The Fix: Overcoming the Invisible Barriers to Creating Cultures of Equality at Work

30 Minutes
Michelle P. King
For years, we have heard that to succeed at work, we have to change—lean in, negotiate like a man, hold back on being nice. But Michelle King, Director of Inclusion for Netflix and author of the new book, The Fix, says we don’t need to fix women, we need to fix work—for the sake of women, men and the future of innovation.

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For years, we’ve been telling women that in order to succeed at work, they have to change themselves first—lean in, negotiate like a man, don’t act too nice or you’ll never get the corner office. But after 16 years working with major Fortune 500 companies as a gender equality expert, Michelle King has realized one simple truth—we don’t need to fix women, we need to fix work. Gender equality is not about women, and it is not about men—it is about creating a culture of equality and making workplaces work for EVERYONE.
In this episode, we explore the invisible barriers that hold women back at all stages of their careers, how gender inequality impacts women and creates challenges for men, and offer a clear set of takeaways to help everyone thrive despite sexism in the workplace, as we fight for change from within.

This Month’s Guest:

MICHELLE P. KING is a researcher, gender equality expert, and director of inclusion at Netflix. Previously the head of, The Global Innovation Coalition for Change at UN Women. King is an advisory board member for Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Fix: Overcome the Invisible Barriers That Hold Women Back at Work. She also writes for Forbes, Thrive, Harvard Business Review, and is also the host of the weekly podcast, The Fix, which shares practical ways men and women can advance equality at work. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two children. @michellepking

 

Our Host:

Celeste HeadleeCELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me MoreTalk of the NationAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee

View Transcript

Michelle King:
I’m Michelle King, and I’m the Director of Inclusion at Netflix.

Celeste Headlee:
Director of Inclusion is a title that’s been growing and growing in many companies in the past, say, 10 years. What do you see as the job duties of a Director of Inclusion?

Michelle King:
So, I think for any organization, the roles really around inclusion or being a director or any sort of level of role in the inclusion space, is really about enabling organizations to create culture of equality. So, our job is really to provide organizations with the strategy, the tools, the resources to put equality into practice every day. So, my job is really about how do I create a work environment where everybody can show up differently, where we value that difference, and where organizations harness that difference to lead, but also to help employees thrive? So, that’s really my job is how do you create a work environment that support values and enables difference? And I really see that as the job of anyone who’s working in inclusion.

Celeste Headlee:
How is that different from being, say, the Director of Diversity?

Michelle King:
Yeah. So, I think the conversation shifted over the last, maybe, 10 to 15 years. We’ve seen a real shift. When you look at where all of this started, it started from a place of compliance, so in organizations, it was very much about how do we minimize the legal risks to us? How do we minimize the potential-

Celeste Headlee:
Yeah. It’s about liability.

Michelle King:
Yeah, liability. Right? And a lot of that was compliance. So, let’s put you through sexual harassment training. Let’s put you through whatever the requirements are to reduce potential for liability. And over time, organizations have realized that, actually, that’s not enough. We need to create environments where everybody can thrive because we need everybody to thrive, to innovate, problem solve, create, you need organizational environments where people can be themselves, because you have to harness that difference. It’s exactly that difference that organizations need to survive.

Michelle King:
And so, the conversation is shifted to inclusion, but the challenge even with that is, you can have environments that are diverse and not inclusive and you can have environments that are inclusive and not diverse. None of those actually tackles the fundamental issue, which is inequality. So, inequality is basically environments which value men more than women or certain attributes of others that don’t really give people an opportunity to show up in a way that best allows them to contribute to the organization. So, as much as I am a Director of Inclusion, I’m fundamentally an advocate for equality.

Celeste Headlee:
This is a thorny problem, though, at least to hear some of the tech executives talk about it, and then you guys, Netflix is essentially a tech company, although now with all the original programming, you’re also an entertainment mogul. But starting out as a company that was basically a delivery system, right?

Michelle King:
So, I can’t talk about Netflix.

Celeste Headlee:
No, I want to talk about some of the issues that other CEOs bring up, because they’re talking about why some industries are still so male dominated or non-diverse. And it comes back to this idea of inclusion that you can hire whomever you want, but if they get there and don’t feel welcome, they don’t feel their voice is heard, they leave, and that’s where it becomes thorny because you’re talking about sexual harassment training. Right? We now know that doesn’t work at all. And in fact, in some cases, can actually encourage sexual harassment. This is the opposite of what’s intended to. So, how does one fix this paradigm? How do you make people feel comfortable, especially if they’re in an arena where they are one or are one of only a few?

Michelle King:
So, I’ve literally written a book on this, a book that’s called The Fix, really covers what gender inequality is, how it works, and how that then creates barriers for women. And importantly, how that creates challenges for men. So, in answering your question, I think it all starts with understanding how inequality works. So, how many people can explain to you how gender equality functions in organizations? Not many. And I know this because of my PhD research. I’ve interviewed 72 individuals at different levels in two different organization and asked them this question, and then asked them what are the barriers women face? What are the barriers men face? And the answer was, “They don’t. It’s a meritocracy. It works for everybody in the same way.”

Michelle King:
So, when we’re wondering why we’re not solving this issue, that’s because that pervasive belief is what underpins most leadership, most development. That’s why we have solutions like off-the-shelf training initiatives, because it’s a plaster, right? Because the belief is, actually, this is functioning for everybody in the same way, it’s just occasionally we have some bad behaviors, so let’s just train that out of people. That’s not the case. Organizations don’t work for everybody in the same way because they were never designed for difference. They were designed to support an ideal type of worker to succeed, and that tends to be a white, middle class, heterosexual, able-bodied male, but who most importantly is willing to engage in dominant, assertive, aggressive, competitive, and even exclusionary behaviors to get ahead. The problem is most people don’t fit this ideal.

Michelle King:
And in fact, even the individuals who live up to that ideal and try and fit it, research shows it doesn’t really work for them either because a lot of costs associated with living up to this outdated standard… And the standard’s been in place since organizations have, so this is a pervasive problem in all organizations where we-

Celeste Headlee:
Hundreds of years old.

Michelle King:
Hundreds of years old. And there’s a lot of historical reasons for it, which I go into in my book, but that is at the heart of inequality.

Celeste Headlee:
And I found this so fascinating about your book. It was because you really completely tear apart this idea that we fix the equality issue by fixing women. Right? By training women how to be men, by saying this idea that women aren’t getting promotions because they’re not asking for them. Why is that wrong?

Michelle King:
Well, firstly, it’s just factually incorrect. Right? So, let’s take asking for raises, which is a common fix, the woman thing. So, we look at it, and we say, “Well, women aren’t paid as much as men. It must be because women are not asking as often as men, so let’s train women to speak up and ask and lean in and assert themselves and put themselves out there and ask for it.” And research actually shows that, firstly, that’s not the case, so women ask for raises just as much as men. There’s a recent HBR study on this. But they’re actually 25% less slightly to get them.

Celeste Headlee:
Why is that?

Michelle King:
Because in asking for the raise, you’re asserting yourself, and when women assert themselves, they’re seen as dominant or in any way aggressive, which is actually akin to that ideal standard. Right? You’re living up to it. That’s engaging in masculine behaviors, and society says, “No, women need to engage in that are more communal, softer, nurturing behaviors.”

Celeste Headlee:
You can plan the birthday parties.

Michelle King:
Yes, and the problem is, that is the essentially the biggest challenge women face at work is this double bind, right? You’ve got to live up to society’s standards for what good looks like for women, but at the same time, you’re trying to live up to the ideal standard for what good looks like in organizations when it comes to leadership and employees, which is that masculine standard. And it creates this tension that’s impossible for women to navigate. How do you solve that? You create environments that value difference, where there is no prototype or, well that’s what I call it, this ideal standard where you kind of get rid of that and you create an environment where people can show up differently. Which means woman can assert themselves and they’re not penalized.

Michelle King:
And the only way to do that is to disrupt the denial that we’re in, that this is all existing. Because one of the things my research found is people are in denial about this, right? They think it’s a meritocracy. They think if you ask, you shall receive, and it’s just not the case. But there’s a whole education that’s missing in organizations.

Celeste Headlee:
And this is one thing that you point out, as well, is that this is not just a male problem. Studies show that women and men are more likely to interrupt women, for example, that were just swimming in these sexist waters and that it’s going to, in the end, sort of have to be, pardon the phrase, a bipartisan approach, a bigender approach, to fixing it. And I would imagine that women have an even harder time accepting that some of the things they do are motivated by an unconscious sexist bias. How do you get past that?

Michelle King:
So, I think the biggest message from my book, and something just personally that it’s a bit of a confession here that I had to acknowledge, is that even I was blind to the challenges gender inequality creates for men. So, I think we need to accept that it’s not about men and it’s not about women, it’s about making workplaces work for everybody, and that starts with educating ourselves about how inequality negatively impacts both men and women. And women have a really important role to play in this. One of the things I often say is, what white woman want from men in organizations, which is to understand inequality and understand the barriers and remove those barriers, they need to give to women of color.

Michelle King:
So, there is a role of women have to play and understanding the challenges a woman of color face, how it’s different. Because the more ways you differ from that ideal standard, the more barriers you’re going to face, so when you add race into it or you add ethnicity or you add physical, mental ability or sexual orientation, it kind of compounds some of these barriers and makes it harder and harder for women to overcome. So, I think we’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter which perspective you look at it, we all need to educate ourselves and take action to remove some of the barriers that exist in workplaces and create environments that really do value difference.

Celeste Headlee:
This is difficult, though. I mean, just speaking from personal experience, some of the least supportive bosses I’ve had have been females, which is heartbreaking because, as a woman, you go in just waiting to finally have a female boss, and then oftentimes, for whatever reason, the women feel they have to not show favoritism towards other women. They need to behave in the way men do in order to succeed, and so this idea of not just the ideal worker but the ideal leader also is so steeped in sexist waters. Is there such a thing as an ideal leader in terms of qualities that you recruit for? And how do we shift what we’re hiring?

Michelle King:
So, research by Virginia [Shine 00:10:15] has shown over 20 or 30 years in different countries, different contexts, that consistently, when we think of an ideal worker, we think of this male standard, right? And when we think of an ideal leader, we think of the standard. So, it’s called the Think Manager, Think Male Phenomenon. You’re probably familiar with it. And so, the problem is, is that is a mental image we all hold. Women hold it too. So, when you’re talking about some of these woman leaders, yes, research finds that woman to date who have succeeded, are those that most closely matched this ideal standard, right?

Michelle King:
And that’s why I say it is easier for white women because they have their whiteness in common with the standards, so it’s easier for them to fit in by just adopting those behaviors I talked about. So, the dominant, exclusion… So, the only way organizations get around this is to really tackle this idea that we support and reward and reinforces this one dominant prototype, right? Because you can advance woman who fit it, but you’re just creating more cultures of inequality, right? And you’re just requiring that all women fit it. And that’s fundamentally where the fix the women solutions come in. That’s why they’re actually inherently misogynistic because we’re asking women to change aspects of themselves to fit this masculine ideal.

Michelle King:
My whole thing is, hey, why do we have this masculine ideal in the first place? Let’s get rid of that and create environments where men can show up and be empathetic and collaborative and supportive and nurturing, where women can show up and be more assertive and dominant, and where we’re not force fitting people to fit a standard that actually doesn’t even serve organization, because that’s the bit we haven’t even touched on, but all of this stands to benefit workplaces. Because in the future, all the work, the only way to problem solve, collaborate, and innovate is by creating environments where people can show up differently. I mean, studies have shown this, so in cultures of equality, employees are six times more likely to have an innovation mindset. I mean, that’s an incredible statistic, right? And so, it’s not even about men or women. It’s actually like a core business imperative.

Celeste Headlee:
And this is where I wanted to go because we are getting so much more research into the fact that the qualities we recruit for in leaders, especially, maybe the very qualities that lead leaders to fail, and that we haven’t really found this connection between confidence and competence. So, how do you make the business case to companies about about inclusion?

Michelle King:
I think the business case is, for me, it’s funny, because if I give this talk to a group of leaders about my book and my research, I actually don’t talk about a equality start with, I talk about the future world of work. Because I talk about the disruptive changes that are coming from artificial intelligence, from nanotechnology, from the internet of things. We have, fundamentally, we are about to enter an emergent era where technological changes, the pace at which they’re happening, are fundamentally going to disrupt the majority of jobs, right? At least 60% of jobs are going to change in the next five to 10 years. You look at the world economic forum reports on this, and you say, “Right. As a business, how do you prepare?” I mean, nearly every single organization will be impacted by this.

Michelle King:
How do you best prepare for the future world of work? Cultures of equality. The studies show, if you want to create an environment where people are free to try new things, where you encourage learning, where you encourage employees to show up differently, where you encouraging employees to be more adaptive, and what I really say is ambidextrous organizations, where employees can engage in different types of behaviors depending on what the environment requires. So, you’re responding to the environment in the right way rather than being static and having this outdated ideal that doesn’t really work. The only way to do that is to create the right environment.

Michelle King:
So, leaders, to do that, have to disrupt their denial. They can’t be in denial about the fact that workplaces don’t work for everybody. They have to try and understand what the barriers are and start to remove those, and they have to fundamentally take action to make a quality of practice every day. So, that means, within your teams, when women are experiencing inequality moments and address those or share those, or you witness it, you have to tackle that in the moment. Right? It has to be a daily practice. It can’t be something that sits with the diversity and inclusion department. Right? It has to become the way leaders lead and the way employees behave and the way workplaces work. They have to make equality core to what they do. In the same way organizations do safety. So, it is a practice. It’s not about how many women do we have in leadership by when, because that does nothing to solve the day-to-day experience of inequality that employees experience.

Celeste Headlee:
It’s difficult, though, on a human level, because while cognitive diversity makes us better, we don’t particularly like it. Do we? We would rather have a consensus. And diversity, one of the benefits of diversity, is that when you bring in new ideas, it means you won’t have consensus anymore, and some of those ideas sound crazy because they’re not familiar to us. Is that something you just have to live with? The fact that there’s a certain amount of discomfort that comes with diversity, or is there a way to make people feel more comfortable?

Michelle King:
I think, for too long, we’ve probably made some people feel comfortable at the expense of other people’s discomfort. I mean, that’s fundamentally inequality, right? So, I think it’s less about worrying about how comfortable people are and more about people unpacking the discomfort. I think we’ve got to lean into the discomfort of this process. In saying that, though, I think fundamentally it’s a really positive message that I have to share. I mean, even though it sounds negative like, “Wow, there’re 17 barriers women encounter, and those even more compounded by difference. That’s a lot for women over the course of their career, and it never goes away. They stay, and you encounter them consistently.” It sounds really negative, but the reality is, there is a fix to this. There is a solution to this. And in my book I outlined core steps leaders can take and how we can create environments that supportive everybody to succeed. So, I think there’s absolutely a solution that we have, I just think the problem is we’ve been focusing on the wrong things.

Celeste Headlee:
So, I’m not expecting you to go through all 17, but since you mentioned The Fix, that’s the name of your podcast that you-

Michelle King:
As well. Yeah, my book and my podcast.

Celeste Headlee:
Yeah. So, tell me about some of the things that you have learned through your podcast, especially interviewing other people that maybe surprised you.

Michelle King:
You know what is amazing? Is I love organizations. I spent years researching organization. I mean, I’ve got five degrees just all in organizations. It’s my background, right? And in doing the podcast, I’ve interviewed prime ministers and celebrities and athletes and academics, and you name it, right? And the thing that always amazes me is how we think of inequality is something that, when we’re even having this discussion, it sits in a workplace, right? But the reality is, it’s everywhere, because fundamentally, at the heart of inequality is the belief that we value men more than women. That’s the bottom line here, right?

Celeste Headlee:
And especially white men.

Michelle King:
Yeah. And specifically white men, this ideal standard, right? We value that over everything else, right? And everything else just circulates around that, but that is the ideal. And that is pervasive in every sort of aspect of life. We see it play out in sport, we see it play out… And that’s the thing that I learned in my podcast interviewing these different woman is, yes, this is an organizational issue. It’s an organizational issue because it exists outside of the organization, it exists in the world. When we walk into our workplaces, we take those biases and prejudices and beliefs about what we value and what we don’t into workplaces, which is why we’ve ended up in this place.

Michelle King:
So, I like to think we can start in organization because we all have this common goal, which is we need our businesses to thrive. We need that to happen, and the only way to do that is equality. The case is clear. But my hope, really, as an advocate, is that we take that home and start to think about how this is playing out in everyday life.

Celeste Headlee:
And I want to unpack that a little bit because studies show that men see their homes as a sanctuary, whereas women see their homes as a source of stress. And in fact, women sometimes end up staying longer at the office because it’s less stressful for them than their own homes. And I wonder, how do we… You’re talking about making these changes in the organization and then maybe then bleeding back home. Do you think that’s an automatic thing, or do we have to, as a society, grapple with this connection between what’s happening in the workplace and then what’s happening at the home?

Michelle King:
It is such a good question because, I mean, fundamentally, as much as an advocate that’s my plan, the reality is that’s not good enough, right? To achieve a equality at work, you have to have equality at home. Right now, my husband’s at home with my two kids, and he’s watching them. Right? And he knows that when I’m out, I’m out. I’m here and I’m present and I’m doing this, and he needs to pick it up and manage it. And so, we believe equality begins at home, and when you look at some recent research and work that’s been done in this space, that stops and starts with men owning their share of activities in the house. Right? So, the double shift that women face where they work a full day at work, come home-

Celeste Headlee:
That’s not a 1950s thing. It’s still today.

Michelle King:
It’s still today, right? And then, you do another four or five hours of work in terms of domestic and childcare, and I go into this in my book, is a tremendous barrier for women. But the thing that really interested me about it, is it’s not just picking up the additional slack or mental load where I created from all these additional tasks you have to do in managing children and managing the household. It’s also the emotional load woman pickup. So, you have to manage the emotional load associated with your kids. So, my husband and I have a funny way of creating a quality at home because he’s a feminist in training. It’s not something that he started out. I’ve had to bring him on the path.

Celeste Headlee:
That’s fair, yeah.

Michelle King:
But we have a practical way we do this, right? We sit down every week, we work out what’s required, and we’ve just naturally fallen into roles where I manage the emotional load and he picks up a lot of the mental load. So, he does a lot of the tasks, the day-to-day activity, he manages some of that, and I do a lot of the support, right? So, when the kids are crying or at the end of the day you debrief on their day and you find out how they… All that emotional support. And studies show, when woman have to balance both the mental load and the emotional load of their families, that’s when the wheels come off. So, that’s when it’s just too much because there’s that emotional/mental load. It just creates too much stress and strain for women on top of the job. So, we do, we need equality at home.

Celeste Headlee:
I want to address, though, some of these fears that men in particular and white men have, because there is a fear, whether it’s expressed or not, that there won’t be a place for them, that what women are asking for is to replace them. And how do you address those fears, especially when you’re dealing with organizations? Because they may be unspoken, but they’re there.

Michelle King:
So, this is a incredibly important point and something I found out through research I did with a professional services firm, where I surveyed over 700 employees, and I asked them about the barriers. Right? And I said to them, “What are the barriers you face in advancing?” Not thinking I was going to get a heck of a lot. Right? Consistently, across the board, men said that the number one barrier to their advancement is the advancement of women. That is a failing on behalf of the organization’s focus around diversity inclusion to date. So, organizations, when they focus on fixing women, so any training, development, targets… I mean, don’t get me started on targets. Or recruitment quotas, where you’re trying to hire X percentage of women by X date. Really focusing on women and not the underlying culture that has actually created this problem. And it’s inherently misogynistic, right? Because we’re asking women to do more, be more, in order to advance rather than creating an environment that naturally enables them to advance. It’s also not sustainable.

Michelle King:
So, studies show, when you appoint one woman to a leadership role, they’re something like 50% less likely to appoint a second woman because there’s like this implicit quota. And it results in, again, the devaluing of women because you’re de-legitimizing them. You’re saying, “I have to put you into this position because you’d never naturally advance here.” Right? Well, create an environment where you don’t need quotas. Right? So, all of this really stems from the messaging being, we’re advancing women, and naturally, that leads to at the expense of men. And so, my message, and it was something, as I said, I had to educate myself on, is gender inequality doesn’t work for men.

Michelle King:
Most men who witness the marginalization and discrimination of women on a day-to-day basis are negatively impacted by it, just as much as the person who’s on the receiving end of it. It creates mental and emotional strain when you’re watching your colleague be discriminated against. And that can be something as simple as like somebody saying a derogatory joke or comment. It negatively impacts the people who are witnessing it. So, a lot of men, when you look at the barriers they face, like having to conform to this ideal standard, which silences men, or bullying at work, which is very common for men, or having to live up to the breadwinner image and the challenges that creates, or the fact that men aren’t free to just share their feelings and the challenges that working in male dominated environments create. Look at the stress and the strain. I mean, the studies show that men have high suicide rates, high rates of depression, and a lot of this is a result of having to live up to this outdated ideal.

Michelle King:
So, I think organizations have to recognize the challenges inequality creates for men. Start talking about that because that is the business case. Forget the revenue and all of that. Let’s talk in a minute about, “Hey, this is what’s in it for you.” Equality is fundamentally about freedom. It’s the freedom for men to show up differently. It’s the freedom for women to show up differently and then be rewarded for it. So, I think we’ve just missed the mark completely in focusing on women at the expense of men, and now it’s created this really awful divisive messaging.

Celeste Headlee:
A competition. Yeah.

Michelle King:
And the thing is, you can solve it. So, in organizations where I presented this message to men around, “Hey, look, I see you, I recognize the challenges, and yes, it’s hard for you, but guess what? It’s this much harder for women because here are all the barriers we got to face. So, we’re actually all in this together. Let’s fix it.” Men responds so well to that because they’re like, “Oh my God, this is really important.” Then we need then layer on the leadership aspect of actually we need this for the future world of work. If we don’t solve it, this is really problematic. That creates like an additional… So, everybody suddenly in it. So, for me, equality isn’t about men or women, it’s everyone.

Celeste Headlee:
It’s difficult, though, because it’s so wrapped up in everything that’s around us, and the thing that comes to mind is there’s the new Clint Eastwood movie about Richard Jewel, who was suspected of placing a bomb at the Olympics. In that they’ve portrayed a real life reporter, but they made up the fact that she slept with a source, offered to sleep with a source, for information. Now, this is just one little fictionalized thing in a movie, but people don’t realize that that trope, which is so common of journalists sleeping with everybody, female journalists, means that actually female journalists are at a higher risk of sexual assault and harassment than almost every other woman in the workplace.

Celeste Headlee:
Then that movie trope, this TV trope, then follows those women back to their workplace. It also de-legitimizes them among their colleagues because people make this assumption that they did things, sexual things, in order to get their position. Right? So, I have to imagine that your job is quite complicated because there’s these things you have no control over that ended up coming back into the organization and having an effect on whether people are included or not. How do you grapple with that?

Michelle King:
I think with all of this, the thing that I’ve found to be effective in organizations where I’ve done this work, is it starts with disrupting the denial. So, you’ll get, people who’ll say, “That’s crazy. That doesn’t play out in work.” So, you have to disrupt the denial.

Celeste Headlee:
“That doesn’t happen here.”

Michelle King:
Yeah, yeah. And you disrupt the denials for storytelling. So, what I found really effective is when organizations have men and women in a safe environment, so you got to create the right environment, right? I get this. It’s a very challenging thing to ask minority groups in workplaces, but you invite them to share their stories of inequality, whether it’s at that organizational or somewhere else or this example like, “Hey, I watched this movie, and here’s the impact this has and here’s how it now plays out for me at work.” And what you find is when you focus on the impact of what’s happened, you create the empathy required to disrupt denial. So, I’ve seen men who fundamentally thought they were doing everything to support women and the organization was overly investing in women, have that turned on its head by women sharing their stories.

Michelle King:
And so, I think the key that’s missing in all this is the power of storytelling. So, I call them inequality moments, right? So, sharing your day-to-day moments and experience inequality, and it can be the smallest thing or it can be some pretty big examples where men would be like, “Wow, I had no idea.” And I do this all the time with my husband. So, when I see an example of inequality or something he’s doing like not inviting the one female team member to drinks every Friday, which was something that happened, you point it out and you explain the impact that has on her mentally and in terms of her career. And he’s saying, “Well, I just thought it was just the guys.” I just go, “No, here’s the impact. Here’s what this is doing. Right? Do you…” “Oh, wow, no I didn’t. Okay, I’ll modify that. We’ll change the cycle. Sort it out.”

Michelle King:
So, I think we need to invite men to adjust their behavior by explaining the impact it has. I like to think, and I might be naive here, but the men that I’ve worked with genuinely want to do the right thing. There aware sometimes they’re engaging in exclusionary behaviors, but they’re not always aware of the detrimental individual personal impact that that has. So, I think, when we invite men to see that, then we can hold them accountable for taking different steps. And the same goes true for women, right? So, a lot of white woman might be engaging in behaviors that marginalize and discriminate against women of color and not even be aware of it. Right? Because they’ve not taken the time and effort to educate themselves on those barriers and how their behaviors play a role in that. So, understanding that, understanding the empathy is the key to kind of igniting change.

Celeste Headlee:
Which is kind of the power behind the Me Too Movement.

Michelle King:
Exactly.

Celeste Headlee:
Yeah. Last question for you, is it getting better?

Michelle King:
Is it getting better? I think what we’re moving into is a shift from fixing woman to fixing workplaces. I can feel the momentum. What I would like to see more of is people disrupting their denial. I think that is what we need to see, and I’m hoping, through advocacy work like mine, we can get to a place where people… There are so many facts and so many powerful stories that it’s impossible to deny it. And I think, that’s why I would encourage anyone who’s listening to this to feel brave. Know that, in reading my book, it’s pretty clear, it’s not you, it is your workplace. And when inequality moments happen, you now have the language in this book to call them out, and that gives you an opportunity to disrupt people’s denial. And you can do that for your colleagues. You don’t even have to do that necessarily for yourself. Right? So, I think that’s how we make it better is disrupting the denial.

Celeste Headlee:
Dr. Michelle King. Thank you very much.

Michelle King:
Thank you so much. Thank you so much.