Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What Will It Take for All Companies to Enact Pay Equality?



The gender pay gap is here to stay. Or at least it’s likely to hang around until companies actually address it. To be exact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that women around the globe will need to wait another 217 years until the gender pay gap is closed. Sadly, the WEF added 47 years to its projection within the last year alone, meaning global gender parity is actually shifting into reverse. While the reasons for this are wide-ranging, one factor is simple enough: wage inequality requires more than idle chatter. It requires action.

It’s not that there’s been zero progress. In America, the 18-cent on the dollar gap has narrowed since 1980, when it was 36 cents. But before we congratulate ourselves, also consider that despite being one of the most trumpeted business initiatives in recent memory, the disparity has held relatively stable for the past 15 years.

In 2017, American women earned 82 percent of what men earned, and those figures become even more dismal when segmented by race and ethnicity. The gap is also much wider in higher-paying industries and roles. While 20 cents may not sound like much, consider that it necessitates 47 extra work days for women to recoup the same annual salary as men. As a result, the average woman misses out on $400,000 during the course of her career, a figure that’s even more upsetting when considered from this angle: equal pay could lift 3.1 million working women and their families out of poverty. Why, then, aren’t we doing it?

Most business owners and executives already know that equal pay is good for business. Countless studies have demonstrated that when employees are rewarded fairly, productivity and talent retention increases. Plus, wage equity matters to employees and customers alike. Almost 75 percent of Americans think the gender pay gap is unfair and only 16 percent believe companies are doing enough to close it. Meanwhile, 66 percent of Americans are less likely to buy a product from a company that doesn’t pay women fairly. So, what, exactly, is the problem?

Despite evidence to the contrary, employers still like to attribute gender bias in the workplace to the behaviors of their female workers. Maybe women aren’t assertive, proactive, or confident enough to command equal pay. But a recent Harvard Business Review study found no perceptible differences in the behaviors of men and women at work. Women had the same basic work patterns, the same number of contacts, spent as much face time with senior management, and allocated their time similarly to men in the same role. It’s not a confidence gap, either. Women rate themselves no lower than men performance-wise and there are no self-reported discrepancies in self-confidence.

Despite the common rhetoric that women can do more to help themselves in the workplace, the difference truly lies in the perceptions of their behaviors rather than the behaviors themselves. In other words, it comes down to bias. That being said, the onus for pursuing a gender-diverse workplace needs to be shifted from female employees onto the shoulders of the organization itself.

And, for those businesses that believe their female employees are satisfied with the status quo, think again: 4 in 10 women believe they’re discriminated against in the workplace, while only 2 in 10 men believe they’ve experienced gender discrimination; women are four times as likely as men to say they’ve been treated as incompetent due to gender; and they’re also three times as likely to say they’ve experienced repeated workplace slights because of gender. Those are not the sentiments of a satisfied workforce.

It’s time for companies to actively combat wage discrepancy by taking measurable steps to reduce workplace bias. This work needs to go beyond much of what we’ve seen to date: the few token hires, the obligatory sensitivity training, and the programs designed to alter women’s behaviors. Companies can begin to charter real change by applying this three-step methodology:

Determine the Scope of the Problem
Investigate which problems are most pervasive within your organization. You might consider spearheading focus groups with female employees or anonymously polling employees to understand where some of your biggest issues lie. Try to determine things like: whether women feel they need to justify their competence more than men; or have trouble landing higher-status assignments; or are given demeaning office clean-up roles more than male counterparts; or have trouble walking the tightrope of being aggressive enough for the job versus being perceived as likeable? Is there a motherhood bias, causing fewer mothers to be hired, promoted, or paid fairly? Turn over as many rocks as possible and see what you find.

Identify Metrics
Develop ways to measure your business’s most pressing shortcomings. Are there ways to track the circumstances around internal promotions? Can you identify low value, “office housework” and track how it is assigned? You might also consider monitoring whether women’s assignments differ before and after maternity leave. Record how people are hired, how work is assigned, how performance is evaluated, as well as why women aren’t hired, promoted, or choose to leave. By establishing baseline measurements for as many areas as possible, you lay the foundation for meaningful change.

Interrupt the Bias
Generally speaking, it’s easier and more effective to make a series of small changes that address specific problems, rather than launching extensive programs aimed at raising awareness and changing corporate culture. Sweeping initiatives such as Best Buy’s Results Only Work Environment can be very effective, but run the risk of being cancelled due to the expense (as happened to Best Buy following a leadership change). By interrupting each bias separately, company initiatives remain nimble and tie into metrics more easily. It’s also harder to discontinue practices since they’re more finite and ingrained in your existing processes than a larger initiative would be. Once the measurement begins, companies can track the results of interruptions, ratcheting up those that work and replacing ones that don’t.

There are a number of small bias interrupters that companies can try, potentially making really big strides with little expense or effort, depending on their problem areas:

Hiring
One easy hiring change would be to develop job advertisements that steer away from masculine-gendered words like competitive, assertive, or ambitious. Or, consider handing hiring managers blinded resumes so that candidates can be evaluated equally. Another possibility would be to mandate a diverse slate of candidates. Companies can also standardize interview questions, keeping in mind that women are less comfortable with blatant self-promotion because of the double-standard that requires them to be “modest” and “likeable.” Do everything you can to standardize pay inequality, and also consider adding a “salary negotiable” clause into job descriptions, which has been found to encourage more women to ask for higher salaries upfront, helping to close the pay gap by 45 percent.

Assignments
If you find that men are receiving higher-value assignments than women, consider raising awareness of this issue, or combat it by developing a system that divides work more evenly. Some companies have also lessened expectations for employees that are struggling to balance work with home and family obligations.

Performance Evaluations
If performance evaluation criteria and materials aren’t standardized, women will likely receive smaller raises than their male counterparts. Evaluations that are solely performance-based currently yield greater rewards for men versus women. Outside firms like Ernst & Young can read through evaluations and identify such issues. Also, make the requirements for success explicit. Women fare best when compensation systems are based upon objective, measurable metrics. If there are universal skills that are expected from employees in order for them to succeed, communicate that list to all employees. No one should need to guess which factors determine their pay. Any desired “soft” skills should also be analyzed for bias. For example, women shouldn’t be penalized for not conforming to certain gender role expectations. One common manifestation is when women are required to both excel at their jobs and show warmth toward others when men need only fulfill the first imperative. Reviews and promotions can be periodically audited to ensure men aren’t systematically edging out women.

Promotion and Compensation
Conduct a pay audit immediately. You may be surprised what you find. It’s also a good practice to tread carefully in areas where women are expected to engage in heavy self-promotion in order to advance, as our unconscious bias can either discourage or penalize women for doing so. For example, Google identified systematic bias in their promotions because of a policy requiring employees to nominate themselves, which fewer women were willing to do. Ideally, these types of requirements should be removed. At a minimum, companies should encourage female employees to negotiate and self-promoter and applaud their efforts accordingly.

Addressing bias requires trial and error, and efforts inevitably strengthen over time. After all, if there were a universal, no-fail solution, such large discrepancies might not persist. But if nothing is risked, nothing is gained, and by creating hypotheses on what small shifts might move the needle on your metrics, you can start the process, ensuring that eventually you’ll drive meaningful change for your organization, your employees and, ultimately, for the world. Let’s not wait 217 years.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

2019 Advertising Sales are Open - Reach a Highly Engaged Tech-Savvy Audience


Here at Artisanal Agency, our focus is on creating quality partnerships between podcasters and advertisers. Artisanal Agency is a full-service podcast advertising agency that was founded by Lisa Laporte to help tech podcast networks keep their content free of charge and accessible through ad sponsorship. Thanks to podcast ads, podcasters can keep their content free for their audiences and better serve them.

A big part of ensuring that tech podcast networks are able to continue providing quality content to their listeners is through successful ad sponsorships on those podcasts. As we mentioned above, Artisanal Agency helps make this goal a reality. In order for Artisanal Agency to successfully pair sponsors and podcast networks, we plan ahead for the upcoming year.

What should advertisers do?

Right now, Artisanal Agency has secured $3M in podcast sale upfronts and anticipates starting the year with $6M in upfront sales. Sponsors are already securing podcasts that they want to be connected to in the upcoming year. If you’re an advertiser who wants to sponsor quality podcasts, the next few weeks are prime time to secure ads, particularly if you’re interested in advertising on TWiT.tv, Leo and Lisa Laporte’s content company.

If you’re an advertiser looking for inventory on podcasts, you can visit Artisanal Agency’s website and get in touch about the possibility of advertising on TWiT.tv. These podcasts revolve around the tech industry, and our listeners are tech-savvy, decision-makers; the perfect audience for advertisers looking for great ROI on their sponsorships. You can reach out to hello@artisanalagency.com for more information.

At Artisanal Agency and TWiT.tv, we aim to work with reputable and innovative advertisers that we, and our listeners, can trust. Another reason to secure your sponsorship in our podcasts as soon as possible is that we run a thorough vetting process for all of our advertisers to make sure we’re only working with and promoting high-integrity companies, who offer services and products that will benefit our audiences. If you want to ensure your ads are well-placed before the upcoming year, now is the time to find podcasts to sponsor.

To create the best ad experience, Artisanal Agency works closely with sponsors to make sure our campaigns are seamless. We have a great onboarding process, quality ad copywriting, and talented graphic designers. We feature personalized, host-read ads, which have proven effective for B2B and B2C sponsors.

Artisanal Agency’s track record

If you’re interested in learning more about how advertisers have fared working with Artisanal Agency and TWiT.tv, take a look at our client testimonials.

Founder and CEO of ITProTV Tim Broom says, “We sincerely thank the TWiT network, especially Leo and Lisa. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. This year we’ll exceed $12M in sales, we have over 70 employees, and we continue to grow each year. It’s because of the TWiT network, our main source of advertising and marketing to get our audience.”

Robb Eng, from Freshbooks, says “TWiT has been a fantastic long-term partner...and TWiT’s network reach has helped both build awareness of our product while driving acquisition to meet our business objectives.”

Another agency, who TWiT.tv has worked with for many years, is Michael Guarnieri of Nu Media Mix LLC. Guarnieri made this statement about working with Lisa Laporte and TWiT.tv and said that they are “selective and thoughtful in their approach and take the time to absorb, understand, and then frame a brand message that benefits the audience.”


Artisanal Agency and TWiT.tv have also had the pleasure of working with other great advertisers such as Audible, Carbonite, LastPass, and WordPress. Reach out today and secure your advertising spot with TWiT.tv!


Friday, June 29, 2018

Powerful Women Leaders Should No Longer Be The Exception

Lisa Laporte:  CEO of Artisanal Agency & TWiT.tv
Throughout recorded history, masculine heroes and leaders have taken center stage, shaping the way we function as a society. Mostly pragmatic, patriarchial mindsets and structures have set the groundwork for the way we operate in various sectors, including the business world.


Due to these factors, the powerful female leader is still an exception rather than a rule by today’s business standards. While the number of female-owned firms grew by 22% from 2007-2015, only 1 in 5 small businesses are run by women. We may honor the successes of significant businesswomen like Oprah and Arianna Huffington, but today less than 6.4% of leaders at Fortune 500 companies are female. Indeed, women face unique economic challenges that often hinder their careers, unequal pay and lack of unpaid family leave to name a few.

But the national conversation highlights the economic advantages and a critical need for more female entrepreneurship in various industrial sectors. As companies expand upon gender engagement, they can help restructure more innovative and profitable workplaces. In fact, businesses can focus on workplace principles and policies which incorporate female inclusion, empowerment, and data-driven solutions to create more equal leadership roles and improve their ROI in five unique ways:


1. Incorporate Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies aim to make our lives more comfortable and more efficient, but they can also empower users to live safer proactive lifestyles. As companies adopt these new resources and female professionals develop skills, they can provide benefits in three key areas which impact their economic and professional success.

Safety: It’s no surprise that harassment, in any form, occurs in the workplace. A new survey finds that 81% of women have experienced some kind of sexual harassment at work. Estimates indicate that up to 75% of sexual harassment incidents go unreported and 75% of sexual harassment victims experienced retaliation when they reported these incidents.


Studies show that female employees are more motivated and loyal to a business if there are better personal development opportunities at the job, healthy work conditions, and equal pay to their male counterparts. This helps save the cost of employee turnaround and lost production time in turn. In fact, an MIT study found that gender diversity in the workplace improves workplace productivity. Interestingly, PwC reports that an analysis of 300 US startup investments determined that companies with female founders performed 63% better than companies with all-male founding teams. Yet, in the spirit of building strong and diverse team bonds, companies should seek to incorporate a workforce that is, roughly, equally balanced in gender.


To create a safe and respectful environment for all employees, AI technology can help curb harassment incidents online and in the workplace. For example, companies can begin to implement tools from startups like Botler.ai’s natural language processing which can monitor online conversations and notify its users if they’ve experienced a situation that violates U.S. criminal or employment laws. Acting as legal counsel, the software helps determine if what they’ve experienced is harassment and how they can report it.

Other AI algorithms can also analyze data to identify patterns in sentence structure that may be offensive or inappropriate. As it detects a segment deemed inappropriate, it can flag and screenshot the wording and send it to HR.

Inclusive Decision Making: Cloud computing software can also afford businesses the opportunity to include female workers in decision-making processes and offer them more insight into their own personal development without any stereotypes or biases. Tools that compare an employee’s KPIs against tenure alert managers when important tasks are consistently assigned to workers, including female workers, due to unconscious bias.

Hiring: During the hiring process, AI technologies can also help HR departments eliminate gender bias. By filtering out gender-based language in job descriptions and performance feedback, managers are encouraged to reassess how gender affects their employees’
overall performance.

Although AI still has a long way to go regarding adequately identifying context, these tech tools can add more room for safe environments, allowing female leaders to diminish the chances of harassment and foster a world where both male and female employees can collaborate in more respectful ways.


2. Gather Data-Driven Evidence

Businesses can help empower female entrepreneurs by organizing and assessing data that determines how to distribute resources effectively and equally. In a Corporate Citizenship report, companies can gather evidence to create data-driven solutions that improve female economic development including career advancement initiatives. For example, through an internal organization audit, companies can review impact data on diversity to drive organization growth, while linking business and gender diversity in succession planning. A Balance Score Card, for instance, helps measure gender indicators like accountability and ownership of gender diversity at the business and executive levels. Companies like Novo Nordisk, a Danish healthcare firm, implement these techniques and annually assess inclusivity and equal opportunity by compiling data through employee interviews.  


3. Provide Sensitivity Training for Employees

Employee training can help eliminate gender stereotypes and foster collaboration between diverse groups of people. For female employees and leaders, discrimination and harassment negatively affects productivity and diverts time and resources from effective business processes.

Educate staff —  Informative training can offer overviews of sexual harassment, discrimination, and subconscious bias in the workplace and help employees recognize it.

Discuss Diversity —  Opening conversations about discrimination, diversity and gender bias as a team can help break down boundaries and address problems concerning gender. Allow diverse groups to lead discussions to help others understand power structures within society and the office.


4. Develop Peer-Mentoring Programs

Mentorship programs have been gaining traction in the workplace for years. However,  companies can spearhead ways to develop female leadership by offering leadership programs that help women network, build confidence, and develop business acumen. Since women leaders face greater funding challenges than most men, developing peer-mentoring programs can help them build the skills they need to pursue business leadership along with the bigwigs. In fact, over 40 large companies pledged to help advance women and support women-led businesses at the 2018 Makers Event. Olivia Douglas’ BBDO has pledged to develop peer-mentoring programs that are designed to boost presentation skills and strategic capabilities. Other companies like Refinery29, have a workplace comprised of 85% of women, pledged to incorporate training and education sessions that focused on fostering empathy and connection to break down barriers between employees and leaders. As women already face hardships in terms of asking for and receiving less funding than men, peer-mentorships can help unleash a bevy of talent within burgeoning industries.


5. Large-Scale Corporations Can Advocate for Improved Employment Laws

An integral part of empowering women in the workforce is to support their well-being. However, small companies often don’t have the extra capital to pay for benefits like family health care or paid family leave. In addition, only a portion of the largest Fortune 500 companies, who hold a combined revenue of approximately $12.5 trillion and $945 billion in profits, provide benefits for their employees. Overall, the United States is the only developed country not to offer some mandatory workplace benefits like paid family leave.

As such, employment laws should improve equal pay, healthcare, and paid family leave benefits to allow all companies to foster the well-being of its workforce. Large-scale companies who are invested in corporate social responsibility and have the profits to help support advocacy efforts to improve employment laws for all business across the United States can help support female entrepreneurship by fostering an equal balance of labor in and outside the home. The richest companies can lead the way by instituting these changes in their own workplace culture while also empowering female economic growth for society as a whole.

In fact, from an intersectional perspective, improved employment laws aren’t just beneficial for the division of labor and equal pay in the United States, but also for the sustainability and profitability of companies. An IFU/DFPA study strongly suggested that a human rights focus coupled with an ROI approach to health initiatives was beneficial for both company and the women it supported.  

The rise of the Female = The Rise in Investment

With over 85% of CEOs reporting they have formal diversity and inclusion strategies in place at their businesses, sooner than later, we will start to see more inclusive workplaces that benefit society as a whole and, in turn, improve the bottom line of companies, its employees, and specifically their female workers. The more diverse teams are in terms of not only gender but race and ethnicity, the better companies are to pull from a sea of unlimited talent while increasing returns. Women will make up a nearly 47% of the workforce by 2025, and as companies adopt more inclusive strategies and opportunities for them, we may soon see females take an equal share of leadership roles and who knows, maybe even become a leader of the free world someday soon.