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Gender Equality: Changing The System For Diversity And Inclusion With Laurie Battaglia

Talk of gender equality has been growing throughout the years, but how much of that has translated into practice in the workplace? How are businesses keeping up with the ever-evolving conversation regarding diversity, equality, and inclusion? In this episode, Laurie Battaglia sits down with Rosie Zilinskas to discuss the leadership required to transform the system. Laurie is the CEO of Aligned at Work and creator of the Aligned Leader model to build leaders who understand and embody inclusion in their people leadership. The two touch on topics such as the gender pay gap, advancement/promotion opportunities, intersectionality, and the LGBTQ+ community. Laurie emphasizes the important role of leaders and human resources in changing with the times. Stay tuned for an insightful conversation on inclusive workplace culture and equal opportunities for all.

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Gender Equality: Changing The System For Diversity And Inclusion With Laurie Battaglia

I invited Laurie Battaglia to the show because she is a gender equality expert and she has so much to teach us. When she was a little girl, she realized early on that she was treated differently than her brothers. Ultimately, this led her into the battle of gender equality, a cause that she championed throughout her corporate career. As she’s sometimes experienced feelings of belonging and not belonging at work, she created her company, Aligned at Work, and her aligned leader model to build leaders who understood and embodied inclusion in their people leadership. Laurie Battaglia is the CEO of Aligned at Work in Scottsdale, Arizona. You don’t want to miss the conversation with Laurie.

Laurie, thank you very much for being here. I’m going to start right away and ask you a question about gender equality. I know that you’ve said that women don’t necessarily take the risk to level up and men do. What are men doing that women aren’t doing when it comes to their careers? It’s interesting. It’s both for me. In the past, we used to try to go to correct women. There’s a system out there that’s invisible to most of us until we run up against it. We don’t see that. We keep thinking that if we do this one more thing, we’ll be able to take that next promotion. What I see a lot is that women don’t necessarily and again, I will preface this by saying not everybody, but some women will not step in without having the ability to check every box on the job description that’s posted. If there’s that one thing, then they wait until they get it, but the line keeps moving. The job descriptions keep morphing and the expectations go up. Meanwhile, we’re not getting ahead. There’s an old story about a guy who, if he has 6 of the things out of 10, will go for it and the woman has to have nine and a half and is apologizing for not having the other half of them. I find that to still be true with many people in the workplace. They’re relentlessly pursuing education. It’s like, “What’s the next certification? What’s the next degree?” I did see somebody who I don’t know on LinkedIn who was proud because she got her MBA. Now, she’s going to go for a Master’s in Human Resources. I’m thinking at my age with my experience, to what end? We oftentimes think it’s going to get us a far bigger paycheck and it doesn’t. It’s other stuff that gets us that bigger paycheck. I know you said that women need to check all the boxes. I know that’s a very common thing. I also know that women may not use their voices to speak up. I go back to my question. What are men doing? What is it that makes them go for it? I talked to as many men that don’t go for it because of their own stories that they tell themselves. The ones that do have oftentimes somehow convinced themselves or been brought up in an atmosphere where they were taught that they were all that and some and worthy of getting it. Not to go too deep into the esoteric here, but I think a lot of it is a lack of worth or feeling like you’re not doing something right. They talk about Imposter syndrome. I hear from as many men who have that as women, but that’s a lie.
NWB 12 | Gender Equality
Gender Equality: They don’t believe there’s a system because when you are benefiting from something, you don’t see it as a system.
I hear from men who have it and they’re starting to talk about it, but we’re schooled in talking about it now. It’s a thing that we can talk about. It’s coming around with the men and they’re beginning to admit, “I have Imposter syndrome too. They do step in sometimes.” On the other hand, the system is stacked toward their benefit. Many times, there is again a thing that gets set out there that I don’t know the source of it, that says that men will get promoted on potential. Women have to do the job for a while before they’re allowed to have it. That was my experience several years ago. It’s still happening. Not to mention that the pandemic has now set us back. I had read an article that said that it set us back ten years. I heard another clinical psychologist. She said it was 30 years. I’m like, “It’s going from bad to worse.” I hope not. I hope not too. Again, it’s very interesting how gender equality does play in the workplace. The bottom line that I wanted to bring up here, and you brought it to our attention, is that some men do feel that Imposter syndrome, but I think because we’re women, we talk about it so much more. Laurie, I know that you are a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging consultant. You do a ton of work with that. How does DEI work come into play in corporate? It’s a very hot topic for most organizations. Some have been doing it. I’m trying to think about when did I first hear it. Probably the mid-‘80s to late-‘90s. Some of the larger organizations have been talking about diversity since way back when. I will say that some of the ways that we went about it, the training that happened and things like that have traumatized people and made them not want to take it on. On the other hand, what I’m seeing is that you can’t put it off any longer. I came of age in high school in the early ‘70s. My husband’s in the late ‘60s. The ‘60s were that time of race riots and civil rights and all of those things coming to the forefront. Through the ‘70s, we started to see laws shift and change. That didn’t mean behavior shifted and changed. We have been talking about it since the ‘70s did this and then the women’s movement and all that, then organizations started talking about diversity. What I saw happened then was that the inclusion word came in because some organizations would do a great job of getting people that didn’t look like us. Whoever us were, whoever the White people that ran things at that point, predominantly White men at that point, especially. If they didn’t look like us, we got them in. We told them they had to behave differently and they couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that. We did nothing to make them feel like they had any power at work. It was another disempowering conversation, but they were lucky to have that job. Men will get promoted on potential, and women have to do the job for a while before they're allowed to have it. – Laurie Battaglia Click To Tweet That was the message that came out, “You’re lucky you have that.” People would put up with the abuse. Sometimes overt, sometimes covert. Equity and belonging are later-stage things. It was always diversity and inclusion. That went on for a number of years now and people have made a good attempt at it. Consultants have made a good living at it. It’s been awesome. In 2020, the murder of George Floyd accelerated everything right back into the forefront like it was the ‘60s again. It’s like looking at the women’s movement. We’ve come a long way and, in some ways, we haven’t come far at all. There’s this same thing with racial kinds of issues. We’ve come a long way and nothing’s changed. There’s that both-end thing. To answer your question, even the smaller organizations now are realizing they can’t get by with ignoring diversity and inclusion or they can’t make it the just the women care about that or just the Black people care about that or just the indigenous people care about that. Everybody needs to care about that. Not everybody does. That’s where my work comes in. To your point of not everybody does, it’s a little bit of not everybody does because they may not even be aware of the fact that they should care about diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s like they’ve never been exposed to people of color or whatever the situation is. It’s always very interesting when you realize, “Wow.” That happened to me, too, when everything happened with George Floyd. I started educating myself and I was like, “How could I have not been aware or not even knowing that I had to be aware?” I will say that it is different. I’m 100% Mexican. I know I don’t look 100% Mexican, but I am. I have had different types of discrimination throughout my life. People talking about me in front of me in Spanish and me, responding to them in Spanish. The person is like, “I’m so sorry.” A lot of companies are now doing work in DEI. My next question to that is, you and I talked about what my mission is. My mission is to eradicate the gender gap in the world in corporate and doing it by trying to empower women in their careers. When we’re talking about DEI in corporate, what are you seeing that is making a difference for women in their careers? I wanted to go to a different place with that question. That’s fine.
NWB 12 | Gender Equality
Gender Equality: Sexual orientation is different than gender identity, and it’s making corporate people go insane because it keeps changing.
There’s a tale out of it. I was going to go off into what lights me up is seeing people’s eyes opened. In a lot of cases for women, it’s understanding that there’s a system in place and that you can choose to play it or not play it. Now, my mission is to shift the system that it serves everybody. I was going to go into the systems and seeing people’s eyes get opened, especially White men. Not all. They don’t believe there’s a system because when you are benefiting from something, you don’t see it as a system. I had a conversation with my colleague, Tish, who does the training with me. Tish is Black. I’m White. Tish is almost 6’0”. I’m 5’2”. We look pretty funny when we stand next to each other. She’s a bit younger than I am too. We had a conversation about that I admitted that I had used what I call my “old lady White privilege.” This was near the beginning of the pandemic when we were all masked up and gloved and everything. I had shoved a receipt in my purse somewhere. I was all loaded up walking out of Walmart. The only reason I was at Walmart was because my husband had risk factors and I was less risky to get the Walmart run. I’m in Walmart and I am like, “I don’t have my receipt out. They’re going to check me.” I thought, “No, they’re not.” I walked right out without ever, “Have a nice day. Thank you. You, too. Stay well.” Tish and I had that conversation with a client. We were talking about the things that you uncover about yourself as you do this work and how it morphs and changes all the time. I said, “I admit that I used my old White lady privilege to walk out of Walmart without ever having to stop and dig for my receipt. Tish asked me how often I could do that. We went into a conversation about the things that had happened to her and the way she’d been treated, stores, airports and all this. I never knew it because our friends that are people of color don’t share that stuff with us. If they do have mercy, we might call them an angry Black woman or something like that because, “She’s all worked up about everything all day.” No, there’s a good reason for it. If I’m benefiting from that and if I weren’t doing diversity work, I would think it was my right to walk out of Walmart, having earned my whatever at age 60 something at that point. I was entitled to that. Frankly, that’s what’s in the back of my head. They can see I’m not stealing anything. Let’s put the White lady on for a minute. I had to realize that I was using that. It happened as the hair whitened. I felt like I’d earned my age and I’ve earned getting followed in stores and having to walk with my hands behind me and all that because they did follow me like that. It’s not the same experience that Tish had or that her grown men’s sons have had. I don’t have to have those conversations with my grown son that she’s had to have with her grown son. I went off down a different path there. You said something about people using the system. Can we pack that a little bit more? What are some other examples that people are using the system? What do you even mean by using the system? Let’s go back to basics there.   Looking at the women's movement, we've come a long way, and, in some ways, we haven't come far at all. – Laurie Battaglia Click To Tweet White men are feeling like this now because we’re blaming them for everything. It predates any White man that is alive now. It’s that if that system serves me, why wouldn’t I hang on to it? They always say the fish doesn’t know it’s in water or we don’t know we’re breathing air. It doesn’t feel like anything at all, then we don’t think there’s a system there. Those systems of how to get promoted. When I go back and I think about entering the workplace in 1978, which is when I first got into the savings and loan business in banking. I’d done a little retail, a little factory work before that. Now I’m in the white-collar world of wearing good clothes to the office. All the guys went to lunch together and I wasn’t invited. I would watch them walk out. I finally said to my boss, “Rich, I want to come along to lunch.” He’s like, “You don’t. There’s nothing going on there.” I said, “You all know each other. I’m an outsider. You all can go to the same bathroom.” At that point, there weren’t very many women in leadership at that place. We all went to the same bathroom, but we weren’t having leadership conversations in the bathroom. They probably were. They went golfing. They went out for a happy hour. The women weren’t invited along, didn’t go golfing, all those things. Those were things I had to fight as I went along. I remember the first time I claimed my power was saying to Rich, “I’m going to go to lunch with you.” He’s like, “Suit yourself.” When they all came down from the mezzanine, he stopped at the bottom. He looked toward my office and I came running across the lobby to catch up with them. All the guys stopped and looked at me like, “What’s going on?” He’s right. There was nothing going on there. It was that familiarity that there was this structured way that a man came into the workplace and earned his way up. They wanted to know, “Did you have a wife and family back in those days?” By the way, if I, the wife, was working, “Did my husband have a job?” It’s because then I wasn’t supporting the family. They didn’t know what to do with the first divorced woman that we had working at that bank because they used to put Mrs. or Miss on the nameplate. We don’t even give any conscious thought to all these systems. Now, it sounds crazy, but it was a big thing. It was a life-changing thing in those days. It’s not until we acknowledge that there could be a system around us that doesn’t feel right to us as women maybe. We have our relationships too. In those days, you’ve got to ask to bring in the coffee and the donuts and all those things. You have to unpack it and then figure out what it is that gets us ahead. This is why, for me, it’s important to share with women the statistic that you and I talked about previously. Hewlett-Packard did a study of their staff many years ago. They were the ones that identified that amongst their staff, the men applied having the 60% of the skills, but the women waited until they had 100% skills. That’s why I’m so passionate about sharing that information. That one little thing with women because when they know that men apply with 60% of the skills, it’s still valid now even though it’s a data statistic. It’s important by being aware that’s happening. That’s one of the ways that we can challenge the system that you’re talking about. It is making people aware. It’s like bringing it out and holding the light of day on it and saying, “This is the system. Do you want to play the game? If you do, here are the rules. By the way, they’re not written down anywhere.” That was another thing. In the old days, before we knew what the term mentor meant, a lot of people had an understudy or a person that they brought along with them. You rode the coattails once you proved yourself. If he went up, you went up and all those things happen. These days, we’ve done a lot to put things out there for women. You’re doing great work making these things transparent. By the way, salary transparency. We could go down that one too.
NWB 12 | Gender Equality
Gender Equality: Seeing people who look like you in a workplace show you that that’s attainable.
We made these things transparent. People decide, do they want to opt into this? Do they want to change the game? Do they want to play the game? Do they want to opt-out and not play the game at all? Create their own game. There are a lot of ways you can go but the way we were schooled all these years was, “Here’s the game. Play it or step aside. Get walked over.” Typically, women didn’t feel right playing it. People in the LGBTQ community might not feel good playing it. It might cover up who they are. People with different abilities or let’s say I use a wheelchair to get around. I might not ever even come in to apply for the job in the first place because I’m convinced there’s no way because every experience I’ve had tells me there’s no way. I want to shift a little bit, Laurie, to the work that you do and the LGBTQ+ community. Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing with that? How does that come into the workplace?   I’ll give a friend of mine a plug for a book. It’s called Imagine Belonging. His name is Rhodes Perry. Rhodes is a transman. Now, he puts that out there. If that was a secret, I wouldn’t say it. He talks about his experiences with belonging and how he worked in the White House for a while back and not feel like he was safe there and all those things. It was Rhodes that first said to me, “Laurie, gender is not binary.” I was like, “That puts some words around something I’ve experienced, seen, thought about my whole life and seeing it on different people and all that. What do you mean it’s not binary?” It was like that moment of, “I got to think about that.” What it did was it took me out of the purely feminist fight that I was in for so many years. I had fought hard for equality then I got so tired of fighting. I met my husband, Joe. He was more a feminist than I was or as much as. I was like, “You carry that for a while.” I got back in a different way and was going strong and Rhodes said that. I was like, “I don’t know.” I started to realize. Within the period of time that I met Rhodes, I saw Chaz Bono speak, who’s transgender. I had another friend’s child transition. Now, she’s an important part of my world. There was all this stuff happening around me. I’m like, “Maybe I better pay attention.” I knew I had made it one day when one of my female friends with a deeper voice was talking and my husband said, “Who was that? Was that one of your trans friends?” I was like, “No, it was not.” I feel like it’s a normal part of a conversation in our house. I’m a straight White Boomer woman, but I love my LGBTQ friends and family members and everybody that takes part in that community. I want to make sure that we define this for our audience. You said non-binary. Let’s define that so that everybody is clear on what we’re talking about. You can' be a great leader without an emphasis on having a diverse team. – Laurie Battaglia Click To Tweet When we say LGBTQ then plus, and when we go past the plus, I won’t get this all right. It’s lesbian, which is women who love women. Gay, which is men who love or are attracted to men. Either way, whatever you want to say there. B, so that’s Bisexual. I go for either gender. I don’t, but one could. T is Transgender, where a person’s born inside one body with one gender and realizes that gender is not the one that they were meant to have. They transitioned to the other gender. Of all of these, there are many different flavors and ways to go about it. Q is interesting because it can be Queer or Questioning. We had a conversation, Rosie, where the younger generation is okay with the word queer or was that somebody else? The younger generation is okay with the word queer, but it was used as a slur by my generation. There are different ways of looking at that. “Am I queer? Am I questioning?” There’s the way I define myself gender-wise. There’s also the way I might define myself sexually. Who am I attracted to? Sexual orientation is different than gender identity. It’s making the corporate people go insane because it keeps changing and we’ve got other terms because there’s an IA. I’m going to get that wrong, so I’m not going to go down that path. If I’m a cisgender, White heterosexual female, it means that I was born as a female, identified as a female. I identify as Caucasian. I am straight or heterosexual because I’m attracted to men. I’m a Boomer. I’m right in the middle of the Baby Boomer generation, from 1946 to 1964 birth age. That’s it for me. By the way, that’s called intersectionality, all the ways I define myself. That’s a lot. Many ways. Non-binary is what?
NWB 12 | Gender Equality
Gender Equality: Leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion have to go hand in hand.
It’s when you don’t identify with either gender. Think of gender as a spectrum with males on one end and females on the other. Where are you on that? Sometimes you don’t feel like you’re a she or a he. Non-binary people will typically go by they or they might go by she and they or he and they, depending on how they feel that day. It’s interesting being on the receiving end of it because you’re not quite sure. The rules are constantly changing. Yes, I do know that. I don’t want to say definitions or characteristics. I don’t even know how to properly say it, but the LGBTQ+ is constantly evolving and changing, which is good because it gives them the language to be comfortable in their skin and be who they are. How do we translate that information into the workplace? With diversity, equity and inclusion, is the LGBTQ+ community recognized? Are they making headway in corporate? How is that working? Yes, for the most part, and no. Most workplaces, not all, would say, “We’re good with the LGBTQ community.” What they mean is they’re okay if you’re lesbian or gay, I think. This is Laurie’s opinion. There’s no research here. They’re perfectly fine if somebody is a lesbian and it’s two women together or two men together. There are going to be people who aren’t okay with that, but for the most part, the world and corporate are. You get into transgender and for a while, there is nobody quite knew what to do with that. People have created everything from training to consulting around transgender rights. How to explain that John will be Jane next week and John will become the dead name. Jane will be legally accepted and be in the women’s bathroom and this is happening. Easy is never a good word with transgender, but a little bit more accepted in corporate than in some of the real male-dominated industries. If I see a place where it’s not so accepted, it’s in male-dominated industries. I’m going to say construction, anything that is out there like working land and stuff. The funny thing is they could have transgender people in their world and not know it, but they don’t know it, so that’s okay. A transgender or gay person has to hide who they are. It’s becoming much more widely accepted year by year. My friends in the LGBTQ community will tell me, “You never know how somebody’s going to react to you coming out to them. You think everybody’s okay with it, Laurie, because you’re okay with it. They’re not okay with it. People are not okay with it.” There is that. That’s why I think we see a lot of rules in the workplace about zero tolerance for bullying, for not having a psychologically safe environment. Frankly, from my trans friends, I know that. Especially women of color who are transgender, they probably die at a higher rate from murder and suicide than any other category. It’s a physical safety thing, too, for a trans person. I know that out in society, the LGBTQ+ is more accepted because I’m seeing it now on mainstream TV. In the shows that I watch, it’s now very commonplace to have a gay couple or a lesbian couple. I have seen that. That’s good because, again, it’s being accepted on mainstream TV. People are aware. A lot of people now know that things happen. Life is life. You’re going to fall in love with whoever you want. You’re going to be whatever you want and that’s okay. I am glad to hear that a lot of corporations and companies, big or small, are making it a point to educate themselves and their teams. What about leadership? Leadership when it comes specifically to DEI. Are those two different things or is that the same thing?   You will get a better bottom line the more diverse you are. If you think you can do without it, your company will suffer. – Laurie Battaglia Click To Tweet That’s my new wake-up call for people. If you think they are still two different things, they are not. I don’t believe that you can be a good, especially a great leader without an emphasis on having a diverse team. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people don’t all look like you because representation is important to people. I did not realize having been a girl growing up with older brothers and then getting into a very male workplace. I knew I wasn’t going to see another person that looked like me, probably in certain meetings. I knew that I might be 1 of 1 or 1 of 2 women in a room. I was pretty okay. I was like, “That’s who I am and what I got to do.” I didn’t realize how much representation matters to people but seeing people who look like you in a workplace shows you that’s attainable. Whereas, if everybody doesn’t look like you, it’s not attainable. With leadership, to be a great leader, you’ve got to have a diverse team. They bring in different lived experiences and thought processes. It’s a whole different point of view. That is the world these days. It’s not a White world out there. It needs to be reflective of who’s out there in our communities and in on the globe itself. If we don’t look at diversity and inclusion, we’re missing it. We hear things like equity, justice, access, belonging. Those are all things that are going on the last couple of years. Rhodes nailed it when he wrote his first book, which was Belonging At Work, back in 2018. I happened to love his work and because he’s launching. It’s fresh on my mind. The second one about Imagine Belonging is about the vision of wanting to go to work. I lead my own company now. As a former corporate leader, my teams always did look diverse before it was a thing because I find different people fascinating. I’m naturally curious and I find it fascinating. I want to hear what was different for you than it was for me and compare stories and all that. That lights me up. They always did look different, but I didn’t know much about equity. I thought equality and that’s a different thing. Equity is about equal access for everybody. There’s a great picture, one that my friend, Tony, put up on my post on LinkedIn, where there are three kids. One’s tall, one’s medium and one’s short and they’re all in the same size box because we’re equal. The little kid still can’t see over the fence and the big kids way above and the medium one can see. They get to the point where equity is when you make the box size so that all their heads are above the fence and they can all see equally. I’m like, “That’s a good visual.” Tony went a step further and said, “Here’s the reality.” The box was kicked over. The little kid was on the ground. That is, unfortunately, the reality in some places and many places. Way too many places. I think leadership and diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging have to go hand in hand. It has to.
NWB 12 | Gender Equality
Gender Equality: Diversity and inclusion is a constantly changing, dynamic, fluid situation. If you get it right today, it’s going to be wrong, possibly tomorrow. It takes a lot of courage to do this work.
I love that. Whenever you have a diverse workforce, there are many different thoughts and ideas. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that also translates into profitability for the company because the more diverse ideas you have from different people, it’s different points of view and different ways of looking at things. It’s not the, “We’ve always done it that way,” type thing. That thought process that this is out the door. It’s good for the companies too. It’s been proven over. They started the thing on women in work. Women in your force will do this and they’re better investors. They’re stronger leaders because they bring people on profit together rather than all one way or all the other. There’s a lot of data out there. Catalyst is a good place to get good data on women then diversity and the impact on leadership. They did it if you have a certain number of female board members. It started there, then it went into, “What if we bring in this and all these diversity categories?” It’s a stronger workplace. If you’re worried about your bottom line, you’re going to get a better bottom line the more diverse you are. If you think you can do without it, your company is going to suffer. Your shareholders are going to suffer. Shifting a little bit along the same topic but I noticed that you have your pronouns in your name under Zoom. Can you talk to me about this? Why are pronouns important? Why do you list them in your name? I put them there because it’s time to normalize pronouns. It did initially come out of the LGBTQ community. I haven’t done the research on where’d that come from and when. I know that my LGBTQ friends brought it to my attention the first time. I looked at that and I thought, “That’s for them,” then I realized, “I’m an ally. I should use them too.” I still felt funny about it. Now, I feel funny without them. I made that transition all the way from it feels weird to it feels weird not to. There are a number of different combinations. I have another acquaintance from when I was in Pennsylvania that has put together a list of a lot of the pronouns that I had never heard of before. I’m told that there are far more than two genders. It could be six genders. It could be any number of different things. There’s different terminology for that. By everybody using them, it normalizes them. I did hear a former coworker put out on Facebook. He is a straight White guy. It did his heart good. They did an online, all-hands company-wide meeting. He said, “Every single senior leader stood up and introduced themselves by their name and my pronouns are. It’s not preferred pronouns. It’s my pronouns. It’s not my preference. It’s what it is.” Take ownership of that. Laurie, this has been an incredibly educational episode. I am so grateful. There’s one other thing that I did want to talk about, which is a little bit more of a tangent, the Me Too Movement. I know that you said that when you were starting your career, you had to put up with whatever was happening in the workplace. As a woman, I am so proud of the women that have come forward in whatever situation. There have been a million different situations where they come forward and they say, “I was abused. This happened to me. It goes public.” Can you talk a little bit about how you see either the world-changing or corporate changing regarding the Me Too Movement? A lot of us stay in bad situations thinking there's nothing better out there, and there is. There has to be more of it going forward. – Laurie Battaglia Click To Tweet There’s a lot of zero tolerance now for any nonsense behavior. That does go both ways. I know that typically, we think of it as men assaulting or harassing or whatever they’re doing to women. It crosses gender lines in different, funny, weird ways. We want to take all of that out so that it’s not there anymore. What was interesting was you and I was having a conversation about putting words to things. I was noting that way back when, if you got into the workplace in 1978, you put up or shut up. You suck it up when you were looked over for promotion. I spoke up about it, but most people did not. I felt like I had to leave every so often and start over because I was speaking my mind and saying this isn’t right. For the most part, I couldn’t have defined what it was in our society. Again, let’s go back to systems. Now, when I listen to some of the music from the ‘60s and especially the ‘70s, “My angel is the centerfold,” is a disgusting song when you look at the words. There are so many like that. It’s the one that popped into my head first. Finally, with the Me Too Movement, as women have come forward and said, “This was me too,” there are more of us that are on the, “Yes, me too,” side than the, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Nothing ever happened to me.” More of us are from that. When we look at that, did we ever have words to define it? Did anybody ever hold the light up and go, “That’s wrong?” We knew it was wrong when we were younger then we buried it. There were no words to describe it. We bought into the system. We bought into, “This is the way it is. Boys will be boys. Don’t wear your dress so short. Your shirt is too low.” It’s always on the woman to not get assaulted or raped rather than on the man to not rape. That’s so weird. That reminds me of a movie called the Accused with Jodie Foster, where she got raped and blamed because she was wearing a skimpy outfit or whatever. A lot of us internalized those messages and went like, “That was my fault.” We couldn’t come forward because we probably provoked it. We probably didn’t do something right. It stayed under the covers for a long time. Laurie, I’m going to ask you for a couple of actionable tips that you can provide us. After that, I’m going to ask you to tell me what does Aligned at Work do. If you can talk to us about the two actionable tips first, that would be great. For women at work, I would say an actionable tip is to look around and look at the system that’s in place. Start keeping track of yourself. Let’s say that you’re after a promotion. Who gets promoted? What are the actions that they’re taking that get them there? A lot of times, it’s things like networking, tracking your accomplishments in business language, getting good sponsorship and being overt about that rather than hoping it will show up. It’s about being very intentional. Take a look at that system and watch what works and what doesn’t work, then feel it in your gut. Do you want to do this or not? Is there another place out there that would be better? A lot of us stay in bad situations thinking there’s nothing better out there and there is. There has to be more of it going forward. That’s probably tip number one. Tip number two is if you’re going to get into diversity and inclusion. This would be toward everybody. It is a constantly changing, dynamic, fluid situation. If I get it right today, it’s going to be wrong, possibly tomorrow. It takes a lot of courage to do this work. It takes a lot of protecting your energy and knowing when you’ve had enough and pulling off for self-care so you can get back into the battle again because it’s a battle now. I’m always up for a good fight. That’s the thing. If you’re going to get into it, it’s fluid. It’s going to change. You’re going to be wrong. I probably said six wrong things today. I’ll know better tomorrow when somebody points it out to me and then I can change it and do better. I love tip number two. Both of those were great, but tip number two can help the human resources individuals that are managing all of these corporations. Whether big or small or whatever size. It doesn’t matter if it’s a corporate or a small business. The human resources individuals have to be allies and advocates for this important work. Thank you for those tips. Tell me a little bit about Aligned at Work. Aligned at Work is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, in my home office. Global headquarters is on the door. I created Aligned at Work because I wanted to have people focus from an organizational perspective on people and profit. I’ve seen it done badly. That was the original idea way back when. It has morphed and changed over time. I love leadership. I’ve led teams. I know that no one thing works for everybody. I like the ambiguity of it. When I came out of corporate after wanting to do this for years and like, “I can’t do it now because of this and I can’t do it now because of that.” Aligned at Work has evolved into a boutique premier leadership firm that balances leadership in diversity and inclusion and makes sense of bringing those things together. We also do team alignment. We believe that if people aren’t seeing eye to eye, we can help with that. Executive coaching and career coaching are some of our fortes as well. People can find out even more on I’m all over LinkedIn, as you know, because that’s how we met. Laurie, thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. It has been enlightening. It’s fired me up to make some changes for myself as well. It was an informative and educational message for everybody out there. Laurie, thanks again for everything. For everybody else, remember to be brave, be bold and take action.

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About Laurie Battaglia

NWB 12 | Gender EqualityWhen Laurie Battaglia was a little girl, she realized early on that she was treated differently than her brothers. Ultimately, this led her into the battle for gender equality, a cause that she championed throughout her 35+ year corporate career. And as she’s sometimes experienced feelings of belonging and not belonging at work, she created her company Aligned at Work and her Aligned Leader model to build leaders who understood and embodied inclusion in their people leadership. She also created the Aligned for Life Model about aligning life and work around purpose and the authentic you. Laurie Battaglia is the CEO of Aligned at Work in Scottsdale, Arizona.