Wednesday, March 29, 2023

What's In a Name When It Comes to Brands?

Recently, King Charles III granted a title that belonged to his father to his youngest brother, Prince Edward.

According to Town and Country, "Upon marriage, royal princes often receive a dukedom from the monarch; however, on Edward's wedding day, he was given the title of Earl of Wessex. On March 10, 2023, King Charles conferred the title of Duke of Edinburgh upon his brother."

The official royal press release stated, "His Majesty The King has been pleased to confer the Dukedom of Edinburgh upon The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar, on the occasion of His Royal Highness's 59th birthday. The title will be held by Prince Edward for His Royal Highness's lifetime. The Dukedom was last created for Prince Philip in 1947, upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, who held the title of Duchess of Edinburgh before acceding to the throne in 1952. The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are proud to continue Prince Philip's legacy of promoting opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to reach their full potential."

While this new title was not a surprise, it creates more exposure for Prince Edward and his wife combined with the ability to expand their philanthropic reach.

Also, the dukedom, which in the past was hereditary, will not pass down to Prince Edward's son, James, when Edward dies. It will revert to the Crown and paves the way for one of the Prince and Princess of Wales's children to potentially be given the title in the future, possibly Prince Louis.

So, can new titles, name changes, and new taglines improve brands? Can they help tell a brand's story? Or, can the change damage brands, their story, and positioning?

Perhaps, the answer can best be explained by this quote from Dave Buck, CEO of CoachVille:

"Your brand is a gateway to your true work. You know you are here to do something — to create something or help others in some way. The question is, how can you set up your life and work so that you can do it? The answer lies in your brand. When you create a compelling brand, you attract people who want the promise of your brand — which you deliver."

Image Credit: Ae2s communications.

Monday, March 27, 2023

How to Craft a Message That Resonates

As a member of the Twitterverse for 14 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. However, due to the chaos resulting from Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, I joined the Twitter exodus for a short time and joined Mastodon. One of my new connections on Mastodon is Martijn Baarda from the Netherlands, and I invited him to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A about marketing, branding, and social networks. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

Martijn Baarda’s first job was as a marketer at Apple Computer. There, he started to realize that almost all marketing insights and books were biased fairy tales – mostly based on share of voice and reach. After working at BBDO, he changed course and became an entrepreneur with one vision: The marketing and sales efforts are inversely proportional to a brand's relevance, and therefore, making brands more relevant became his goal.

QUESTION: We met on Mastodon, as a result of the Twitter migration. How will you use Mastodon differently than Twitter?

MARTIJN BAARDA: I hope to create a more positive and productive online experience, free from the distractions and noise of a global commercial social network (which is Twitter). Additionally, Mastodon's decentralized architecture means that users have more control over their data and privacy, which aligns with my personal values.

QUESTION: What first attracted you to marketing and branding?

MARTIJN BAARDA: The thought of being able to craft a message that resonates with an audience and evokes an emotional response is truly fascinating.

I was drawn to the creative and strategic aspects of marketing and branding, the ability to analyze data and use that information to develop campaigns that are not only effective, but also visually stunning and memorable. The ability to tell a story through a brand and create a lasting impression on people is something that I find truly captivating.

Marketing and branding are a specialty that allows me to use my analytical and creative skills, and to make a real impact in the world by helping businesses, organizations, and people to reach their full potential.

QUESTION: On LinkedIn, you provide the following description of your professional expertise:
"Bridging the gap between business strategy and marketing strategy. Love to validate ideas by testing. The stronger your brand, the smaller your sales effort. Strong advice: Don't play in the middle. Be relevant." Please explain.

MARTIJN BAARDA: To me, the creative industry is too focused on winning creative prizes instead of being effective and growing a client's business. So, we are always using testing models and techniques to overcome biases. And we are participating in the results by getting paid based on performance. So, we need to be sure we have eliminated all thinkable pitfalls.

Our motto 'Strong brands talk less but say more' is based on the relevancy of a brand. Make choices so that people either hate or love your brand. But don't get stuck in the middle.

QUESTION: Many businesses have added to their C-Suite with a Chief Talent Officer, Chief Digital Officer, and even a Chief Customer Officer. When will businesses create Chief Branding Officers?

MARTIJN BAARDA: We work for private equity and family businesses. Especially the last group is very committed to the long-term success of their business and understand the impact of a strong brand. So, I would say in these cases, the CEO is also the CBO.

For the rest, it's hard to say. I experience a correlation between business success and having a brand officer in charge at the highest level. Smart organizations will have this CBO in place soon.

QUESTION: You're based in the Netherlands, and I'm based in the United States. However, some branding is universal, so what's your favorite brand, and why?

MARTIJN BAARDA: One of my favorite brands is Volkswagen. They are into smart advertising. They don't just buy share of voice, but they commit to a clear and outspoken strategy. They walk the way they talk. And the language they use is implicit.

Remember this one? They had a recall campaign for 1972 Volkswagens in 2002 (!) because the glove box could spontaneously pop open after 30 years.

My gratitude and appreciation to Martijn for sharing his brand marketing and messaging insights.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Connect with Martijn at these links:

Monday, March 20, 2023

PR, Storytelling and Brand Messaging

As a member of the Twitterverse for 14 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. However, due to the chaos resulting from Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, I joined the Twitter exodus for a short time and joined Mastodon. One of my new connections on Mastodon is Christina Ferraz from Houston, Texas, and I invited her to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A about public relations and brand messaging. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

Christina Ferraz is a high performance, flexible communication strategist, and adjunct professor with 20 years of experience. After matriculating with honors from Temple University with a Master of Science in Communication Management and awarded scholarships to present her research at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, Christina grew her business, Thirty6five, with networks in New York City, Philadelphia, and Houston working with non-profits, small businesses, and public figures. Hispanic Public Relations Association awarded Christina with the Best Non-Profit Campaign for her work with Houston Ballet in 2022, and PRNEWS recognized Christina's work by awarding her Honorable Mention for the Pioneer Award in the CSR and Diversity Awards 2021. She has been quoted by The Washington Post, NPR, CNN, Houston Chronicle and has spoken on panels for to discuss the role of public relations in corporate social responsibility, marketing, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. She was also quoted in my post about 2022’s Brand Identity Changes – a link is provided at the end of this Q&A.

QUESTION: What three brands are handling their public relations campaigns exceptionally well during the Covid pandemic, and why?

CHRISTINA FERRAZ: TikTok is handling their public relations campaigns exceptionally well considering how US lawmakers view the platform as a security threat, because their parent company is based in China and want to ban the platform. TikTok’s popularity exploded during the Covid pandemic due to its videos depicting everyday life and replicable dance challenges. TikTok continues to grow and attract users as well as influence culture, so it will be interesting to see how they handle crises this year, and what they will do to remain dominant in social media if they are banned in the US.
I’m also impressed by Roc Nation and the NFL public relations campaigns in how they are using their strategic partnership to highlight Black artists and target Millennials. Last year, the Super Bowl Halftime Show featured Mary J, Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent and Eminem. The NFL was creative with how they had artists perform away from dancers on the field to respect social distancing among the Omicron wave in January. This year, the Super Bowl Halftime Show will feature Rihanna, an artist who once said that she would never perform for the NFL. Collectively, Roc Nation and the NFL show the importance of strategic partnerships and how keeping brands relevant by tapping into their target audience’s nostalgia is a clever strategy for success.
Walgreens is also a brand that handled public relations well during the Covid pandemic. In addition to managing marketing communications for vaccinations and testing, Walgreens was simultaneously managing crisis communications for its association with Theranos. Owned and founded by Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos was a privately-held health technology corporation that falsely claimed to own technology that could run several diagnostic tests using very little blood. They formed a partnership with Walgreens for these machines to be in their stores so they could expedite testing at a cheaper cost providing more access to the public. By focusing more on the marketing communications for vaccinations and testing, Walgreens was able to minimize blowback for their participation in what has now been called fraud by the SEC.

QUESTION: Due to all the chaos resulting in Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter, we met on Mastodon. How do you envision your use of Mastodon will be different than your use of Twitter?
CHRISTINA FERRAZ: I anticipate my presence on Mastodon to be much more about connecting with like-minded individuals where we can discuss numerous topics without the threat of violence or the proliferation of disinformation. I do not foresee Mastodon becoming part of my marketing funnel for my company, Thirty6five, so I believe that Mastodon will allow me to be more observant and supportive of other creatives while sharing/boosting their thoughts to my followers. I think the biggest difference between my use of Mastodon and Twitter will be the amount of writing I will do when speaking on PR crises. Twitter did not have enough characters to write extensively about any topic without linking to another website or social platform to read more.

QUESTION: What inspired you to join the field of public relations?

CHRISTINA FERRAZ: I’m a former journalist, so I’ve always been drawn to telling stories – it’s my passion. I found that public relations allowed me to focus more on writing and provided me with a variety of experiences I wasn’t privy to working in radio and TV. I realized I enjoyed bringing attention to brands and entrepreneurs making a difference in their communities and improving the lives of others. It’s incredibly rewarding to support these leaders and help them reach their targeted audiences to get the attention they deserve. I also love managing crises. Creating crisis communication responses that both inform the public and protect brands is thrilling!

SHARE THIS: I’ve always been drawn to telling stories. ~Christina Ferraz #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: In an article for NPR, you said, "Trust with [a] brand is what's going to make [consumers] invest in the brand." With that said, how do you align public relations with brand marketing?

CHRISTINA FERRAZ: Building trust with consumers requires a consistent approach to public relations such that media placements, crisis responses, and strategic partnerships build an identity that aligns with brand marketing. What you say is just as important as what you do -- and what you say you’ll do -- and in that way, public relations and marketing need to be in lock-step in the formation of brand identity and tone when it comes to media mapping and marketing campaigns.

Additionally, corporate social responsibility has become more important in recent years, most especially with Gen Z consumers, and responding accordingly to crises lends to the importance of brand reputation. Social media allows for both the documentation of a brand’s history and instantaneous reactions that can immediately reach millions of people.

A thoughtful approach to public relations and brand marketing is important in building trust by maintaining a positive brand reputation that convinces consumers to invest in that brand.

SHARE THIS: Building trust with consumers requires a consistent approach to public relations. ~Christina Ferraz #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: According to Laura Holloway, Founder and Chief of The Storyteller Agency (@StorytellerAgcy on Twitter), “Storytelling is our obligation to the next generation. If all we are doing is marketing, we are doing a disservice, and not only to our profession, but to our children, and their children. Give something of meaning to your audience by inspiring, engaging, and educating them with story. Stop marketing. Start storytelling.” What does this quote mean to you?
CHRISTINA FERRAZ: I appreciate this quote by Laura Holloway because it is the same approach I take with public relations. The difference between marketing and storytelling lies in the way a brand values its consumers. If you only see consumers as a sale to make instead of human beings connecting to hear the difference/sameness in our stories, you will be talking AT people instead of TO people – and people hate being sold. To me, this quote means that storytelling is greater than marketing, and to be successful in communications is to ENGAGE WITH your audience instead of JUST SELLING TO your audience.

QUESTION: What are your three favorite brands, and why?

CHRISTINA FERRAZ: Here are my three:

I am a fan of Coca-Cola because of their approach to branding – from design to marketing to strategic partnerships. Coca-Cola demonstrates a level of consistency and global reach most brands will never achieve. Their brand identity revolves around family which is a universal theme by which any culture can relate.
I also support Lush Cosmetics because of its commitment to recycling, fair trade practices, advocacy, and philanthropy, refusal to test on animals, and global presence that influences them to create products reflective of the local culture in addition to their evergreen campaigns and products. I especially like their brand consistency because no matter where you are in the world you can recognize a Lush Cosmetics store with its black packaging, white script, and tongue-in-cheek marketing.
Lastly, I have a great deal of respect for Nike and its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. From groundbreaking campaigns with celebrities like Michael Jordan to creating adaptive clothing for people with disabilities, Nike is a case-study on the ways in which consumer feedback influences branding. Social listening can be incredibly helpful in helping a brand to remain relevant, and Nike demonstrates how social listening can contribute to the longevity and success of a brand.

My gratitude and appreciation to Christina for sharing her public relations and messaging insights.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Quote featured on Debbie Laskey’s Blog:
“2022 Was the Year of #BrandIdentity Changes”

Article referenced in first question’s response:
“Lawmakers are trying to ban TikTok. That won’t be easy – it’s part of our culture now”

Article referenced in final question’s response:
“Nike launches hands-free shoes inspired by man with cerebral palsy”

Connect with Christina at these links:
Instagram: @theprprofessor

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Pi Day, Equal Pay Day, and More

This week, there were many news stories that demonstrated impressive marketing campaigns and memorable brand storytelling.


While the Harriet Tubman $20 bill is on track to debut to the public in 2030, this past week, the abolitionist and social activist finally got long-due recognition. A 25-foot monument was unveiled in Newark, New Jersey in a ceremony attended by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Newark-born entertainer Queen Latifah. According to Huffington Post, "While Tubman was born in Maryland, she shepherded runaway slaves through a church in Newark when she was active in the Underground Railroad, an network of abolitionist allies and secret infrastructure that helped lead enslaved people to the North."

Tubman's great-great-great-grandniece Michele Jones Galvin spoke at the unveiling, "In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, the monument will memorialize her heroism, will inspire future generations to take action when they see injustice, and will instill the value of service to the most vulnerable in our society."

Mayor Baraka also spoke, "In a country where the overwhelming majority of monuments are testaments to white males, Newark has chosen to erect a monument to a Black woman who was barely five feet tall, but had the visage and power of a giant."

According to NPR, "A Christopher Columbus statue, that Tubman's monument replaced, was removed in June 2020 during that summer's racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The city of Newark took down the Columbus statue to avoid people toppling or taking it down during protests, Mayor Baraka explained in a June 2020 tweet. The racial protests prompted for the removal or renaming of several controversial monuments and statues across the country."

Did your brand celebrate Pi Day? Celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. Pi Day is an annual opportunity for math enthusiasts to recite the infinite digits of Pi, talk to their friends about math, and eat pie.

According to, "Pi has been calculated to over 50 trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits."

Some brands that celebrated the day included California Pizza Kitchen, Papa Johns, Whole Foods, Sbarro, Palermo's, doughnut brands, and more.

In addition to Pi Day, March 14 also marked Equal Pay Day, which in 1996, was originally called "National Pay Inequity Awareness Day." Unfortunately, it marked the continuing disparity between men's and women's salaries. In 2023, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by white men, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

Known as a pioneer for women's and family rights in Congress for 24 years, former US Representative Pat Schroeder passed away this week. According to current US Representative Nita Lowey from New York, "Pat Schroeder blazed the trail. Every woman in this house is walking in her footsteps."

According to Politico, "Asked by one congressman how she could be a mother of two small children and a member of Congress at the same time, she replied, 'I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.'"

What did you do on March 15? Did you celebrate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's birthday? Let's not forget what RBG said when she was asked how many women on the Supreme Court would be enough: "When there are nine. Women should be the norm - not the exception - in all places where decisions are made." By celebrating RBG each year, gender equality may be more attainable.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) announced a collaboration between the two organizations in their pursuit to bridge the gender gap in cybersecurity. According to a report by Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) and Cybersecurity Ventures, only 25 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce is currently comprised of women, yet women comprise up to 51 percent of the population.

"CISA and GSUSA already have a history of working together. In 2017, CISA provided thought collaboration and helped steer the creation of GSUSA's 18 cybersecurity badges. In less than five years, more than 315,000 cybersecurity badges have been earned by Girl Scouts."

Restaurant chain Red Lobster announced that it would offer bottomless portions of its namesake menu item on March 28 at its Times Square location in New York City. If you're in the Big Apple and interested, hurry because reservations will go fast. Interesting marketing campaign.

Beer brand Coors Light announced that it will release a beer-flavored popsicle to coincide with March Madness called "Coors-icles." These limited edition treats are non-alcoholic. The Coors-icles will be available throughout the NCAA college basketball tournament and sold at more than 800 bars throughout the USA. They can also be ordered through Coors' online shop. Odd product line extension.

Dunkin has retired its Dunkaccino. The drink known for its mixture of coffee and hot chocolate has been a fan favorite for more than two decades. A company spokesperson explained, "As we focus on innovation and finding new ways to delight guests, we continually evolve our menu in an effort to deliver a fast, frictionless experience. The Dunkaccino is retired for now, but there's always the chance for its return in the future." Is it a good idea to retire products that fans love? Only time will tell.

On another note, did you hear that Notre Dame Cathedral is set to reopen in Paris in December 2024? If you recall the terrifying fire on April 15,2019, this is good news for Parisians, France, and Francophiles around the world (this blogger included). The iconic spire, which collapsed during the blaze, will gradually start reappearing above the monument this year in a powerful signal of its revival. Good news, indeed!

What other marketing news stood out to you this week?

What will be the marketing buzz next week? Tune in to read all about it.

Image Credits: Dunkin/Today and California Pizza Kitchen.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Men’s Role in Gender Equity and Celebrating RBG's Birthday!


Why is today special? Today is the birthdate of former Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In her memory, we celebrate her accomplishments and her passion for gender equality advocacy.

According to Kim Elsesser in Forbes, “How did Ruth Bader Ginsburg become such a feminist rock star? Ginsburg learned about gender discrimination firsthand at school and in the workplace. At Harvard Law School, Ginsburg and other female students were questioned by the dean as to why they felt they were entitled to take the spot of an aspiring male lawyer. Ginsburg realized that women could never achieve equality with men if outdated stereotypes were holding them back. Prior to her tenure on the Supreme Court, she challenged law after law where women and men were provided different rights due to gender stereotypes.”

Today is also Equal Pay Day, an annual observance that symbolizes the ongoing issue of pay disparity and the wage gap between men and women. The date itself symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn as much as men during the previous year.

As a member of the Twitterverse for more than 13 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. To quote Matthew Kobach (@mkobach), "Twitter is a key that unlocks thousands of doors, some of which you never even knew existed." Recently, I connected with David Smith from Baltimore, Maryland, and invited him to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A discussion about men’s role in promoting gender equality in the workplace, diversity, and leadership. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

David Smith, PhD, is co-author of the book, Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace and an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. A former Navy pilot, Dr. Smith led diverse organizations of women and men culminating in command of a squadron in combat and flew more than 3,000 hours over 30 years including combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a sociologist, he focuses his research in gender, work, and family issues including allyship, inclusive mentorship, gender bias in performance evaluations, and dual career families. He is the co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women and numerous journal articles and book chapters that focus on gender and the workplace.

QUESTION: You wrote a book entitled, Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in The Workplace. Can you please share some key highlights or take-aways you hope readers have?

DAVID SMITH: Our goal for Good Guys is to engage men in doing gender equity work WITH women and develop the skills they need to help create sustainable workplace change. Framing allyship as gender collaboration and partnership helps avoid potential perceptions by men that women need rescuing or that men can do this work without women. Men are an important piece of the gender equity puzzle because they are still the majority in positions of power and influence.

The benefits of men engaging in gender equity work is often overlooked and can be instrumental to their involvement. Men who engage as allies in doing gender equity work have more diverse networks, access to different information, and have better interpersonal skills—more empathy, EQ, humility, and better communication skills that make them better leaders—and better partners and parents! Recent research showed that men who participated in allyship programming (training, education, communities of allies) were more likely to observe and recognize biased behavior and take proactive ally actions as reported by women.

My co-author, Brad Johnson, and I operationalize allyship into three areas of action that are also helpful in understanding where someone is on their allyship journey.

[1] The first is interpersonal allyship and this can be understood as how someone individually holds themselves accountable for how they show up in the workplace. This includes the kind of relationships they have with coworkers to include being collegial, supportive, collaborative, and supporting equity and fairness initiatives. This is the easy part of allyship because you only have to focus on holding yourself accountable for developing your awareness and relationships.

[2] The harder part of allyship where men feel like they are really putting some skin in the game is public allyship—publicly disrupting status quo, biased behaviors and language, and public advocacy and sponsorship. Public allyship requires men to not only hold themselves accountable, but also people on their team, and their leaders.

[3] Finally, as men develop awareness and understanding of how biases operate in everyday practices to create systemic inequities, such as, the gender wage gap or a lack of representation of women in senior leadership positions, they also have an obligation to change those practices to make them more equitable so everyone can thrive.

SHARE THIS: Men are an important piece of the gender equity puzzle because they are still the majority in positions of power and influence. ~@davidgsmithphd #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Susan Colantuono (@SusanColantuono on Twitter) wrote, "If women aren’t proportionately represented throughout your organization, you aren’t facing a women’s issue, you’re facing a talent development issue with business implications." What do you think about that statement?

DAVID SMITH: The outcomes for businesses and teams that have a more diverse and balanced workforce are unquestionable: better places to work, more successful, make better decisions, more innovative, more creative, and more profitable. The business case for gender equity couldn’t be stronger. A lack of representation is a clear indicator that an organization is not achieving its potential. Many organizations recognize the value and importance of creating a sustainable pipeline of talent, but few have also solved for how to retain and advance women as leaders and managers equitably. This will require change to their internal talent development processes. The status quo is not working.

QUESTION: When I was in graduate school in the mid-1990's, one of my tenured professors said to the class, "Women don't belong in grad school. They belong at home in the kitchen" How would you have responded if you’d been in my shoes?

DAVID SMITH: First, I’m sorry you experienced this and unfortunately it was all too common. I still hear these biased and sexist comments today. All too often, when these comments are made, it falls on women to respond despite men being in the room (and many of them recognizing the sexism). Even more challenging, as in your situation in grad school, is the power dynamic involved and the potential negative impact of saying anything.

So, if I were in your shoes as a female grad student, I hope I would have used a Socratic question. For example, “Why do you feel that way”? This can be an effective way of addressing sexism and forcing perpetrators to justify and explain their comments. Often this forces them to see the error in their ways or at least have them think about the impact it had on others. This technique also feels less confrontational and can alleviate some of the concern about backlash.

Having said that, what needed to happen was for an ally and especially a man in this case, to step up and disrupt this sexism. Research shows that men who disrupt are not penalized in the same way as women and in some cases can benefit from being seen as an ally or gender advocate. There are many techniques for disrupting depending on many of the situational and relational factors involved, but unfortunately bystander paralysis keeps most people from doing or saying anything. It is crucial that allies disrupt the status quo of sexism and highlight what many people in the space were thinking or feeling. Actively disrupting can help validate others who were offended and give them the self-confidence to disrupt in the future. Systemic and cultural change demands that all of us disrupt status quo workplace behaviors.

SHARE THIS: Men who disrupt are not penalized in the same way as women and can benefit from being seen as a gender advocate. ~@davidgsmithphd #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Two quotes serve as an introduction to my question. According to Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook: "If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat." And according to Shirley Chisholm: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” Despite recent successes, how can women earn more top leadership positions at the C-Suite table?

DAVID SMITH: There are a lot of systemic practices involved but let’s focus on one that I think is key—sponsorship. It is well-documented that women don’t receive the same amount and type of sponsorship that men receive. One of the programmatic interventions that has proliferated in companies is formal sponsorship programs. Formal programs are helpful in creating intentionality, visibility, and accountability in organizations. Of course, the goal is to eventually transition to making sponsorship equitable for everyone and a part of the organizational culture. But until that day, formal programs help to focus attention on the wealth of talented women at all leadership levels.

While having more women in senior leadership positions is the goal, it’s helpful to simultaneously focus on where we can have the most impact—at the first rung of the managerial/leadership ladder. The McKinsey Women in the Workplace annual studies continue to find that the most significant change in gender balance occurs when we reach the first level of leadership. This varies by industry but is consistently the career point where we find a dramatic decrease in women. If we’re going to create real and sustainable equity in the C-Suite, we need to make sure we are sponsoring and providing stretch opportunities for women into the first managerial/leadership level.

SHARE THIS: If we’re going to create equity in the C-Suite, we need to provide stretch opportunities for women in the first managerial/leadership level. ~@davidgsmithphd #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Amy Diehl (@AmyDiehl on Twitter), a gender equality advocate who we both admire, recently appeared on my blog in a Q&A about leadership, gender bias, and gender equality. When asked which Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote was her favorite, she responded, “This RBG quote is a reminder that women should not be the exception on boards, teams, and leadership: ‘Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception.’” Which RBG quote inspires you, and why?

DAVID SMITH: Here’s my favorite RBG quote:
“If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”

We can’t achieve full gender equity at work until men show up as allies at home. Until men do their fair share of the domestic responsibilities, caregiving, homeschooling, emotional/cognitive labor associated with this unpaid labor, and be fully supportive of their partner’s career, we will continue to endure the painstakingly slow progress that leads to estimates of 200+ years to close the gender wage gap.

The family norm in the US has long been dual-earner or dual-career families, even more so when children are present. As women flocked to the workplace over the past 60+ years, they continued do double duty at home. Yes, men have slightly increased the amount of unpaid work during the same period, but the gap still remains with women doing 1.5 to 3 times what men do at home. Most male executives of Fortune 500 companies have a stay-at-home partner. There has been little pressure for leaders and organizations to change workplace culture or how/when/where we work to create an equitable workplace for men and women. Although the pandemic has certainly refocused this conversation. But where will it go?

The good news is that most fathers (nearly 70%) want to have an egalitarian relationship at home and be equally involved in raising and caring for their children. Yet, half of these fathers are “conflicted” because they are not able to combine work and family equitably because of workplace norms, policies, managerial support, and stigma. If we can change workplaces to acknowledge that we all have caregiving responsibilities, families (yes, even single people provide caregiving), and personal/emotional needs to be able to perform at our best, this may be the next step toward a much brighter future and one that I aspire to.

My thanks to David for sharing his equality, diversity, inclusion, and leadership insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Ashkan Forouzani via Unsplash.

Connect with David at these links:
Twitter: @davidgsmithphd

Read some of David's inspiring posts in Harvard Business Review:

Research: Men Are Worse Allies Than They Think

Stop Protecting “Good Guys”

How Men Can Confront Other Men About Sexist Behavior

Men, Stop Calling Yourselves Allies. Act Like One.

Read Kim Elsesser’s (@kimelsesser on Twitter) full article in Forbes (referenced in this post’s introduction):

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Packaging, No More Red Carpet, Barbie (Again), and More

This week, there were many news stories that impacted marketing messages and brand storytelling.

How important is packaging? In case you didn't think so, it turns out very important, especially if you create a product manufactured in Switzerland.

According to Food reporter Allen Foster of Denver, Colorado, "When someone mentions Toblerone, you immediately envision the iconic shape: a long triangular stick of chocolate packaged in a pale yellow wrapper and emblazoned with bold red print. It’s so recognizable that the candy often appears in TV and film...However, due to ​​the Swissness Act, which was approved on September 2, 2015, and went into effect on January 1, 2017, Toblerone must change its iconic packaging."

Foster explained that if a service or product does not originate in Switzerland, there are packaging and advertising restrictions. Since Mondelez International (an American multinational confectionery, food, holding and beverage and snack food company based in Chicago that markets Toblerone) has outsourced some of the production to Slovakia to save on costs, by law, Toblerone packaging can no longer feature words, phrases, or images that might lead consumers to believe that the product was manufactured in Switzerland.

While the new design of the Toblerone packaging has yet to be revealed, there are a few things that have been shared. The words “of Switzerland” are being replaced by the words “Established in Switzerland,” and the packaging will feature a mountain logo that continues to reference the chocolate’s iconic shape without being specific to the Matterhorn. Additionally, the Swiss flag will be removed from any versions of the packaging where it currently appears.

The Academy Awards are coming, and with them, the famous red carpet where celebrities show off their extravagant fashion. But wait, what color carpet was installed outside The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California?

According to ABC7, "For the first time in six decades, Hollywood's biggest night is not rolling out the red carpet. The celebrated carpet will be a champagne color this year...The idea came from creative consultants." One explained, "We chose this beautiful sienna saffron color that evokes the sunset, because this is the sunset before the golden hour."

Actually, the champagne carpet probably was chosen to match the gold Oscar statuettes that winners receive.

On March 9, 1959, the Barbie doll made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. And the rest is history, or better stated, HERstory.

In 1956, the Ruth and Elliot Handlers took their two teenage children, Barbara and Ken, on a trip to Europe, and during the trip, they saw a doll that looked like an adult woman. This doll was much different from the baby dolls that most little girls played with back in America.

Ruth was inspired, and three years later, Mattel’s version of the adult doll, which she named after her daughter, debuted and became a big success. The Barbie doll also had a wardrobe of outfits that could be purchased separately. In 1960, the Handlers took their company, Mattel, public, and Barbie quickly became an icon, with a wardrobe and career options that mirrored women’s changing goals.

Ruth Handler said in a 1977 interview with The New York Times, “Every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future. If she was going to do role-playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was a little stupid to play with a doll that had a flat chest. So I gave the doll beautiful breasts. And Barbie kept pace with the times. During Camelot, she sported a Jacqueline Kennedy hairdo. During the 1970’s, her career choices and outfits begin to change to include a doctor, astronaut and veterinarian, among others. My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, a girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”


March is Women's History Month, or better stated, Women's HERstory Month, and March 8th is celebrated all over the world as International Women's Day. First recognized by the United Nations in 1975, the day has also been a major part of the women’s rights movement and helped to create conversations about gender biases.

The International Women’s Day website announced that this year’s theme was #EmbraceEquity: "a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA." The website also highlighted the difference between equity and equality by explaining that the former means "creating an inclusive world, through acts like challenging gender stereotypes, calling out discrimination, drawing attention to bias, and embracing diversity. Another goal was to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren not enough."

Read more at:

To read more inspiring posts about International Women's Day and Women's Equality, check out the following links on my blog:

Celebrate International Women's Day with a Convo with Nadine Epstein

Tips to Create Gender Equality in Your Workplace

Good Leadership Is NOT Defined By Your Gender

Personal Branding Tips from Madeleine Albright

Three Books to Celebrate Women's Equality Day

Is Your Brand Ready for International Women's Day

What other marketing news stood out to you this week?

What will be the marketing buzz next week? Tune in to read all about it.

Image Credits: Mattel, Yahoo Finance, and Toblerone.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Celebrate International Women’s Day with a Convo with Nadine Epstein

Today, March 8, is an important day on the equality calendar: it is International Women’s Day, a global holiday celebrated annually to commemorate the cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements of women. It also brings attention to the women’s rights movement, focusing attention on gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

First celebrated in 1909 in New York City as “Women’s Day,” the holiday was celebrated in 1911 by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. International Women’s Day was adopted as a global holiday by the United Nations in 1977. The theme for 2023 is #BreaktheBias. The campaign asks that you cross your arms in solidarity to call out gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping.

To recognize and celebrate today’s significance, I welcome Nadine Epstein to my Blog. We discussed leadership and gender equality, and highlights follow a brief introduction.

Award-winning journalist Nadine Epstein is editor-in-chief and CEO of Moment Magazine, founder and executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Creative Change, founder of the Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative for reporters, and founder and editor of Moment Books. She has written and edited books including RBG’s Brave and Brilliant Women: 33 Jewish Women to Inspire Everyone; Elie Wiesel: An Extraordinary Life and Legacy; and more. Her articles and op-eds have been published in a wide range of publications including the Washington Post, Smithsonian, Newsweek, and The New York Times. Nadine speaks internationally about antisemitism and other issues pertinent to the global Jewish community as well as gender equality.

QUESTION: I wrote a recent blog post introducing 15 people, from history and the modern era, who would be MY guests at an amazing dinner party. Who would you invite to YOUR dinner party? No limit to the number of seats at your table!

(Read the full post at this link:

NADINE EPSTEIN: Here are the guests at my dinner table:
(1)    Ernestine Rose
(2)    Lillian Wald
(3)    Florence Prag Kahn
(4)    Eleanor Roosevelt
(5)    Harriet Tubman
(6)    Deborah – from the Old Testament in the Bible
(7)    Salome Alexandra
(8)    Senator Elizabeth Warren
(9)    Pauli Murray
(10) My late mom Ruth Epstein so she can meet everyone

QUESTION: Can you share how RBG chose the women included in your book, RBG’S BRAVE AND BRILLIANT WOMEN?

NADINE EPSTEIN: One day, I was sitting in RBG’s chambers, and we selected about 150 women and then narrowed the list down. I was surprised that she started with biblical women from Exodus and Deborah. We ended up with women who meant the most to her, and a few who I thought needed to be included. We each learned about the other’s inspiring women! It was very difficult to choose only 33!

(For more details about the book’s selection process, read this post at the link below:

QUESTION: A portion of the proceeds from your book, RBG’S BRAVE AND BRILLIANT WOMEN goes to the Role Model Project, “designed to help young people find inspirational role models and established in the memory of RBG.” What do you think RBG would tell college graduates in these difficult and challenging covid pandemic days about finding role models?

NADINE EPSTEIN: The stories of great women sustained Justice Ginsburg during challenging times. She wanted to share these women’s stories so that they could sustain and inspire others. We don’t stop evolving until we die. And all of us need many role models. When we stumble upon someone who has traits that we admire, we need to identity them and incorporate those traits into ourselves.

QUESTION: When I was in graduate school in the mid-1990’s, one of my tenured professors said to the class, “Women don’t belong in grad school. They belong at home in the kitchen.” How would you have responded?

NADINE EPSTEIN: I would have told him that he was nuts! I knew firsthand, because my mom was a great leader, and she had absolutely no interest in cooking. Back then, however, I would have said it more politely than I might say it today.

QUESTION: Susan Colantuono (@SusanColantuono on Twitter) wrote, “If women aren’t proportionately represented throughout your organization, you aren’t facing a women’s issue, you’re facing a talent development issue with business implications.” What do you think about that statement?

NADINE EPSTEIN: Women are good at consensus-building, strategic thinking, avoiding testeronic competition – and they are necessary leaders in all fields. One amazing woman in the book is Muriel Siebert. She was the first women to push her way into the ultimate men’s club, the New York Stock Exchange. She brought her values to the business world, and they were visionary.

QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): “Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others.” What does this quote mean to you?

NADINE EPSTEIN: To me, the goal is to create a place of collaboration, where all employees feel safe to brainstorm. No leader owns all the good ideas.

SHARE THIS: No leader owns all the good ideas. ~@NadineEpsteinDC #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My thanks to Nadine for sharing her insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Note: An overview of Nadine’s book with RBG was featured in a post celebrating last year’s Women’s Equality Day on my blog – check it out at this link:

Note: This quote from last year’s post on my blog on International Women’s Day featured Michelle Redfern – I invite you to share on Twitter.

SHARE THIS: All leaders in an organization must consider closing the leadership gender gap as a business priority. ~@RedfernMichelle #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperence #EmployerBranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

Image Credit: Gradienta via Unsplash.

Connect with Nadine at these links:
Twitter: @NadineEpsteinDC
Twitter: @MomentMagazine
Facebook: /momentmag
Instagram: @Moment_Mag

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Nokia, Barbie and More

This week, there were many news stories that impacted marketing messages and messaging.

The brand known as just a phone company launched its new brand identity.

According to Nokia President and CEO Pekka Lundmark, “Our new visual identity captures Nokia as we are today, with renewed energy and commitment as pioneers of digital transformation. We built on the heritage of our previous logo, but made it feel more contemporary and digital, to reflect our current identity. But this isn’t just about what we look like. It’s about our strength in networking, innovation, collaborative partnerships, and technology leadership. It’s about our value propositions in current and prospective markets. And most of all, it’s about our people. In my view, Nokia has the best, most talented and inspiring people in the business. Every day, I feel privileged to work alongside them. So Nokia’s leadership team and I wanted to create a new brand that worked for them, representing who they are, what they do, and why they do it.”

When have you heard from a member of an organization’s C-Suite that a brand refresh was FOR THE EMPLOYEES?

Ahead of the big screen debut of Barbie in movie theatres in July, a one-of-a-kind immersive experience produced by global toy-maker Mattel and global live entertainment event company Kilburn Live is set to arrive in Santa Monica, California. Visitors can explore Barbie’s dreamhouse, camper van, and more. With the film four months away, this immersive experience is a perfect way to promote the film and the iconic brand.

According to CNN, “Baked goods company Entenmann’s is bringing back its cellophane window packaging after a two-year absence caused by flood damage at the factory that produces the iconic white and blue cartons. The cellophane window has been a recognizable feature for more than 70 years, allowing shoppers to view the tasty treats they’re buying.”

The online reference site announced that it added 313 new entries, 130 new definitions for existing entries, and 1,140 revised definitions. According to John Kelly, senior director of digital content, “It’s not surprising that this new digital context of our lives is necessitating a new kind of language.”

Here are five additions:

988: In the United States, the telephone number for a mental health crisis hotline staffed by licensed counselors and other staff trained in suicide prevention.

Cakeism: The false belief that one can enjoy the benefits of two choices that are in fact mutually exclusive, or have it both ways.

Petfluencer: A person who gains a large following on social media by posting entertaining images or videos of their cat, dog, or other pet.

Pinkwashing: An instance or practice of acknowledging and promoting the civil liberties of the LGBTQ+ community, but specifically, as a ploy to divert attention from allegiances and activities that are in fact hostile to such liberties.

Subvarient: A genetically distinct form of a virus, bacteria, or other microorganism, which arises when a variant of the original strain mutates.


For over 100 years, Girl Scouts have sold cookies as a way to help its members build their business skills and raise money for their groups. However, the Raspberry Rally Girl Scouts cookie, a raspberry-flavored version of the Thin Mint variety, was a limited-edition cookie. And it sold out in hours. So, what happened? The cookies could be found for sale on eBay – some for $30 instead of the $5 or $6 regular price.

According to Girl Scouts, “When cookies are purchased through a third-party seller, Girl Scout troops are deprived of proceeds that fund critical programming throughout the year. Plus, unauthorized sales can erode Girl Scouts’ good cookie name.”

According to eBay, who had no intent to pull the product, “We strongly support the entrepreneurial spirit of hardworking local Girl Scout troops and encourage cookie-seekers to also support their local Girl Scouts. However, the sale of Girl Scout cookies does not violate eBay policies.”

Talk about the power of eBay! Did you ever think Girl Scout cookies would be on eBay? It was only a matter of time.

Lastly, there is growing buzz surrounding the C-Suite title of Chief Data Officer or CDO. The most forward-looking organizations are appointing a CDO, since they understand the importance of data and how effective manipulation and analysis of data can lead to repeat sales and acquisition of new customers.

What other marketing news stood out to you this week?

What will be the marketing buzz next week? Tune in to read all about it.

Image Credits: Nokia and the World of Barbie.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Tips to Improve Your Organization’s Employee Experience

Today is Employee Appreciation Day, and to celebrate, I’d like to welcome Marli Rusen to my blog in a Q&A about the employee experience, corporate culture, workplace diversity, and the role of human resources.

First, a little background about Employee Appreciation Day – and then a brief bio about Marli Rusen from British Columbia, Canada. Observed on the first Friday in March, Employee Appreciation Day was started in 1995 by Dr. Bob Nelson, initially to celebrate the publication of his book, “1001 Ways to Reward Employees,” which has expanded into “1501 Ways to Reward Employees.” The purpose was to remind employers to thank their employees when they do good work. So, as your organization considers how to best appreciate, recognize, and value your employees, read on for some amazing insights.

Marli Rusen brings many years of experience as a labor, employment, and human rights lawyer to her current work as a labor arbitrator, mediator, expert in workplace conflict resolution, and memorable keynote speaker. After working as a lawyer for 15 years, Marli made the decision that she wanted to make a positive difference in a proactive role when conflicts arose. For the last 15 years, she has served in a problem-solving, mediator role, working closely with all parties to help them arrive at a consensual resolution. She designs each mediation in a way that best meets the unique dynamics and issues with which the parties are faced to maximize the likelihood of success. Over the years, Marli has developed proactive and practical tools to help leaders resolve complex team dynamics that affect productivity, retention, and engagement. This has culminated in her creation of the MIRROR Method, a practical six-step program for leaders to follow in the face of team disruption and dysfunction. The MIRROR Method has been adopted with resounding success by numerous organizations.

QUESTION: You launched your new book entitled, "Walking on Eggshells? A Practical Guide to Resolving Stressful Conflict at Work and Home.” What are some key take-aways?
MARLI RUSEN: Here are some:

Conflict is inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing. Often, we incorrectly equate disagreement with disrespect. In fact, the mantra of “We all think the same here” is dysfunctional. Allowing for respectful discussions around difference and diversity will lead to progress. Forced consensus, however, will paralyze progress. We should not be freaked out by having or allowing differences of opinion in our workplaces.

Having said that, disagreements may become disrespectful, and conflict may become dysfunctional if accompanied by disrespectful or disruptive behavior/communication. In these situations, it is not the disagreement/conflict that causes the disrespect, it is the manner in which individuals speak to, speak about, or treat those around them, particularly those with whom they disagree.

When disagreements, disrespect, and disruption arise, it is critical to resolve them, where possible, in an early, informal, and respectful manner, using a clearly established set of ground rules. Examples of these are outlined in “Walking on Eggshells.” It is so important to understand and agree upon etiquette for having these types of conversations. This includes agreement on where and when to have these discussions and expectations on how to speak and listen to each other during them. These “rules of engagement” should be applied consistently and fairly to all, regardless of who is having the conversation.

SHARE THIS: We should not be freaked out by having or allowing differences of opinion in our workplaces. ~@MarliRusen #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Your “MIRROR Method” book provides leaders with a six-step framework to diagnose and remedy workplace dysfunction, restore trust and communication, and build powerfully dynamic teams. Please provide an overview.
MARLI RUSEN: Many leaders are promoted without having the necessary training on how to lead effectively. They want to lead but don’t have the tools to show up as a leader (versus as an employee). They often learn through trial and error, at their expense and at the expense of those who report to them.

Through my MIRROR Method, the moment an issue happens on their team, I walk them through a 6-step process toward defensible and respectful resolution. The process will be FAIR, EQUITABLE, and BALANCED. The decision may not “feel” fair by the employee – but, objectively speaking, the process leading up to that decision will be.

QUESTION: Since the overall employee experience begins with onboarding, how would you create a memorable and positive onboarding experience?
MARLI RUSEN: There are three C’s of onboarding. They are:

Clarity: When roles, responsibilities, and work-related expectations are clarified at the outset, there is no wasted time on scavenging, that is, searching for basic answers on how to get things done. Employees need to be told, for example, who on each team is responsible for what; how their work intersects with and impacts others; and who they can go to with questions and concerns; etc.

Communication: Ongoing communication is critical. Since everyone communicates differently, it is preferable for leaders to engage in customized messaging and support for their staff. Some may prefer feedback in writing (such as email); whereas others may prefer verbal and hands-on direction. Also, people learn differently. When it comes to communication, coaching, and otherwise, remember that “No one size fits all.” This is especially important in the context of cultural diversity and neurodiversity. Meet your team members where they are and help them learn in a manner that best works for them. Be responsive and fluid as a leader.

Connection: From day one, employees want to feel valued, so leaders must make the time to value them in a demonstrable manner. New employees should also be paired with a longer-term employee, someone who enjoys and thrives in this role. This will help avoid the unwelcome wagon: where a disinterested team member assigned to mentor a new employee speaks poorly about the workplace and pays “lip service” to their role as mentor.

SHARE THIS: From day one, employees want to feel valued. ~@MarliRusen #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: There is a lot of buzz that there should be a HR position/expert at the C-Suite table. What are your thoughts?
MARLI RUSEN: Absolutely.

Human Resources is an area of expertise that requires education and experience. Consider these specialty areas: labor relations, retention and recruitment, onboarding and training, occupational health and safety, bullying and harassment, discrimination in hiring/firing, and many others.

Companies need someone from HR to handle these matters correctly for the benefit of the organization as well as from a legal standpoint. It would not be appropriate for me to review and opine on financial documents given my lack of expertise and training in finance. Similarly, I would not expect a member of the C-Suite to exclusively decide on HR-related processes and decisions when they lack related education and expertise.
QUESTION: There are many new titles for the head of personnel, aka Human Resources, including: Chief Happiness Officer, Chief People Officer, Chief Talent Officer, Chief Encouragement Officer, to name a few. What are your thoughts to change the title in order to improve the position’s value to all employees?
MARLI RUSEN: That’s a good question.

The title of Human Resources covers the myriad of responsibilities performed by the HR department. The other titles you mention are too limited in scope and fail to recognize the many roles and responsibilities assigned to those who work in this field.

For me, what’s more important than the title is that employees and leaders clearly understand the mandate of the HR department in their organization.
Organizations use their HR Departments differently. Some are neutral advisors for everyone in the workplace. In others, such as, certain unionized organizations, HR attends meetings as the “management-representative.” In certain workplaces, the same HR employee who meets with an employee in confidence about their personal struggles is later questioning them in a workplace investigation.

The confusion and lack of communication around the mandate of HR has created internal tensions and mistrust. We need to be honest and clear with employees and managers as to what HR may reasonably offer – and what it cannot.

Finally, regardless of the specific mandate attached to an HR department, it is the role model for an entire organization. Its treatment of others, including its processes around decision-making and conflict-resolution, sets the tone for the culture of the organization. For this reason, HR leaders and staff need to be mindful of how they communicate, how they treat all employees and leaders, how they handle conflict resolution, and much, much more.

SHARE THIS: Human Resources is the role model for an entire organization. ~@MarliRusen #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What are the three key elements that a leadership team can do to create and maintain a positive corporate culture?
MARLI RUSEN: One of my favorite quotes regarding this topic is, “Employees don’t want the annual BBQ, they want day-to-day respect.” 

There are three R’s to answer this question:
Respectful conduct: Leaders need to walk the talk to show employees that they mean what they say. They cannot say one thing and do the opposite. The world of double standards is no more.

Respectful decision-making: Leaders must not show favoritism in their decision-making. Their decisions must be rooted in objective, work-related information, based on the best interests of the organization. Those decisions should be communicated in a respectful, consistent, and transparent manner.

Respectful accountability: Leaders need to effectively and respectfully manage disruptive behavior and poor performance that arises on their team. They cannot “disappear” in the face of conflict and controversy. They must actively engage with and manage conflict to ensure it is resolved in a timely manner.

A leader’s portfolio must contain expectations and tools for conflict resolution. In order build and maintain respectful and productive workplace cultures, conflict management must be treated as a necessary and fundamental leadership competency.

SHARE THIS: Employees don’t want the annual BBQ, they want day-to-day respect. ~@MarliRusen #EmployeeExperience #WorkplaceCulture #DebbieLaskeysBlog

SHARE THIS: Conflict management must be treated as a necessary and fundamental leadership competency. ~@MarliRusen #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite quotes about leadership is from Arnold Glasow, an American businessman often cited in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and other publications, “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” What does this quote mean to you?
MARLI RUSEN: I agree but would go further. For organizations to thrive and advance, you need to create space and opportunity for innovation and growth. Employees need to feel confident to respectfully challenge themselves, raise concerns and ideas with their leaders, and question the status quo. They cannot do so when they operate in fear of making mistakes.

Leaders who “take a little more than their share of blame” don’t point fingers or shame their team. They celebrate the wins and find solutions to the losses. This does not mean that mistakes are not addressed. It simply means that they are resolved in a fair, confidential and respectful manner. If a leader shows consistent integrity and kindness, in good times and bad, the result will be loyal, committed, and engaged employees. Respectful and inclusive leadership does not cost a cent – and its benefits are priceless.

My profound thanks to Marli for sharing her workplace insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Harry Adhi via Vecteezy.

Connect with Marli at these links:
Twitter: @MarliRusen
Facebook: /marlifrusen
Book: Walking on Eggshells:
Book: The Mirror Method: