Are you someone who's ever looked at leadership in your government, workplace, or organization and thought, “Well, hot damn, I don't see a lot of women in the ranks of leadership up in here.” If this is you or now I’ve got you thinking about this, then I have a guest for you this week. Meet Jessica Grounds.
Jessica Grounds has been busting her rump in Washington D.C. since the age of 22. She has founded and led multiple organizations across both the public and private sectors to advance women in leadership. Today, we're going to learn all about the strategic gender-inclusive, bipartisan work she's doing with Mine The Gap, an organization on a mission to create gender-inclusive environment for companies, organizations, and businesses. You’ll also hear Jessica pull wisdom from her own experiences as the founder and former Executive Director of Running Start. She helps us more fully understand the barriers facing women in the workplace today and beyond.
Additionally, we touch on the topics of sexism, gender diversity in the workplace, and balancing work and life as a new mother. Plus, Jessica offers practical and realistic steps we can all take within our own organizations to encourage leadership among women - starting right now.
The midterm elections are coming up here in the United States, so I felt like this was such an important conversation to have right now. The work Jessica is doing is so timely, but also so important beyond the midterm elections. I hope you agree. Now, get listening! For all of my American listeners, get out and vote on November 6th. Sign up for reminders and polling from Vote.org. Prepare yourself with ballot information at BallotReady.
Selected link love + resources from the episode:
Mine The Gap and global advising firm FTI Consulting released original research, #MeToo At Work, on #MeToo's financial impact on 5 key sectors including: tech, energy, financial services, legal and health care.
Jennifer Lawless (researcher)
Richard Fox (researcher)
Me Too movement (#metoo)
Times Up movement (#timesup)
Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley (book)
Visit Vote.org (everything you need to vote - registration, polling information, absentee ballots, and reminders)
Sign up for the Le vital corps Salon newsletter (sent twice monthly and includes news about podcast episode releases, helpful health + lifestyle information)
Turn your old task list into art! 33K Task List Project
Quotes + selected highlights from the episode
All of this wisdom is from Jessica herself (with some minor edits for readability).
[00:10:06] Women are only about a fourth of political candidates.
[00:14:54] We see in a lot of facets for women in leadership the dissuasion factor: where different people of power, colleagues, or peers dissuade women from trying to become a leader.
[00:21:27] [On the barriers against women in leadership around the world] In other parts of the world we see physical violence, where I worked with a number of the women in Lesotho, which is in Southern Africa. I brought together all the women from the different political parties. One of the women actually got shot for running for office.
[00:24:04] It’s been easier for us to wipe the sexual harassment or issues impacting women uniquely under the rug compared to some of the other challenges that we tend to talk about or tackle. It’s a really big problem, I think.
[00:28:38] There is a bit of that kingmaker/queenmaker in a lot of parts of the country, especially in politics, where you have to know the right people to get there.
[00:33:57] When you don’t have women and men working together in tandem in these organizations in leadership, your companies are not as strong as they could be.
[00:34:05] I think a great example of that right now is the #MeToo movement. One of the biggest things we see in the research is companies that have more women in leadership are less likely to have an issue like this. More than that, you also see that there's less nefarious behavior in the organization on the whole when you have more women in leadership.
[00:35:11] [On actually doing the work to diversify genders within organizations] When the rubber meets the road and the money is required to do what needs to be done, they often will balk at that. It’s like “we have checked this box and it's all fixed.” It's so much more fundamental to the functioning of an organization. It's a competitive advantage to actually do this.
[00:47:25] There's just a lot of cultural misinterpretation of experience. For example, a lot of people think women leave the workforce because they have children. The research does not suggest that at all. The research shows that, in fact, women who have children have a higher appetite to be even more powerful in their work or have a real impact financially and otherwise.
[00:53:21] I try to take a stock of what I have achieved in my work and be reflective of my own historical kind of arc. Someone said this to me many years ago: “We don't have a perfect arced curve that goes up up up up up, then we retire, and we've been successful,” which tends to be more like how men operate. We are much more up and down and up and down and up and down. Women, we take more of these back & forth breaks, but the workplace doesn't support that recognition.
[01:09:51] Hillary Clinton said a long time ago, when she was Secretary of State, “The largest untapped resource of talent in the world is women.”
[01:12:57] Be patient about making change, but be tenacious. Change is hard for people to take. It also is hard to come by, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't keep pushing for it. Because if you don't push for it, it won't ever change. So, don't back down.
[01:19:37] I really deeply believe that the world will not be able to solve the problems that we have in our country, in our cities, or in our homes if women aren't seen and valued as equal leaders as men are today. There's still a different calibration of our perception of what women can do and how they lead. I would just ask each of you to recognize that and to recognize what you can do to contribute to that.
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