Unchecking the Gender Box, Unconscious Bias, and Allyship with Julie Kratz

Julie Kratz is an acclaimed leadership trainer, TEDx speaker, podcast host, executive coach, author, and founder of Next Pivot Point. Julie is passionate about promoting gender equality within the workplace, empowering women to express confidence and helping them build a winning career game plan and pivot to the next level.

Lead Like an Ally, by Julie Kratz
Julie’s TED talk, “What if Through Claiming our True Gender, We Claim Our True Strength?”

Julie Kratz Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast

Jackie Ferguson: Hello, and welcome to the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast. I’m your host. Jackie Ferguson Certified Diversity Executive, writer, and multicultural marketing consultant. On this podcast, we share diverse perspectives from leaders in their industries, explore diversity, equity and inclusion concepts, and challenge our own assumptions and perspectives to take diversity beyond the checkbox.

Before we introduce today’s guest, for more insights and resources related to diversity and inclusion, including our course, also titled Diversity Beyond the Checkbox, visit TheDiversityMovement.com.

Jackie Ferguson: I’m very excited to have Julie Kratz as our guest today. Julie is an acclaimed leadership trainer, TEDx speaker podcast, host, executive coach, author, and founder of Next Pivot Point. Julie is passionate about promoting gender equality within the workplace, empowering women to express confidence and helping them build a winning career game plan and pivot to the next level.

Welcome Julie. Thank you for being here today.

Julie Kratz: I’m excited.

Jackie Ferguson: Yes. Well, let’s jump right in and get to know you a little better. Can you tell us about your background and what inspired you to get into this line of work after spending almost 20 years in corporate America?

Julie Kratz: Yeah. Yeah. So I spent 12 years in corporate America, but I’ve had my own business focused on corporate America leaders for the last six or so years.

So yeah, my passion is really helping leaders be better. So I, myself, as a people leader nearly that full 12 years. And so for me, it was, it was hard. You weren’t given the tools often, you weren’t given the tools or even had good examples of leadership to know who you wanted to be in, how you wanted to show up as a leader.

And so I found in the last chapter of my corporate career, consulting, and by way of that, I got to help leaders with leadership development and strategic people development. And lo and behold, I had an opportunity to pivot and start my own business, pun intended, Next Pivot Point, that really gets a focus on women as leaders.

And working with women, business owners and women, that wanted to excel at their careers that maybe they weren’t given the feedback or guidance or often had the plan to get there like their male counterparts. So that’s where everything started six years ago, but it’s pivoted many times since, and we’re in a huge pivot point right now, culturally, certainly.

So now I talk a lot more about inclusive leadership as a whole, whether that’s gender race, disabilities, LGBTQ plus. So really wanting to broaden that umbrella because there’s so much intersectionality in this conversation and I want to make sure we all have allies for each other. So I’m striving to be an ally.

I’m encouraging others to be an ally for people that are different than you. And that’s where we learn. That’s where we grow. So that’s the way I do what I do.

Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Thanks, Julie. And you mentioned being an ally. Can you talk to us about what that means?

Julie Kratz: Yeah. Being an ally for me, and there’s no standard definition, at least the way I use it, it’s synonymous with being an inclusive leader.

So being somebody that shows up intentionally and support somebody, that’s not like themselves and that just doesn’t mean skin color, gender. It goes way beyond that. And it goes way beyond the traditional dimensions of diversity, but you know, the big four that I mentioned earlier, people tend to gravitate towards race, gender, LGBTQ, and disabilities.

But if you had to think, how could I be there for somebody that had a different background, a different experience, maybe has spent time in a different industry than me, different generation than mine. This is where we learn. This is where we grow. So that the benefit is actually for the ally a lot of times, but allyship is truly in the eye of the beholder.

So you don’t get to self proclaim to be an ally for somebody. You don’t get to just say, Hey, I’m going to be your mentor and save the day for you. That’s not how it works. There’s no rescue case needed. And I think the good news is too is you don’t have to make this super hard. You don’t have to have the answers. A lot of times what an ally does, is while they might be a mentor, you know, a coach, a sponsor and advocate, a challenge. Are you gonna have all these different roles that I talk about? But at the end of the day, it’s really the person that identifies you as an ally, like this person’s a great advocate for me. This person’s really listened to me and helped me build my career here or help me see things in myself that maybe I didn’t see already.

And I call it like shining the mirror. A lot of times our allies will put the mirror up for us to see something or challenge us on something that we think to be true that maybe not be so true. So it’s not always this nice fluffy conversation. Sometimes it’s the hard conversation. That’s how I always can show up.

And I truly believe everyone can learn to be an ally. Good news is you can learn how to do it. The bad news is never, the work never stops. It’s not a one and done you don’t get to check the box and be done. Doesn’t work that way. It’s truly a journey, not a destination.

Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. What advice would you give to women or anyone really that is at their pivot point?

Julie Kratz: Yeah. Yeah. I think for women at that pivot point, And this is where the work all started for me. My curiosity, my own corporate career was, Hey, no one really helped me design my career. No one helped me understand, Oh, you did this. So you could do that. Or, you know, aside from the infamous individual development plan exercise, you do this, then you do this.

Then you do this, like 20 years later, you finally arrive at, you know, senior leadership or whatever you’re supposed to do. Like, okay, I’ll do that. And after a few years it’s like, eh, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s for me. And by the way, no one up there looks like me or thinks like me. So I probably don’t belong up there either, which is a big challenge for women.

Because we just don’t see ourselves reflected at the high levels of organizations. Oftentimes we’re still dominating the front lines and maybe the trickle into middle management, but even that becomes very, very male dominated, very white dominated too. So with that all said, It still is incumbent on women to do some self discovery.

Do some of the legwork yourself, you know, I’m a big proponent of, yes, there is a problem, but there are solutions. And that’s what I quickly discovered in my research when I first started Pivot Point and wrote my first book. Women told me over and over again, if I had a plan, I was much more likely to achieve success.

And so what we know about that, isn’t nearly a 2X higher rate plan in hand versus no plan makes sense. I know where you’re going. How are you going to get there? If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to ask for help if you’re like, I don’t know what I want to do someday.

So you had to do some tough work. And it’s really a six step process that I found a recipe that you can actually download the workbook online and go through it yourself for free. But it really is. It’s taking a hard look in the mirror, which I think now is a great time to do some self introspective work.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s exactly right.

Julie Kratz: Take an inventory. Who am I? Who am I not? That Who am I not question’s actually really helpful for women because we like to be everything to everybody. And then meanwhile, you’re like, I just made everyone else happy, but maybe not me.

Jackie Ferguson: Can we stop there for a second, please? About what that means?

Who am I not? How do you think about that? How would you recommend that people start that process?

Julie Kratz: Yeah, thanks for that question. You know, a lot of times I’ll use a SWOT analysis. So like in business, we like to do the SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, right? So for listeners in business, it’s, you know, decades old, every time we do a strategic plan, we start with that, but we never do it for ourselves.

And so women, a lot of times they’ll start with the weaknesses and this is the who you’re not. And as hard as you may try, we know from StrengthsFinder and other tools out there, it’s hard as you try to be somebody you’re not like the less successful you’re going to be, despite your best efforts, focus on your strengths instead.

So I have women list top 10 strengths, and start with your strengths. And no more than three weaknesses. So example I always use, and I always end up using my weakness, which women are just like, we are socialized to be so self deprecating sometimes about like, ah, here’s the thing I’m not good at, not the 10 things I am.

Well, I’m good at facilitating and coaching and leading conversations in talking like this, candidly in front of big groups. The things I’m not good at is details. Like, so keeping my plan, staying course on a plan, I get bored and like, ah, let’s just throw out that plan and do something different. Anything detailed, I’m like I follow through step one through five, and then after that I got lost. So as hard as I try, I just ask for permission to not be so good at those things. Or more importantly, ask for help or delegate those tasks. So for women, I think a lot of times it’s just know who you are and who you’re not.

And let go of that stuff that you’re not. Stopp trying to be somebody you’re not. Stop trying to be the person other people want you to be. And this is something that’s put on women in our society. This is not a natural trait. This is absolutely a socialized trait in a patriarchal society where women feel the need to serve, to please, secure give, and we got to let go of some of that.

And it’s hard because you know, 20-30 years of socialization to be one way it’s hard to let go of that’s exactly right.

Jackie Ferguson: Well, thank you for sharing that. I think that’s important for women to think about as they think about who they are and what they want to do. To understand what you’re passionate about and understand what you don’t do well as part of all of who you are. So that’s super important to know.

Julie Kratz: Yeah. Awesome. And that last piece is to like confidence building the plans or having some key goals and what I call your purpose statements, a really important part of that, that pivot point, that career game plan, connecting with your allies, engaging your allies that we talked about earlier, and really cultivating influential skills is where women really excel with emotional intelligence and asking questions and listening skills. Because again, we’re socialized this way. It’s actually a benefit that we bring to the male dominated workplace is why it’s so important that we have gender balance because we balance each other out.

So it’s less about taking men’s positions. It’s much more about how can we be additive to the conversation to actually make it better for everybody. It’s not a zero sum game and pie, actually, it’s bigger when we’re in it together.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s exactly right.  Julie, in your TEDx talk where you discuss the intersection of gender and strength. Tell us a little more about that talk and take us through the process of doing a Ted talk.

Julie Kratz: Oh, boy, that was a tough one. So I started, I set a goal last year to work with a coach to kind of cultivate what she called the DIG. Her name’s Erin Weed, I highly recommend her. So she does, it’s almost like a therapy session.

She wouldn’t call it that, but anything else like that it’s really digging in and like what your message is, she calls it your universal truth. So everyone has a message to share on earth. She really believes that and people that do professional speaking, and you just don’t want to talk about the things that everyone else is talking about.

You wanna talk about something that’s really unique to you. So my word at that surface from that dig was strength and being strong, which I was thinking, yeah. All right, moving on. You know, just like me, I’m like, Oh, okay. Next thing. And then I started reflecting and did actually read some books about how to craft a Ted talks.

So the Ted talk leader, his name is escaping me, but he wrote a book on kind of a guide to building a Ted talk. And I just took notes that, you know what this whole string thing has a lot to do with gender and gender equality and two subjects that I’ve been curious about kind of merged together so that we became the subject of the Ted talk.

By claiming your strength or by claiming your gender, rather, you claim your strength and those about unchecking the gender boxes. So one of the things we love to do in our society is put people in categories, and gender is just one of those categories. People love to know like, what are you, where are you from?

And what gender are you? And so this whole, you know, trans conversation or non binary conversation, meaning you’re not, you know, you don’t identify exclusively as masculine or feminine. And trans, do you identify as a gender of which you were not assigned oftentimes assigned at birth? Just some key terms there.

But this whole idea of it being a spectrum and being fluid, and guess what, like Gen Z before all this happening in the world was already 31% identifying outside of that spectrum. So you get, this is a real thing, and I think it’s a Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are kind of dismissive, “Oh this generation, they’re just, they don’t want to be labeled they don’t have it figured out.” No, I don’t think so. And the more curious you get about your own gender identity and your gender expression, the more of these rules just don’t work well for anybody. So I kind of walk people through the history of it and how we never – these things are new norms relatively in our human history being 200,000 years.

But how we’re operating today is really not human. It’s not what’s good for humans so how to kind of flip that and uncheck the box. So that was the talk, so I got to deliver it February 29th on Leap Day that I got to deliver it. One week before quarantine world.  Very thankful. I might be one of the only Ted talks that happen this year since we’re only a couple months.

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. And Julie, what do you mean by uncheck the gender box?

Julie Kratz: Yeah, I mean it’s so if you look at so gender, there’s a lot of different terms out there. So I don’t want to confuse listeners are a lot of times diversity inclusion people get accused of using this diversity dictionary that people do.

I don’t understand, but just some key terms, like, so one that gets thrown around that people are like, hmm? Cisgender, so Cisgender is CIS and then gender, all one word, is used to describe somebody that identifies as the gender of which they were assigned at birth. So most of us here in the United States use that as an example, not necessarily all over the world, but most people are assigned a gender aligned with their sex at birth, right. I think that’s pretty straightforward. What’s on your birth certificate. What we now know is as we get socialized into our gender, and so there’s masculine, feminine, male, female polar ends. You know, it was very much the old school way of looking at it as you’re one or the other.

And so the gender spectrum is there’s actually a lot of fluidity between those two extremes. So unchecking the box is very much to say, yeah, I’m not exclusively masculine. I’m not exclusively feminine. You know, maybe there’s some middle ground in the middle in the middle ground is called non-binary.

So I don’t feel bound by buying into these binary extremes. Some people might express that, in subtle ways of, Hey, I identify as a woman but I have a lot of masculine traits for example. And a lot of senior women leaders will tell me that cause that’s kind of how they had to learn to, you know, fit in and play with everybody else, which isn’t really helpful.

Or people will say, Hey, I’ve known since I was a young age that I was not a girl. And this is where you see, you know, the trans conversation coming in sometimes, or maybe just a different expression of gender. And we’re seeing this, like at my daughter’s elementary school, this certainly wasn’t a conversation I had growing up in the 80s and 90s, but it is a conversation we’re having now.

And I think parents have to be aware of that and be ready if their kids, you know, have that conversation with them. The whole idea of unchecking the box is letting people be who they are. We know, one key compelling stat I found was that at age 8, girls’ confidence peaks. It’s the highest she’s likely to ever be in her life.

If you really think about that and all the violence and harassment and negative things that happen to women later in life, it’s no surprise, but we socialize young girls this way, to behave, to please, not be bossy. Meanwhile, we socialize boys to take risks. Boys will be boys, always just rough housing.

We make all sorts of excuses for aggressive behavior. And we also teach boys to stuff their emotions at that same age. And then what ends up happening? Men have really high, much higher suicide rates, their health isn’t very good. I mean, we could see that with COVID, 70% of deaths are men, they’re not taking care of themselves.

A lot of alcohol use tobacco use all those things are much higher because they they’re coping with the emotions that they’re not allowed to express in society. So these are not good things for men or women. When we haven’t checked the box, we just let people be humans. And I’d love to see more of that.

Jackie Ferguson: I love that.

Julie, you’re a certified unconscious bias trainer. Talk to us about what unconscious bias is.

Julie Kratz: Yeah.  Unconscious bias. So it’s, it’s called unconscious because it is not conscious, pretty obvious there. But it really is subtle. And so we are all biased. A hundred percent of us are biased.

So just accept that right from the get go. And if you want to test your bias and assess it anonymously and free, and it doesn’t take much time, highly recommend all of your listeners to check out implicit.harvard.edu. Their implicit association test has been around for decades. Last time I checked, there were 12 different categories, so you can go broader than just gender and race and to weight, age, sexual orientation, there are all sorts of interesting topics, but the point is with unconscious bias, is that it’s not like the 1970s, people used to say things like women can’t do these jobs. Women are too emotional. Well, actually people still say that, but conscious biases that are being expressed consciously, that people are actually aware of when the escape their lips or in their overt behavior. More often now we’re seeing it unconsciously and it just kind of like, Oh, I don’t know if she’s ready for that opportunity. Or we don’t want to lower our standards for this diverse applicant. I hear that one a lot. Like what does that mean exactly? How do you know they don’t meet the standards because they’re a different skin color? Because they went to a different school?

Like what does that have to do with anything? So it requires – with unconscious bias, we all have it. I have one I’ve tested it multiple times. I actually assume –  I favor women as career oriented and men as caregivers, which is opposite 95%, the other way. That’s how I was raised. We’re a product of our environment.

So if you are raised with your dad being the provider, you know, traditional family structure, not everybody has this. But I’m just throwing it out there as an American example, dad’s provider and a woman, your mother was a caregiver, or probably even if she worked was a primary caregiver, did a lot more of the packing of lunches and running around and all that stuff.

Just more likely, that’s going to show up in your life. This is gonna show up in your workplace. It’s why women don’t get paid as much. It’s why women don’t get promoted as much. Because if you see men as providers providing for a family, women are just caregivers. Of course, we’re not going to value their work as much.

So all of this to say that you have bias and it’s okay. It’s the intervention technique that I teach that’s really important. So when you see something, say something, don’t be a bystander, be an upstander. So, Oh, I don’t know if Linda’s ready for that promotion. I just wouldn’t ask the question. Well, how do you know that’s true? Why do you say that? Would we say that if it was Bill? And just, and it’s so funny and I’m kind of being facetious about it, but if you actually challenge people’s thinking in the moment, they’ll almost always like, take a step back and be like, Oh, well I’m not being sexist or I didn’t think about it that way.

Like, I didn’t say you were. I just think that we need this. You just gotta think about it. So what you’re doing is making the unconscious conscious. You’re bringing it to the conscious brain by interrupting that pattern and getting people to think a little bit. And once people think a little bit, they’re like, Oh, I can break that pattern.

But we’re hard wired. These behaviors, these experiences, our brains love patterns. They love to put people in categories. It’s just, we’re fighting this evolutionary brain that just hasn’t quite kept up with, you know, entered the 2000s yet.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s exactly right. And, you know, it’s so interesting that everyone is responsible for the unconscious bias around them.


I think it’s so important that people call it out when they see it.

And I think that in general, we’ve been socialized to just let it pass and that’s not helpful to anyone.

Julie Kratz: No

Jackie Ferguson: Not helpful to business or to the people that you’re working with.

Julie Kratz: No. And then that’s the real opportunity to be an ally, you know, especially if you’re in the majority group.

So if you are white, you know, cisgender male, able-bodied, fit all the criteria, people that are mostly leading corporate America, you have a real opportunity to be helpful for others. You’re not the problem. You’re part of the solution. We need your voice. I mean, I’ve seen it happen in rooms when a white male speaks up and says something that has to do with race or bias or discriminatory, behavior people take note.

But a lot of times, you know, especially women of color, they get labeled all sorts of unfortunate names and women in general, that tend to be more empathetic towards these issues. It’s like, she’s just being difficult. She makes everything one of these issues, she’s using the card. You know, people don’t have a card about their identity.

Like that’s not something that we use. It’s something that we call out. So for our listeners, if you fit in the majority group, like this is your chance to be an ally. This feels really good to be able to be helpful for somebody else that we just know if you’re not in one of those majority group categories, any one of them, or more importantly, intersectionally, not in one of them and experienced multiple dimensions of diversity, you’re not as likely to be heard. Your voice is not as heard, right? It just isn’t. And you can, we’ve documented this. It’s very clear meeting behavior is a huge signal of whose voice gets heard.  And we know whose voice gets heard in those meetings. If you’re not as likely to be seen, just invited even to the meeting or the social outing or whatever, and you’re not as likely to feel like you belong.

So if you’re okay with just getting suboptimal performance from somebody, keep treating them that way.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s exactly right. And in some of the research that I’ve done on unconscious bias, it’s so interesting to know that people that feel that they can bring their full selves to work on more creative, more innovative, problem solving is better in the company and there are so many benefits to having an inclusive workplace and it’s so important.

Julie Kratz: And it’s rare. I mean, I measure inclusion and it’s very rare that I go into an organization and kind of ferret out the 12 key attributes, you know, whether it’s unconscious bias or being able to coach employees and create safe places like it’s by every stretch of imagination and quantifiably.

So organizations have gaps and this is a real competitive advantage. And, what we’re starting to see,  thinking about pivoting in the future of work. I think it’s easy to think this is a nice to have, I’m actually getting some data together right now, and a study I’m partnering on that diversity and inclusion, having effective diversity inclusion programs is emerging as one of the top needs going back to work. And aside from, some of the things we said, like pay benefits, like that’s probably more important that your basic needs are met before the psychological safety and belonging. We know that for Maslow and the hierarchy of needs.  But D&I is, is very much staying on the forefront.

So I’m going to be so curious to see, because a lot of people have kind of let this go. They’ve hit the pause button, which I totally understand. There’s so much more going on and we’re fighting real crises right now. But what does that reset look like?

Jackie Ferguson: Yes. Julie, tell me how you go about measuring inclusion and some of the, you mentioned unconscious bias of course. But how do you measure that in an organization?

Julie Kratz: I have a 20 question, it’s a free online assessment. Anyone’s welcome to take it. Just NextPivotPoint.com/Assessment. The questions I ask are just based on what I know to be inclusive behaviors.

So I’m a big fan of inclusive leadership, you know, especially in the middle ranks of an organization. That’s usually where the wheels fall off the bus is the middle manager. That’s two thirds by the way, white male. And he’s usually like, why would I bring that up? Like, I’m not supposed to be talking about this, like change the subject. And giving him the tools to actually talk about it, and it’s magical when he talks about it. People really pay attention and they’re like, wow we’re  like actually caring about this is not just people in diverse groups having to talk about the message. Like he cares, especially if it comes from the CEO down. So. I ask people about their belief system, because we know behaviors are based on beliefs.

And so to change behavior you have to change beliefs. And so do you believe you have an equal opportunity here? Do you believe that people are paid equally for equal work here? For example, and that’s a sensitive one. I have some clients that I don’t ask about that one, like, Hmm.

That’s a whole other set of issues. Because just by asking it doesn’t create the issue, the issue is already there. So for me, it’s like, wouldn’t you rather know your problem? I guess not. Cause then you have to do something about it. It’s a scorecard of 20 things. They’re all five points each.

So from strongly disagree to strongly agree. So you can easily sum it up and say, Hey, you know, most people I’m finding have had, a few hundred take it, you know are kind of in the middle range, I would say like 70 to 80%. That’s not bad, but there’s always one glaring one, like meeting behavior, for example, or promotions. You know, I ask about all sorts of things in the employee life cycle, and there’s usually one or two they’re like, Hmm.

Yeah, no, not here. Right. And you know, one big one too. We’re consistent about diversity inclusion. So a lot of companies back to your question about unconscious bias, they love to do, once a year we’re going to get together and talk about unconscious bias, diversity inclusion. Big rally. It’s not effective if we’re only talking about it once a year. So that’s a big one. I help companies with like, let’s build out a roadmap. Okay. There are some key activities you can be doing. You’re going to be leading yourself, like you don’t need me to do this, but I do have some content of helpful to fill in the gaps and people once, once they become aware then they can change, but they gotta have tools.

Jackie Ferguson: Awareness is where you start with changing any behavior.

Speaking of change management, why do you think it’s so hard, Julie, for people to change?

Julie Kratz: Change is hard. A leader told me that once. See change is hard and some people like change. So if you know things about your personality, if you’ve done any assessments or anything, I like DISC, there’s, Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder  I mentioned earlier, you can find data pretty easily on yourself. Some people are fast paced like me and they love change. Other people, not so much. So just know your appetite for change. Not everybody hates it, but most people resist it, especially when it’s something that they don’t like. If it wasn’t my idea, that’s everything we’re experiencing right now.

That’s usually disruption. I personally am not a fan. I wish the world can go back to the beginning of 2020. I don’t think that’s going to happen. So I probably need to let go. But yeah, we’re rooted as human beings. again wired for survival and the caveman days and the saber tooth tiger days, you know, it wasn’t helpful to change back then.

And our brain still works this way. Our brains don’t go stop, fight or flight amygdala fear center, it makes decisions based on fear. And so when change happens, we see it as a threat. We see it as I can survive the way things are. But if something changes, I might not be able to survive, which isn’t really obviously logical.

It’s very emotional. And that’s how our brain handles change initially. And then we got to grapple with it. It very much mirrors the grieving process of we get through denial. Then we go through resistance and then we kind of explore that. We see ourselves on the other side of it with accepting it. It’s a long process, the bigger the change, the longer it takes.

And the transition is the part that people forget change doesn’t happen like that. It’s not a snap that’s point A to point B. There’s a transition between point A and point B. Some people struggle and some people get right on board and advocate for it. But as leaders, we have to remember now more than ever is your team isn’t privy oftentimes to the decisions you’re privy to. And so when you announce the change, and you’ve been talking about the change for months, they are just learning about it. So their change curve is just starting and yours is already ending, like, remember what it was like at the beginning to get your head around it and meet them where they’re at.

Explain the why with them, what’s in it for them. There’s some key things you can do in your communication early and often communication would change how people get on board.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. Communication, I think is the deciding factor between the successful change or resistant change because people want to know why they’re changing.

What the change is about. What precipitated it.

What is it going to change in their  workplace situation? And they want to know all of that before they decide if they’re on board or not. And if you don’t take the time to share that, it makes it difficult for them to accept sometimes.

The communication plan is so important to change management.

Julie Kratz: Yep. They, they very much fit each other.

Jackie Ferguson: Yes. All right. So I’m gonna change topics and talk about your new book “Lead Like an Ally,” which is out now, and it’s a wonderful read by the way.

Julie Kratz: Oh, thank you.

Jackie Ferguson: Can you tell our listeners what they can expect from your new book?

Julie Kratz: Yeah. So I wrote “Lead Like an Ally” because a lot of people shared stories with me over the years about their own experience with gender in the workplace or other dimensions of diversity and had this kind of like treasure trove of stories that people had shared on my podcast or in my research.

And I thought, huh, what if I were able to write a story that’s based on like a collection of stories about, you know what, it’s written through the eyes of a woman, but I really tried to weave in other intersectional elements. But being a white woman, I wanted to make sure I was using my own voice to the story.

And then lending others’ voices with the other’s characters. So it’s a fable. A woman’s journey through corporate America and each chapter has strategies to facilitate inclusion. So people have told me like the manager toolkit is super helpful, like break this down as some baby steps. So this is where this is again, where organizations are right now.

We got to meet people where they’re at and the C suite, you know, the board, depending on the complexity and size of your organization. Usually the very top leader layer is really on board with diversity and inclusion. Right. The middle, not so much, it’s a slow trickle down. And then you’ve got the front lines that are usually dominated by Gen Z and millennials.

That really, I mean, they’ve been surveyed, their perceptions of diversity inclusion are much higher than the other generations. They expect it.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right.

Julie Kratz: It’s not a nice to have. It’s like, I’m not working here. That’s not the way we work here.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s exactly right, Julie. And you know what I’ve found? Serving on some HR functions over the years is that people really research your company. Years ago it was, you know, go where they want you. But now there are so much research done behind the scenes and looking at websites and looking at the pictures of leadership and what they’ve done on

Julie Kratz: social media.

Jackie Ferguson: And is there a diversity represented there? You know, do they make that important? And they check that before they even come into that interview.

So it’s so important to be diverse and inclusive in your digital presence as an organization.

Julie Kratz: That’s exactly right. I don’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more.

And don’t use stock photos. Yes. There’s nothing more aggravating. And if you have your senior leadership team on there and they all look the same, I mean, just be mindful. You’re going to get that question. And what are you doing to diversify? It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just, Hey, I think if, if you’re like most people entering the workforce that have some element of diversity to you because this is the most diverse generation we’ve ever had. You’re gonna want to see yourself reflected. I know my org chart moment when I looked at the org chart, my first, like after six months in corporate America and didn’t see myself reflected even closely in that org chart, I was like, Ooh, this isn’t the place for me.

And I think to your point as well as older generations, you know, there are pensions and Rolex watches and big, you know, retirement ceremonies that happen, you just don’t see that happening in the future. You know, and it’s not that the younger generations are entitled or not loyal. There aren’t the same incentives.

There isn’t the same longevity. There isn’t the same loyalty from companies either. So for a lot of reasons, we’re going to see a very fluid workforce and that’s kind of fun to think about your career is more of a jungle gym versus a climbed race to the top. It’s gonna look different and moving around and having different experiences is going to be vital to that.

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. Julie and listening to your podcast, Pivot Point Podcast. I was drawn to the podcast, entitled, “The P Word and Why It’s so Hard to Talk about Privilege.” Why is it so hard to talk about privilege?

Julie Kratz: No one likes to admit they had a leg up, right? No one wants to think, Oh, everyone, the myth of meritocracy is alive and well, especially in American culture.

Well, I worked hard to get to where I am. I earned it every step of the way. Yeah. And that road might have been a lot easier for you. And I can identify with this. For example, I, I was not a fan of the privilege work until recently I work of course, but I used to say things like, well, I grew up poor. Or I had a single mom growing up.

I didn’t have things, you know, I had to work really hard to get to where I am. Well, there was a lot of privilege actually in my story. I was not poor. We were not in poverty. I did have food and I did have shelter. I just didn’t have the things I wanted. I had the things I needed. That’s not poverty.

That’s not poor. You compare notes with somebody else and you become, really becomes really clear your privilege. And even saying that, most people that are very poor don’t even know i t , know any different. And then I, yeah, I worked hard. I got into college, I got a full ride scholarship.

I got the big corporate job and did the corporate thing. And, you know, I think there was a lot of wanting to believe that I tried hard, that I earned what I got and I did, and my road was easier. Right. And had I had a disability, it would have been harder for me had I not honestly had a good parent. I didn’t have two, you know, fully participative parents, but I had one really good one. I believed in me and said things to me. Like I see you doing amazing things someday. Like you believe in women. I,see you supporting women in your career. I mean, just to have somebody like that in your life.

And that’s a huge privilege that I had, even if we didn’t have money and resources. So I think unpacking this privilege thing to think, Hey, where are the instances that I had a lying up and where might I be able to use that to help others? And this is again, the chance to be an ally. The more privilege you have, the more you can help.

That this is great. If you look at it that way as like, instead of like, Oh great. I didn’t deserve to be here. Oh, I have to, should give everything back? Like that’s not the narrative that’s helpful. Instead, yeah, you might’ve had an easier road to get to where you’re at. No one’s mad about that, but can we make it a little easier for other people to get there?

So I don’t have to work so hard and maybe accept that we’ll all be better for that. You know, right now we’re seeing privilege. I mean, the amount of CEOs that can write billion dollar checks that’s, I mean, that is when you really think about one person being able to write a billion billion with a B check.

That is a huge amount of privilege. Why does somebody need that much money? We really. Why it’s true. When you look at who controls wealth in the world, it’s very stark who has privilege and spoiler alert is one type of demographic. And is that right? There’s so many people collectively, they don’t even add up to one of those humans, wealth wise.

Like that’s not good for anybody. So just flip it, flip in the P word, to make it less polarizing for people. And just honoring your privilege as a chance to help. So you just use it as an opportunity, and not to write checks, more to support others.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s so right, Julie, you know, to look at it as an opportunity rather than an indictment is so important.

And I think that that should be the focus as you have that conversation.

Julie Kratz: Yep. Yeah, you got come at it from a good place and so much about the D&I diversity inclusion conversations are just come at it from a place of meeting people where they’re at a positivity and you can frame the tough issues in between.

You know, we don’t want to honestly sandwich it and lose the tough messages, but I do think you have to kind of walk people in and create some safety psychologically and some opportunity to be brave and candid with each other before you can get to the meat of it. And this is why it’s intentional. This is why it has to be consistent this way.

It can’t be one and done check the box like that type of programming does not work.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right. Julie, let’s talk about some of the resources that you have on your website. You’ve mentioned a few of those.

Julie Kratz: Yeah. And so I’ve intentionally created a do it yourself toolkit that is all complimentary. So one of our favorite, most downloaded things is the diversity dictionary. So I’ve given you four or five terms today. There’s 20 on that sheet. And what’s really helpful if you download that it was right front and center on the homepage. You can download it is you get all the terms to understand how to even have the vocabulary, to have this conversation.

I think for a lot of people in the majority group, myself included when I first started this, like, Ooh, I don’t want to talk about this. What if I say it wrong? These terms aren’t confusing. They’re, they’re very, important and clear. Something like intersectionality, for example, it’s the intersection of two different, different dimensions of diversity.

You know, people throw up their arms. Like, I just can’t even understand this. Like it’s intersectional about the word itself. It doesn’t have to be so confusing, but I will kind of, I poke a little bit at the diversity and inclusion community. We do sometimes make this vocabulary like more tough for people to get into because we take such pride in our work academically and like myself gotten certifications.

Like you can’t learn this that quickly. You can’t just get a dictionary. Let’s make it easier for the majority groups to step into the conversation. People need the words, words really do matter. So people need the vocabulary. So check out that, and the do it yourself workbooks, the career game plan workbook. I have an ally workbook. I have a discussion guide that goes with Lead Like an Ally, and we do bulk order purchases discounted. So I really think, regardless of, you know, team being virtual or in person at some point, whatever that looks like having tools to have this conversation, the book really lends itself to some tons of other stuff.

If you check out the resources tab, there’s the podcast, podcast guest and on like this one and so much more. So you won’t be disappointed with the tools that you find there. And again, nearly all of them are complimentary.

Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Julie, thank you for sharing your story and insights with us. You can learn more about Julie by visiting NextPivotPoint.com and order her latest book Lead Like an Ally on her website, Amazon or wherever you shop. Julie. Thank you so much for being here today. I really enjoyed the conversation

Julie Kratz: Same here. Thanks for having me.

Jackie Ferguson: Thanks for tuning in everyone. If you like the show, we encourage you to subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen and leave us a rating and review as well. This show was edited and produced by Earfluence. If you’re looking for information on how full service podcast production can amplify your voice and build your community, visit Earfluence.com.

I’m Jackie Ferguson. And we’ll see you soon on Diversity Beyond the Checkbox.

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Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is presented by The Diversity Movement and hosted by Jackie Ferguson. For more information including the online course, head over to TheDiversityMovement.com. Podcast production by Earfluence.

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