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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

Addressing Gender In Modern Leadership

Gender in leadership today is a hot topic. We are still so short of equity and equality with gender leadership in organisations, and in general. In fact, one United Nations report suggests we are 300 years away from achieving that Nirvana, based on our current track.

In a previous episode of my popular, employee engagement podcast, Sticky From The Inside, I spoke to Claudia Miller, about the reasons behind why so many women were leaving senior leadership roles. You can listen to that episode here, but I recently followed up that discussion with Organisational Psychologist, Laura Howard. Laura has completed a year-long study as part of her Masters Degree, which saw her conduct full and intimate conversations with a range of senior female leaders to examine their experiences of conscious and unconscious gender bias with regard to their leadership of organisations.

During the conversation, Laura shared some of her interviewees experiences and stories, and I'm embarrassed to say that I wasn't shocked. I think we're all familiar with many of the examples that were contained in the episode. They've been happening for years and still continue to happen today. It's great that we're talking about it, but it is action that counts.

Below is a full transcript of our episode, which I hope will help to highlight the issue and share some of the recommended actions we can all take to bring more equality and equity to our workplaces. If you prefer, you can listen to the episode here.

Ared-haired woman and a grey-haired man wearing glasses and headphones talking about gender bias in modern leadership
Laura Howard MSc (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss the issues of gender bias in modern leadership

Podcast Introduction

Andy Goram (00:10):

Hello, and welcome to Sticky From The Inside, the employee engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier, competition-smashing, consistently successful organizations from the inside out. I'm your host, Andy Goram, and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn the lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them, and create tons more success for everyone.


This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work, and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it. If you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.


Okay then. Today we are venturing back into the territories of leadership, but a place today where traditional norms are being challenged, new paths are being forged, and the power of equality is leading the way. In a recent episode, I spoke with Claudia Miller about the reasons behind the rising numbers of women leaving leadership roles. And I want to dig deeper and maybe broader into this topic to understand more, and look at how we can push forward more, some more substantial change.


Now picture this: A world where leadership knows no gender boundaries, where qualifications, skills, behavior, attitude, and passion reign supreme. Gone are the days when the corridors of power echoed with the footsteps of a select few. Today, my friends, we embark on a journey that disrupts the status quo, as we challenge and transform the very fabric of leadership. It's time to shake off the rusted shackles of outdated gender stereotypes, embracing the winds of change that breathe life into new possibilities. We are witnessing an era where individuals of all genders are rising to the occasion, proving that the true measure of a leader lies in their ability to inspire, innovate, connect, engage and empower.


But let's be frank, it hasn't been smooth sailing to get to this point, and there are many hurdles, biases and deeply ingrained societal expectations that still hold us back from reaching our final destination. But that's why we're here today, to uncover the stories and share the thoughts and experience of those who are interested in shattering glass ceilings and redefining what it really means to be a leader. In this episode, we'll further explore the challenges faced by women in leadership, the transformative power of diversity inclusion, and look at the strategies that can drive positive change in boardrooms and classrooms, and communities for that matter.


Strap in for what I hope will be a thought-provoking journey together. To help navigate these waters, and perhaps that is enough now with the explorer theme, is Laura Howard, an organizational psychologist and the founder of the Contented Workplace, who's just completed a detailed study into the backdrop of shifting gender standards in leadership as part of her Master's degree. I'm hoping Laura can help us take a look at what's really needed to make some lasting change and ignite a positive future where leadership really does know no boundaries. Welcome to the show, Laura.

Laura Howard (03:57):

It's great to be here, Andy.

Andy Goram (04:00):

It's lovely to have you here, Laura. I'm really interested in this topic. It's one of those topics where you sit here as a middle-aged, white guy and you have a little bit of nervousness about what unconscious biases might come out or how silly I might look at some questions. But it's such an important topic to properly understand and start to do something more intentionally about, I think, which is why it's absolutely right for this podcast.

Laura Howard (04:30):

Thank you for the introduction. There's really no need to be nervous, for several reasons. Just by opening up this conversation and having some awareness of where your leadership lies and some of the qualities that you bring to leadership within your own lived experience is a brilliant place to start.

Introduction to Laura Howard

Andy Goram (04:54):

100%. I'm really excited to get into this. But before we start, just do us a little favour, Laura, just for me and for the audience. Give us a little bit of information about your background, what you've been up to, what you're focusing on now, just tell us your story.

Laura Howard (05:11):

Brilliant. I live in Derbyshire with my family. I've had a 20-year plus career across business organizations, helping global companies to grow and thrive. That's taken me all around the world and led to me progressing to senior leader level throughout my most recent employment. And that really inspired my passion for engaging with people, engaging team, and helping them to realize their hidden strengths, and therefore being the best that they can at work and bringing their best to work. That really helped us an organization and as a department to deliver some great customer outcomes. Everybody was benefiting from an overall different leadership model, of one that was empowering and growing the team instead of a traditional, more hierarchical and coercive model.


This inspired my passion for wanting to understand behaviour within organizations, and that led to me, in 2020, reevaluating where I wanted to take the rest of my career as a 40-something year old leader. And I thought, why not? Why not go back to university and discover this great topic in proper detail, where I got to do my really important study that you've already spoken about?

What is an Organisational Psychologist?

Andy Goram (06:53):

We're going to dig into that in a minute. You now work, I guess, as an organizational psychologist. What on earth is an organizational psychologist? Just explain what that's all about.

Laura Howard (07:04):

That's a great question. And what I'll start by saying is, it's not nearly anywhere as scary as people might imagine. I'm certainly not into analyzing anybody on their body language or anything like that. That nervousness that you pointed to at the start, please let us drop that, and everybody else that's listening or that I might encounter. Basically, it just means that I'm interested in the practice and the study of behaviour within workplaces.


Sometimes it's called organizational psychologist, sometimes it's called occupational psychologist. I think it's broadened because, for example, we all don't work in organizations. We might be self-employed, for example. That's why it covers a wide breadth of disciplines in terms of employee behavior. It's interested in the study and the practice of how one can deepen one's motivation about work, how you can be increasingly engaged within your work, how you can feel healthy and perform well within your work.


It's a fascinating subject that all sorts of areas that you'll have come across touch upon. For example, workplace wellbeing is often couched in the practice of organizational psychology as well. Equality, diversity and inclusion subjects and practices is also steeped in this area.

Research Into Gender Stereotyping in Leadership

Andy Goram (08:46):

Which is why you're bang on as a guest for this podcast, because we love all that kind stuff. Couple of questions I'm going to ask you that are linked together. I would love your opinion on this challenge that was mentioned within the introduction, the kind of challenging around not just female leadership, but I guess gender stereotyping within leadership. But also the purpose of having this conversation today, Laura, what are you hoping to do or get out of this conversation today?

Laura Howard (09:20):

I know that your practice as an expert in this area is as well in overall engagement, so I'm keen to have a two-way conversation with you, Andy, as to what...

Andy Goram (09:31):

Okay, good.

Laura Howard (09:31):

... you're noticing as well.

Andy Goram (09:34):

Be careful what you wish for, Laura, be careful what you wish for.

Laura Howard (09:39):

But as well, I want to highlight some of the challenges that I identified through the interviews that took place in my year-long study. And by highlighting those, I want to bring greater awareness to some of the individual, but also common, problems that are occurring, barriers that are being faced, but by women, and ultimately, organizations missing out on a huge range of talent and contribution that some groups can offer that they're missing. I'd really love to raise more awareness and greater consciousness around decision makers for promotion, board appointments, things like that, to overall use leadership as a way to enhance gender equity across organizations.


I want to make work better for everybody, and that's why I created my small business. But in particular, I feel that work can be better for working parents, working mothers, for instance, and that's what inspired my study.

What Was The Stimulus For The Research?

Andy Goram (10:55):

Okay, brilliant. And let's, I hope, shine a light on some of this stuff and make some connections for people. I'm sure some of the things you're going to share will resonate with some of the listeners, and hopefully they will not feel alone or isolated and can hear about what can be done to move forward. And maybe even, they can contribute their own examples of ways they've moved forward and broken through some of these barriers that you speak of.


You just mentioned the stimulus for your research. Take me back to the beginning. Where did it come from? Where was the moment you went, yep, that's the topic I want to research? And actually, let's clarify what that topic is.

Laura Howard (11:34):

Thinking back, probably about five or six years ago, before the pandemic hit, I was in the height of my senior leadership career with all the things that I thought I'd dreamed of. A great job title, a good salary, I had a great home life with my family around me, yet I was beginning to burn out. On the surface, things were looking tickety-boo. And we as leaders have a great job of holding it together, don't we?

Andy Goram (12:14):


Laura Howard (12:15):

But I started to see the signs that were edging towards those burnout signals.

Andy Goram (12:24):

What were they, Laura? What were you noticing?

Laura Howard (12:29):

These are deeply individual, aren't they?

Andy Goram (12:31):

Of course they are, yeah.

Laura Howard (12:32):

I don't want to say that this would happen to any of us, but for me it was, I think, increasing anxiety going into significant meetings. Whereas in my younger days, I would've taken all this in my stride and be much more relaxed. What that indicated to me was that there were too many balls in the air simultaneously. And this is something that I've uncovered within my study, is that generally as senior women leaders, we want to do great. We want to do great work, and therefore we put in 110% all of the time.


For example, and I use this example when I'm doing workshops, I say, think about preparing a shopping list. Conversely, think about going into the boardroom to deliver a big pitch, for instance. Would you put in the same effort and impetus to both activities? And the answer, hopefully, is no. Because the shops are open, depending where you live, pretty much 24 hours a day now, so if you forget something, it's not the end of the world, nobody's going to starve. And similarly, if you are preparing a big piece of work for a board meeting, you know you will have a lead time to it. You will think about the things that you can control on the day, the technology or all the research and the stats, for example.


But all those things that you and I discussed now sound really logical, but they were spiraling. That overthinking, that overworking, was on overdrive. I knew that I was trying to be all things to all people, and ultimately the only loser in that was myself, whilst everybody else was achieving their goals.

Is My Femininity Fit To Be Authentic?

Andy Goram (14:30):

It's hard, isn't it? Those things can be entirely debilitating, and seemingly come out of nowhere. When we think about your study, just for formality, what was the title of your study?

Laura Howard (14:44):

The title is, "Is My Femininity Fit To Be Authentic? Senior Women's Accounts of Workplace Authenticity."

Andy Goram (14:56):


Laura Howard (14:56):

Do you want me to unpick that a bit?

Andy Goram (14:57):

Yeah. Wow, that's a big old topic there. Give us the background to what it was that you were trying to get to find out more about with that title.

Laura Howard (15:13):

Spurred on by my own lived experience, I wanted to hear and understand how the women had risen and how they felt that they could be themselves, wholly, partially, or not at all within their workplace environment.

Andy Goram (15:36):

It's really interesting, isn't it? Because the word authenticity is thrown around today, almost willy-nilly. There's a question, and I had a guest on the podcast who asked this question previously. It was, do we really want you to be your authentic self or do we want you to fit into some other category? That's quite a big question.

Laura Howard (15:59):

Yeah, absolutely. And that was part of the question that I was attempting to answer during my study. I'll take a side step in, I'll define authenticity as the definition that I used within my study. And this is about embodying one's values', whereby they're exhibited and shared transparently, and undergoing transparent and open decision-making as well.


It's not about sharing a photograph of your cat on LinkedIn, for example, which some might consider authentic. And of course you can do that, there's nothing wrong with that. That's your choice.

Andy Goram (16:50):

It'll probably get you a load more likes than a lot of my content, that's for sure. But hey, what's a like?

Laura Howard (16:54):

Maybe that's where I'm going wrong, Andy, you and me both.

Andy Goram (16:57):


Laura Howard (17:00):

As I say, it's about those types of behaviours. Therein lies the problem because, of course, we can only embody what we perceive to be our version of authentic. I'm having a chat with you here today, you can see my daughter's Lego in the background, I'm being very open about some of my work experience, but you still might consider me partially or inauthentic because... It's a two-way street, right?

Andy Goram (17:36):


Laura Howard (17:38):

We can only hold that perception of ourselves, and hold it lightly, because the other person, it could be a mismatch. Ultimately, that's one of the challenges, and that's where some of the complexities and biases come around women in the workplace. Because following deregulation of the financial services industry in the 1970s, that's when flexible, what we call knowledge work, office-based work, came about for women. And this is why we saw an upsurge of both genders in the workplace.


But still, from the hangups of that period, if you describe an ideal leader, often one might conjure up an image of an ideal leader, and that is most probably, likely to be a white, senior male.

Common Problems Encountered By Female Leaders

Andy Goram (18:35):

At the heart of this research, I'm interested to understand what were the common problems. What were the things you saw most frequently faced by the women that you were interviewing? But I think it's easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of all these things. I'm equally interested to understand what the lessons are that we can learn, what the path is for the future? What were some of the methods, strategies that people used to overcome some of these barriers, and how do we go on to challenge the norm you've just described going forwards? Can you talk us through the research in that sort of manner?

Laura Howard (19:14):

Yeah. Absolutely, I can. I interviewed 10 senior women leaders. Some were in larger corporate organizations, and some had their own small- to medium-sized company. And that was important to me because I wanted to show a cross section of experiences. And it was in their own words. Part of the process is to carry out, what we call, semi-structured interviews. I have a guide to lead me with my interview questions, but of course, if other topics come up, much like the podcast, I guess, Andy...

Andy Goram (19:58):


Laura Howard (20:01):

... if all the topics come up, it's important that that person has space to explore them fully. For example, some of the common problems were unsurprisingly discrimination-based. For example, everyone in my study was anonymized, to obviously protect the confidentiality of respondent.


A person that is named Caroline in my study, she was promised a promotion and she was on that trajectory, but unrelated, she announced that she was expecting her first child. And going into that meeting where she anticipated that the outcome was she would be given the scope and terms and everything of her next promotion, they said to her, "You won't be receiving it right now, instead you'll be receiving it when you come back from maternity leave." With the conversation couched in those words, she was left in no uncertain terms that the two were inextricably linked, in terms of her proposed pathway to promotion and to her announcing that she'd become pregnant.


Another example of discrimination was, for example, a senior female colleague who'd gone to negotiate a contract. She had another person with her who was a junior male colleague. But the person from the other organization whom was negotiating, firmly put the woman in the role of taking them the notes and bringing the tea to the meeting. And she had to, of course politely, because they were negotiating with this person, correct the gentleman in that she was a senior negotiator. But it was assumed that because her colleague was the male in the group, that in fact her role wasn't key to the negotiation process, she was on the periphery.


These are some examples that I've encountered throughout all of the 10 respondents, that they have a similar theme. But equally, these were often experienced particularly in the early career of the individual, so you talk about ways to tackle this, ways to evolve. What I noticed was, as the women began to experiment and become more secure, more self-assured about the types of activities that they were doing, the types of feedback that they were doing, their confidence grew. They felt less of an imposter, they felt more capable to challenge some of these behaviors that they were experiencing.


But sadly, why I included women whom have created their own SMEs is, a lot of women felt that they couldn't grow into this security of the role with time, with maturity. Ultimately, they parted ways with their corporate organization and created their own small- and medium-sized business where they felt they could be wholly themselves and experience greater wellbeing, balance and authenticity using that.


I'm going to pause there because I know I've been talking a lot, Andy, and you might want to come back to me at some point there.

Is the Research Sample Size Representative?

Andy Goram (23:56):

No, no, I'm just listening. The sample size we're dealing with here, it's a small sample size. But I suspect the things that you've talked about in some quite in-depth, qualitative research here will be seen resonating, echoed by women across the workplace. I don't want to, again, sound like it's all negative because, I guess, things are changing. But that's easy for me to say as a white, middle-aged male, things are changing, because we say things are changing. What's actually happening out there, it's still a very, very long way to go.


That sample size, do you think it represents the working community at large? Laura, what's your view on that?

Laura Howard (24:46):

You're absolutely right to point to the small sample size. And the reason it says "Women's Accounts" in the title is, it's because I'm not generating statistical results. It's about the depth of understanding. And as a psychologist, as a researcher, you go into a study with your eyes...

Andy Goram (25:03):

Yeah, 100%.

Laura Howard (25:04):

... fully open about that type of thing. That's why it's important to caveat my answer, by saying it's not intended to be a generalizable study.

Andy Goram (25:14):


Laura Howard (25:15):

But equally, anecdotal evidence, anecdotal stories are very important as practitioners.

Andy Goram (25:23):


Laura Howard (25:24):

I'm looking to you because we're in a similar space, aren't we, Andy?

The Power of Storytelling

Andy Goram (25:28):

It's the stories that resonate with people. On whatever the topics we're talking about, here or in our practices, people being able to see themselves in a situation resonate with a thing that has happened or a skill that is being explained or explored. It's the stories and examples that help us as humans get to grips of what we're really talking about, and work out whether it's a thing for us and that we buy in or resonate or it has an impact on us, or it doesn't. There is that connection piece, which is where stories are so important.


Which, I guess in my limited understanding of what a business or occupational psychologist does, I ask the question about the sample size, because this is about in-depth understanding of the stories and impacts that your group have been through, which is not to say, we surveyed 1,000 women and 67% said this, and 75% said this. This is about trying to get those transferrable experiences understood, and used to better understand the situation, to better understand the challenges that people are facing, and the impact of those challenges and how, hopefully, people have found ways to overcome them.

Laura Howard (26:50):

Thank you for those reflections. And it's exactly right. The impact was something that I wanted to show on my survey. I'll just come back to that momentarily, if you let me, Andy.

Andy Goram (27:05):


Laura Howard (27:05):

I can't say how commonplace, statistically, the women's stories are across the UK, let's say. But I can say that I hear common examples and similarities across women that I, for example, deliver executive coaching to, or I deliver other training and facilitation workshops to. I find sharing stories really useful as a facilitator. Maybe you could tell me how you get on with sharing stories.

Andy Goram (27:43):

As I said, I think it's the thing that actually helps people put themselves in situations. You tell a good story, they can see themselves in it. They're either in it because they've experienced something, or they're outside of it, learning something, but in a transferrable way. I think that's where stories really, really help.

Laura Howard (28:00):


Surprising Findings From The Research

Andy Goram (28:01):

When you were listening to the women in your study, was there anything surprising that really came out from your research, some things that you weren't expecting to hear? We talk about bias. You would've gone in with an open mind, but we're humans, we can't help thinking about what we're going to hear about, or making some assumptions. Anything surprising came out of your research?

Laura Howard (28:31):

Yeah. Going back to the stimulus for the research, in my early career, I was very unconscious to some of these bias. I was quite idealistic, as a younger career woman. As you said in your introduction, I believed that promotion, job recognition, things like that were done on merit. But equally, as you said, they're societal, fundamental flaws that mean merit is often a myth. By that I mean, if you have an archetypal view of a leader in what I described earlier, then already there are groups that are a disadvantage. Neurodivergent groups, for example, marginalized minority groups, for example.


My study included one woman of colour, that I'm calling Beatrice in my study. Beatrice is a deeply committed, professional senior solicitor, yet when she went for job interviews in her earlier career, she was asked if she could speak English.

Andy Goram (29:48):

Dear me.

Laura Howard (29:50):

You talk about your awareness of your lived experience and how you describe yourself, and equally, I describe myself as a middle-aged, white woman. That just knocked me for six, that someone, regardless of origin, could be spoken to like that in a job interview. That was deeply uncomfortable for me. How could another white person talk like that to someone that had applied for a job?


You talk about that nervousness, to be yourself, let's get happy with being uncomfortable. Because being uncomfortable is a great starting place because it helps us explore what's going on.

Recommendations for the Way Forward

Andy Goram (30:47):

And I think there's a lot of chat, and I think we just have to keep doing more to move the whole DEI thing on, by really taking action, and not just when it happens to you. But when you don't see that fairness being delivered, you've got to talk about it, you've got to bring up. Hence, trying to get a little bit further under the skin today.


From the study, there's clear biases. There's the whole thing about being passed over promotion. There's this seeming authority gap, that if you are female, you should have less authority than a male. I don't know whether that's conscious or unconscious bias. But the sort of things you've just talked about, with the lawyer experience, there's a whole bunch of conditioning of stuff behind all of this that has clearly got to be addressed continually, as a society going forwards.


But when you think about the lessons that you've taken out of the study, when you think about the norms you've got to challenge, and when you sat back and looked at all of the data, what's next? What have you taken out of the study as the go-forward challenge or actions that you think we all should be more conscious of, be more intentional with, Laura? What are they?

Laura Howard (32:05):

I'll couch this answer in firstly thinking about the impact. Because I've alluded to some of the women change careers completely, starting their own small business, some remained uncomfortable for that time but ultimately came through with greater resilience and greater surety about what type of leader they wanted to be. As much as we'd want these experience to disappear in their entirety, I think let's be honest. I read one figure, it's going to be 300 years until we have full gender equity across organizations.


But, there was some remarkable examples of how women had come through these, and therefore acted as role models for younger women coming through organizations. I talk about when I coach women, I say, what did your 20-year-old self need to see in a woman leader? What would've made a difference for you? And that is a huge outcome for this study, because one of my respondents, who we're calling Michelle, said, "Many of the women were outmanning the man." I tied myself in knots about that, but you know what I mean, Andy.


That's such a pity, because they were attempting to fit into this archetypal image. When I say, what can people do? As male allies, leaders can speak up, if they're leaving early to collect their children from school, for example. And it isn't babysitting when it's your own children, you are taking dual responsibility. If you notice that a senior woman leader in a meeting isn't getting the airtime that warrants her contribution, then male allies can make space for that person in that meeting. This is about allyship and challenging behaviours.


For example, there's this phenomenon in workplaces called, office housework. It's like fetching the tea and coffees to meetings, organizing retirement gifts, things like this. This work, it's zero reward, let's face it. This isn't work that's going to get you noticed for a promotion, but nevertheless, it's work that needs doing. And if, for example, a male leader were to notice that this is happening, being passed on to the female regularly, challenge that. How can we share this more equitably across the organization, for example? It's a hell of a lot that organizations can do in their microcosms.


But also, if you are part of a trade body, for example, or a membership organization, where you can cascade some of these practices, some of these messages, apply for awards, for example, this is a way to influence the greater societal matters. There are some fantastic books, if men are interested, and I would urge you to consider. You've mentioned one by Mary Ann Sieghart, "The Authority Gap", and the other one is by Laura Bates, "Fix the System, Not the Women." Get your algorithms working to suggest these books for you, because there are some remarkable titles out there to really help raise continued awareness of this.


When organizations are designing jobs, there's inherent bias often in job descriptions. Think about the word gravitas, or influence or networking. Often these words have ingrained connotations that they may be more suited to one gender over another. If you've got a limited pool of women applying for an internal promotion, statistically already they're at a disadvantage to not be represented at senior level because they have... They've not got a bite of the cherry anyway, because they're self-selecting themselves out of the recruitment process because some of the unconscious language that's in the job advertisements.


Start small, start manageable, but recognize the bigger role that we can play as leaders within this overall problem where women can show greater authenticity without fear of their career being harmed as a consequence.

Next Steps for the Research

Andy Goram (37:40):

What's next with this research now, Laura? Is it done, and now it's about practice and spreading the word, or are you looking to do some further work? Tell me.

Laura Howard (37:53):

I've been invited to submit the research as a paper, a journal article, to the British Psychological Society's dedicated journal to coaching practice.

Andy Goram (38:09):

Oh, wow. Congratulations.

Laura Howard (38:10):

Thank you. I've still got to get the manuscript. It's quite a heavy editorial process. At some stage next year, it'll be cascaded to a greater audience. I also have a number of slots in my diary to do free keynote speaking slots, because I'm so committed to this research, to cascading it. I do that at least three times a year. I'm talking to a lot of women's staff networks, but also ally and EDI networks to deliver my findings and help many organizations reflect on how they can change and be better equipped to deal with some of these challenges.


I'm also devising a research-led coaching program for senior women executives to help them understand some of these phenomenon and help develop behaviours where they can perform well without losing a sense of themselves.

Podcast Summary in Sticky Notes

Andy Goram (39:23):

That's so important, isn't it? So important. Lots to do with the research then. We've covered quite a breadth of things today, and I'd just like to consolidate and summarize the things that you've talked about and the advice that you've given or the lessons that you've learned. I have this little area of the show called, Sticky Notes, Laura. It's lazy, it's just me getting you to summarize the whole of the episode, really, in a form that we can just fit on three little sticky notes.


Thinking about everything that you've covered and learned through this exercise, what would you leave the listeners with in terms of your three sticky notes, Laura?

Laura Howard (40:00):

My sticky note number one is: Pressure to be yourself when you are establishing a senior career can be terrifying. Overcome this by gradually trying out more intuitive behaviours. We are evolving as humans, so don't give yourself a hard time if it takes a while to connect to your natural self.

Andy Goram (40:26):


Laura Howard (40:27):

I'll do note number two, shall I?

Andy Goram (40:28):

Yeah, please.

Laura Howard (40:31):

I'm on a roll, Andy. This speaks to what I said earlier. Consider what you needed to see and hear as a younger version of yourself. Can you be that guide and that role model to women just starting out in their careers?


And last, as male allies, can you challenge your own assumptions towards would-be and established women leaders? Do you promote psychological safety, for example? If there are any outdated systems that you notice that are stifling gender equity, can you help tackle those collectively with others?

Andy Goram (41:15):

Three pretty serious sticky notes there. And particularly the last one resonates with me 100%, in terms of taking some responsibility for actions when you see this stuff. Not talking about it in the corridor afterwards, but attacking it at the source and getting on with it.


Laura, this is such a massive topic and there's so many avenues we can go down. It's really been very interesting to hear somebody who's had some in-depth conversations with women who have been brave enough, I guess, to share their stories, and take some learnings from that. Thank you very much for that. I really appreciate you coming on.

Laura Howard (41:51):

It's an absolute pleasure. I've loved this chance. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to showcase the important research which, as you alluded to in the introduction, will rage on to challenge some of these problems.

Andy Goram (42:05):

Brilliant. Laura, if anybody wants to find out a bit more, where can they go? Where can they find stuff?

Laura Howard (42:11):

I'm on LinkedIn, as Psychologist Laura, or my website is,

Andy Goram (42:20):

Brilliant. We'll whack all of that in the show notes, and hopefully people can find out a bit more information and a bit more detail following today's conversation. Laura, thanks so much. And you take care, I'll see you soon.

Laura Howard (42:30):

See you soon.

Andy Goram (42:32):

Okay, everyone, that was Laura Howard. And like we've just said, if you'd like to find out a bit more about her or any of the topics that we've talked about today, please go ahead and check out the show notes.


That concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting, and heard something, maybe, that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards. If you have, please like, comment, and subscribe, it really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside Podcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.

Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.

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