, really, it started to become a cultural discussion. So that was hard. Right? It’s that kind of, do you raise the standard too high? You know, when I came in as a lieutenant, the infantry officer corps was much different than it was today. Arguably, it’s magnitudes harder. But I seem to have done all right. So—but we started to codify things we never thought we would have to codify. And how do you deal with that in the private sector, where I think the kind of fallback is, what’s the standard? What’s the standard? As long as she’s got the standard, she’s good. But then those that are from the old culture—you know, that standard can be a moving target, I think, as we’ve seen in the military.
So again, I agree; it’s really about culture. So how do you get at that kind of dichotomy between standards and culture, to really come up with what you need?
BOHNET: Well, it’s a super great question. (Laughter.) I think we all just—first of all, we all agree with you that standards are moving targets and that we—you know, I sometimes do a little experiment with a colleague of mine teaching in an executive program. We are the same height and then we—I come in; I teach the first class. And then, like, three years later he comes in, and we ask the participants just to guess how tall we are. And they write that—and then we also do a version of that where we say, you know, on a scale from one to ten, how tall is she? And then he comes in; how tall is he? And we never say this is based on women or based on men, or he’s African-American; based on African-Americans or based on white or Swiss, you know, whatever. We don’t say anything of that, and then we always see that they think he is very small and I’m tall. And then we can talk about that. We can say, look, you shifted your standards. This is not—no problem because you can say I compared her to women, I compared him to men. But now, imagine, we’re comparing people to is she nice? Is she nice enough? Is she intelligent or too assertive? So it’s a huge, huge problem that I don’t think anyone has a great answer.
My cheap shot at an answer is—and that is a cheap shot because I know not everything is quantifiable, measurable, but that’s a first answer, kind of trying, as you did, to codify. What do we mean? I mean, what do we mean of endurance? Can we put words—you know, can we say what we mean of that? And the second one, which I recommend for interviews or any kind of evaluation, and that’s going to take a moment for me to explain, but try to calibrate your judgment by doing comparative evaluations. What I mean with that is when I grade a—grade an exam and I have a hundred students, I try to look at all answers to question one across all one hundred students, and then I look at all answers to question two, and I blind myself to the answers to question one, because I don’t want to be we call it the halo effect—by somebody great on one, now I think she’s great on two, too.
So we can do that in performance appraisals; we can do that in hiring decisions—
BOHNET: —as in, how well did the ten candidates do on question one of the interview compared to question two, question three? So that’s the best I have. You know, try to quantify somehow, measure, be explicit about what you mean. Potential is another one, by the way. That’s the big one in the private sector. Big gender gap in potential.
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: Big time.
BOHNET: We don’t find a lot of gender gaps in promotion appraisals, but—excuse me, in performance appraisals, but on potential, we’re like, oh, no, no; she does not have the potential, because she doesn’t look the part. So what we’re doing there is try to define it. What is it? What do you mean? Is it analytics? Is it speaking? Is it—you know, communication. What is it, and then we try to unpack it. We have some success with that, but it’s still—the shifting standards one—hard one.
LIPMAN: OK. I think that we are out of time.
One quick logistical note: There’s going to be a lunch starting now in the library, and then the last session of the day, Women’s Social Status in Family Law, will start promptly in this room at 12:45.
And with that, please, join me in thanking the panel. (Applause.)
HOOPER-CAMPBELL: Thank you.