Companies spend millions on legal compliance training and initiatives to eliminate workplace drama and the resulting low morale and lawsuits, but don’t always get the results they want. Most organisations understand that simply checking legal compliance boxes around sexual harassment, bias, etc. isn’t enough, but are at a loss on how to implement solutions, especially in today’s post-#MeToo world.
Our guest today is an attorney, HR expert, trainer, and former state regulator, who has conducted over 1,200 workplace investigations. In her book, she explains the secret to avoiding all forms of drama, legal exposure, and low morale: A healthy workplace culture.
She combines the lessons learned from 25 years of professional experience with robust data from behavioural science research to debunk common myths, including the belief that a focus on legal compliance leads to a healthy workplace culture. (In fact, it increases the likelihood of getting sued).
More about Patti here: https://persuasionpoint.com/the-drama-free-work/
Patti Perez – The Drama-Free Workplace
[00:00:00] Steve Jobs: [00:00:00] Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
[00:00:13] Aidan McCullen: [00:00:13] this show was brought to you with tanks to Microsoft, for startups, eliminate sexual harassment, unconscious bias, ethical lapses on other Hadar nightmares. Companies spend millions on legal compliance, training, and initiatives to eliminate workplace drama and the resulting low morale and lawsuits, but don’t always get the results they want.
[00:00:36] Most organizations understand that simply checking legal compliance boxes around sexual harassment, bias, et cetera. Isn’t enough. What are at a loss on how to implement solutions, especially in today’s post me too world. Our guest today is an attorney. Hey, Jor, expert trainer and former state regulator who has conducted over 1200 workplace [00:01:00] investigations in her book.
[00:01:01] She explains the secret to avoiding all forms of drama, legal exposure on low morale, a healthy workplace culture. She combines the lessons learned from 25 years of professional experience with robust data from behavioral science research to debunk common myths, including the belief that a focus on legal compliance leads to a healthy workplace culture.
[00:01:25] Harambe is that employees feel valued and motivated and keep drama, disengagement and lawsuits away. We welcome author of the drama free workplace. How you can prevent unconscious bias, sexual harassment, ethics, lapses on inspire a healthy culture. Patty Perez. Welcome to the show.
[00:01:47] Patti Perez: [00:01:47] Thank you so much for having me.
[00:01:48] Aidan McCullen: [00:01:48] Probably let’s dive straight in and start with how we diagnose drama and what we can do to identify, prevent, and fix workplace drama.
[00:01:57] Patti Perez: [00:01:57] What I have found in my long [00:02:00] career, looking at the issue of drama from different perspectives is that we haven’t done a very good job of really being methodical and analytical about looking at the issue of drama we tend to, as we do with many issues, just sort of jump in and try to see how we might be able to fix things without necessarily looking at the diagnosis, which is kind of, you know, the first part of my book.
[00:02:22] Well, let’s define what we really mean. Let’s get on the same page. In terms of what we are referring to when we look at these very complex problems, sexual harassment, other types of harassment, bias, ethics, diversity, all of these issues that, you know, have become buzzwords, but that we haven’t really taken the time to define and absorb.
[00:02:42] And then once we have that diagnosed, really being able to take. A much smarter and effective approach to actually managing that drama and ultimately resolving it in a way that actually improves the workplace, as opposed to simply putting bandaids on the problem.
[00:02:58] Aidan McCullen: [00:02:58] was really keen to have you on the [00:03:00] show on the innovation show, because a healthy workplace is symbiotic with an innovation workplace and the workplace is the soil in which the ideas germinate on good leadership cultivates good ideas after that.
[00:03:14] So you highlight the three most common types of drama in the workplace. Harassment, bias, diversity and ethics lapses. Let’s start with harassment on here. You say it’s important to distinguish between exposure to annoying or bothersome behavior and unlawful harassment itself, which involves a protected category on most made other legal requirements, including unwelcomeness and either severity or pervasiveness.
[00:03:42] Patti Perez: [00:03:42] Yeah. So I started my career as a traditional attorney and litigated cases. usually defending either companies or individuals who had been sued for these types of allegations. And one of the things that I found and it’s been true, true throughout my career is that I’ve seen just in my real life and in my professional life.
[00:04:00] [00:04:00] This deep misunderstanding. And I always say, you know, that you go to a cocktail party as an attorney, and everybody wants to talk to you. They want to ask you if they can, if you can help them with their divorce or with their, car accident. And, you know, I would always say, well, I’m not that kind of an attorney, but when they found out what kind of attorney I am, that it was even worse because they all wanted to tell me about the boss or the coworker who was harassing them, who had subjected them to a hostile work environment or who had retaliated against them.
[00:04:28] And what I started to find was just this really deep misunderstanding. And I would say in the vast majority of cases, you know, nine out of 10, what they were talking about was the Lehman’s term, the, the layman’s definition of harassment behavior, that was annoying, that was bothersome, and that’s certainly needed to be addressed, but fell nowhere near.
[00:04:49] What the actual technical term of art, you know, definition of words, like harassment and hostile work environment are. And so for years, you know, prior to writing [00:05:00] the book, I had talked about this. I had spoken at conferences. I had obviously used this idea in, in my work, but I really wanted to just start with that or you’re going to hear me say one word, a couple of words throughout this, this podcast that I think are key.
[00:05:15] We’re going to get into one, which is authenticity. The one that you’re going to hear me say a lot as well is precision. And I do think that one of the roots of our problems in the workplace is that we are imprecise in, the language that we use. And one of them is this idea of using the term.
[00:05:33] Harassment. And some of these other legally charged terms to mean something that they really don’t mean. And so I do start the sexual harassment chapter by distinguishing between the legal definition, the layman’s definition, but also really emphasizing particularly to corporate leaders, the importance of the lack of precision and the problems that having that imprecision has caused in the workplace.
[00:05:58] Aidan McCullen: [00:05:58] Let’s jump straight to that one. [00:06:00] You’ve you’ve beat me to it on that question. Cause moving into sexual harassment itself, you tell us a crucial issue is solving the, the sexual harassment problem is more difficult than it needs to be because of the confusion and misunderstanding about the term itself.
[00:06:15] Because so many of us will use different language for different things to describe different things because we have different perceptions of severity. And one of the reasons I really wanted to get you on air was done. You talked about the pervasiveness of this problem in the workplace. And that is actually invisible to so many people.
[00:06:34] And the fact that it’s so underreported as well means that some people think it’s a problem. Some people don’t, and there’s a total lack of consistency in the workplace. And one of the big fears that I would have is the mental health of those people who are victims, because they can feel really alone.
[00:06:52] Patti Perez: [00:06:52] Absolutely. You know, when I speak in particular to HR groups, because I think that they work closely with their, their safety [00:07:00] team. That’s one of the things that they said resonated the most in terms of my book is that I make an analogy between kind of the way that we handle drama in the workplace and the way that we handle physical injuries.
[00:07:12] And they’ve said, you know, we’ve never really thought about it, but we take so much care and we really have embraced a culture of safety. We don’t want people to hurt themselves. and yet when it comes to, you know, keeping people psychologically safe, keeping them, emotionally, you know, safe, we don’t necessarily take, take the same approach.
[00:07:31] And so it’s something that that’s resonated because I do think that we have not really put an emphasis on. Either the way in which people view things, we all come to the workplace with our own lens. I tell a story in the book, which has to do with my high school years when I took the sat test. And I missed a question and I say, you know, it’s not because I lacked intelligence or because I didn’t have a wide ranging vocabulary, but it was a question that involved a regatta.
[00:07:57] And as an immigrant from El Salvador who grew up [00:08:00] in the inner city, of South central Los Angeles, I didn’t have the life context, the life experience to know what a regatta it was. And I use as an example, in particular, to talk to male leaders to say, by the same token, I’m not saying that you’re sitting around wringing your hands saying, what can we do to mess with women in the workplace?
[00:08:19] It’s not purposeful in the vast majority of cases. But just like I lacked the knowledge and the background and the experience to be able to understand a regatta in almost all instances, men are going to lack the knowledge experience and just not have the perspective to be able to identify these issues.
[00:08:37] And we see it in surveys. I participated in, in one where it really, the differences were so stark where men were saying that in their organization and these were in house counsel. We have no problem. We have, we’ve no sexual harassment going on. Whereas the female respondents were saying, yeah, of course there’s a problem.
[00:08:54] You know, we got comments where a man might say, yeah, there’s been times when the leader, even the [00:09:00] CEO has dated women, but there were no overt threats. And there was really no problem with it. Whereas the women would say, yes, there are instances when people have dated each other with a power differential.
[00:09:10] And of course there was no objection because. We know what happens if you have checked. So these differences in the way that we view the world. And I do think that one of the slippery slope issues has been that we have focused so much. And for the most part, rightly so on saying, you know, it shouldn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, it shouldn’t matter what race you are, what ethnicity you are.
[00:09:32] We’re all humans. And that’s certainly true. But we’ve done a disservice and going so far in that, thinking that we forget that no matter what, we come into the workplace, viewing the world through our own particular lens.
[00:09:46] Aidan McCullen: [00:09:46] That’s exactly why I thought it was so important to shine the light in your work, because this is invisible to so many of us on for innovation and for corporate culture to evolve and thrive.
[00:10:00] [00:10:00] We need the corporate workplace to be equal and diverse because diversity breeds innovation, but you mentioned something there and let’s build on the idea of bias because it’s essentially. Our human mental models that block us and blind us a lot of the time. So I’d love if you’d share a little bit, we’ve covered a lot about bias recently, but it was mainly to do with regarding not seeing impossible new avenues for innovation within organizations, but this is more to do with actual societal and cultural issues.
[00:10:31] Patti Perez: [00:10:31] Right. One of the things that I love about being on your show is that I think too often, the issue of, of culture and of employee relations is incorrectly put into the category of sort of soft skills that, you know, don’t really matter so much from a business perspective. And I do think that more and more people are of the mindset that you’re describing, which is.
[00:10:50] They go hand in hand, and this is a business issue, just as much as anything else, because you cannot innovate, thrive profit without addressing this underlying [00:11:00] issue. So here’s my value proposition. When it comes to bias, there are tons of studies and solutions, and I certainly talk about some of them in the book related to bias in the initial process.
[00:11:11] So in the recruitment and the hiring. And the interviewing and those are all vital. What I really focused on because my North star is drama because my life work has really been about helping people, identify it and address it and fix it where I really see a huge problem and it ends up bleeding into, and really affecting in a very negative way.
[00:11:33] Corporate and diversity inclusion and equity plans. And that is a bias that comes in during the, the entire conflict resolution issue. So if you have, for example, leaders who don’t think that certain categories of behavior and, you know, need to be dealt with, if they automatically think, well, that’s really something that, that doesn’t matter.
[00:11:52] That inherent bias based on their lack of experience, their brain takes a shortcut to say that to me, doesn’t register as a [00:12:00] problem. I’ll tell you a quick story about an investigation. I conducted, but I use quite a bit. The short version of it is that a young woman complained about her manager who was much older than her asking her why she didn’t tell him about his fly being open, his zipper being open.
[00:12:16] And the context was that he had behaved in other ways that made her suspect that perhaps he was interested in her in a romantic way. But that was the only thing that he had actually said. I introduced that when I do trainings, when I do workshops and it’s been fascinating to see the response, I will just say that to people.
[00:12:34] I will just say that to the participants. And I’ll say who you know, who thinks that this is inappropriate behavior who thinks as the sexual harassment, you know, helped me define it. And often I will have men raise their hands and they’ll say, well, before I can answer your question, I need to know whether his zipper was actually open or closed.
[00:12:50] And, you know, at first I thought, well, I’m not understanding why. And they would say to me, well, because if it was open, then perhaps it’s a legitimate question. They, you [00:13:00] know, the, the man really wanted to know, Hey, my zipper was open. Why didn’t you tell me? But by contrast, if it was closed, then there’s something wrong with him.
[00:13:08] And so since I started hearing this, I started asking the female participants in my workshops. Do any of you ever think that. And, you know, to a woman, they were like, no, you know, there’s no reason that my boss, especially if I’m a 25 year old and my boss is his 50 year old man who talks about his dating life constantly in dating women my age, it would make me very uncomfortable.
[00:13:29] And so I use it as an example because it’s relatively mild behavior that could have been very easily fixed. But it really highlights the different way in which our minds, you know, in, in, in large part because of unconscious biases, none of these men who said to me, I need to know some more details. We’re trying to be sexist in their mind.
[00:13:49] That’s how the world works is. I can only tell you if it was appropriate or not. If you give me more information. And so we see this bias in the way that concerns are, first of all, raised [00:14:00] in the first place, you know, are women going to even feel comfortable raising this as a concern? If the message that is sent is that’s not really a big deal are, if you do have the courage to come forward and either speak up in the moment or file some type of report, is that going to be taken seriously or is bias going to take over.
[00:14:18] And then probably where I see it the most is, is an investigation going to be conducted in a way that is radically fair is a phrase that I use quite a bit and then resolved in a way that is fair and consistent. And there’s a straight line from everything we’re talking about. To the me too movement, meaning this behavior was occurring.
[00:14:39] It’s not that the behavior began occurring two or three years ago. It was occurring, but it wasn’t being addressed. And one of the primary reasons it wasn’t being addressed was because of this bias. And at some point it just got to be too much for a number of societal factors and it did become a title wave, but it wasn’t because the behavior was new.
[00:14:58] It was because of the way in which it had been [00:15:00] addressed had been so inappropriate.
[00:15:02] Aidan McCullen: [00:15:02] Yeah, and which is why it’s so important to again, address it and not let it die away. You know, the, this can be the risk with this stuff is that it just passes away and it’s highlighted for awhile. And then everybody kind of forgets about it, but hopefully.
[00:15:16] The me too movement now has made it the new normal on the, it will disperse throughout society, et cetera, but it will take time because all these changes do take time as anybody who works in corporate transformation will know. But the key message I wanted to highlight is here is that too many attorneys and now too many HR professionals on monitors focus exclusively on ways to avoid lawsuits.
[00:15:39] Rather than focusing on creating a healthy culture to avoid them from ever happening in the first place. In addition, the law enables and encourages this approach.
[00:15:48] Patti Perez: [00:15:48] Yes. Two things there. You know, one of the primary theories that I introduced in my book is what I call the litigation avoidance paradox. And the short version of it is that the harder a corporation and leaders try [00:16:00] to quote unquote, avoid a lawsuit, do things in ways that they think will, avoid them.
[00:16:05] Paradoxically, the more likely you actually are to basically be inviting employees to, to go straight to a lawyer’s office. And it’s really because when we look at it from an experience perspective, from a behavioral science research perspective, it’s clear that employees, to the extent they go, either internal or external to complain about misconduct or behavior.
[00:16:27] They’re doing so because of the perception of unfairness, they just feel like they didn’t get a fair shake in the process. you know, I complained about something or I didn’t get promoted and there’s either no process in place. And this is really just a rigged system where certain people get all the perks and certain people don’t, or there is a process in place, but it changes depending on who it is.
[00:16:47] That is the player. So, you know, the process, the lack of process one is the lack of distribution of rewards or punishments. So maybe there’s a process in place, but at the end of the day, we know that the people who are going to get promoted are going to get [00:17:00] raises or we’re going to get hired or have a certain type, or as other people, as I call it, you know, are, not all employees are equal.
[00:17:06] And then in terms of the interaction that I just perceive, you know, I wasn’t necessarily upset. That I got laid off. For example, I understood that there was a business need, but the way in which it was done, the, how was just so disrespectful and inhumane, but that’s really what made me upset enough to go and file some type of a claim.
[00:17:26] And so it’s, it’s a theory that really looks at first of all, that the risk aversion that. Employment laws have created where of course I’m in no way saying throw caution to the wind. Of course you need to comply with laws, but that’s the minimal amount that you need to do. And from there really focusing on these issues of perceptions, of fairness and creating an environment where people feel as though not only they have a fair shot, but they belong, they feel valued.
[00:17:53] They can contribute their greatest gifts for the greater corporate. Good. Is really what [00:18:00] simultaneously takes care of creating a healthy workplace culture and then encompasses because it necessarily then includes that you’re complying with the law. That to me has been, you know, something that has been just haunting me throughout my career.
[00:18:12] And I finally put a name on it, which was this, you know, this paradox of the approach that most corporations have taken.
[00:18:19] Aidan McCullen: [00:18:19] One thing I wanted to come back to was authenticity that you mentioned earlier on before we come back to some of the positive practices that we can all put into our organizations, no matter what size, but you tell us the answer isn’t to continue to operate with compliance blinders on, but rather to focus on trust, mutual respect.
[00:18:37] Transparent communication and above all authenticity. In fact, you say the number one cultural problem in organizations is a lack of authenticity.
[00:18:47] Patti Perez: [00:18:47] And this spans, you know, all of the topics that my book discusses, the harassment, the bias, the diversity, the ethics. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is really important.
[00:18:57] And I think that the days of corporations, [00:19:00] organizations thinking that they could say one thing, but behave in another are really gone. One of the things I emphasize in my book that I think is really important for your listeners to remember is that we have spent so much time as organizations worried about lawsuits and what we’ve missed.
[00:19:15] Is this whole brave new world that’s opened up in terms of social media. And you can go through examples of companies that all types of industries that haven’t been brought down because of employment suits, but because of a blog post gone viral because of an expo say on the front page of the New York times, because of Glassdoor reviews that are awful and make nobody want to come work at your company.
[00:19:37] And so that the authenticity, I think is. Always been very, very important, but more than ever now that employees are really taking social media as a way to take back some power when it comes to their role in organization, shaping organizational culture. And so where I see organizations really fall down on the authenticity front is in all of those arenas.
[00:19:57] So any one of your listeners can go on [00:20:00] glass door, look at a review from an employee current or former. And if it’s a company that actually responds. I can recite to you what that response is going to say. Thank you for reporting, Aiden, the fact that you had a problem at work, we take all matters concerning employee conduct seriously, and we follow all laws and we will take all measures to look into the issue that you’ve raised.
[00:20:25] It’s this rote response, whether it’s on a glass door, whether it’s a corporate communication that you give to the media. If you look at corporate websites, they talk a really good talk. And certainly there are companies that follow that up with action, but too many don’t too many have this, you know, we’re going to write a policy for it.
[00:20:42] And we’re going to have a mission statement. We’re going to put these window dressings in place that will make us look good. And that’ll be enough. We can stop there. So that, to me, whether you’re talking about diversity efforts, whether you’re talking about eliminating bias, whether you’re talking about making sure that [00:21:00] harassment is, is something that is not present in your organization, starting with authenticity for me is key because any of the pieces of advice and practical tips that you and I are going to talk about in a second will fall flat.
[00:21:14] If employees know that you’re doing it just as window dressing, as opposed to being authentically committed, to creating this healthy and inclusive culture,
[00:21:22] Aidan McCullen: [00:21:22] you suggest a three step process in order to create and maintain a culture that says what it means and means what it says. Define it, live it and color it in.
[00:21:33] Patti Perez: [00:21:33] Yeah. So again, you know, this goes back to probably just in a really discusses my nerdiness that I just think too often we look at problems in a very simplistic way, rather than really analyzing, digesting it and thinking of it from a methodical perspective. So I thought I’d come up with something catching, you know, that maybe people will be able to embrace more easily.
[00:21:53] So to find it live and in color it in the define it part to me is so vital because too many organizations I think just dive [00:22:00] into. Trying to solve a problem. Okay. We need to address our culture. Fine. Let’s dive into it. Let’s have a corporate retriever. We’re going to come up with a mission statement, put it on the website and we’re done, and don’t really go into what the definition means for them.
[00:22:15] And so to me, that the way in which I, identify that the define it step is. Setting cultural norms, setting behavioral norms for your particular organization. So rather than simply relying, for example, on a policy that says we have zero tolerance for harassment in our workplace, we are a harassment free work environment.
[00:22:36] You know, again, all of that wrote language. Really think about it and define who you are as an organization, what you stand for. and to me, that concept of setting behavioral norms, is, is really the most, the most vital one, because your norms are going to be different than, than, you know, another organization.
[00:22:55] Your mission is different. and, and one of the things that I think has really led us to the problems that [00:23:00] we see now, Is it without defining these rules of the game. You’re not really giving employees whether they are a first day intern or the CEO of the company. You’re not giving them the rule book, what the expectations are, which really then goes into the living it and coloring it in.
[00:23:16] So that the live it is now that you’ve defined it. Then now that becomes your company’s true North. And I talk about how then it becomes just a vital that you walk the walk. All the time. If you say that integrity is really one of the behavioral norms that for you is non-negotiable and that means integrity is always a part of your decision.
[00:23:38] That means that you don’t just, again, put it on your website. You don’t just talk about it in interviews, but you included in your performance evaluations, you ask about it at your exit interviews. You make sure that you included when, when you’re recruiting people, when you’re promoting people, it’s something that you really, again, live and breathe.
[00:23:55] And then the coloring it in is, is, being meticulous about it and making sure that [00:24:00] over time, it really is a reminder that this isn’t a one step process, that it is a continuing process where you’re going to continue to add color, take it from a black invite to a, to a Technicolor, to an HD resolution to really make this a vital part of your business.
[00:24:18] Aidan McCullen: [00:24:18] The one thing that really struck me reading the book was that I was reminded of, we had Bruce Lipton on the show before, and he’s kind of like the father of epigenetics. And he was saying that a cell cannot live in fear on thrive at the same time. So it either goes towards something positive or retreats from something negative.
[00:24:36] I always think of that when I think of a negative workplace culture or somewhere where it’s like calorically unsafe, people often become sick. And I was thinking about how many people and own healthy working environments don’t know what to do. Unusually. What they’re told to do is just document everything, bought what are crappy.
[00:24:58] Life experience. That is our work [00:25:00] experience that is to have to document everything and watch your back and ask people to come to meetings, which you would cetera. And unfortunately you say it’s absolutely preposterous that most of the legal advice is to document everything. And if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.
[00:25:18] Patti Perez: [00:25:18] Absolutely. And, and, you know, I will preface this by saying. That unfortunately, there are some circumstances that are so extreme, you know, I always use, because everybody knows that the case of Harvey Weinstein, where you have such agregious action, and more importantly, you have such an egregious example of, a corporation turning a blind eye to the behavior.
[00:25:41] So, you know, are there going to be situations where documenting it and, and looking at this through a legal lens is necessary. Of course, My point. And in my experience is that those are rare. They are few and far between. And by following this advice of starting out relationships with the sense of.
[00:26:00] [00:25:59] Paranoia and mistrust actually leads us down a path. And I love that analogy of, of the cell and fear because you’re right. It just leads people down the path, whether you are the employee or the, or the organizational leader, towards kind of, you know, I call it a game of chicken. Well, I don’t trust you.
[00:26:16] So, I’m going to say something that the person isn’t going to respond by saying, well, clearly you don’t trust me. And there must be a reason for it. So I’m not going to trust you either. And. You know, it kind of escalates from there. so really looking at these, these issues from the perspective of.
[00:26:32] Again, how can we make it, how can we address it from a healthy culture perspective, as opposed to giving advice, like documenting things? I teach a lot by analogy. And one of the, one of my favorite movies is my big fat Greek wedding. And I say in the book, you know, just. Put it into different context.
[00:26:48] And imagine if Maria Puerto colas, who was, you know, tool as mother the night before her big fat Greek wedding says to Tula, look, you know, the, the secret to a healthy marriage is to document everything. And so make sure that when [00:27:00] Ian emails, you, you keep his emails and take notes on all the things that he says so that when you inevitably get divorced, you’ve got all those notes and your divorce lawyer is going to get you a lot of money.
[00:27:09] And it sounds silly when you put it in an analogous context, but. Isn’t that exactly what we’re saying, whether it is a employee side attorney telling a, an employee to document everything or a corporate attorney who is saying the same to the leaders. And I think to me, one of the most important points that is the one that you’ve brought up, it is not only the advice is not only.
[00:27:31] Unwise from practical and corporate perspective, because it, again, you know, just leads us to our own corners and divides us and gets us into more of an us versus them mentality. But I really like that. You’ve brought up the other point of it, which is how exhausting. And how psychologically damaging it is for all parties to think I’m going to go into this relationship with the thought that it’s inevitably going to go [00:28:00] awry, and I need to protect myself from that.
[00:28:03] Aidan McCullen: [00:28:03] jumping into a way we can encourage a culture of courage as you call it. So a place where ever we can speak up there’s psychological safety throughout the organization. You give us three main pointers, overarching point pointers empower everyone to speak up respectively, but firmly make sure departments like HR risk management, finance and legal are on board and rework policies practices on training.
[00:28:31] Patti Perez: [00:28:31] Right. Yeah. So, so let me give some very practical advice on each of those three. So empowering everyone to speak up respectfully, but firmly. The first thing that I think is really important, it has gotten a lot more attention lately has been the idea of, of bystander intervention. And, you know, I, I call people bystanders are the ones who just sort of passively sit back and let things happen.
[00:28:50] And really our hope is that we can turn those people into upstanders and really embrace this idea of. They play a part in making everyone in the workplace plays a part in [00:29:00] making the workplace healthy. And I loved doing some of the research that I did on what the behavioral sciences tell us about what makes a person transition from a bystander to an upstander.
[00:29:10] And so I want to make sure that your listeners know some of the hallmarks and some of them are things like, you know, do I feel a connection? If I’m a bystander, if I hear somebody say something offensive to you, do I feel connection to you? Do I, do I feel brave enough? Am I going to take that step? And like, Lean not if I don’t feel a connection.
[00:29:28] And so it really underscores the vital need to have the workplace be a place where those connections are made. Number two, do I perceive the behavior to be inappropriate or offensive, or is this a workplace where, you know, we’re always offensive and so there’s really no way to distinguish the one that’s most important to me.
[00:29:47] And the research shows is most influential to a bystander is. Am I willing to take the risk to actually speak up as a bystander? Well, I’m only going to do it. If I think that my organization is going to back me up, [00:30:00] if it is a psychologically safe information, we’re bringing up these types of issues is not going to end up biting me in the end.
[00:30:07] You know, I don’t want to be the victim of, being a good Samaritan and then really being punished for it. So that’s the one that I really want to make sure that, organizations focus on is. None of you. Can’t go out and say to people, we’re going to train you on bystander intervention on the one hand, but then in your practice, be the type of organization that punishes people or, or in the worst case scenario, or even in the best case scenario, ignores people who actually speak up and, and do things.
[00:30:35] So that’s one way in which I think empowering everyone to speak up is really important. The other that I think is vital is then providing a language. To instruct people how to do that. This is something I hear over and over. You mentioned in the beginning of that, I’ve conducted in excess of 1200 workplace investigations, which means I’ve interviewed tens of thousands of people.
[00:30:55] And I’ve interviewed them in a really unique setting. Despite the fact that I come with a legal [00:31:00] background, I didn’t do this work as a lawyer. and I always joke and say that I was also born with a neon sign on my forehead that says, tell me everything. So people were quite open with me and I got this really.
[00:31:11] Candid, you know, insight of you into the way that people work in the workplace. It also helped that because I was a third party investigator and these were people who would never have to see me again. So they, they became therapy sessions and in many instances more than, than anything else. but so, you know, over time because of these interviews I collected, Patterns and, and, you know, just ways in which I saw things come up over and over.
[00:31:35] And so I developed, a three step process for employees, whether they are speaking up in the moment or maybe reporting it. And this goes back to the idea of being precise and not using legally charged language. And the three step process is number one. Speak about behavior rather than using charged words.
[00:31:54] And so tell me what happened. you know, this person said the following, [00:32:00] rather than this person is a harasser. The second step is how did it affect you? This person said the following and it really made me feel excluded from the meeting. And then the third is what is it that we can at least start to discuss in terms of what the solution might be.
[00:32:17] I’m not asking you to present a solution, but you know, this person at meetings uses a language that I find, only towards women. And it really makes me feel excluded and undervalued. And what I’d like to do is partner with you to make sure that this person understands the effect that his language is having so that we can work better together.
[00:32:37]you know, when you can take that in any situation, so. Number one, those are my very practical tips on really creating just a new way of communicating at work to make it more likely that people will speak up both respectfully but firmly. making sure that the HR department is on board. Again, I have another three step process and I think about it in terms of, you know, HR and risk management are the people who actually received [00:33:00] these formal complaints.
[00:33:01] And I call it the three RS and I actually do pair it up with, with a culture imperative. So the three R’s are, how do we receive complaints? How do we review them? And how do we resolve them in terms of receiving them? I might match that up to what I call a culture of truth, telling, creating an environment where people are comfortable doing what I just described in the previous summary.
[00:33:24] The second in terms of reviewing so conducting investigations, I match that up with a culture of curiosity, making sure that the way in which you investigate a claim, isn’t about simply checking boxes or trying to what too many HR folks tell me, quote, unquote, protect the company, but that you’re actually curious, and you want to get to the truth and to the bottom of the issue that’s going on.
[00:33:46] And then the third one, which is resolving complaints that matches up with a culture of radical fairness. And so again, this concept that we talked about earlier, creating a perception, in addition to actual fairness, a strong [00:34:00] perception that employees were fairly treated during the process. And that if there is some discipline that needs to be implemented, that it’s done so consistency.
[00:34:11] And so if the CEO engages in, for example, behavior that is sexually charged and inappropriate and falls below expected standards, then that person is going to get the same consequences as the person working in the mailroom. Would that there, there shouldn’t be any differences. It should all be based on what the behavior is.
[00:34:30] And then the final one, reworking policies, practices, and training. We’ve kind of talked about this with the color it in, define it, color it in and live it. And that is looking at things from this perspective of really creating those behavioral norms and letting those be your guide in terms of how you write your policies, how you train people on them and how you address these issues.
[00:34:53] Aidan McCullen: [00:34:53] Other parts of the book. And there’s so many other parts. I mean, there’s a part too, where you use the metaphor of hiking, which we might [00:35:00] finish up on. And then there’s part three, which you’re so generous and you give a whole DIY even how to write policies and procedures, et cetera. Now, with a focus on the U S market, of course, but I thought we might share a quick thought on diversity and inclusion because.
[00:35:15] I heard a great saying that really jumped into my mind when I was reading this part. And it’s that diversity is inviting somebody through the bowl, but inclusion is asking them to dance and you go a step further. You say more recently companies have adopted the term belonging instead of inclusion or fit.
[00:35:34] Patti Perez: [00:35:34] Yeah. And, and you know, where this really comes in and this, this goes directly back to our earlier discussion about authenticity. There’s been a big emphasis in corporate America and probably worldwide. On the diversity piece. And I tend to refer to that as numbers in. And so again, there has been lots of corporate efforts on how can we widen the recruiting net?
[00:35:57] How can we take bias out of the interview and hiring process? And those [00:36:00] are all wonderful things and we should continue to do them. The problem has been that while we have mostly succeeded in diversifying not completely, there is still a lot of work to do in that, but even to the extent that an organization has succeeded in bringing people on board where, organizations have, have utterly failed.
[00:36:20] Is in keeping those diverse candidates in place, promoting them, making them feel valued, and really creating a sense that they belong and that they can contribute fully to that organization. And to really that the innovation that the organization is trying to achieve. And so for me, it’s not that I want to eliminate any discussion about diversity.
[00:36:43] I just think there’s plenty of material out there for that. And I wanted to focus more on once you get people in the door, what are the things that you can use to keep them there and to keep them thriving? And, you know, an industry that I’m very familiar with our law firms in the United States and even law firms that have [00:37:00] an international presence.
[00:37:01] And here’s something, a pattern that I’ve seen, they tell their diversity numbers, meaning again, the numbers, but here’s a very tangible example. I see law firms who will advertise at the beginning of each year. The people who were promoted from associate status to either partner or shareholder status.
[00:37:18] And they’re always very proud of the fact that you know, of the 10 people that we promoted into partnership status, five of them are women, you know, maybe three were of ethnic background. You know, maybe some were members of LGBTQ community, maybe some were disabled and they really tell those numbers what I always want to know.
[00:37:36] And I’ve worked with law firms to talk about this is okay. So you’re talking about numbers in. During that same time period. Let’s talk about numbers out. And what I have found is that’s awesome that you promoted, for example, five women to shareholders, but the data, when you look at it more carefully shows me that eight female shareholders left your from the previous year.
[00:37:57] So your total numbers have not [00:38:00] only gone down, but you’re not addressing the real issue, which is why did those eight women leave? What was going on and time after time and speaking to not just in law firms, but in different industries. What I hear is I just wasn’t welcomed in the same way that others are.
[00:38:18] You know, I didn’t feel like my strengths were valued, that I could really contribute in the maximum way possible. And so I really wanted to emphasize in my book, This idea that the belonging component, the equity component were vital. And that it is one of the reasons that our diversity inclusion equity efforts have really not moved the needle as much as we would like.
[00:38:43] And it’s because we focus exclusively on the diversity component and not on the others.
[00:38:48] Aidan McCullen: [00:38:48] I mentioned there the part two, which is. Where you use the metaphor of hiking. I love this and to provide some essential uneasy, to implement formulas for making the workplace healthier and to provide [00:39:00] cutting edge solutions on how to become drama free.
[00:39:02] We won’t have time to cover them all. That’s for sure. But what is some low hanging fruit you’ve given us loads. They put some low hanging fruit from the metaphor of hiking.
[00:39:14] Patti Perez: [00:39:14] Yes. and, and you know, it is a metaphor because I’m not going to pretend that I actually hiked. So it’s just used for purposes of the book.
[00:39:21] But I think that I think the visual hopefully will help readers understand what I mean, you know, the one that we haven’t spoken about, the idea behind sections two and three of the book are section two are about strategies. So big picture, you know, communication, looking at things from we’ve talked about the litigation avoidance paradox, being fearless, giving employees freedom, et cetera.
[00:39:41] And then section three is about tactics. You know, how do you actually implement some of these strategies that I’ve covered in section two? The one that we probably haven’t covered from section two, that I think your listeners might find valuable is my favorite chapter in the book, which is chapter eight.
[00:39:55] And it’s about precise and persuasive communication as really [00:40:00] being a key. To keep drama away from your organization. And it combines issues related to emotional intelligence, really honing your social radar and also improving your own individual social intelligence. and then I go into why it is that so many people.
[00:40:16] Don’t focus on the, on the persuasion part, don’t really understand the best way to articulate whether it’s an issue they’re having, or, you know, for leaders maybe articulate an issue that they’re having, let’s say with someone’s performance. And I go through in that chapter. And again, not only give big picture views of why communication, how I have seen it.
[00:40:36] Lead to drama, but provide some really practical ways in which that communication can be improved to be, made more persuasive and more precise so that the end result is that not only does, does drama stay away from your organization, you get to the root of issues and you can then really focus on innovating and the business of your business.
[00:40:57] Aidan McCullen: [00:40:57] It’s such a content rich book, and you’re [00:41:00] so generous with your wisdom. Even as I said, in part three, Telling us how to write policies and that’s a manual rather than just simply a book and you really poured so much into it. You know, it’s a, it’s a most handbook for HR professionals on leaders and anybody working in this space.
[00:41:16] I feel where can people find out more about you potty? Because I presume like most consultants you’ve probably had to pivot your business radically for this covert pandemic. So where can people find out more about you and your SOS coaching sessions, et cetera?
[00:41:32] Patti Perez: [00:41:32] Yes. This is definitely a time to innovate.
[00:41:35] Doesn’t it? I know we’ve all read about all of the, wonderful innovations that have come about during times like this and, and, I hope that that comes true and I’m definitely a part of that. so the, the two ways that I’ve pivoted is number one, I have taken much of my content, which has previously been deliberate, almost exclusively live in person.
[00:41:53] And taken much of it into the virtual world. So I have both synchronous and asynchronous offerings on all of the [00:42:00] content that we’ve talked about today and all the content that’s in the book. The name of my company is persuasion point. And so your listeners can certainly log onto my website, persuasion point.com.
[00:42:11] And I’m also very easy to find on LinkedIn and pretty active. And so you can just look up Patty Perez on, on LinkedIn. And I would love to hear from them.
[00:42:20] Aidan McCullen: [00:42:20] Fantastic. And I’ll link to all those points where you can be found. And just a reminder to our audience, that we are sponsored by Microsoft for startups, where B2B startups, scale author of the drama free workplace, how you can prevent unconscious bias, sexual harassment, ethics, lapses, and inspire a healthy culture.
[00:42:40] Potty Perez. Thank you for joining
[00:42:41] Patti Perez: [00:42:41] us. Thank you so much for having me. This was wonderful.