The Work Analytics Podcast - Coffee Chat Series with Emily & Meryl

Coffee Chat with Emily & Meryl

Check out the latest episode of our Coffee Chat series for the Work Analytics Podcast.  This time we interview two experts on the Future of Work, Emily Klein and Meryl Rosenthal from FlexPaths, LLC, who talk about topics on the top of mind for many of us: What does the Future of Work look like for #women in the workplace?  

We discuss how we have seen workplace processes and strategies evolved over our careers, what success means for us, and what trends/highlights are we seeing that give us the most hope for the future.

Emily and Meryl also discuss areas and strategies they have deployed to help them build inclusive cultures for their organizations and share ideas on what companies can do in 2023 to ensure we can stem the exodus of women from the workforce.

Transcript of this insightful discussion below:

[00:00:00] Shwetha Pai: . Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining. So we have today with us two experts for our coffee chat for work lytics. That I'm going to introduce really quickly. We have Emily Klein and Meryl Rosenthal here to talk to us about all the things that are impacting really the future of work.

[00:00:20] Shwetha Pai: Especially as it concerns the, the women in the workforce. So I'm really happy to talk to Mell And Emily, I'll just quickly Marilyn and Emily, I'll turn it over to you to do a quick intro about your backgrounds as well as why this topic is really important for you. So let me kick it off. Meryl, do you mind just doing a quick.

[00:00:41] Meryl Rosenthal: Absolutely my pleasure. So it's great to be with both of you and I've had the good fortune of running a a business that's steeped in human capital and flexible work since 2005. And really have the opportunity to have put together a, a great team of people and a company that focuses on the future of work.

[00:00:57] Meryl Rosenthal: Did a lot of interesting things over the years, [00:01:00] but as we all know, Given the the pandemic, it changed a lot of our work and the perspectives and the way things are done. So it's been a fascinating time to be in this space and to really examine what's going on in the future of work. And to your point, try to, what's going on with regard to women and how this is all impacting women irrespective of their gender their generation, their direction that they're moving into, and their life stage.

[00:01:23] Meryl Rosenthal: So it's exciting time to have the conversation. Thanks for having.

[00:01:25] Emily Klein: Thanks to Meryl and hi everybody. I'm Emily Klein, and I am somebody who's been really passionate about the whole topic of advancing women leaders across my entire career. My career has really been at the intersection of business strategy, operations, organization, design and development.

[00:01:42] Emily Klein: And, and helping companies, enterprise companies, and small, medium businesses move through complex change. For many years, really for the past decade, I've also had a strong passion for workforce and workplace strategy and really thinking about the future of work and how to help companies prepare for and manage their talent [00:02:00] and think about human capital in a lot of different and innovative ways.

[00:02:03] Emily Klein: So that's just a bit more about myself and my background.

[00:02:09] Shwetha Pai: That's wonderful. Thank you so much. Let me just kick it off with kind of a quick, broad question about where we find ourselves at this moment, right? Like we've, we've seen a lot of things happen. With headlines around the Great Resignation, but in more recently around the economic downturn and but also this at the same time, this huge talent war and talent shortage.

[00:02:36] Shwetha Pai: And you have women leaving the workforce at a record pace with all of this uncertainty and this dynamic nature of the market, right? How do you think this will play out, especially as we're looking into next year 2023, and what are some of the big things that you are looking at? What big trends have you guys seen?

[00:02:56] Shwetha Pai: Meryl, maybe you can kick us off and then Emily, you can join in. [00:03:00]

[00:03:00] Meryl Rosenthal: Absolutely. I, I think there's a big chasm that continues to widen around executive preferences and the way they run their businesses as they should have and do, and what employees are expecting from the workplace to the future. The, the pandemic gave us a two and a half plus year break from what, what the workplace represented some good and some not so good.

[00:03:21] Meryl Rosenthal: And when people came back to the. A lot of women in particular were reminded of some things that weren't optimal and workplaces didn't necessarily change quickly enough to make up for that shortfall. Yeah. So I think we're seeing this constant, push between employers, employees, certainly more recently when you see some of the headlines from Elon Musk, and some of the more draconian approaches he's taking. You have some people saying, he and, and respectfully he can run the workplace he wants to and put the mandates in he wants, but then what does that leave behind in terms of a workforce?

[00:03:53] Meryl Rosenthal: And some people feel that he will get what he, what he asked for, and others feel that what will remain will be [00:04:00] people that will do his bidding, but not necessarily with. And the passion and the innovation that's required for long term a long term workforce.

[00:04:08] Emily Klein: I, I have to just jump in here too, Merrill, because I think that's an excellent point and Umwe to also, to underscore what Merrill was saying, I think we have to look at what kinds of signals did the decisions that Elon Musk is making now about Twitter.

[00:04:23] Emily Klein: What, what if that, what is that sent? Not only to the internal employees, employees who have worked for Twitter and who have decided and said, no, here the line in the sand is here and I'm, I'm moving on. But what does it send to other companies, against the backdrop of a very tricky and unstable economic time.

[00:04:39] Emily Klein: And what I think the challenge there is that it, it can unfortunately send a message that it is okay to have these kinds of really rigid or draconian types of decisions about. You know what, what the workplace is going to mean and it's my way or the highway, and that is not at all characteristic or the hallmark of any kind of a [00:05:00] human-centric workplace like that we've all been talking about for the past couple of years.

[00:05:04] Emily Klein: So I just really wanted to underscore that, Merl, what you were sharing too.

[00:05:07] Shwetha Pai: Yeah, absolutely. You have what, what's happening at Twitter, but then it's, it's been an ongoing trend, right? A lot of executives have been trying to get people to return to something, return back to work, but but they've failed at every, every, every step.

[00:05:24] Shwetha Pai: They've done it. They've tried to do it ever since the pandemic kind of started to get over. And the question is return to what, like what Merrill you were saying. What given this kind of sentiment, what are some of the things that you see that have to happen for. For people to really feel compelled to work in a way that is comp that is that is focused on them and that it helps them succeed.

[00:05:51] Shwetha Pai: What are some of these things that you're seeing?

[00:05:53] Emily Klein: Yeah, sorry, I was just gonna jump in then Merrill, of course, jump into Sure. I think it's, this, this idea you touched on [00:06:00] Thiswe. It's a lot of organizations have shaped the idea of return to office being either 2, 3, 3, 2, right? So coming to the office two or three days a week and then work from home two or three days a week.

[00:06:10] Emily Klein: And we tend to find, if you look at a bell curve and you look at data, Generally a lot of RTO has meant something like that. So there's more degree of acceptance around schedule flexibility than there has been even pre pandemic in certain pockets, in certain areas. And yet at the same time, we have to think about, or leaders have to think about, what, what activities that do, do employees do in the office that drives business value for the business.

[00:06:36] Emily Klein: But at the same time, they also have to say, What are those value experiences that employees want to have when they come into the office? And what we know also is that some of this is collaboration. Some of this is socialization, some of this is professional development. And, and of course that can shift and change across different generations and what they're needing and wanting at a specific point in time.

[00:06:59] Emily Klein: But I, I think [00:07:00] the river that I've seen really run through these conversations has a lot to do with, unpack. Why people are coming back in the office and what they can do there versus focus work. Let's just say when they're in their home offices. And then recognizing there's no one fits all.

[00:07:15] Emily Klein: And Meryl, you've talked a lot about this, return to what, it's not going to be a one size fits all for everybody. We really have to look at the data. Of the employees within an organization and their employee preferences, their styles or work styles, the workflows, the work streams, how they have been working the digital tools that they're using.

[00:07:34] Emily Klein: I'd love you to jump in here too, Meryl, because again, I know you, you've written a piece on this returning to what. Yes.

[00:07:40] Meryl Rosenthal: I, I, I, I think that it the whole idea of returning to what is really all about the opportunity for companies to reinvent what that workplace can look like. And, and Emily, you hit such great points.

[00:07:51] Meryl Rosenthal: Really, it's really about knowing. You are you're, you're the demographics of your organization, the people coming in. I, I look at our daughter who's [00:08:00] 20 years old, and I listen for what she's looking for in a workplace. I look at the realities that loyalty and companies are not what they used to be.

[00:08:07] Meryl Rosenthal: People aren't spending, decades at a company and yet and yet the, it seems like the same old, same old kind of value proposition is. So that's one concern and one trend that I think has to shift quickly or soon. And the other thing is leaders are the linchpin of any change in an organization.

[00:08:23] Meryl Rosenthal: And the more that we avoid this top down, I'm a CEO telling everybody what to do versus empowering leaders to do what they can do in their local work environments. Based on the, again, on the person, the type of work that's needed, the style of the of the manager, really giving autonomy at the middle manager level.

[00:08:43] Meryl Rosenthal: And I think this has to be a given that we invest in our leaders to do what they need to do to keep their teams engaged and retained.

[00:08:51] Shwetha Pai: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that I also was thinking about the over the weekend and because I was reading this article [00:09:00] that I guess Microsoft had around this idea of, oh, with flexible working, there's now with there's been this third peak.

[00:09:08] Shwetha Pai: And what you guys were talking about in a day, so what you guys were talking about just reminded me of my feeling as I was reading this article. What they were saying is now the day, there were typically two peaks in a day in the morning, and then there'd be a low with lunchtime, and then there'd be like this afternoon peak of activity.

[00:09:27] Shwetha Pai: But now with flexible working, there's a third peak that comes later on in the day. As I was reading it, I was just like, huh, they, they pointed out something, but, and I want to get your view on it, it almost like it was a little per perplexing for me because it felt Hey, you know what? Working mothers for as long as I know have always had that third peak, right?

[00:09:51] Shwetha Pai: The second shift, right? That second shift, right? Yes. Like I know so many, and this is how I worked, but I also know so many [00:10:00] before pre pandemic when we had to go to the office, we would have to leave at five 30 to get the kids out of daycare at six. And then what do you do? You sign in at eight and you work till 10, right?

[00:10:11] Shwetha Pai: That's just a normal, every single working mother. That's just how we work. But now people are actually noticing it and now people are saying, Hey, you have to at least give us it was just undone, unsaid work that now people are actually giving us access or giving us or because now I get more people do it.

[00:10:32] Shwetha Pai: I don't understand this. How do you guys feel about. Was the same. Like I was a little outrage. How did, so I, I,

[00:10:39] Meryl Rosenthal: I laugh at it because I think about when as, as running a consulting firm, when I, when, when people, we talk about getting the work done, I never say to people, okay, you have something at two o'clock or eight o'clock, I, we talk about the work and we talk about the work effort that's required.

[00:10:55] Meryl Rosenthal: We talk about how we're gonna collaborate, we talk about when we're going to touch base on it. And [00:11:00] it's not about the hour of the day. It's really what's the result and how do we back into it? And I think we're adults, right? So if you give people autonomy and you agree on the work effort and you give them the support they need and the check-ins they need, and it's mutual as much as possible, right?

[00:11:15] Meryl Rosenthal: Again, The company has to set certain business requirements and, and realities, but give people the ability. I, I don't think we have to keep using time as a timeboxing people on when they get their work done. I think there's touchpoints, as I said, and agreed upon, milestones in a project.

[00:11:30] Meryl Rosenthal: The more we use time, I believe it's very our. Archaic honestly and insulting to people because what, to your point, what works for me at a certain time, I might get a certain boost of energy at a certain time and, and get my best work done. And if you're gonna time box me and say it needs to be done by, by then you've taken away something from me that I could have given to you in the, in the way of creativity.

[00:11:50] Meryl Rosenthal: Right.

[00:11:51] Shwetha Pai: It goes to agency, right? Correct. What's your thoughts?

[00:11:54] Emily Klein: Yeah, I have for so long been talking about what employees are looking for most, more than [00:12:00] anything else. The data shows this. They are looking for agency for freedom, that word agency, you use Sweat at Freedom Choice. They're looking for all of those things.

[00:12:08] Emily Klein: We know that the more agency that employees feel that they have, the greater. They are more loyal to organizations when they feel like they matter or their work styles and preferences and how they wanna work matters. And to meryll your point, really underscoring this idea that, tracking time is so output focused.

[00:12:27] Emily Klein: It's, it's antiquated. She and I have been. Talking about workplace strategy and future work and everything around these topics for more than a decade together. And yes, that's very, very antiquated. This, this idea of, results oriented work and outcome focus work is, is. Really now in the future, and it's been around for a while also too, but I think that the pandemic unleashed even more so this idea of outcome focused work and both synchronous and asynchronous schedules.

[00:12:55] Emily Klein: So there's one upside, if we think about it, and we've all been talking about this for the past couple of years, is [00:13:00] that we have this, further agency and flexibility in our schedules to determine when we're gonna be most productive on any given day or any week or. And at the same time, it's come, also with a bit of the issues that have been unexpected to the extent we've seen them, and that is burnout, right?

[00:13:18] Emily Klein: We've seen burnout come into play on the other side of that spectrum, when people are working many hours, from night, from morning into night, because they can, because their commute is a, a minute with a cup of coffee early in the morning and they could still even accommodate, let's just say, For example, evening, teams or Zoom meetings, right?

[00:13:37] Emily Klein: With colleagues who are around the globe. But I, I think. another piece we can get to in terms of wellbeing and burnout. But I think for this particular issue that we're talking about, leaders and executives, this idea of really trusting employees and the idea that we're adults here and that we can figure out, it doesn't have to be mutually, it's.

[00:13:54] Emily Klein: Exclusive, we can figure out a way to create cultures of incredible flexibility. Having come [00:14:00] out of this pandemic, knowing that there are moments in time we need to come together in person, and there are moments in time we absolutely can be working from wherever we are. Be location independent, and then to have that human centricity in it, which is to say, we're not expecting everybody to be on call, night and day, and every moment.

[00:14:20] Emily Klein: That is outside whatever their schedule and the way that their schedule preferences are. So I think that's just

[00:14:26] Meryl Rosenthal: my thoughts on that. Just add one more thing. I think it would be very, it's in, it's interesting just, it came to me when you were saying all this, it's I believe that employers should be able to dictate, The why of they want something done in a company and they should be able to dictate the what they want and expect.

[00:14:41] Meryl Rosenthal: But the how should be handed to the employee to work mutually to figure out. And I think that's the agency, that's the autonomy. And I feel like we're slipping in some ways as a society. It's either employees want all this or. Executives want all this. Let's find the pieces where we have our role clarity, right?

[00:14:59] Meryl Rosenthal: Where we [00:15:00] should be doing what we're doing. And the shift to me is about the how. Give employees the ability to figure it out, because that shows the respect and that will also get them to feel more loyal, as Emily said, and want to be part of a solution versus if you tell them how to do something, you're just going to have cattle following.

[00:15:19] Meryl Rosenthal: Following a following,

[00:15:20] Emily Klein: and this is, this is also paying off for b2, what we talked about earlier, which has to do with managers, right? These middle managers. Yes. And the weight that is on middle managers to be able to figure out how to do this effectively. And are they given the learning and the development to be able to lead and manage these distributed hybrid remote?

[00:15:40] Emily Klein: In the way that they need to or should or do some of them feel like they already know how to do this because they've been doing it over the, past couple of years during the pandemic. I think sometimes that can lead to some kinds of inconsistencies across lines of business that, that tend to be challenging inside organizations from clients I know that I've worked with.

[00:15:58] Emily Klein: But I think there's something there too [00:16:00] for our ongoing learning and development, right? Merrill, when it comes to what we know in Chitta for. That middle layer, that layer of management that oversees, and has direct reports who, everybody's got a different kind of a schedule that they prefer and want, would like to work.

[00:16:16] Shwetha Pai: And oftentimes I feel like that middle management sometimes gets forgotten, right? Like we talk about the executives and what the executives are looking for and what they're demanding and what kind of the more workers, what they want as a monolith. But you forget that the middle management is in between both.

[00:16:35] Shwetha Pai: They are workers, but they are also leading teams. So yes, you have to have kind of a good balance there. Now that kind of ties into the next question that I wanted to dig into with you guys, which is around how do you define success in this new world? What does success mean? Within this new world of where women have this [00:17:00] level of agency they never had, right?

[00:17:02] Shwetha Pai: Because with the pandemic and with this increased asynchronous work that you were mentioning. And I think just visibility into the fact that, hey, we can all work together in different ways and still get work done which didn't seem to exist before the pandemic. Given all of this, what, how do you define success now?

[00:17:22] Shwetha Pai: How does how do you, how do teams define success? What does success mean today? Mell maybe you can jump in there and then

[00:17:32] Meryl Rosenthal: Erll. Can you know, I, it, it interesting. I would, I, I'll probably back up from your answer before I define it as what it means now. I would say it's, it's really a different answer based on the point of your life that you're at and the life stage that you're at.

[00:17:46] Meryl Rosenthal: And I believe, when I think about when I was just getting into the workforce, for me success was very much about. And a competitive salary, having a retirement plan, a vacation time getting good, solid, scores [00:18:00] on my performance reviews so I could feel like I was advancing.

[00:18:03] Meryl Rosenthal: Lots of exposure. I had the gift of time, I didn't have anything. I was able to travel and be responsive and work late hours. The workplace, anything the workplace needed for. I was all in. And then when I shifted and, and was, became a first time parent, it really was important to me to have a boss or a manager that would see me for my whole self.

[00:18:22] Meryl Rosenthal: Not just as that, that employee, but also as a person and who would look at me and give me some autonomy. Understand that sometimes I need some flexibility. Maybe I couldn't go on that trip, with short notice, but looked at me more holistically then I think, After ha starting a fuller family and coming back in.

[00:18:41] Meryl Rosenthal: And it was more about doing work that I was able to do within maybe a more fixed schedule of dependability of the workplace. A little bit more of an opportunity to maybe feel more stable in the job. Meaning maybe don't give me too much shift so I could feel like I knew what the day felt [00:19:00] like.

[00:19:00] Meryl Rosenthal: So much more of a kind of a, a, a, a, a more settled Kind of work day. And now as a woman in my fifties becoming an empty nester, it, what's really important to me is the ability where I can come into a company and speak my truth, be transparent, make an impact work with people I really respect, and that I can learn from that I can, that a company that's mission driven where I feel like the bottom line matches some of the things I'm looking for.

[00:19:24] Meryl Rosenthal: To me, the definition of the success, particularly for women changes because our life stages change and the things that we're dealing with, whether it's care taking, whether it's our own health, whether it's financial, it shifts our priorities. And I think men probably don't have those, those shifts in the way that I've just described them.

[00:19:45] Meryl Rosenthal: So some of the ways they might define success might be more, more, more consistent.

[00:19:50] Shwetha Pai: That's a good point. I remember when I had kids the first time I had my first one, what changed for me was settling my time became way more valuable, so [00:20:00] I was not willing to waste time doing certain things.

[00:20:05] Shwetha Pai: Because it was, I could be doing so many other things then that, that was almost like I can pinpoint it to, my daughter being worn. It just, and I don't know if that necessarily happens or it's as to your point, it's probably much more evolved or spread out over time. It's not just a, a strong shift.

[00:20:24] Shwetha Pai: Emily, have you, how has it, what has it meant for.

[00:20:28] Emily Klein: Oh my gosh. So many different things. Very similar to what both of you're sharing. So time so much is a commodity, for me on so many levels when I think about, how I live my life and what are the kinds of other pieces and parts of my life, I, I'm integrating right into that.

[00:20:43] Emily Klein: Work and life balance and balance is always a tricky thing too, because some weeks are better than others. As we, we all know that, and I look at, success. How do we define success through many different lenses? I, I look at it through a macro lens when it comes to the employee, right? Regardless.

[00:20:59] Emily Klein: Of, [00:21:00] of any kind of gender, what are we all seeking? These, human-centric workplaces where we feel psychologically safe to be ourselves, to use our voices, to find our voices, and to use that voice and to work alongside colleagues who we can trust. So trusted. Shared leadership is also something that's been really important to me personally as a female leader, woman leader throughout my career.

[00:21:22] Emily Klein: And then I think about also part of what I see for women and has meant a lot to me too early on is the opportunity for promotion, the opportunity to work on really cool assignments. I was a road warrior earlier in my life and my career, so I was working in different locations as well.

[00:21:38] Emily Klein: Seeing the world that way. And I think that another piece for women in particular that's, that's become even more pronounced over the past several years is the issues around surrounding pay equity, right? And diversity. And how do we, see success through the lens of what kinds of workplaces are making commitments to those issues and how are they making commitments to those [00:22:00] issues?

[00:22:00] Emily Klein: Or success could mean, in me also thinking about looking at employers and what kind. Issues that they are standing behind. So we know that employees are seeking purpose led organizations. These are things that I'm throwing out here on the table just to say they mean something to me, right?

[00:22:17] Emily Klein: They matter to me too. And these are things that I, I consider as a, as a woman leader, what success? Looks like. What I will say is there was before in Africa also when I think about success before I became a mother and a parent and was managing a house and family and all of that, just because of that time commodity piece.

[00:22:35] Emily Klein: So I remember writing a lot about this and how it was really challenging sometimes. Thinking about, when there were meetings scheduled at five o'clock, but I've gotta go to pick up, right? Yeah. And then I had to calculate how much time it was gonna take me to get to pick up, right? And all the kinds of things that come into our life.

[00:22:52] Emily Klein: And how do we find cultures that. Are sensitive and mindful to that as women leaders. And Meryl, again, just [00:23:00] jump in here too because I know I'm touching on things that, that you and I have both talked about in the past. And tte, you feel the same way because we're all, we're all women leaders and we are mothers, right?

[00:23:10] Emily Klein: And we have parented children. And have tried to have both, right? Our commitment to our businesses and to our success as well as to our outside of success life, and it doesn't mean you have to have children to have that or desire that or want that, because I think a lot of people really need to have, companies value their time wherever that time is.

[00:23:31] Emily Klein: Whether as a, as a woman leader,

[00:23:33] Shwetha Pai: and I would love to get your perspective on this. I feel like to that point, it's a lot of, I feel, I don't want to have to fight for it. I, I want to be in a place where it's a given, I don't want to have to argue or, really stand up for myself.

[00:23:49] Shwetha Pai: It should be a. And that's the tough part is that, we are all strong. We've all been there where we can stand up for ourselves, but I think there's a certain, at a [00:24:00] certain point where I'm just like, I shouldn't have to. Why, why am I picking this fight now? Why, why are we even talking about this?

[00:24:07] Meryl Rosenthal: Yeah, I agree and, and I think I agree, and I think it's, to your point, you know what people feel like they have to make excuses and explanations right? In order to validate the way they feel. The other thing is, is that this is why I think people are leaving the workforce. Women are leaving because they can't fix it, and they've tried to maybe.

[00:24:24] Meryl Rosenthal: Address it or, or, or advocate and they can't. And the other thing that's really, and I have friends and I'm sure we all do the care taking, forget about just taking care of kids, but the care taking in the other direction. Parents, this is not a, a small matter. And that when, as we're care taking as we get older.

[00:24:42] Meryl Rosenthal: And, we're dealing with all the stressors and things work. If work doesn't fit, we have to make choices. And sometimes they're not the choices we want to make. It's the choices we have to make because of what's right in front of us. So I think you're right. I think it's a, it's, it's a time where middle managers and executives, [00:25:00] you, we can, we can, we can work is the place you get work.

[00:25:03] Meryl Rosenthal: But we have to also look at the realities of the human-centric dynamic. That, that, that is always something that Emily discusses this, this is not machinery. These are people who come in and, and, and you wanna get the most out of them. But we have to think about when and how we do that.

[00:25:20] Meryl Rosenthal: Yeah. And if we force it, you're, you're going to get either less than, you're not gonna get the. And you'll get people to not wanna be in these organizations as, and, and it's a loss because the talent that's walking out regrettably, is often the best talent that walks out. And what stays behind are people who are either afraid or don't have trust.

[00:25:39] Meryl Rosenthal: So you've both ways right? You've you've managed to me mess it up. Absolutely.

[00:25:44] Emily Klein: There's just so much in those. Mell, that resonates for me. That resonates probably stretch for you and for everyone who's listening into this. I think that also, I know we've all talked and touched on this before, but the women in the workplace study this report that came out that, [00:26:00] McKenzie and Lean Do year over year.

[00:26:02] Emily Klein: It's so sobering because, we've been talking about this for many years about advancing women leaders and the biggest obstacle, women facing on the path to senior leadership is actually that first step to manager. While I agree with that, and I think that, we see the data for every a hundred men promoted to entry level to manager, only, only 87 women are promoted, and then only 82 women of color are promoted.

[00:26:25] Emily Klein: These are things we have to solve for, but there's also, in addition to. The leaky pipeline that is you know exactly tends to bump, right? Certainly at that moment when women leaders are, looking at increasing levels of leadership positions for themselves, and they may be starting families at the same time, and they're trying to figure this out and they're wondering why they're having to convince.

[00:26:48] Emily Klein: Culture, culturally how to be part of an organization that completely respects and understands what those moments of challenge are. It's, it's about how do we define success? How do we challenge what those [00:27:00] traditional pathways of success have always been and widen the aperture around that for women in particular, right?

[00:27:06] Emily Klein: Who can really. This is just something that I feel like I've been sharing over and over again over the past several years. And we've seen a lot of different solutions to this, including women saying, I'm gonna leave because I don't see cultures, supporting me the way that I need it to.

[00:27:22] Emily Klein: Start a business, find partners, really pursue entrepreneurship and there's, there's just so many different pathways women are taking. But I think the general message is, is that, know, we gotta solve for this. I believe we do. I believe companies still need to be able to solve for these kinds of issues.

[00:27:38] Emily Klein: In addition to what I was sharing earlier too, on pay equity and the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion.

[00:27:44] Shwetha Pai: Yeah, absolutely. And, and in a way we have to have the companies take the burden off of the women to constantly be our own advocates. We shouldn't have to, the if you were a white man, it's not like you have to suddenly [00:28:00] advocate for yourself and all your skills and stand up or, or lean in, or whatever the case may be.

[00:28:06] Shwetha Pai: It's, it puts a burden on us that is unnecessary and in a way, I, I almost feel like that's where a lot of the work is still on the who. What are some of the, hey we need to, we need to empower the women, which is fine, but now that we're empowered, guess what we're doing? We're leaving.

[00:28:31] Shwetha Pai: So how do you.

[00:28:33] Emily Klein: Empowered

[00:28:34] Shwetha Pai: with our feet, you actually move the, move the needle. To me, that focus has to be on the how. It's not just about the who. It's not just about empowering women because empowered women, yes, we are empowered to stand up for ourselves, but we shouldn't have to. I shouldn't have to, I tell you that, hey, I have to go do whatever.

[00:28:54] Shwetha Pai: As you said, Meryl, the focus shouldn't be about me being in the office at a certain time. It's [00:29:00] about the outcomes. So how, what are some of the big trends and, just what are some of the big things that you're seeing as far as the how, and, what gives you kind of energy for the next.

[00:29:13] Meryl Rosenthal: I'll just kick it off. And Emily, please, I, I, I don't know if I see as much innovation as I would really like to see. I, I do see an opportunity, however, for companies to start from the very beginning, from the very beginning of the life cycle of an employee that they bring in, and what are they saying to that person?

[00:29:28] Meryl Rosenthal: What's the, what's the unique value proposition? If I walk into an organization or my daughter walks in, or a person in between, in between our ages or situations, walks in and said, and, and, and does the interview, what is being asked of me? Are you getting to know my whole situation? I Again, we don't wanna talk about private things, but when you ask me what I'm looking for, are you really listening for what I'm looking for?

[00:29:50] Meryl Rosenthal: And are you responding with the same? This is what we are. Or are you listening for Differe? and are you making shifts in the way you, again, [00:30:00] recruit and develop and train and advance and retain? It's a different, as we talked about earlier three of us talked about where we were and what success looks like.

[00:30:10] Meryl Rosenthal: If you only share with a person what you expect from them and what the success of the company is, you've given them a one. Fits all answer and you've basically not taken into account. The whole person there, to me is the opportunity. How do companies without sacrificing business results and without sacrificing what they wanna accomplish?

[00:30:30] Meryl Rosenthal: But again, it goes back to the how, how do we listen to people and how do we allow them to do things and bring their full selves to work? So we still get to the results, but we ha give them the agency to do that in a way that is a win-win for us. That's the thing. I don't see being solved right now.

[00:30:48] Emily Klein: Yeah, I'm, I'm really jazzed by how you said that too. Meryl, because I think it's really intriguing to have the employer asking and, potential employee or an employee who's, maybe thinking about coming [00:31:00] on board. What does success look like for you? What do you need, right? And how can we, how can we serve your needs?

[00:31:05] Emily Klein: Too when you're bringing your talent to our organization. I also think, when you ask that question to how, like how can companies, that's one great example Merrill shared, and I think also a lot of this touches on. Really complicated issues related to culture, right? It's both conscious and unconscious.

[00:31:24] Emily Klein: We're all, the sum total of all of our experiences we bring to every role and every company. And that just becomes this part of the, the zeitgeist, if you will, or so, becomes part of the cultural milieu of an organization. We have to encourage executive leaders to take a, a, a much closer look at that and unpack that a little further and challenge themselves in bold ways and to.

[00:31:47] Emily Klein: Who do we really wanna be now in the future? It's one thing to develop a whole strategy and go through a strategic planning process and say, these are our DEI goals and in initiatives, but it's a whole other ballgame. When you're tying that to performance [00:32:00]management. It's a whole other ballgame.

[00:32:02] Emily Klein: When you're tying that to transparency and you're creating kind of a progress, scorecard your dashboard on your website, and you're being extremely transparent with your. And you're sharing with them, what are the stumbling blocks that you're running into, and here is how you're trying to solve for it.

[00:32:16] Emily Klein: I think that we need to see more bold leadership, right? When it comes to. Certainly all these issues that we're touching on with, with women and advancing women leaders in organizations today. One thing that I think a lot about, and I know we've all talked about this before too, is that, you cannot be what you cannot see.

[00:32:33] Emily Klein: And if we're seeing an exodus of more women, right? Leaving the workforce, what does that tell the younger workforce? What does that tell our earlier career professionals? need to be able to also have executive leaders and companies make that commitment to understanding role models matter.

[00:32:51] Emily Klein: Representation matters and we have to, try new ways of doing things. That's going to be back to our conversation, not output. [00:33:00] But really outcome focused. And oftentimes for me, and I know you guys would agree with this, this is cultural, this is longstanding, and culture can be a very slow moving ship at times when you're really managing complex change.

[00:33:14] Emily Klein: But if you get the right candid conversations and if you allow. For more bold thinking and and a diverse way of thinking, right? So diversity begins with thought. Then I think you can actually move mountains together when we're trying to make some changes in the workplace going forward. In 2023 and beyond.

[00:33:31] Shwetha Pai: That's such a great point, Emily. That's I've written about this before is that, one of the things, there's been research that says younger the people who are younger in the workforce are actually motivated when they see. Older more experienced women have a work life balance.

[00:33:49] Shwetha Pai: That's when they feel like they are more that they put in more time because they're just like, oh, I can see how that's done. I know that that's happened with me. [00:34:00] When I saw my my mentor actually go through this, and I didn't have kids at the time. It gave me a certain level of rigor or rigor about work that I was just like, oh yeah, I can do this, and I can accomplish a lot more.

[00:34:15] Shwetha Pai: And it, it motivated me in ways that I didn't even realize at the. I'll just have you guys comment on that and closing thoughts because we're at time, but would love to hear more about that.

[00:34:26] Meryl Rosenthal: Mery. Yes. I, I, I agree. I, I really think you need to, first, you need to, you need to see yourself in the next few years, someplace different from where you are if you wanna stay in an organization, if you're aspiring to do that.

[00:34:39] Meryl Rosenthal: So I think that creating those relationships through sponsorship is really important. I also think, again, it goes back to success and some people, at some points in their life, they just, what they have is but then we as leaders have to anticipate those shifts. So if we see, and again, we keep a pulse on our people, how are they moving through their life stages and what will they need in the next few years?

[00:34:59] Meryl Rosenthal: Maybe the future [00:35:00] leader isn't that person today, but they are in three years. If they are, let's start grooming them. So I think we have to look at not where, where people are, but where they want to go, and maybe even help them see the vision of where they could go. And that's what a good leader does.

[00:35:13] Meryl Rosenthal: So there's work to be done. Currently and in grooming people, and it takes foresight, it takes vision, and it takes it takes looking, looking into the future about what motivates people to wanna stay in an organization.

[00:35:28] Emily Klein: Yeah, I think that's, perfect. Absolutely. Marilyn. I would also add, I think a lot about upscaling and professional development and, emerging technologies.

[00:35:36] Emily Klein: I've been so incredibly fascinated by the kinds of technologies that we all use over the past two years that's allowed for this. Incredible global, way of working in a distributed fashion. So we're gonna continue to see, right? So much more that's going downstream and, and of course whether that's AI or any other new tools, emerging tools and technologies.

[00:35:56] Emily Klein: To me, I think that taking that down, I know that's macro, but really [00:36:00] taking that down in, inside an organization, how does that impact individual, what you desire and where you wanna go and where you wanna grow and how you wanna upscale? I think that some additional things that we know work LITS is involved in is the human capital.

[00:36:14] Emily Klein: Analytics, the people analytics. I, I think we're gonna see so much more of that mature in the year ahead and that companies are gonna really need to be able to take that data seriously and make some more informed decisions around that. And I think, it's, it's what is, how do we define success?

[00:36:29] Emily Klein: And, and to the point me you're making and have made, and I have made two is. Success will shift in change. And when you make your decisions based on what your priorities are, your most important priorities as a female leader, even a man, any gender, you are staying true to yourself. You are being authentic.

[00:36:46] Emily Klein: And I think for me that's, I think that's the biggest pathway to success. And it's a journey and, and I I don't think there's any leader out there that has the crystal ball, right? None of us do. And what's I what, one last thing I wanted to share that I [00:37:00] find very fascinating about the moment we're in that I love is that we're co-creating the future of work as we're living it.

[00:37:05] Emily Klein: We are in this moment of co-creation so that executives are creating it, middle managers, frontline workers, thought leaders like us. We are all co-creating what's gonna be next. And that's exciting to.

[00:37:18] Shwetha Pai: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Thank you so much Emily and Meryl. This has been a wonderful chat. I really, I learned so much from you guys.

[00:37:27] Shwetha Pai: Great ideas, great thoughts, and the trends. So thank you so much for sharing

[00:37:32] Meryl Rosenthal: Our

[00:37:32] Emily Klein: pleasure. Thank you too. Thanks so much. Great to be here.

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