Speaking to an audience at the recent Involve & Audeliss CEO Panel Breakfast hosted by Yahoo Finance, Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest, a digital investing start-up focused on women, pushed back against the notion that it’s entirely in women’s hands to achieve their career goals.
“In an era of know your worth, take the seat at the table, you go girl, you got this, you know if you didn’t get the raise this time, you didn’t read the book closely enough. You better underline it, you better notate it, go back in there. It’s just a matter of working harder. What I would say is, sometimes it’s not you. Sometimes you work for a Todd,” she said.
“Todd,” as described by Krawcheck, is not necessarily a man or a woman, but a manager who talks about supporting women and minorities in the workplace but doesn’t always follow through. “He or she went to unconscious bias training class...talks about how they’re woke, but just never seems to promote anybody but someone who looks like him- or herself,” she said.
Unraveling the unconscious bias challenge
From recruiting to hiring to promotions and work opportunities, unconscious bias plays a critical role improving gender balance and inclusion. As a 2018 Harvard Business Review article notes, too often organizations adopt a “think manager, think male” logic.
But organizations are slowly recognizing the role that unconscious bias plays in their culture. According to Grant Thornton International’s study, the percentage of US organizations that now offer unconscious bias training jumped from 20% in 2019 to 24% in 2020. (Grant Thornton US is offering unconscious bias coaching to its US employees.) Yet, overall, only a fifth of senior leaders discuss unconscious bias openly.