2020: A Look Ahead for Executive Women and Real Change

Nicki GilmourBy Nicki Gilmour, Founder of, Organizational Psychologist and Coach

Happy New Year! is in its third decade as I founded this leading career advice site for professional women in 2007.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In December, we rounded up the year and the decade and stated that to see real change, we really need to do things differently as a society, as well as in companies. And, as leaders and managers and even as individual executives, we need to understand our personal role in change, collusion and status quo.

In 2020, we are going to continue our “tell your story around the campfire to the rest of the village” strategy. We want women to inspire other women and men for that matter, by sharing their personal and professional insights and experiences. In a world where we know women get written out of history or are statistically less likely to be credited for their achievement and contributions, we continue to dedicate the site to making sure there is a platform from which to talk your truth. Your truth is yours alone, but there are some universal truths that form a pattern that suggests there is much more systemic work to do on gender equity than most people want to admit.

We are still here and more committed than ever to telling your story. We are still committed to providing you with evidence-based solutions as it pertains to navigating and managing your career and life.

However, diversity is a misnomer of a word as it implies that the acceptable baseline is straight white men and the rest of us are somehow different. We are the norm just as much as they are and we are not in need fixing or blending or assimilating. Also, the thought of over half the population being different and somehow therefore needing a solution alienates men from participating fully and many of them do not actually gain from the outdated structures that keep us from being all valued as unique humans.

Let’s commit to getting past these remedial change conversations around unhelpful blame of men and ineffective burden solely on women to supposedly fix 100,000 years of societal dynamics in a coffee chat network format, which, if you stop and think about it, couldn’t be more ridiculous.

In 2020, let’s commit to stop pretending that awareness is enough, that research and facts alone can change deep structures that involve power of groups and individuals who frankly don’t want to give it up arbitrarily to an unknown faceless concept (who would?). Let’s do the work, one person at a time, regardless of who we are biologically, tone of skin, who we love, how we are, where we are from. Being a woman doesn’t make you unbiased against women. Being a person of color or LGBT doesn’t make you automatically a bias-free individual either. We all hold stereotypes ubiquitously; no one is exempt.

It is a disservice to not encourage individuals from differentiating themselves as there is no such thing as “all men or all women”. However, we do know there are real group-affiliated benefits from lingering historical power structures.

Let’s work harder to not project our ideals unto people and let them tell us who they are. Value positive behavior (even if that behavior is dissent) and not ideas about who we are due to the body we are born into. This is the future of work and society and we will all gain from it. The Howard/Heidi Rozen case study was twenty years ago whereby Heidi Rozen switched gender on her same paper which was presented under Howard with vastly differing reactions to when she presented it under Heidi. Can we for the love of progress, say that the next twenty years might have men and women evolving past their implicit cognitive biases to not be so laughable about how we judge women on likeability despite the same facts or results being there.

Write less and do more in 2020

We have over 4,000 “how to” articles in our archives for you to read for free. We have discussed and dissected research for 13 years but know that research alone has not moved the needle much. The research has been ignored and often conducted by firms that are, ironically, totally male dominated in their culture and managerial roles and numbers. We have to say no to the false prophets and dead poets trotting out the same old advice without deep structural or behavioral change on the company side. We are in a period of history where people myopically choose their facts and reject other versions, with an extreme disassociation in some cases. But we are still in the same place psychologically with the same neurobiology we have had for a while now, meaning we work within cognitive biases that accumulate from familiar and cultural messages. So, why are we are surprised at the slow-as-molasses progress?

The answer is complex

We have been coaching leaders, managers and executives (women and men) for the past eight years to empower them to design and achieve what they want from their career and life. We have been training inside firms on how to be a change leader, and we have been coaching and consulting with firms on how to create a better workplace. It requires change and those firms and individuals willing to do the work are to be commended.

Coaching humans is what changes the world for the better. Coaching leaders to be fair and at the same time coaching organizations to create the right culture and structures for people to go to work and feel the wind behind the backs for high performance and happy successes is the future.

We embrace working with individuals and organizations to understand where you are at. Then we work on what you want and where you want to be using a method designed primarily at Columbia University and evolved to encompass deeper disciplines, drawn from development and organizational psychology with contextual business models and frameworks, to create the change cognitively, emotionally, psychologically and behaviorally. Because we are individual/organizational psychologists, we know that your situation is very specific to you since your beliefs and behaviors are based on your life experiences and actual personality. We know that development work starts with you, whoever you are and whatever has shaped you. Wherever you work (team, firm, even location) will tone up or tone down certain behaviors because as Kurt Lewin, the forefather of organizational psychology, determined, behavior is a function of both your personality and the environment that you are operating in.

Join us, as evolved people. Be the change you want to see in the world.