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Women Exit

A new study says for every woman stepping into a director-level leadership role at work, two are choosing to leave. Forty-three percent of women leaders reported feeling burned out, compared to 31 percent of men, according to Lean In and McKinsey data. Women leaders are leaving their organizations at the highest rate ever. What the hell is going on? Well, don’t ask two white guys, ‘cause they’re clueless. And that’s why we brought Tracy Lovejoy and Shannon Lucas, cofounders of Catalyst Constellations and co-authors of Move Fast, Break Shit. Burn Out onto the show to dive-in and find some answers. Uncovered was a lot of intriguing data, insightful commentary … and we all got in touch with our feminine sides. Grab the Kleenex box and enjoy.


Intro: Hide your kids, lock the doors. You're listening to HRs most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad & Cheese Podcast.

Joel: Oh, yeah. If you don't know, just ask your mixologist. What's up everybody? It's the Chad & Cheese Podcast. I'm your co-host, Joel Cheesman, and as always, the Joey to my Chandler, we have Chad Sowash on the line and we are just giddy to welcome back to the show, Tracey Lovejoy and Shannon Lucas, co-founders of Catalyst Constellations and co-authors of the bestselling book Move Fast. Break Shit. Burn Out. Ladies, welcome to the podcast again.

Shannon Lucas: So great to be back.

Tracey Lovejoy: So excited to be back.

Joel: Glutton for punishment.


Joel: By the way, for our listeners in the green room, this is interesting. So in our past interviews, you weren't able to see us. On our new platform you, can see us. And Tracey comes in, and Chad and I are talking and she goes, "Wow, Joel, you're smiling. Your voice sounds like you never smile."


Joel: So, God bless video. I'm not the bad guy that you thought I once was.


Chad: Well, he totally is. He just can smile when he's bad. It's okay. It's okay.

Tracey Lovejoy: I know.

Chad: So ladies, give us a... Again, for listeners who haven't listened to the other episodes, give us a little Twitter bio about yourself. Not about the business, anything like that. Just about you.

Tracey Lovejoy: Hi, my name's Shannon. I'm a Catalyst, recovering Catalyst.


Tracey Lovejoy: Yeah, I've spent the last 20 years in large tech organizations, creating my own ventures and leading emerging business and innovation in some of the world's largest companies like Vodafone, Microsoft, Ericsson, and Cisco, and now I'm the happy Co-CEO with Tracey Lovejoy, building the Catalyst movement.

Joel: So happy.

Chad: There was emphasis on happy. It's like you're overcompensating here. What's going on?


Chad: Tracey, Tracey?

Shannon Lucas: We really are happy, totally happy. My Twitter bio, Catalyst, co-CEO, researcher, executive coach, mom of two human children and five fuzzy children.


Joel: Frossy?

Shannon Lucas: How's that?

Intro: What? Fuzzy.

Shannon Lucas: Farsi, fuzzy.


Joel: Fussy.


Chad: Jinks.

Joel: Is that like Fozzie bear? We got Frozzie.

Chad: Fozzie. Yeah. Have the Fozzie.

Shannon Lucas: That's more my husband. He is a little on the bear side.

Joel: Tracey's got a lot going on.

Tracey Lovejoy: I have six real children and two fuzzy.


Chad: So does Shannon. Six. Six kids? My God.

Tracey Lovejoy: Six kids, two fuzzy babies.

Shannon Lucas: Six boys.

Tracey Lovejoy: Six boys.

Chad: Wow. Okay. So how old's the youngest? I've gotta...

Tracey Lovejoy: Seven.

Chad: Seven, okay. And the oldest?

Tracey Lovejoy: Just got married in Melbourne, Australia a couple weeks ago. He's 28.

Chad: Very nice. Now that's a hell of a span right there.

Tracey Lovejoy: Yeah. My husband brought five to the party and I brought one.


Chad: So Joel, I threw this topic out to you around women in leadership leaving their posts and I thought, we need to get a couple of strong females who actually can understand this, we can't, we're just dumb dudes, on the show. And then your response was, "What? What's this article about?"


Joel: Was that when I said, "What's the title of this? Chicks that can't hack it in the workforce?" Was that our cancel title?

Tracey Lovejoy: Keep listening people. Keep listening. It's gonna to be interesting. Push through.


Chad: Yes. So we've obviously been saying much to do about females leaving the workforce. Not just leaving the workforce, but getting into leadership positions. And we've been talking on this podcast for almost, what, six years? Shit, it has been six years. About getting more diversity into the C-suite, getting into the ranks. Well, that's starting to happen slowly. It's trickling, but it seems like it's become more of a revolving door than anything else. So what the hell is happening? What are you seeing in the market and with some of these articles, what were you able to extract from some of the studies?

Tracey Lovejoy: I just want to say first, thank you for having this conversation.

Joel: You're welcome.

Tracey Lovejoy: It's a super important conversation and snarkiness aside, it is hard. It's hard to hang sometimes in these large corporate environments as a female exec. So thanks for creating this space.

Joel: You're welcome, Shannon.

Chad: It's what the space is for. So welcome to the space. Now, tell us what the hell's going on?

Shannon Lucas: It's a summary as of the topic. To some extent, I'm pointing to the amazing articles that you queued up for us Chad, in talking about this. I think Jacinda stepping down in New Zealand has really created a global discussion point for us. This is related to also several key female executives stepping down. And then in last year, in 2022, there was a report put out together by McKinsey and, Women in Work, that are looking at the phenomena that are happening. And this is something that you were pointing to us as well to circle this conversation around.

Shannon Lucas: In that report, there are good things and then there are things that are showing that in a lot of ways, we're not seeing changes across the marketplace and organizational shifts. So we do see small, I won't call it quite incremental, but we do see small shifts in women in leadership at all levels when you look at the report. Even at the highest level of executive from 2017 to 2022, we do see about a 6% increase of women in those highest positions. I think what really leads to this conversation is a key finding that you do see double the women leaving at the director level than we see for men. And they point to a few key phenomenon that they saw in this study that they relate to that. One being, that it's really emotionally hard to be a woman in the workforce. Shannon, a nice way of talking about this is the emotional labor that we have to do. In the report they talk about microaggressions, they talk about having to defend yourself more as a woman.

Joel: Can you define microaggression before we talk about it? Because I think, to a lot of people that's a new term.

Shannon Lucas: Yeah. So it can be... Actually, I don't know the definition off the top of my head, like in perfect. So I can more talk about what it feels like when we experience it.

Joel: Examples.

Shannon Lucas: Yeah. It can be even unconscious statements that will come our way as women or people of color or anyone who's a minority in the moment that diminishes you and your value. So it could be, "Can you move over at the table?" It could be...

Joel: Can you get us coffee?

Shannon Lucas: Well, yeah. That's a very... That's a macroaggression.


Joel: Can you talk a little bit louder? I mean a little bit softer? Or, wow, you're so much, you're so emotional. These can be microaggressions that are happening. Another thing the study talks to which I think falls into the microaggression category as well, is not being recognized for the role we have in the company. Being assumed that we are more junior than we actually are. And so, someone walking into a room, perhaps, I'm actually senior to this person, but making the assumption because of my gender or my color that I play a role that may be lower within the hierarchical chain. So this is a key reason they point to. They also talk about the desire for more flexibility, and so as organizations are moving back to bring people into the workplace, women are leaving jobs saying, "I wanna go someplace that maintains the flexibility that I've come to really love, both because perhaps I still have a greater role in my home, which statistically is still true, but also because some of those microaggressions and the ways I have to justify my value aren't experienced as much when I'm in a remote-work world. And so I can remove myself from some of the things that feel bad and exhausting and the emotional labor if I'm not constantly in the office space."

Joel: Either of you, your take on... COVID was brutal, just brutal for women in the workforce. Have we recovered at all from the pandemic? Tracey, you're nodding your head. Talk about the lack of progress after COVID, or your viewpoint on the state of women in the workforce after COVID.

Shannon Lucas: Oh, I'm laughing because I don't think any of us are truly recovered from COVID. And as I see all these organizations that are calling people back, every coaching call that I get to do where someone says they're... Even though it's in my contract, they're starting to challenge me, they might fire me. And it is... People are still exhausted coming out of the pandemic, because we were working more and we're working under harder conditions where it became especially we work with change makers in the world, and change makers have to work through influence across silos, and that's actually harder in the virtual world. So we are exhausted coming out of the pandemic still.

Joel: Is we women, or men and women?

Shannon Lucas: I meant more globally as a workforce that just, as humans, yeah, that's what I meant. Shannon.

Tracey Lovejoy: I think one of the things that the pandemic exposed to everybody, and it wasn't felt by everyone in the same way prior to the pandemic, is the challenges we have with basic access to childcare from a almost infrastructure perspective in the US. Now, European companies do this differently, and just because of the way that that... Access to that ends up impacting women's ability to be present and show up the ways they wanna show up in the workplace, if we don't have that infrastructure in place, it disproportionally affects women. The other thing that it disproportionally affects though, and we saw this 'cause so many places actually folded, there just wasn't great business models with care is, okay, as a middle-class White woman, I could have my kids in the other room and have them on an iPod, but if I was a frontline worker who didn't have access to healthcare, I couldn't bring them to the places that I was going. And so just the amount of managing that you had to do around that potentially up to losing your job. And so, while we have shed a light on this, I think that it's a pretty intractable problem in our US society which is unfortunate 'cause it also impacts men too.

Tracey Lovejoy: There are single dads, they're also trying to lean in and help too. So it's like it impacts everybody, and I think we need to look at some of those structural things underpinning all of this.

Chad: It seems, at least looking at the report from McKinsey, that there are three major reasons why females are leaving. Number one, there's more hurdles than there are for men. They're overworked, not compensated for some of the things they do, we'll talk about that. And then things aren't changing. So to boil it down for me when I was reading this, it's just that the old boys club still exists, and that the change hasn't happened, that's why there's more hurdles, that's why you have to work harder because it's hard to break into the old boys network. How do we get past this 1950s way of working and actually transcend into 2023?

Tracey Lovejoy: I think it's interesting because when we talk about systemic prejudice, if you will, it's not like people are intentionally showing up and saying, "I want less women in the boardroom, or I want less women on the leadership team." As humans, we have a natural predilection to seek out places that are safe, like for like, all of those things. So I wanna sort of put that, and so what it requires is a deeper self-reflection, a deeper self-awareness, a commitment to lean into wanting to help which requires emotional labor itself. As we were chatting at the beginning, I think one of the problems that we're realizing is that third-wave feminism helped a lot of women lean in, develop the skills, stand in our power, all of the things. I can say as a mother of six boys, [chuckle] that what we didn't see after the fact was helping men also lean into some of the other traits that might... As women, we leaned into more masculine traits. The '80s, we saw the big shoulder pads and trying to be more man-like. Working girl, we can go back to that.

Tracey Lovejoy: But for men, when I was sending my son to kindergarten, I literally cried for weeks because I knew what was gonna happen. I knew that his sweet precious self was gonna start to be told that it wasn't okay to have feelings in the classroom, that it wasn't okay to cry, that it wasn't okay to be vulnerable, that if he showed up that way, even if it wasn't normalized in the classroom, it would happen on the playground, and it did. And so we have this legacy now that these women are ready to lean in, but that men have been told that that vulnerability that could be their strength in helping to create this change wasn't wanted or desired, it wasn't powerful. So what that leaves then, is the women right now to do the emotional labor in the organizational context to help create this change. And that's one of the things that you're referring to, it's this other dimension. We show up twice as much supporting other people, trying to cultivate diversity, not just for ourselves but across. And that comes at a toll 'cause we also have to, as you said, prove ourselves a 10X factor that we're capable for the jobs.

Chad: Not for the same pay either, by the way.

Tracey Lovejoy: Not for the same pay. That's exactly right.

Joel: How much of it is just learning to speak each other's language? 'Cause I think when you say, "Get in touch with your feminine side," that men automatically think, "I gotta be a big wussy if I wanna work with women."


Joel: And I think that's a false premise. And when you talk about, you go to the workplace and say, "I have to put my masculine hat on and I have to be bold and interrupt people and do that," I think telling men you gotta be emotional and cry at work, I don't know if that's the right message. I think it's more... And tell me if I'm wrong, it's more about just understanding your language as you guys have worked really hard to understand our language. Where am I right or wrong on that?

Shannon Lucas: I think you're right, and I'll tag back to something Chad said and then bring it back together. Chad, you had asked the question, if the old boys club still exists, how do we come to a different world? I think starting with even shifting from calling it an old boys club is a starting point. Because when people hear that, it's really easy to create distance from that. And to say, "I'm not intentionally part of an old boys club." Instead, to begin to frame it as thinking about in any system, someone has power, any system. The systems we happen to be talking about, the power is predominantly sitting with older White males in this case, but in other systems, other people have the predominant power. To really shift from whoever is there, it starts with the people in power embracing that it is their norms that have become dominant within the system. That's just what's true, it doesn't matter... Any anthropological study you go back to, that's what has happened, and that's how we work as humans. And so to your point, Joel, as we think about, talking more like you, we first have to tap into what is unconscious bias. The system is built for the people in power, that's just how it's happened. And so if we all can actually agree, "Oh, there's ways I've learned to work in the system that I'm not even aware that I've learned."

Shannon Lucas: And that's part of what Shannon was talking about in terms of the way that we've trained men and women from the very beginning. If we can say, there's ways of working and we can help people safely tune in to what's happening there and what the positive and potentially negative consequences are of the normal ways we're working, and not make it a blame game, and not be like, "You've created the old boys club." But create this way that we're all gaining awareness, that's where you can begin to see people safely change. And so really, solidly good unconscious bias training helps all of us see where we've adopted some of this thinking. I remember being in a training once and the woman openly admitted, she said, "One of the first times I looked at my gender unconscious bias is I got in an airplane, I was surprised to see a female pilot." Those are things that can be born into us. There's that old joke we've all heard of a man was with his son, they get in a terrible accident, they arrive at the hospital, and the surgeon says, "I cannot operate on this boy, it's my son." How is that possible? The surgeon is his mother. Right?

Chad: Wait a minute, it could be his stepdad, it could be his stepdad, probably.

Shannon Lucas: It could be his stepdad, it could be his gay dad. It's an old joke.


Shannon Lucas: We're in a very fluid, beautiful world today that's incredibly inclusive, but the joke's origin is around gender bias. And so if we can acknowledge like yeah, power comes with a set of ways that we behave and let's make those really explicit, then we can begin to have shared conversations, like you're saying, Joel. And I don't... You think that while emotion is certainly important and an important thing that we need to talk about, it's also just, "Oh, I might accidentally be doing microaggressions even if I don't see myself as someone who's aggressive, even if I know I'm actually not biased and I love having female employees, colleagues, bosses."

Joel: Or one man telling another man, "Dude, no, that's not cool." That doesn't happen enough either. So I think having men understand that whole dynamic will help each other as well. One of the great discussions we've had doing this show is with Torin Ellis, Black man influencer in this community. We asked him what can we do to help as two middle-aged White guys, and he said, "Speak up. When you see bullshit, call bullshit." And I think the same goes for women in the workplace as well, in this example.

Tracey Lovejoy: If I connect that back to your point though, 'cause I wasn't advocating obviously for men crying in the workplace, but it does end up with a certain amount of vulnerability. And in that moment you're making yourself vulnerable, you're monitoring yourself, there's a self-awareness that that thing was uncomfortable, and you're stepping into a space that you weren't invited to step into, and that can be really scary. And so there's this vulnerability that is like a precursor in a way to us being able to have these authentic conversations. The other, sort of call to action for that allyship though, is tapping into that vulnerability again in different environment. So one of the DEI leaders that I was just talking about said, "I got out of just having conversations about the traditional allies," which we can talk more about, and she said, "And I curated a group of White guys who are in leadership positions, but my job there is to create that safe space for them to ask the vulnerable questions." And I think we all know that even myself as I'm leading this DEI exploration, I have to own that I have nerves about maybe stepping in it or saying it the wrong way. My intentions are good, but that's not always enough.

Tracey Lovejoy: We have to be curious and willing to admit like, "Oh, I'm sorry that that thing that I thought was okay is offensive to you," and listen and take that in. But again, there's an emotional ability to regulate there that helps us through this process.

Chad: But there are instances, and I would say many, where guys like us, we sit back and we're like, "Well, looks like we've been the problem. We need to shut the hell up and just sit down." And so therefore, you don't get those individuals who could prospectively be great allies, but they're more pushed off into the corner. And they, I think, extract themselves from the situation more than anything else. What do we do in trying to evolve a workplace, which literally is still 1950s type of punch the clock, come in. We've just recently been able to talk about remote and hybrid because of a damn pandemic. But how do we start to take this 1950s thought process, Mad Men process and move it? How do we do that? Because every time we do, we spend millions of dollars, billions of dollars every year in DEI training. It's not doing anything. We're seeing barely any outcomes. So money is being spent, but we're not seeing progress. What the hell do we do?

Tracey Lovejoy: As I have these conversations, I think it's, there's the two sides, and there's the call to action for the men to lean in more. Right? It's really easy to take two steps back. And I don't know how to fix that exactly. As we talk with Catalyst about creating any kind of change, right? So this is the work that we do, we work with these innate change makers who see better visions of the future and can't stop themselves from moving into action to realize that better vision.

Tracey Lovejoy: And no matter what kind of change you're making, I've increasingly been talking about the emotional labor of change. With you're in an organization and you have a sort of big, bold audacious vision and the organization is resistant to it, you have to be really clear about how much emotional labor and your own energy you're willing to put in to move the needle at all, or you can scale back your vision and maintain some more of your own energy because you're closer aligned to what they want, and so you have to be comfortable with that.

Tracey Lovejoy: The emotional labor of change agents doing DEI work, I think is 10X, because everyone is going into their corners and not knowing how to... Being afraid to step in it, not knowing how to be a good ally, not knowing how they might be contributing to it with that unconscious bias etcetera. So it's sort of a dual call to action. It's like people who are allies and on the DEI leadership track, be... You're gonna have to recognize that you're gonna need to do the emotional leadership. So how do you create a community and places where you can recharge safely? And then on the other side, we just need more people to lean into being vulnerable to have those challenging conversations.

Joel: Chad mentions zero progress. But I wanna throw some numbers at you guys and you guys live this every day. For every man, almost two women are attending college, in the United States. 70% of high school valedictorians are women. Over 50% of grads are women. Almost 60% of professional degrees are gotten by women and even at MIT, 47% of the degrees are obtained by women. In 1995 we had zero CEOs that were women in the Fortune 500 and today we have roughly 10%. Is that progress or not?

Shannon Lucas: Yes.

Joel: Okay. Then what's the disconnect from the valedictorian to, I'm gonna get the hell out of the workplace. How do we bridge that gap? Or can we?

Tracey Lovejoy: Can I come back to that question, Joel?

Joel: Sure.

Tracey Lovejoy: 'Cause I love Chad's question and I have five calls to action. Not for you guys to do all of them. [chuckle] Handpick and then we'll talk about the gap, I promise.

Chad: Okay.

Tracey Lovejoy: So it's like here's a menu, not a like everything. One, if you sit in an organization, ask folks in your leadership, what are our statistics around diversity? How do we measure them? How do we know they're working? Just ask questions, because the more that leadership hears these questions, the more they think people are serious about it. That takes almost no work. So it's like, set yourself a goal. Once a week, ask some leader in the organization about what's happening with diversity, but getting a little deeper in a meaningful way.

Tracey Lovejoy: Number two, something else you can do. Take some training on unconscious bias. And there's so many great resources, like just watch a TED Talk. They're amazing TED Talks on unconscious bias. Go to Coursera, go to LinkedIn. Make yourself aware. Begin to make notes of where your unconscious bias pops up. Right? 'Cause when we're really honest with ourselves, we see it everywhere. Man, I lock my doors in certain neighborhoods. That is embarrassing for me to say out loud. And that totally happens for me. Total unconscious bias that happens for me. Number three, name it. You already said this, Joel, and I love it. Name it if you see things happening, right? Call it out and be like, "Hey dude, that's not cool or wow, that felt strange to me. What was happening for you?" And you can name it to the person. You can name it aloud, you can name it in different ways.

Tracey Lovejoy: Number four, remember this is a menu, you don't have to do all of them. Mentor women. Statistically, women hear more feedback about their confidence and their soft skills. We have this dilemma of we are either too much of a bitch or we're too passive, and so we get a lot of feedback in that continuum. What men usually get mentored on are hard skills that are really valuable to the organization and help them move up in really concrete ways. So, mentor. All right. Fifth one, show up for activities around diversity. Take that this is... I put it on the list last because this one is maybe you already got a packed schedule. It's hard, but I already gave four other things that you can be doing that's really, they're somewhat easy. So that's my menu. And now, Joel...

Joel: Tracey, you should know that if there's a menu in front of me, I'm ordering everything.


Shannon Lucas: I love it.

Joel: Pick and choose, yes.

Chad: He generally goes toward the buffet.

Joel: Yes. Yes is my answer to the menu.


Tracey Lovejoy: We have the gender buffet for you there.


Tracey Lovejoy: Yes.

Shannon Lucas: That's right. All right.

Tracey Lovejoy: I wanna say something though about, Tracy just building onto that. I'm reading this great book about how to be an anti-racist and I think that the same is true. I actually hadn't thought about it, do we say anti-misogynist? I don't know what the gendered version of this is.

Chad: [laughter] Yes.

Tracey Lovejoy: But the position is really clear and I love it, which is there's no neutral here. Now in the racist world, we can have racist thoughts and ideas he moved away from categorizing a person as a thing 'cause we move through different things. And to Tracey's point, our prejudices might come up in some context more than others. But this goes back to if you're seeing something or you're participating in racist systems or racist policies, the only option to combat that is not to be neutral on it, but to be an anti-racist if we really wanna see change. And I think the same is true for women.

Chad: One of the things that Joel said, I wanna hit because I think it is incredibly prevalent within our society, is that, well, we are seeing some change. Well, at the rate of change that we are today, it's gonna take 125 years, actually get to equity. Do you call that change that you will accept? Fuck no. Yeah. Has it changed? Yes, it's changed. Is it incremental? Is it almost worthless? Fuck yes it is. So the question is, how do we actually make change so that we can move more toward equity in our organizations without the government having to step in like they have with salary transparency, to actually force the issue?

Chad: We're falling in traps left and right because we think we see progress which really isn't... It's not really there. And we're not gonna see it in our lifetime. So what do we have to do? I saw the menu, I get the menu, how do we not fall in these traps?

Tracey Lovejoy: But this is my own personal opinion I will say that out loud, but I think unregulated capitalism is destructive for humanity and society. So if we're expecting corporations to do this out of the goodness of their heart, I think we'll be waiting a long fucking time. I think that's right.


Chad: Okay.

Joel: Does that mean that we should go to regulating how many people should be on the board? Of what color and what gender? No, I don't think so either.

Joel: Shannon, interesting point. So we interviewed Cindy Gallop a couple years ago, and I don't know if you know Cindy or her work, but she's pretty no nonsense. And one of her ideas was that if you're expecting the system to change, it's not. It's only going to change if we have more women founding companies. If we have more Black men and women founding companies, more people of diversity. Agree, disagree 'cause I sort of agree with her, there need to be more government programs, more money into education or people that are founding companies that are diversity. To me trying to fix what's already there is gonna... If not impossible, be really, really hard. And to Chad's point, you'll see incremental change and then everyone will point to that. But is it real change? Probably not.

Tracey Lovejoy: I think it's all the things, Joel. I think we need to look at the healthcare system. I think we need to look at, like, California actually has regulated board compositions, so, well, in a few years we'll have some statistics about how that's playing out.

Joel: And you mentioned Europe, maternity leave and things like that in Europe. But what are you guys seeing in Europe?

Tracey Lovejoy: Totally because... But that's the other side. If the paternity was always even, then women could get more help in that place too. My personal belief in, and this is sort of my personal mission statement is around the power that the largest multinationals have. They have more money than most governments. They transcend national borders, they employ more people than the federal government can touch if we look at them collectively.

Tracey Lovejoy: So I am not giving up on, I think we definitely need more female-founded, people-of-color-founded, that marginalized people founding companies. But in order to sit on a billion dollars of profit and have meaningful impact at a systems-level problem, I think we also need to be fixing the big companies.

Joel: And is that government that makes the biggest impact? Is it customers saying, we demand this out of our public companies?

Tracey Lovejoy: The customer thing is interesting. As part of our Catalyst Leadership Trust, we're actually looking at the impact of what up-and-coming customers are gonna be demanding of large organizations. And in that community, we have a lot of C-levels from some of these really large companies. And this is alive for them. And it's alive on a lot of different levels. Not just from a technology perspective, how they need to engage but what deeply do these new customers care about? And certainly sustainability and equity are big factors in that.

Shannon Lucas: I have maybe a not popular perspective here.


Joel: That's our show, babe.


Chad: Bring it. Bring it.

Shannon Lucas: It's all you do, it's okay we are ready.

Joel: We love to be unpopular.

Shannon Lucas: Change takes time.

Chad: 125 years, Tracey.

Shannon Lucas: I'm not advocating for 125 years.

Chad: Okay, okay.

Shannon Lucas: But this is part of the work that Shannon and I do that, the title of our book Move Fast. Break Shit. Burn Out. Is the idea that the natural change makers among us wanna move so fast and we're doing it faster than people and systems are ready for. And that's how we're breaking shit. We're breaking relationships, we're getting ejected from organizations, we're burning out in the process.

Shannon Lucas: So I'm not saying that 125 years as a woman, as a mother of a daughter, these aren't things that I'm saying, "Yeah, okay, we'll get there." But there's a reality of the adoption curve. There's a reality of the tipping points that happen. And something that has to happen as change is taking root, is people have to see the benefit of it. So we're beginning to have really good data that show us between the work that I don't remember, Gina, the actress who really looks at women in Hollywood, this work that Sheryl Sandberg does with Lean In, together obviously with McKinsey report, we're beginning to have really reliable good data.

Shannon Lucas: We have amazing data on diversity that shows public companies that have diverse boards and leadership actually have a better financial return. And once you see those kinds of numbers, you're beginning to see organizations adopt it. Not just out of the goodness of their heart, but because it actually makes the right financial sense for them to do it. We're doing it badly, we're doing it as a checkbox, we're kind of half-hearted because it's not where the focus is for most companies.

Shannon Lucas: And so as we're going through this change curve and as the adoption has to take hold, women are leaving and they're starting their own companies, and they're demonstrating the power they can have, and they're finding organizations that are more flexible and actually understand the power that women can bring so they don't have to fight the fight. That's what the statistics in the report show us. But it's happening. Yes, I want us to do more. Yes, I want more women-led businesses. Shannon and I are a women-led business.

Tracey Lovejoy: I totally agree, Tracey and that was something I was gonna bring up earlier. Because humans also, our brains can't understand exponential change. And the beginning part of an exponential curve feels really fucking slow. [chuckle] But you do hit this tipping point if you, especially if you have all of those things in a system that becomes the flywheel. So I totally agree with that part. I have a question for you guys though. All right. So as White dudes, what are your answers to some of these problems?

Chad: Get involved? I think right out of the gate, not taking the easy way out and extracting yourself from the conversation. Actually getting in, asking the dumb questions, and being a real advocate. I think it's really easy to feel uncomfortable, but guess what, as a White dude, I don't know what uncomfortable feels like compared to a female in a boardroom or a person of color in a boardroom or something of that nature. So I just need to suck it the fuck up and drive on as we've told everybody else to do. So it's kind of like we're starting to feel what everybody else around us has felt for years. And now we're like, "Oh, wait a minute I'm uncomfortable. I'm gonna get outta this."

Shannon Lucas: I don't like it. I don't like it. Yeah.

Chad: Yeah, I don't like this. So I think we just need to stop taking the easy way out. We need to actually get involved and it's gonna be uncomfortable. And that's good 'cause that's what... Change is uncomfortable.

Joel: I think calling bullshit when you see it, is something that I'd have a more awareness of. I think to your point, Tracey as well is, I have a daughter 13 years old and I'm incredibly aware of not micro-aggressing her, I guess. [chuckle] Pointing out where leadership that women can be CEOs, that women can be leaders of countries. And where I see it in my own life to highlight that. Just as a parent with a 13-year-old, I know that my mother as a 13-year-old, the world and the opportunities that she had are much different than what my daughter, her perception of the world and the opportunities that she has. And if you look at progress, I can tell you my mom had a much more closed view of what her life was gonna be like than my 13-year-old daughter today.

Joel: So to me I have to be a champion for her to say, "Women are awesome, they're leading companies." When I see a startup that's a cool idea. I'm like, "Look at what this woman is doing." I wanna point out and highlight to her that women kick ass. And if I can help her, and I'm a man saying women are awesome, to me, that is the ultimate gift that I can give to the world. If I'm getting in touch with my emotional side here on this podcast, which I think I can.

Tracey Lovejoy: We haven't made you cry though, Joel.


Joel: Oh, it's coming. It's coming, Shannon. If I can elevate her, to me I've done my job. I don't work for a Fortune 500, I'm not in a position to make any sort of big swings from that perspective. But if I can make a difference in my daughter's life, to me that's kind of what I really focus on.

Chad: Yeah and we're a couple of saps to be quite frank. I think, and Joel might disagree, but I think our favorite commercial, like Super Bowl commercials...

Joel: No. Oh, God.

Chad: Is that Audi commercial with the dad and the daughter and she's racing. They keep saying you can't do it. And he's there, and she does. And it's just one of those things where I have two daughters as well, so it's like, I want for them...

Joel: And the dad's like, "What am I supposed to tell her? She's not gonna make as much as a man?" What am I supposed to... Yeah.

Chad: Yeah, yeah. And it's like, no, fuck no. And I'm not gonna stand for that, and that's where I think we have to be as White dudes, but we've always just kind of faded into the woodwork when it became uncomfortable.

Joel: And I see her falling into I guess the cultural trappings of, you're a woman, this is how you're supposed to act. And anytime I can pull her back to, no, you don't have to take that. You don't have to just...

Tracey Lovejoy: That's awesome.

Joel: Do what someone says because you're a female. Get out of that stereotype because you don't have to fall into that trap. I think I'm finding myself do that more and more with my daughter.

Tracey Lovejoy: If I had one more call to action for people, I think it would be, thinking deeply about the equality versus equity. You're going back to the numbers, and it's like, if you all start from different spaces behind the starting line, then an equal race is not gonna be equal. And so equity is going back to the numbers that you were talking about and saying, look, when we're looking for a board position, we're looking for a woman, and our traditional criterion meant that they had to have C-level experience at a large public company. That funnel is really small because of all of the micro-decisions that were made before that. And so getting to equity is thinking deeply about where can we lift someone up where we know they'll still be able to do the job? We might need to be able to give them a little bit more support to fill in those gaps, but we're committed to the diversity and the equity.

Joel: Tracey is clapping by the way, for listeners that can't see.


Shannon Lucas: Call to action.

Tracey Lovejoy: I didn't get a Joel clap though.


Joel: It takes me a while to catch up Shannon, and Chad will attest to that. And that is Tracey Lovejoy and Shannon Lucas, co-founders of Catalyst Constellations. Chad, another one in the can. And I don't know about you, but I'm a little smarter and a little more in touch with my feminine side. We out.

Chad: We out.

Outro: Wow. Look at you. You made it through an entire episode of The Chad and Cheese Podcast. Or maybe you cheated and fast-forwarded it to the end. Either way, there's no doubt you wish you had that time back. Valuable time you could have used to buy a nutritious meal at Taco Bell. Enjoy a pour of your favorite whiskey. Or just watch big booty Latinas and bug fights on TikTok. No, you hung out with these two chuckleheads instead. Now, go take a shower and wash off all the guilt but save some soap because you'll be back. Like an awful trainwreck, you can't look away. And like Chad's favorite Western, you can't quit them either. We out.


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