Joanne Lipman: "We Need to Include Men in the Gender Equality Fight"

February 26, 2018

Joanne1Women are often vocal with each other on the issues we face in the workplace — being marginalized, interrupted and overlooked — but how do men feel?

To Joanne Lipman, former USA Today editor in chief, chief content officer of Gannett and New York Women in Communications Matrix winner, including men in the conversation is key to moving it forward.

“We talk to each other all the time about these issues and that’s fantastic,” said Joanne. “But it’s also half a conversation. What we really need is to bring men in, because half a conversation isn’t a solution. Let’s bring men in and then we can actually have a whole solution.”

Joanne is leading the charge for a whole conversation — and solution — with her new book, “That’s What She Said, What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together.” She joined NYWICI for a Cocktails & Conversations event on Feb. 12, 2018, to talk about actionable strategies to help close the gender gap and bring equality to every workplace.

Here’s what she shared:

Elevate women’s voices

Joanne2As one of the few women who has run a major news organization, Joanne explained that gender imbalances in highly visible organizations have a large impact on how we receive information. “For the most part, our major news organizations are run by men, which is also the case in the entertainment industry. That has a truly deleterious effect on what we see, how we see it and how we perceive it. We need more women who are running these organizations.

“Only 7 percent of the top 100 grossing films last year were directed by women. That has a huge impact on the stories we’re telling, how we view the world, and how the rest of the world views us.”

Know your worth

Women still aren’t paid the same as men in equivalent roles. Yes, we need to speak up and demand to be paid what we’re worth, but we also need to be knowledgeable about standard compensation in our respective industries.

“My research shows we don’t always know what we’re worth. We’re luckily in an age of data., — one thing we can do is look and find out real data about what we should be paid and arm ourselves with that information.”

Drop the diversity training

Many of us have been through diversity training, but at least one study has shown it doesn’t work. “For women, as well as black men and minority women, it not only has failed, it has taken us backward,” with the primary participants in these trainings — white men — left feeling under attack, blamed and punished for inequality in the workplace.

Joanne3Instead, Joanne recommends “unconscious bias training”, which acknowledges that while we can’t change or eliminate all biases, we can become aware of them and take action to counter them. Still, any training must be supported and communicated from the top. “None of this training matters if it doesn’t come from the CEO and CFO,” she said.

Cry if you want to

Most of us have gotten emotional at work at some point, and it can be embarrassing. But Joanne argues that not only is it normal from women to cry, it’s biological: women actually do cry more than men. And it is not out of weakness.

“When women cry at the office, men think it’s because they’re feeling sad. But there’s been research done. When women cry, it’s because they’re angry, they’re furious. It’s the same as a guy punching a wall or yelling and screaming. We need to be aware of this difference.”

Support each other

No matter your career level, everyone can work to better support fellow women, for example, by amplifying each other’s ideas: “I talked to a couple of companies where women and simpatico men make a deal, If you say something in a meeting, I’m going to repeat it and give you credit for it,” Lipman said.

Another idea: quiet the interrupters. “Women get interrupted three times more frequently than men”, says Joanne. In a meeting, women and men should feel empowered to interrupt the interrupter and say, “Wait a second, Susan was talking, let’s hear what she has to say.

Keep the momentum going

The bottom line, says Joanne, is to keep the momentum going, from #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and the conversations they are sparking around gender equality; we still need to enact cultural change.

“We need to make sure the issues we all talk about are discussable and comfortable, Joanne stresses. “That’s the reason I’m really hopeful to get men to read my book in addition to women, to help ease along that kind of transition and that cultural change.”


Photos: Jan Goldstoff

Posted by: 
Lauren Tran

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