About Dorothy Dalton
Dorothy Dalton is the founder and CEO of 3Plus International Limited. Her intensity towards workplace diversity accelerated when she saw her daughter going through the same phase as she had gone through during her early years. Dorothy is a global talent management strategist, she is an influencer who focuses on the inclusivity in workplaces when it comes to a diverse workforce. She's a career consulting and training coach, focusing on bias conscious recruitment, helping organizations to attract and retain top talent, an established blogger who has also published a guidebook on 'How to build an inclusive workplace' and has released many ebooks.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Dorothy today to our interview series. I am Aishwarya Jain from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick introduction of peopleHum. peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work with AI and automation technologies. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Welcome, Dorothy we are thrilled to have you.
Thank you. I'm delighted to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Thank you for your time.
The first question I have for you is if you can tell us something about your interesting work as an international talent management strategist?
I think the thing that I like best about it is the variety. So I enjoy supporting organizations to reach diversity inclusion targets, particularly focusing on gender balance. I mean, that's my particular area of interest. I enjoy the training elements, the coaching elements, and obviously because I work in recruitment, its pattern doing really.
It means that I work with a lot of really great clients internationally, different industrial sectors in financing, in the not for profit area and I'm also, as you mentioned, doing some writing for the European Commission. I've also got a guidebook being published in May with the European Commission on how to combat sexism in the workplace. So that was really exciting. I did that last year. So the thing I enjoy about it most is the variety and working with people to achieve measurable goals.
I see. That's wonderful. It must have been a wondrous journey for you from where you've come from.
And now where you are. So you know, what is it according to you that a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace needs, you know, in terms of improving efficiency and returns for an organization?
Well, I mean, truthfully, it's not according to me, I think you're probably aware that a lot of major organizations such as the World Economic Forum, European Commission, World Bank, Deloitte, McKinsey, Bain, all the big names have done extensive research on the value of benefits of having a gender-balanced workplace and a diverse and inclusive workplace and the results are very compelling, right? I think McKinsey shows that a diverse workplace shows 35% return on ROI.
You've got research from Deloitte where they see increases in retention, engagement, decision making, creativity, reduction in absenteeism, and reduction in the Six Sigmas. So the results are very compelling. What isn't being looked at truthfully is a. the lack of progress and b. what can we do about that?
I think that as you can see, I'm a lady with a certain age. I honestly thought by the time I reached my age, it would be a done deal and I have a daughter who graduated, she's a lawyer. One of the reasons I started focusing on this more intensely was because my daughter was going through the exact same things that I did when she graduated as I graduated and I had her when I was 30.
So what we're doing is we're not taking the steps forward that we need to. I think it's really important that we focused our efforts on finding what the barriers are and what the blockages are trying to work on that. And I think a lot of organizations - they're starting to work on unconscious bias and the belief that, workplace ecosystems hold us back.
What do you think is the reason? What is the stemming reason for such bias? Why are our workplaces biased like this?
Our workplaces are biased because our cultures are biased and I mean this is a theme of basically a lot of the training that I do in talking to organizations, about any sort of discrimination or sexism or harassment and any sort of discrimination in the workplace. You can't expect people to live their lives the way we do and then all of a sudden come into the workplace and all of that is gone. Right?
So we're bombarded with adverts of women scantily dressed or that were showing them cleaning the house. There’s a great advert from P&G I think from India showing a woman showing her son how to use the laundry machine. So it's about the way we raise our kids. It's about the movies we watch, and the books that we read.
There was a study from a university in Copenhagen, that had a robot read 3.5 million books, and men were judged by their achievements and their values. How did women feature do you think?
I don't know! I can't imagine.
By their appearances! So 3.5 million books men were the heroes. If you look at movies, right? Any movie, this is a particular favorite of mine, even the little mermaid. Do you know the movie, The Little Mermaid? Even she is not the leading lady in their own movie. The male parts get much greater speaking parts. Women only get about 33% of leading roles and speaking both in movies internationally.
So I think that we've been bombarded every day by these subtle messages and biases, which we can't leave behind in the workplace. There’s a great book by Caroline Criado-Perez, which was the business book of last year 2019 & it's called The invisible Women and I don't work for her, I'm recommending it because it's a good book and she talks about the hidden biases and data.
So even if you drive a car, if you go for the Coronavirus medical test, they're using different data for women. It's quite interesting because, apparently, more men are dying more from Coronavirus than women & they are not drilling down into why it's that.
It's too early, but apparently men are more likely to be smokers, they're suggesting perhaps that estrogen helps combat the virus, but also because women are doing a lot of the housework, we are always washing clothes, washing dishes, washing kids so maybe just overall our general hygiene is better, we're surrounded by these things.
It is not gonna be any different in the workplace. We bring our whole selves to work. We don't leave a bit of it at home. Does that make sense?
But do you think it's also important to call it out when you see something like that? How important is that?
I think it's very difficult to manage & certainly when I worked with organizations, originally what we started doing was empowering women. We talked about empowering women & basically, changing women to fit into a male coded workplace and that clearly isn't working. So what we need to do now is we need to educate everybody about these biases.
I think you have to do it without judgment. They're there for a reason. You can't make them go away.
I get my kind of mad when I see things, you know, eliminate unconscious bias, eradicate all of these things. You can't do it. You can only learn to manage that. And the best way to manage it is in a constructive environment. Because if you educate one demographic and they start calling out bias then the group that feels threatened is gonna push back and that's what we're seeing.
I think it was research from Deloitte that showed that the biggest group of resistance is the middle manager because they're the ones that are caught between, you know, the leadership on board which was saying, OK, we're going to be more diverse we are going to be more inclusive and the people on the ground who are pushing back, so I think it's about educating people, getting them to understand that these biases are going on and then introducing processes and systems to remind people how to do that and then calling it out at the same time.
So you've got three pillars -
- Leadership commitment.
- Process change.
- Individual behavior change.
Changing individual behavior is really hard because we don't like change, right? Nobody likes to change. If you have a leadership commitment without getting the middle managers on board, you've got a problem. If you've got people pushing for change from the bottom, the leadership has got a problem and you have the tail wagging the job. So it has to be the whole organization commitment and what also happens is people think that you come in and you do like, a two-hour lunch to learn and you talk about unconscious biases.
Okay, We're done. It's fixed. No, that doesn't work. It's going to be ongoing, you know, you've got to have check-ins, you've got to have nudges in your system, you've got to have people trained to call it out, as you say, in a way that is constructive.
So it doesn't cause tension, because in my experience, most, I mean there are some people who are deliberately antagonistically discriminatory but for the most part, particularly for gender bias, most people do not know they're doing it, it's so ingrained in ourselves and our cultures, they don't know they're doing it, so it can be called out in a way that is constructive. There are people who, intend to bully and harass and that’s very separate.
Right, so it is primarily an awareness issue. People are not aware of this, and then it becomes important to make them aware of it and then through regular sessions or training, it would be important for organizations to understand this mindset because I think it's also a mindset problem, right?
People have certain notions about women and then they stick to that & that's a huge problem. So do you think that all the time you've seen a change in your lifetime? Have you seen a change in people from becoming unaware of becoming aware of such issues?
Not as much as I would like. I mean, my first job was in the Steel industry where we were three female trainees out of 150, so I mean, we were the quota. So three women with a quota and we had experienced in the workplace where, I don't know if I can say this on an Indian podcast, but men will put their hands on your bum every day.
They would send you up on gantries and platforms and look up your skirts. You know, all of these sorts of things. I think as we've seen with the #MeToo movement in certain sectors, that sort of crass behavior is still going on.
I think that there are some sectors that are more aware, okay? But I think in others there is a massive resistance to change. It is changing slowly and the fact that Harvey Weinstein is in jail. I mean, that's a massive step forward. But whether or not that will be a deterrent to the leaders that they have to change. I just hope, I just hope it moves now at a much faster pace.
Absolutely, I hope for that too, really you know, being a female myself. I do really hope that this scenario changes.
And, you know, with the recent outbreak of the virus, do you think our way of thinking will change, or, you know, will there be a change in the way we work and we see things?
My answer is this - I would have hoped so. You know, I think this is the universe speaking if you like. I think its message to self, that we need to change the way we're doing things, the qualities we value, the way we reward people, the way we live our lives.
I hope that there is long term change, but I think we are still sore after the financial crisis that it was, you know, there was this moment of horror which lasted a year or however and then, little by little, it has gone back to business as usual. So I am hoping about anything that when we have emerged from this, that leaders will sit down together and say, okay - what are we gonna change? And what do we need to do differently?
And I hope that HR will play an important role in this and I hope that tech will play an important role in this because I think that is something that's come out of this crisis is how we can change with tech. How helpful it is and how we can use it for our benefits. So that's what I'm hoping for.
Yeah, let's talk a little about, you know, the tech part of it.
So being digital-savvy yourself, can you help us understand how important of a role will technology and digital make in the inclusive workplace of the future?
I think that one of the big discussions that I'm having with my clients is working from home. First of all, I'm saying this from a place of privilege, right? I have space. I have fast broadband, I have the equipment.
So I think that I'm very mindful that, there are people, I've been talking to clients that are at home trying to homeschool the kids, they don't have space. They may only have one family computer which two or three people are trying to use. So I think that it's also about resources, but I think one of the things that it shows is that - tech can work.
We've always known this, but organizations are focused on presence culture where you have to be in the office, you have to be at your desk, people can see if you're enthusiastic, they can assume if you're motivated and you're not necessarily judged on results.
I am hoping that that will be a major change. Um, in the sense, the way we evaluate people, the way people work. I'm going to add a caveat to that - I think that the working from home piece, right, should be a benefit. I don't think it should be an imposed policy, because I'm also working with a lot of people who don't like working from home. They feel isolated.
The circumstances I explained about they don't like putting the video camera on in their homes because maybe they're boss is living in a fancy home and they're living in a shared house with four other young professionals. Or maybe they got their laundry hanging up, whatever the circumstance is. So I think that's an element of inclusion that managers could be aware of. I think you have to be very careful about saying, OK, this really worked in the crisis and we're going to do it for everybody. Not everyone will want to do it basically. Does that go somewhere to answer your question?
Yes, yes. And it makes a lot of sense. And in fact, I agree with you, we tried it in our own company where we asked everybody to switch on the video cameras because you just wanted to see expressions, as it gets very isolating when you're working from home for such a long time but we did not get a very good response. They're still very hesitant to switch a video camera on.
That might be why. And I think this brings us to another point, we have all this tech, right? We're having people work remotely but how well the managers and supervisors are trained to manage remote teams and the other area using tech on a daily basis, it's a great place for miscommunication, so there’s a stat like over 70% of emails are misunderstood, in particular when you're using Slack or you're using Whatsapp groups or whatever, they can be misunderstood.
A colleague of mine here in Belgium said, using Emojis to show intent that shows you're moved but honestly, I've done that myself. I pushed the wrong emoji, and so instead of saying I'm really saddened, just a point of view, it's being a laughing out loud one. So I think that you've got to be very careful and you've got to be very mindful of the way you communicate.
There're a lot of organizations that are not trained to bring people in different regions or even in the same town and when you want people to put the cameras on, some people aren't happy in front of the camera, but now this zoom thing has a touch-up appearance, that's even better.
So I think that managers have got to be sensitive to that and let's say I want to see everybody's body language. I think if people want to speak, they have to learn to listen to voices and hear what's going on? So it's not just the physical communication by looking at somebody. It's also auditory by listening to people and I'm quite old school. I grew up with the old fashioned telephone, so I'm used to talking to people on the phone, so I can usually tell if someone's okay or not.
But I think it's about a new generation of managers who're probably saying things to millennials, the millennials are now the older millennials who are in their mid-thirties, late-thirties and they need new training, which is a little bit learning old school skills.
Right, absolutely! So I think leaders are not really, they don't know how to cope up with remote working because they've never been trained or taught how to do that and suddenly, you know, in this crisis we don't know how to manage things. So yes, I absolutely agree. There is a huge gap in leadership right here.
So what do you think will help us become better as leaders when we are trying to remote manage? Of course, as you said you talked about sensitivity about your employers, but are there some other tactics, when you're working in a remote culture, how do you stay in touch with the team?
There is Slack of course and there is a lot of tech. But how do you empathize with them? How do you check with them? If they're OK? If they're doing well?
I think, first of all, you can't make assumptions. Every organization is different. Just because somebody has a laptop or broadband it doesn't necessarily mean that they're good to go. I think all managers and organizations need to be trained and I think this is what I'm seeing is, people who are very good at working face to face and all of a sudden they are going online to do something, they're hopeless.
I was very fortunate and this is because I have great vision or it just happened that I did that training about six years ago. So for me, it was one of the hardest things I did. It's not something that necessarily comes easily; It's about arranging or finding out what communication style each of your team has and tapping into that.
There are some people that don't like to be micromanaged. There are some people that want that involvement, so it means one-to-ones with each of your team, finding out what works for them. It's about having a group session.
I think, depending on what their targets are, what their goals are, being mindful that people will not want to put that camera on, making sure that they hear their voice because I think if you are working alone, obviously now it's in lockdown, but sometimes just being able to speak to another person is a great help rather than chat, maybe making yourself available for a role of call, you know, just having my line is open, you know, having a zoom meeting open, you wanna check-in, you want to check-in and I'll be here. So almost like having your office door open so that people want to drop by, they can drop by.
And I think it's also about being mindful of your communication. Don't make assumptions, I was working with someone from an organization when her computer goes onto idle mode, IT would pick it up and they would think she's slacking off, in actual fact, she might be on a call or she might have gone to the bathroom, so I think it's about different expectations.
I think in the Coronavirus crisis, managers have to understand that employees are homeschooling, they might have limited time to go grocery shopping. They might be caring for people, their partner might be at home. They might have limited space, so they have to manage their expectations and talk to their employees about it. Okay, what is your situation? How are you gonna cope? How can I support you?
So I was working with one person yesterday who said that her manager still wants results, even though she's got two kids at home, they have homework assignments and that she is the parent responsible for it. So it's about managing expectations and finding out what is achievable.
Absolutely and that has actually given me some insight because I talk to a lot of people on Slack, we use Slack in our organization and I just find myself typing away to messages all the time with my team & that is so exhausting, you know, I realize that, hey, why can't we just get on a call and finish that, you know, a 10-minute job in just two minutes? So that's actually helpful. And I just wanted to share with you because we're doing this in our organization.
We just started this game, which is, tagging people. So you tag one person in the organization, and then the person takes some activity up like let's say liking an interview series that I did with Jason Averbook or subscribing, so they keep tagging and it's like a chain reaction and everybody is involved in that game because it's exciting, it's fun. So that's actually helped us to come together as a team and I really love your tips on how we should not get very jittery if somebody is not giving us results because that actually happens with me, too.
If I see some teammate offline on Slack, I just get jittery. Like oh, this person is not working, I should text this person they are not working. I think I should, kind of, be more mindful and be sensitive.
Yeah. I mean, I think there are two things there. I think it's about finding out what works for that person, okay? What is going on for them? Because rather than, I think, particularly in the current crisis you know, perhaps they're not working because perhaps they're sick and I think it is time-consuming in the beginning, particularly when you're trying to manage the tech.
But some people will say, 'Okay. No, you don't need to. I prefer to be autonomous. I don't need you to check in on me.' But there will be some people saying yeah, I really need that and then you have maybe a group meeting routine meeting regardless of what everybody wants, then let people decide if they want to use the camera or not, but definitely speak!
I'm not but a fan of chat. I really like the voicemail options that you can get, even on Linkedin or WhatsApp, so instead of typing on a phone because I'm not as quick as you guys, then I just leave a voicemail message and I find that if someone can hear your voice that people say that that is much more helpful than seeing this massively long and psych message or text message come through. I find that a good alternative.
Yeah, I absolutely agree I think I am an old school on that, too.
Let's talk a little about the newer generation, the millennials. So how do you believe the gig economy is going to evolve, especially when you consider the growing ranks of millennials in our workforce?
You know I'm not a fan of the gig economy, right? I'm very well-publicized for this and I think we're seeing some of the problems with it as it goes, I think I think the gig economy suits some people and it doesn't suit others. I think some organizations, under the banner of agile working, have actually quite exploitative practices and I'm not in favor of that.
I think you can use contractors, you can use freelancers and you don't have to exploit them and I think we're seeing. This is coming out now in this crisis, where so many people are very vulnerable because they don't have employment rights.
The other thing I think you have to pay attention to when you are used to millennials, my kids are millennials. My daughter's partner in a law firm so I think that we have to remember that millennials have come of age, right? So the older ones, they've got kids, they've got mortgages, they're in senior roles.
So I think it's the younger, the next generation, the Gen Z’s, that are coming up and what we're seeing is that they have, they're much more value-driven than certainly my generation. They are looking for organizations that are committed to sustainability. They're committed to diversity and inclusion and they are passionate about the environment.
All of these things and there was this really great quote from Mark Cuban. He said that brands are going to be judged about the way they handle this crisis.
I'm one of the ones that are taking names, not gonna use that brand and I think that organizations are going to have to be prepared to protect their employer brand and Candidates will be asked.
I would encourage candidates to ask in interviews - How did you respond to the Coronavirus crisis? Then we need to have a good response because if organizations don't respond with compassion, empathy, commitment to sustainability, to protecting their consumers and therein employees, then they're going to struggle going forward. So I don't even think it's a generational thing anymore, I think it's much broader than that and I think that is something that is, the crisis is all about.
But do you see a gap in, you know, the way millennials think and Gen Z think and then in the way baby boomers think?
I mean you can see, I'm living in Western Europe, I don't know what it's like in India, but the demographic, right? There's struggling with going out, quite often they're people over 65 and these are the people who are at risk, they will not stay in their homes. A lot of these people should be going into retirement but what we're seeing, in fact, is that because of the financial crisis they are actually staying at the workplace longer and these are people that quite like the gig economy because it means that they can balance retired life with generating a bit of revenue.
But there's a definite mindset different. They're less tech-savvy. Although my mom is 95 and, she's on Facebook & she does email and all of these things that I think it varies. I don't like to stereotype, but I think the research shows that there is a different cultural approach from the younger generation to the older generation!
Absolutely and you know, talking about transitioning of career what are the key areas to focus on while transitioning a career and how does a coach really help?
I think that people can and do their own career transitions without help. They can do that. I think it depends on the sector of the market you're in, the state of the economy, the state that you're in, how it works. I think that certainly my advice for anyone who is wanting to do a career pivot and this is the way I work with clients. I'm a cognitive behavior coach. So when we're present and future-driven and solution-focused, which is great but this area of coaching.
So I asked people to look at their goals, values, and vision because most people don't do that, and particularly women because they're at the center, they tend not to do that. Mark Twain said it If you don't know where you're going, every direction will get you there. So it's important to know what you want and have a vision.
I like to work holistically so I look at personal, professional goals to make sure they're aligned so that you're on track because they're spill into one side of your life to another. I think that once you've identified what your goals are, you need to have a plan, or strategy and a plan.
We see, I've worked with a lot of people who do, what we call in the recruitment industry - spray & pray, which is you know, they send off, 100 CVs, on different levels of opportunity, there's no connection, there's no nothing. And they'll call and say, you know what's happening Dorothy, I'm not getting anywhere, so it's about being targeted, making sure that you tick all the boxes required in the job.
I mean, job search now is an art. So the art is telling a compelling narrative, science is making sure that you're searchable and everything you do is optimized, so you know that organizations work with ATS, so it means that you have to be retrievable and then it's push and pull marketing. So the push is everything you do yourself and the pull is driving traffic to you because you just don't know what opportunities are out there.
So if people follow that approach, it is much more effective than hashing out the CV and sending it to a 100. Because you need to tailor your CV for each opportunity, you need to tailor your cover letter, you're LinkedIn profile needs to be complete and this is a message to the ladies who are gonna listen.
Women tend to have their LinkedIn profiles not as complete as their male colleagues - so get on it now because you need to do that, so that's really important. I think the final thing is Network Network Network and you know, there are lots of different stats about the opportunities that you get through networking, but it's hyped. So network, even if you're in lockdown, make a commitment to networking.
I try to reach out to three people a day. I find that is a nice number. It is very manageable and don't try and pitch yourself. If you haven't tapped on someone for 20 years and all of a sudden you contact them say- Hey, I'm looking for a job. That does not go down well, so don't do that, right. So you have to build it up, there’s a great saying - you don't fix your roof when it's raining, so if you make networking an ongoing project, then you're prepared for emergencies.
Right, that was quite insightful and I think I absolutely agree with you. We really overlook our profiles, our social profiles, not knowing they're important, when somebody is approaching you or if you are approaching someone. So what you're saying is that we must have goals defined and the job search does not have to be spray and pray.
It has to be very tailored, because what I do see is, Millennials or Gen Z they do that a lot, just, you know, applying to 100 positions, and then when they interview they don't know what the company is all about.
I think to your point there, they got to research. It has never been easier to research people on social media, track them on their Instagram or LinkedIn or Facebook, find out what's going on for them, find out what their career paths are. It's really easy.
I think when you're saying when does a coach come in, If you have been doing a job search, I would say for three months and got no results. You should get a coach. If you are feeling down or you have a complicated transition, get a coach and a lot of people say that it's expensive, but it's an investment.
And there's also a lot of free tools out there, my own company offers a lot of free tools where people can use them for guidance and help them get on that path and particularly now, in the lockdown, almost everybody is lifting their payrolls.
Look, there are lots of courses, so in this lockdown period, if you have any time and you're stuck in your apartment and you can't go out, use it to identify skills that you need and go and upskill using LinkedIn free tools.
I'm doing one from Yale on the science of happiness, you know, there are loads and loads of free tools. So use this time effectively because I think employers will say, What did you do in the Coronavirus crisis? I would ask that. How did you cope? What did you do?
Absolutely and that would be wonderful actually to gain experience and learning in this lockdown crisis. And I think awareness about the free tools, about coaching, that is very important from a recruitment and job search perspective thank you for that insight.
Can I just add one thing there? I think you gotta be careful. I say this there are a lot of, what I call, cracks out there, you know, everybody has an opinion on how to look for a job because everybody's had a job. It's like everybody's had a relationship and people give advice about relationships and jobs and if you look on Google and put jobs search and CV it's like billions of hits, right?
So you have to be careful about who you follow, and you have to research them. You have to check it out, you have to be sure that they are experts in the field and not somebody who's just, I don't know, one that has got a laptop and a LinkedIn profile and all of a sudden says, Hey, I'm a career strategist. No, you really have to look and make sure that they're established and if they're coaches, that they're certified, because a bad coach could do a lot of damage.
Absolutely and in a world where fake news spreads faster than true news Oh, my God. It is very essential.
Right and just for a final question, any other important sound bites that you would like to leave for our viewers?
I think it is interesting. I mean, you're in lockdown. I'm in lockdown. So this has to be a first for you, right? Certainly a first for me. I think I'm trying to do for myself, is to think about what I'm learning about myself, what I need to do differently.
What I could change about myself and I think if everybody emerges from this with an idea of what they could do going forward and what they could change. I think if everybody makes a small change, then generally things will be different.
I think the other thing which is important and something that I've been a little bit guilty of myself, it's not showing gratitude, just appreciating what I have & understanding that how can I use these things I have?
How can I show appreciation and how I can help somebody? So even if it means saying Hi to somebody who was two meters away because we're two meters apart here, we don't know what's going on for them & it's to not make assumptions about people and I think if we can take them not making assumptions into our workplaces, I think that will help a lot with the biases.
Absolutely that is wonderful and I also agree with you that empathizing with people and being sensitive to what they're feeling right now would be one of the most crucial days to do, right?
Yeah, learning something, and particularly if you're a job candidate, you know, you will be asked this question, I'm sure. What did you do? How did you cope? Think about the skills you can acquire. It might be tempting to binge on Netflix or whatever, but it's important that this is almost an existential experience, it's a practical experience for all of us but it's also an existential experience & it would be great if we could all benefit from it.
Yes, well just make the best of the situation, right, if you know, take the negative and turn it into positive that is what it is.
That was wonderful, Dorothy, I had a phenomenal time interviewing you, and thank you. Thank you so much for joining us for taking out the time. I hope you are safe. I hope your near and dear ones are doing well and are healthy and I would just really love to stay in touch with you.
That would be great. Thank you so much and hopefully, you won't be doing any more of your interviews under these crazy circumstances and I hope you, your team and your family stay safe and healthy and I'd be delighted to stay in touch.
Thank you so much and have a great day.