The Glass Ceiling: Breaking on Through to the Other Side

  Issue 43 – August 2015  
Case Study—Working on Bias and Diversity
Singing & Learning with Face The Music
Case Study—Working on Bias and Diversity
Face The Music was on the design and delivery team for an organization looking at a sensitive issue that had eluded the standard training that was supposed to address it. Here's an overview on how they tackled the subject and how they got into action with changes to address it.
Situation—A large consulting firm division is losing valuable talent in the form of some of their best women leaving. The leadership team is all white males despite a very rigorous diversity program. The leadership team decides to team up with HR and internal Women's Council to take measures to address this issue.
Intake—Conversations with leaders, rank & file at various levels, and HR seem to reveal that people feel that there is an authentic effort to be inclusive and fair in hiring, evaluation, and promotion. There are no blatant behaviors that are singled out. Through discussions it is decided to focus on unconscious bias that may be at work in the people and built in to the frame of reference of the system.
The Gizmo of the Month
Over here on this side of the newsletter page used to be our client comments section, but we said "enough of that for now," let's see what else we can do here that might be interesting and entertaining for our readers. So it's "Gizmo of the Month" — whatever we see fit to put in here.
This month's Gizmo
Got My Mojo Working video. We reconnected with Marshall Goldsmith last month at the Best Practice Institute board meeting in New York (with some hush-hush talk about another musical collaboration), and he joined us on stage for a live version of "Mojo". Here's the original video:
If you'd like to see a keynote on Mojo at Work at your next meeting or conference, give us a call to talk about it: 845-687-2100
Learning leverage strategy—It is decided to take on an initiative to address the issue that includes individual work by the leadership team that tees up a 2 day conference with about 120 people invited to explore the subject and decide a course of action to change the track they are on. Training on unconscious bias, discussions, brainstorming, experiential pieces that take people out of their usual business environment and their comfort zone to have a new conversation. They want it to look and feel different!
Design and preparation—Design included presentations on shared terminology and background, role play skits dramatizing different types of unconscious bias, group discussions, songs that illustrate the themes, songwriting about the participants' "bias blues", debrief of experiential activities to get insights into the organizational system as it pertains to the subject, and planning to make decisions on what actions to take going forward.
»Listen to me
»Connect with me
»Communicate with me
»Commit with me
»Custom songs on the themes to be addressed open the conference followed by the leadership team sharing results of the pre-work they had each done personally in the area of unconscious bias. Learnings, insights, cost to the business.
+Leadership presentation ends with them performing a song they wrote the day before. Stating and reframing the issues, and letting everyone know that this offsite is going to be different.
»Delivering skits (FTM actors...) with four different workplace scenes scripted to illustrate how unconscious bias plays out in the workplace. Table discussions.
»Face The Music songwriting session—each table collaborating on a song about the issues at hand, their experience, and a vision for the future.
»Performances after dinner that night—12 groups—an excellent collection of songs, styles, choreography, and good lyrics about the topic at hand.
»Debrief the next morning. People made some pretty bold statements in their lyrics the night before, but the debrief began a bit polite and cautious. The debrief was facilitated to create a safe container to directly address the issues using direct quotes from participants that spoke to what was really going on. As people began trusting that it was safe to speak up, they started taking risks, the process got deeper and deeper into what needed to be said.
»The session was wrapped up by identifying the things that would change tomorrow that would make a difference in changing the face of the practice, and initiatives for longer term cultural and systemic change. These included:
+Goals and goal setting processes
+Changes in Behaviors
+Unconscious bias check in's
+Decision processes
The process created an initiative that had some traction, and they did change the face of their practice!
Singing & Learning with Face The Music
By Amy Fradon
On a long ride back home from a powerful Face The Music event, I was telling Paul how grateful I feel about being a part of FTM for the past 12 years and about how much I have grown as a result of these FTM experiences. He asked if I would be wiling to share some of my thoughts with all our FTM newsletter readers and I told him I'd be delighted.
When I first joined FTM I was initially excited that is was a "good gig"—pay-wise, as being a musician can be a dicey financial proposition. I also liked having a chance to coach people in a setting different from my own private practice as a vocal coach. I was pretty nervous because going into the corporate world was so foreign to me as a person whose life has been steeped in the arts and lived as a nature-bound, Catskill Mountain woman. I felt like a fish out of water, and the stress over how to interact successfully with people whose daily lives were so different from mine was enormous. Another new factor: although I was used to working mostly with men in the male dominated world of music, here I was on the road with 4 or 5 men, usually with no other females on the team. As much as the FTM guys had been friends and colleagues for years, sometimes the vibe felt pretty tough and lonely for me. I had entered the Men's Club, albeit not a bad one, and I just didn't know my way around.
I remember a turning point: a company we were working for was doing an awareness program on women in the workplace. Suddenly I was there helping the women on the teams to express their feelings about being in the minority among men and trying to find their own power and their own leadership styles and skills. At this point I realized that I not only had commonality with those women, but that my ability to express creativity was going to help them to be more empowered and could also help me to empower myself and believe in myself amongst the men I worked with. Hearing those women share gave me a personal, heartfelt connection with people in the business world and gave me a human perspective on the struggles we all share, no matter what our beliefs, history, or means may be.
FTM prides itself on being a stickler for details and accountability. I love the challenge of being on time, being ready for anything that might come up, being able to switch gears on a dime and handling situations that seemed un-handleable, such as having to coach 5 groups to write and perform their own song in just 20 minutes. I've learned to trust my own instincts with my groups, even in face of teasing from my FTM cohorts about some of my musical limitations!! I've learned to speak up when something bothers me and also to let things go if it serves the greater good. I've also learned a very important leadership skill, and that is to trust in your client. For the most part, all I have to do is provide a safe and obvious container for my groups and they, each in their own unique way, always come through with exactly what they need to express themselves and meet the challenge. People have a truly magnificent, inherent ability to succeed when given a good chance.
Though it might seem like a difficult mindset for a competitive, fast-paced workplace, I have also grown in the skill of empathy and generosity. I remember listening to the songs of people from a prominent bank during the times of the troubled banking failures and hearing real concerns from real people about where their industry and work was headed. I hear real concerns from marketing people and from innovation teams who live under tremendous pressures to achieve. Sometimes I just want to give them massages and send them to spas!! I'm glad I know how tough it is for them and for all the people who make a large corporation operate. It's too easy for others to make a quip about the evils of corporations. But businesses are made of real people, trying really hard to do a good job and survive and succeed. Having empathy and awareness that other people in all walks of life work very hard and deserve time, compensation and recognition helps me grow as a person.
And finally, I am grateful to my team and to Paul and Kenny who work tirelessly to bring a successful experience to each company we work for. I admire their dedication and client-centered focus. Their diligence makes me want to do a great job. They have given me the opportunity to coach into my potential, to troubleshoot, to practice independence and to speak about my needs and still feel loved. I could go on and on but, as is true in the business setting, I have to express myself with limited time, limited space and scant resources and with a dreaded deadline! I hope to see you all soon and I am grateful for the lessons learned from each of you.
Check Amy out at
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