Courageous Conversations #3 | Being a Male Ally Means Learning Every Day

Courageous Conversations #3 | Being a Male Ally Means Learning Every Day


[music playing]>>Holly Rollins:
This is scary, Bob. I can’t believe Jimmy
still has this picture.>>Bob Miller: So, 30 years
later, reflecting on where we started
back in middle school and where we ended
up together, so…>>Holly Rollins: Well, thanks
for being here with me today. I really appreciate
the opportunity to chat
about our careers in STEM.>>Bob Miller: Yeah,
and thank you. You know,
diversity and inclusion, and women in STEM
is really important to me. So I appreciate
the opportunity to talk.>>Holly Rollins: Yeah,
absolutely. You know, I think you can’t
really understand how other people view
a situation until you’ve walked
in their shoes. When do you think it was
that kind of that, “Ah-ha,” moment came for you
in terms of how it’s a different
experience for women? And, you know,
I’ve really seen you emerge as a champion for women.
When do you think that was?>>Bob Miller: Well, you had
a role in that, but I’ll get to that. I — you know, with me, my wife
of 25 years is a biologist. That’s — that was her degree,
and she’s also a Hispanic woman. So I’d say that her experiences
going through her career — we would talk a little bit
about what she experienced, and I found that
it was different than what I experienced, right?>>Holly Rollins: [affirmative]>>Bob Miller: Not being heard,
you know, having to fight a little harder
than I had to fight. So I’d say it started there. The day you asked me, you know,
on a panel as a male executive speaking to women
of different ages on the — on what it’s like
to be on the — in the workplace, I reflected. I did a lot of soul
searching after I said, “Yes,” and I said,
“I got to get smarter on this.” So I started to meet
with women on my team. And I had never
done that before, and asked what
their experiences were. So it was a change. It was like
a light switch went off, and I realized I had to do more.
I had to change what my approach was if I was going
to be a true champion.>>Holly Rollins: So, Bob,
why do you think it would be important for people to see men
in leadership championing and advocating for women?>>Bob Miller: So if the only
advocates for women are women, I don’t think that’s
going to achieve what we really want to do
is — which is complete diversity
in our workplace, and taking advantage
of everyone’s strengths to achieve, really,
whatever the desired output is, the mission of whatever
your organization’s doing. But as a male executive, if you’re not changing
that equation, and you’re not advocating
fiercely, not only for women, but I’d say diversity
and inclusion in general, you’re not doing your job.
Your job, as an executive, should be to surround yourself with the best available
talent — and, by the way, if you’re
excluding half the population, you’re not doing that —
and not only recruiting, but having an organization
that covets and values every person’s skills,
and talents, and abilities. And that requires thought
and making sure that the environment is such that everyone can thrive
in that organization, everyone’s thoughts
can be heard, so –>>Holly Rollins: Well, and I
also think there’s that element
of transparency. I think you can
lead by example. If you want people to share
with you things that they are feeling
uncomfortable about or insecure about, it often starts by, you know,
us as leaders in the business taking some risk and being
transparent and vulnerable. So if you could go back
and talk to your younger self, you know, knowing now
how enlightened you are — [laughter] — on needing to advocate
for women, what would you say
to your younger self?>>Bob Miller: Yeah, I guess
I would say I should have been
more aware, right? I was so worried about
figuring it out for me, right? I mean, it was new.
I hadn’t been in the workplace. I’m new to the Navy.
I’m new in a new city. I mean, I was just focused on me and trying to figure out,
“How do I succeed?” right? I really wasn’t paying attention
to what was going on around me. So I think, as male executive, you have to be aware
of what’s going on around you. And, by the way, I don’t know that
I have this all figured out. I’m more aware
than I used to be. That doesn’t mean that
I’m totally aware, right? So I think you have to challenge
yourself every day to be aware of what’s going on,
and to be a change agent, to make sure that
you’re doing your part to make the environment as best it can be
for everyone on your team. [music playing]

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