Pressure on Women in the Workplace, with Loren Shumate

As my company was getting used to this new work-from-home reality, I noticed that some people on the team – and it was usually women – were opting not to show their faces. And it got me to wondering, why do we put so much pressure on women in the workplace to look a certain way? I wrote about it in a LinkedIn post, and I hit on something that people wanted to talk about.

My guest today, Loren Shumate, commented right away, “I had this exact realization this week. I honestly think it is more how women feel about themselves. It’s a need to be perfect that many women struggle to overcome. Understanding this about women is critical to inclusion strategies.”

And so I asked her to share her insight as a professional woman in the workplace.

Loren referenced several books in the show:

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson Podcast!

I’m Donald Thompson, and we are rebranding from the Hustle Unlimited Podcast. New name, same type of content, where dream chasers can hear wisdom and insights from entrepreneurs and leaders who forged their own path to success.

We are putting together season 3 which will launch the first week in May, but I wanted to get this episode out right away because of how topical it is in today’s new work from home environment. All of our meetings now and for the foreseeable future are on zoom or another video conferencing software.

And as my company was getting used to this, I noticed that some people on the team – and it was usually women – were opting not to show their faces. And it got me to wondering, why do we put so much pressure on women in the workplace to look a certain way? It doesn’t really seem fair.  I wrote about it in a LinkedIn post, and that post is trending to the point where it’s been seen by close to 10,000 people.  I had definitely hit something that people wanted to talk about.

One of those people who commented right away was Loren Shumate, who said, “I had this exact realization this week. I honestly think it is more how women feel about themselves. It’s a need to be perfect that many women struggle to overcome. Understanding this about women is critical to inclusion strategies.”

Well with that, I had to have her on the show.

Donald Thompson: Well guys, welcome to the DT Podcast and we’re so glad that you could spend some time with us today and take kind of a nice  diversion, away from the COVID 19 conversation. And let’s really talk about the future. How do we create some self improvement? How do we look forward and push through the storm?

Today’s guest is Loren Shumate and, I’m going to read the bio and then we’re going to kind of get into it. highly creative, a results oriented marketing executive. Leading Fortune 500 and technology brands to create brand awareness, demand generation. And the thing I love the most is brand and campaign strategies that drive measurable results. 30 to 50% year over year. And a lot of times we all get into the bingo buzzwords of life. But I’m in love with marketers and professionals that drive business results. The other thing about Loren that I’m so impressed with and glad to share her talents with our audience is her focus on the education, empowerment and equity, for female executives and emerging leaders.

Loren, welcome, to the DT Podcast.

Loren Shumate: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me today.

Donald Thompson: One of the reasons that we got together, and I’ll hit the backdrop, but then I’m going to pass it to you and let you kind of expand upon it. In our company, I was on a podcast or video cast with three of my female employees.

And, they each in unison, when we jumped on the video call, it was almost as they rehearsed it: Don, we’re not doing video today. And, I was like, okay, that sounds kind of like a command that I should take. Right? And I said, okay, fantastic. And we joked about it a little bit. We went on with the meeting, but as I talked a little bit further, and then Meghan Hockaday, who’s joining us for a little bit to ask some questions, who was on that call.

We pushed out on my social media: why do we create that pressure for ladies in the workplace to look a certain way every day? What are some of the self esteem things that go into that decision or that thinking of not wanting to be on video? And Loren, I’ll let you take it from there because you actually jumped on our social media thread and you had some feedback, you had some thoughts. So let’s dig into that a little bit.

Loren Shumate: Ya, absoltely, well enjoyed The discussion because I had noticed myself, from our company that myself and other women within our organization were not joining by video either. And, you know, I’m, I’m very well read in, women’s issues because I do a lot of presenting and mentoring of young female professionals. And, you know, I said, you know what? I believe that this is very deeply rooted. I think that this really stems from, women trying to be perfect and having very high standards, for themselves. And I believe that it starts by how we’re raised. I think that, little girls are told to behave and are dressed in pretty dresses and our younger brothers are crazy and they’re like, Oh, he’s just so crazy.

And little boys grow up in the professional world to be these risk takers and don’t care. And, women grow up. If they get to the executive level, they, grow up and are very self conscious in saying, you know, I don’t look my best.  You know, I’m not perfect right now. I don’t want, you know, the corporate world to see me this way.

And I really think that that’s very much where this stems. I also thought very much about my mother. My mother and her generation was very much, she used to put lipstick on to walk to the mailbox. and I think there is, I think that you know, and being raised this model behavior is that your, your beauty is equal to your self worth. And I think that it’s, it’s something that, will not change unless we raise our daughters differently.

Donald Thompson:  One of the things, and that’s powerful, right, in terms of the starting from childhood. And then as we come into the workplace, all of us have things that are built into our environment, how we were raised in and our perceptions.

What are some things that we can do to raise that self esteem, to raise that awareness, in our female employees, to really give them the platform to think about some of these things a little differently.

Loren Shumate: Yeah. I think that. Women exert certain behaviors that hold us back as a gender. And, you know, things like, and again, it stems for how we’re taught to behave when we’re children.

You know, we’re told to be quiet and behave ourselves and, so when we get to the corporate world, we have difficulty speaking up. And speaking our minds and taking risks and negotiation. One of the things that I see a lot in the hiring that I’ve done of, of marketers on my team is that when it comes time to, to extend an offer, in one situation,  a woman said, “I really want to work for you. I’m willing to take a pay cut” and I said, “well, why would you do that?” because I know a male counterpart would never have that discussion with me. And in that situation, I knew what she was paid and gave her what I felt was her value, which I would have hoped, you know, came from her in the first place.

But this stuff, these behaviors are very rampant and the other thing too, is a lot of, Female professionals, they strive toward leadership, but they don’t realize that it can be a leader from whatever role that they sit in. And so, you know,  Going the extra mile and saying, “you know what? I’m gonna use something new. I’m going to take on a new project. I’m going to be a leader.” From where I sit is something that I don’t see that enough women understand that they can do that and that they’re leadership a lot of times is their own responsibility. And I don’t see that men have the same behaviors that hold them back that, that so many women do.

Donald Thompson: I think that apprehension, and I want to drill into the negotiation piece for a minute because I see that a lot as well. And then from the same perspective, in that conversation, we have the numbers that show the pay gap, right? Between men and women that are doing the same job. And so a lot of times what will occur is you read this information and then it puts the full onus on the employee, or employer, excuse me, to make that change when a lot of times I found that ladies will accept the first offer. Right? And so what do we do to, in that talent pipeline to teach, to educate about some of those skills. That it’s okay to ask for what you’re worth. What are the phrases that they can use that they feel good about asking for what’s next, but they don’t feel like they’re putting at risk the opportunity and that fear of asking for more.

Loren Shumate: Yeah. I think it comes down to a lot of women don’t understand or even necessarily believe their self worth. There’s a lot of sort of imposter syndrome, if you will. And there’s been several studies, to this degree that, that fascinate me. There’s a study that HP Hewlett Packard did in 2014 where when they had a job posting, they found that their male employees, if they were 60% qualified, they would put their name in the hat and apply for the job.

Well, they found that women employees, you won’t even believe this: women employees would not put their name in the hat unless they were 100% qualified for that job posting. And so, so what does that say? another thing that is very rampant is,  if a man interviews for a job and doesn’t have the skills that has been asked of  him, he will say, yes, I have those skills.

(Dan Laughs) A woman I was interviewing.  (laughs)  Right? They’ll say, yeah, Oh, I’ve done that tons, right? A woman who was interviewing for the same job, I’ve seen this so many times in how I’ve hired people through the years, a woman will say, no, I don’t have that skill, but I’ll learn. I’m a really good learner.

Okay. So if you’re the employer, who are you going to hire? You know, who are you going to hire in those situations? And so, you know, how do we change that? We changed that by telling women that, I use the expression: be, and you’ll become. One thing that women don’t understand is, you know I’ve worked for  many CEOs, tremendous, male executives, and quite frankly, I figured out they didn’t know how to do everything. They’re really smart. They’re really good decision makers, but I used to sit there and go. Wow. I don’t think I know how to do this and be scared about it. And I think so many women don’t realize, if you’re a good decision maker and you jump in with both feet and you be the job, you’ll become that executive and that leader you want to be. And for some reason there’s a disconnect. There is a thought that, Oh, that person must have so much more than me, and it stems from imperfection. It, I’m sorry, it stems for, for the need to be perfect. If they’re not perfect then there’s no way they can be qualified for this job because that job needs a perfect person. And it’s very unreasonable and it’s very unkind. Women have a tendency to be super unkind  with ourselves. There’s a big problem amongst women and the topic of rumination, rumination is when something happens and you think about it to death about how you approached it the wrong way, but you can’t get it out of your mind. And men do it too. But research shows that women do it so much worse, and it really causes a lot of depression and, and a lot of lack of confidence. So there’s a lot of confidence issues, amongst women that I see a lot of and that I read in a lot of articles that have the same similar themes.

Donald Thompson: So one of the things that I would like to expand on from my perspective, obviously as a male, as a business leader, that that works with a lot of people across the spectrum of gender and race and different things. Is that component of self esteem and self image that we apply to work. A lot of times we’ll use the phrase: it’s not just business, it’s personal. When the reality is everything is intensely personal that we bring to work and in terms of finding our best self. And I think the thing that I’ve found that I’ve tried to do, it doesn’t mean I’m there yet, but I’ve tried to do is let people get comfortable with making mistakes.

That doesn’t mean your standards aren’t high. It just means in that particular instance, you did not do 100% of what’s required. In business, the goal is not perfection, it’s actually your response to the agility around how do you correct problems, and that’s actually the difference between the leaders anyway, because my thinking is:  if you’re not making mistakes, then the job’s too easy it’s not stretch. It’s not valuable enough, right? There’s already a manual for it. At the executive level, you’re doing things that are uncharted, so that means try, fail, and adjust is really part of the territory.

Loren Shumate: Women have a really hard time, with what you’re talking about. And in this book I was recommending called How Women Rise by Sally Helgeson she talks about how actually perfectionism hurts women’s careers in the way that you just described, because we’re not raised to be risk takers. And I think one thing that I recognized about myself is as a child, I was quite a tomboy. I was, I had a younger brother and we had neighborhood friends and I spent half my childhood in the trees hanging upside down and coming home with messy hair, and I was given a lot of freedom to just, just be me and take risks and do silly, stupid childhood things. And I don’t know that a lot of women are raised like that. And so when you tell them they’re allowed to fail. The only way I think you can really accomplish that as if from top down you really show that that’s the truth, because a lot of women will still have self doubt that, yeah, you’re saying it, but do you really mean it?

And you have to realize too, that the, the corporate world is really owned mostly by male businessmen. And a lot of women struggle because we don’t communicate like men in a lot of ways. So we struggle and we put forth a lot of effort to fit in when sometimes we just want to fit. I read books by Brene Brown and other tremendous authors that talk about authenticity, but it becomes very difficult in a lot of ways for women to truly be their most authentic self when, there’s male biases that are the standards of, the work environment that we’re in. And so the problem is there’s a huge disconnect between what women want, the inequality, and a lack of understanding by male leadership. What needs to be done to bridge that gap? And so I think there’s a lot of things that if men could understand a little bit better how women communicate, any effort to fit in that education seems to be, something that I don’t see enough of.

I see a lot of amazing women’s groups. I see women’s groups popping up everywhere. It makes my heart sing to see women, promoting women, and that camaraderie. The problem that I see, however, is that things will not change for women unless male leaders get involved and that needs to be with an understanding of what the issues are with women.

If you knew that women, from how they’re raised, are scared to speak up, or by the way, an average woman uses 20,000 words a day. An average man uses 7,000. What’s the reason? The reason is because women use words to connect with each other. There’s a researcher named Deborah Tannen and she says that women communicate through intimacy and connection, yet men communicate through status and independence.

So women are using extra words and are tremendous collaborators because that’s how we’ve learned to communicate as a gender. We keep families together. Isn’t that profound? And so if we understand, then we understand our daughters our wives you know, it changes a lot when we think that way. And I bet most men listening to this podcast today probably hadn’t thought of those things.

And that’s what rises. Makes women rise.

Donald Thompson: I would say you are a hundred percent correct in that most men I know have not thought of those things, understand those things, and it’s a really bird’s eye view into why we’re confused a lot. Right.

(Loren Laughs) I just need the details

When, right? Like we’re confused a lot, right?

Cause I’m hearing these words from, and I’m like, why do you use all these words? This is what I need to know. And back to your point on women’s groups and, and I also share that I have daughters, my wife is a professional and I’m such a fan and advocate for that growth and that opportunity and I want to be a part of the solution.

But your point, I agree with 100% how can women help women only when the power structure is still dominated by men. There’s got to be an integration with some of those groups so that men and leaders are educated. So we know how to be effective and help make those changes. There’s a lot of want to, but there’s not enough how to.

Loren Shumate: Yes, they have to be involved in order to these women’s groups to succeed and really, truly, lifting up women.

But I think, I think the biggest challenge, especially in, and Donald, you’ll, you’ll appreciate this being a creative and, the industry that you’re in. But a large majority of male leaders are very left brained. And, so for women who tend to be more predominantly right-brained, there’s also a really big disconnect there because we’re using, we’re in this data-driven world where everything is, you know, use data for decision making and things, and women are communicating with all these extra words, talking about relationships and intuition and there is so much value in having art, drive science and science drive art.

And the human condition and persuasion is, especially as I, as I speak, as a marketer, is the key to driving those data-driven results. But the problem is, is that very analytical men, very highly left brain men are the ones who are leading most of these technology companies and they are not inclusive enough.

Oftentimes to really understand that the, that the right balance and, the diversity of their executive teams can really cause some amazing results if the balance is there. And so that’s another big. So if, you’re a left brain, you know, male taking the time to understand with some patience.

And I think that the biggest challenges is women are overcompensating so much. If there’s a line between us, women are so far across the line to a man’s world, that even just for the men to come closer to the line to understand how we communicate, what makes such a difference in the quality of, of our genders.

Donald Thompson: So, let me flip that a little bit. I agree with you both in my learning and education, from what you’re describing and the strength of research that you’ve quoted based on everything that you say. So let’s, I’m going to ask this question, knowing that you’re right about that perspective now, flip it, and what is the lady’s responsibility to create that bridge with men?

Because we’re not going to get there by ourselves. Right? Because we’re not reading the same books necessarily. We’re not going to the same workshops. How do we help and encourage men little by little to get there?

Loren Shumate: That is a challenge. That is such a good question. It really is because  we’re having these women’s groups, but there’s only so many female leaders that are at the top to rise up these women.

So we need to insist, like my company has, women have approached me with my company, for us to start a women’s group. And so I went to my fellow executive team members and I said to the men, that it’s very critical that they participate. And for us to do it and to do it successfully. and there is actually research that shows that 70% of these, women’s groups, succeed because of  male participation.

So we’ve got to figure out what that looks like. So that’s my first answer is that we’ve to educate. We just do. The other thing is that it’s just women need to speak up. And, quality needs to, it’s, it’s gotta be very hard for male leaders, these days with the me too movement and all these things.

I had a male colleague apologized to me last week or several weeks ago for touching my shoulder. Cause he was talking to me. That’s, I mean, and I just laughed because it’s, that’s kind of sad. In a lot of ways, they’re really scared that they’re doing the wrong thing. So if we have more and more conversations, but I don’t think the story is any different for, people of color and, and the whole diversity and inclusion story in itself.

There needs to be an awareness and an education and an effort, and it starts from the top and everything starts from the top and trickles down, and that’s where we’re change happens.

Donald Thompson: Oh, that’s really powerful. I want to give you some space to talk about an organization that I saw on your LinkedIn. It’s in your profile, the Alliance of women in technology leadership. Right. And I’d love for you just to expand on that organization’s mission, and what your call to action is and how people can help.

Loren Shumate: Yeah, absolutely. So the Alliance of women in technology, I guess we’ve been around for, for just a year or two now and I, I think we’re at least 80 members, which is extraordinary.

I was kind of one of the founding mothers. Tricia Lucas is sort of the founder of the organization, and it is honestly the most humbling experience for me because the women in this group are just extraordinary.

It is mostly heads of marketing, heads of sales, C levels of all of the corporations, major corporations in the triangle. And I’ll tell you what is probably one of the most powerful groups. In the way that our connections amongst these women are tremendous. We can help just about anyone. I’ve used the connections that I’ve made to help, young professionals get jobs. I have reached out to these women professionally to ask them a marketing question on best practices. There is a lot of women I tremendously admire and it helps to make all of us better. Our mission is. You know, rising up women, is having a safe place to, to talk about what it’s like to navigate the business world. Our mission is also, really support emotional support, job support. And also the, the mentoring, and connection of young professional women and how, and helping them to navigate the landscape. It has been absolutely extraordinary. We are continuing to grow and put goals, you know, in place to really figure out more and more of what we can do. You know, for the triangle community.

Donald Thompson: That was fantastic. Meghan, I’m gonna, I want to give you a little space to see if you have any questions and you were part of the Genesis of this conversation, and so I’m open to thoughts that you have or any questions you’d like to ask Loren.

Meghan Hockaday: I think what you said was really interesting and what I’ve been thinking about the past five minutes or so, that thing about women using more words than men, especially because a huge part of my job is writing. And something that I’ve done in my own journey towards not wanting to be a passive person specifically is removing any passive language from my writing. I’ve also read studies about the nuances of words women use, even in emails, like the likelihood of women to use the word “just”, and I feel like we are using all these words, yes because we want to communicate, but also I wonder how much of it is that we’re taught that we need to explain or rationalize our thought process more than men. Or we’re taught that we need to have more of a concrete understanding of X, Y, Z, because we’ve been questioned or doubted more. I can’t think of a specific instance right now, but I feel like I’ve read studies like that or heard things like that, or even just thought it myself. Do you have anything that you’ve read or heard of that speaks to that.

Loren Shumate: Yes. I can’t remember any specific studies, but I will tell you that a lot of themes in books that I have read and articles, cause I’m constantly reading because this topic is fascinating, is that women will work extra hard, in order to just justify their being. And I think first of all, that causes a lot of pressure, you know, on women. But I think that it’s becoming, just very rampant. you know, that that way. I’m trying to think if there’s any other, you know, it’s, it’s interesting when I’ve been, I was a sales rep for 13 years, and it was always interestingly enough, the female salespeople were always at the top. As much as I read about how competitive that, men are in a, in a sales capacity, as women, we’re just so naturally consultative and caring. And at the end of the day, sales is about caring. And so we use such a natural superpower, you know, to excell.

so, you know, I, I think about those natural abilities that we have and how they translate, but I do think we often are very  overcompensating. I also think that often we get very defensive or are, are we are interpreted as defensive. I think there’s also a reason for that. I think  things that I’ve read is that, men are more comfortable as an emotion in anger. It’s more acceptable for men to be angry. And women tend to use emotions like frustration, or emotions like being upset. Because if you think about, again, back to how we’re brought up, you know, that crazy little boy, he’s just, you know, screaming that little girl is, you know, she’s a cry baby. She’s gonna cry. And so a lot of those behaviors from when we were little come up in… It’s funny, I bought some of my colleagues a necklace. It says “I cry at work”. I laughed so hard because through my, because through my career, I’ve, I’ve cried at work plenty of times myself. It’s just  kind of part of who we are as women. We have emotions and that’s how we were taught to express them when we were little. So how can we change ourselves completely and truly be authentic to the corporate world? It’s just not realistic.

Donald Thompson: One of the things that I’m appreciative of this conversation, authenticity, that candor, but even more important are we’re weaving into all those things is the calmness of what you’re describing this information to me.

And so a point of feedback that I will share with you is that as a learner, I like to be educated. But being critiqued is hard just like it is for anyone else. And so if as a male leader, I’m being critiqued, critiqued, critiqued that I’m not doing something in a certain way, everyone has a natural defense mechanism up.

But if you’re teaching me how to move something forward and how I can get more value, I can raise up female leaders. My mind is open. And that’s the temperament and the tone that I hear from you. And I think that is something that is good for all of us when we’re teaching others.

One of the things I want to pivot to, you mentioned a couple of books kind of in interweaved in your talk. What are some of the books, podcasts that you think are must haves for men to read to get a better view and visibility into the eyesight, into the lens, into the thought process of building and growing female leaders.

Loren Shumate: Yeah. There’s, there’s two in particular that I love. Well, the first is a, is a book that just came out, I think, in the last year, that’s called Dare to Lead. It’s by Brene Brown, B. R. E. N. E. Brown. Brene Brown is a social scientist. She is a scientist researching about shame and shame is an emotion that comes out of perfection. And so she does a lot of studies about, imperfection. And, she has a Ted talk. She has several books. One of my favorite books of hers personally, that I don’t know if men would associated as much as called  The Gifts of Imperfection.

That was pretty game changing for me to read because I realized I was trying so hard to perfect. And if I just embrace my clumsiness, I would really be a more authentic person. So dare to lead by Brene Brown is one I would recommend. The other that I was talking about, how women rise, even though it’s got women in the title. You know, the book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. I’m at a loss for the name of the author

Donald Thompson: I think its Marshal Gold uh… Goldsmith.

Loren Shumate: Goldsmith. Yes. Yes. he co-wrote that book with Sally Helgeson. And so yes, because again, it’s about behaviors that women are exhibiting that are holding them back, and it’s based on research. So yeah, those are, those are my favorite. That would really speak to men.

There is for women: Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg of, you know, Facebook is a oldie, but goodie. You know, she was one of the pioneers. And to write these things, I think Harvest Business Review has some tremendous, papers that talked to the subject, a lot. So those, those really, and there’s tons. Well, tons.

There’s several tremendous consultants on diversity and inclusion. And there’s consultants that specialize  in women’s empowerment type activities, you know, as well. That, I, in talking to people, you know, in the triangle, they’re starting to use more and more of these, consultancies because they take this diversity and inclusion very seriously as they should. Because we know from research that if, if you  work in a DNI environment, you are going to thrive and it will impact your, your bottom line.

Donald Thompson: Ah, that’s, that’s fantastic. And I appreciate those recommendations. The book by Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In, I remember reading that on a plane. I was flying back from Germany and I read the book, during that flight and I was sitting next to a leader at a firm, ABB, that actually was in organizational change.

And so a couple of hours into the flight, she said. I’m super curious, don’t take this odd. Why are you reading this book? and I was, you know, I paused for a minute and I said, well, she’s super successful, right? As a business person. So I wanted to understand, you know, her perspective on, on business and different things, but it was one of the only ways I could get a deeper understanding of some of the issues that were facing female executives and women that we are growing because I don’t have that experience, but at least I could be more aware. And one of the specific items in that book that has stuck with me is she recounts her negotiation on her pay package with Mark Zuckerberg. And that she actually took even after her MBA, even after all her experience in government and business, she took the first offer and went home and told her husband and her brother, and they were like, what are you talking about? And she went back and renegotiated by saying, listen, the first offers fair. I’m very, I’m appreciative of everything that you did.  But if I didn’t make you sharpen your pencil and do a little bit better than how would I ever be able to negotiate on your behalf? And then he raised and he raised the offer another like 15%

Loren Shumate: That’s amazing.

Donald Thompson: It was a great, I’ll never forget that example, right?

There was in that book, but she phrased it in a way that the fit her personality. But she’s still asked the question.

Loren Shumate: Yes. I love that. I remember that too. It’s great.

Donald Thompson: As we wind our time together, what would you like to share that I haven’t asked?

Loren Shumate: Hmm, sure. there’s another layer of dimension, to me as a professional in that my family is from Argentina and, I was born in Spain.

And, I grew up in a bilingual home. The majority of my life I spent in the States. But, all of my family from Argentina, all my immediate family was in the States and a very big part of my life growing up. So in addition to being a woman in business, I’m a Hispanic woman, women in business.

And I’ll tell you, it took me a very long time to own that. People would say, you don’t look Hispanic. Um like, Hispanic looks like something. Latin America makes up, you know, 33 countries, and we look like lots of different people. If anything, it’s helped me to eavesdrop in Spanish a great deal.

But, the reason why I didn’t own it is I was such a, I’m a Latino American. And, but then I figured if J-Lo could own being Hispanic, I certainly could. Being born in Spain and coming from an Argentinian family, and so one day had this tremendous epiphany: I said, Oh my gosh, I communicate like a Hispanic person.

I am passionate. I am loud. I am, emotional. I am loyal. love children. And family is my most important thing in my life. And I love to dance and hug people. I am so Hispanic. It’s not even funny, the other thing I noticed and a friend said, told me a term that I had never heard about before and it’s called code switching.

And I don’t know if you’ve heard this term before. I think it’s one of those words that, through modern time s have maybe, changed in definition some, I think it was originally used for people who, you know, speak Spanglish, that they, you know, might go back and forth between languages depending on who the audience is.

But code switching has been used really, as a description for people of color. Where, I didn’t realize I was code switching, but then one day I realized I really was. That I could be with my Latino friends or my family and be loud and gregarious and passionate and dance around. But as soon as I got in that boardroom, I had to completely change how I communicated into much a much less authentic version of myself.

And I noticed this so much of, whether it’s, you know, you know, men and women of color that I have worked with, whether on my teams or as peers is that, the lack of authenticity, the lack of being able to just be yourself and be included for who you are and your race is something that I’m very, very passionate about and then I’ve started to own. What’s interesting for me is that now I’m really truly taking ownership of being a Hispanic woman, where I’ve been on several panels or Ted speaking engagements at women’s conferences, and I will have women who approached me after I speak, and they said, you know what?

You’re like me. Like, this is amazing. Like I don’t see women like me. On stage, and you don’t know how much it’s meant to me. That a Hispanic woman, is onstage. Very emotional. you know, to me. And so I do, I do feel a sense of responsibility. And I do, I believe that not only for women, but for women and men of color, and of  perceived disability and diversity, you know, goes up across the gamut, to emotional and mental disability and physical disability. I really think we need to rethink how we change, how we think and how we communicate to use all the abilities of all people. And their perspectives.

Donald Thompson: I don’t have a thing to add to that. That was a beautiful way to close our time together. My claim to fame is when there’s nothing left to be said, wind it down.

Loren Shumate: Thank you so much. I really appreciate this time today.

Donald Thompson: That was Loren Shumate, VP of Marketing at One Source, and thank you Loren for coming on the show and sharing your insight, I absolutely loved our conversation.

Be sure to check out the shownotes at where we’ll put links to the LinkedIn thread that Loren and I discussed as well as links to the books we referenced – How Women Rise by Sally Helgeson, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith, and then both Dare to Lead and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

Thanks for tuning in everyone, and be sure to subscribe to this podcast so that when we release the rest of the season starting in early May, you’ll be the first to know.

This episode was edited and produced by Earfluence. If you’re interested in full-service podcast production for your business, head on over to

Intro and outro music for this episode is “You Can’t Stop Me” from Jensen Reed.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you soon on The Donald Thompson Podcast.

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The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on the Earfluence Podcast Network, visit @EarfluenceMedia on any social media platform.