Plus, the role of food rescue organizations, going beyond harassment training
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Good morning and happy Monday! Here’s what we’ve got for you this week:

  • If you missed our Fearless Focus conversation earlier this month – or if you did attend, but wanted to relive it – I rounded up my favorite quotes in a recap article. Hopefully they serve as a dose of inspiration or motivation for you!
  • BrownWinick attorney Danielle Smid wrote a guest opinion piece about what employers should do beyond harassment training in a post-#MeToo workplace.
  • Every year as part of the Iowa Stops Hunger initiative, Business Publications Corp. publishes a magazine that focuses on food insecurity. This year, I wrote a story about the role food rescue organizations play.
  • General admission tickets are now on sale for our annual Fearless event! We’ll be having the event in person for the first time, and we hope you’ll join us on Nov. 17 for a morning of inspiration and connection. Find more information below!

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Words of wisdom on taking risks, overcoming failure
From left: Kirsten Anderson, Katie Hoff and Connie Wimer.
Any business owner, CEO – or really anyone who is in an elevated or visible position within a community – will admit that getting to where they are now required a few risks.

Saying yes to a position outside of your wheelhouse. Saying no to a safe bet because you had a hunch that a brighter horizon was ahead. Standing up for what you believe in.

But knowing that risk-taking is a necessary ingredient for success, why do we avoid it? How do you overcome a fear of failure? Why are women more risk-averse than men? How can we encourage risk-taking?

Those are some of the questions we asked our panelists at our Fearless Focus virtual event earlier this month.

Panelists were:
  • Kirsten Anderson, author and advocate.
  • Katie Hoff, team leader, Cyber Security Operations, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  • Connie Wimer, chairman, Business Publications Corp.

Below are quotes from the conversation that I consider to be cream-of-the-crop. Sometimes it’s useful to have a little inspiration to refer to before you do something out of your comfort zone. I hope these comments help give you that boost you may need.

Wimer: Taking risks is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Anderson: When I think about the unknown, I think about “What’s the worst that could happen? If I take this risk, what’s the worst that could happen to me?”

Hoff: [Overcoming a sense of failure] is about the small steps you have to do. It’s the small things you do to just keep pushing forward.

Wimer: Do a tremendous amount of research. Go into [something] knowing what the risks are. Prepare for the worst that could possibly happen, but expect the best. The optimism of expectation is equally as important as the preparation if the bottom falls out.

Anderson: Don’t let the risk and decision-making paralyze you. Don’t get caught up in the what-ifs. If you take a risk, make a choice and it goes badly, make another choice to take the lessons from it and take another risk and decide the other way tomorrow.

Wimer: Failure is another form of learning. Make the changes to adapt, and move on.

Hoff: Build your support system. They will take the time to help guide you. They will be the ones to help you through your risks, your failures and your successes.

Wimer: If you don’t have a women’s group, form one. There’s power in having that total freedom to ask questions and not worry about sounding dumb.

Hoff: From the perspective of being in leadership or management, it’s up to us to create that safe space or place where women can fail.

Anderson: We need to get over trying to be perfect, period. Uniqueness and imperfection will lead to failures, and that’s OK.

Going beyond harassment training
As a part of the #MeToo movement and litigation that ensued therefrom, employers learned quickly that implementing a strict anti-harassment policy and harassment training for their workforce is imperative in preventing workplace harassment. But harassment and other forms of inappropriate behavior continue to reach epidemic proportions in the workplace. Employers must work to help their organizations prevent further or continued damage from such behavior.

Historically, harassment prevention training has been used as a defense mechanism against legal action, designed to discourage harassment by informing employees and managers of its illegality and how to follow the reporting process. However, training sessions on the definition and consequences of sexual harassment, while they may “check the box” from a legal perspective, have been shown to be ineffective.

A more effective approach is to focus on workplace culture. Developing a culture of inclusivity and civility will effectively help to eliminate harassment and bullying in the workplace. Creating a positive culture creates peer pressure for employees to act appropriately and correctly. Inclusivity should not be the responsibility of one person or department. Employers must build it into their company culture.

A couple of steps employers can take to promote a safe and healthy workplace culture include the following:

Empower employees to take notice
One of your employees is standing around the office microwave and a co-worker shares a derogatory joke, or a member of the hiring committee wonders aloud if an older job candidate has the stamina for a full workday. As a “bystander” or witness, what does the employee do?

It is common for people who hear an offensive comment to look around at nearby people or a passerby who could be offended – a female employee, or an older worker – to gauge their reaction. If no objections are raised, the employee witnessing the inappropriate jokes or comments may think such comments are OK as no one “seemed” offended. Everyone returns to work with no report being made, no action taken, and no prevention done.

Training our employees to instead have a “see something, say something” perspective will disrupt problematic behavior. Employees who see something or hear something in the workplace that makes them look around to see if anyone else saw or heard the same thing need to immediately recognize that that comment or action may be something that they should report or otherwise try to stop.

Training employees to “see something, say something” must include teaching them to 1) notice the situation; 2) recognize the situation as a problem; 3) assume personal responsibility to help change the situation; 4) know how to help; and 5) step up and help. Having a “see something, say something” perspective will become disruptive to ongoing inappropriate behaviors.

Focus on an inclusive culture
Employers must have the right policies, procedures and training in place, but those things alone are not going to change the culture. Victims and witnesses need to feel safe speaking up when they see harassment or other inappropriate behavior occur in the workplace. Otherwise, they will never come forward and the behavior will continue to escalate.

If an employee is always rude or inappropriate, leaders should approach them as they would an employee who is often late to work. Both behaviors negatively affect that employee’s performance as well as their co-workers’. When employees see that leadership will not tolerate harassing or inappropriate behavior in any form or to any degree, they will feel more comfortable calling it out to their managers or human resources or to the individuals themselves.

The cornerstone of a successful harassment and inappropriate behavior prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of leadership to create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated. This commitment must not only be shown through policies and procedures, but in leadership actions in disrupting and reporting such inappropriate behaviors.

In the headlines
    Emily Sisson set the American marathon record in Chicago last week, finishing in 2:18:29, shaving 43 seconds off the previous record.

    Iowa women’s basketball player Caitlin Clark signed an NIL (or name, image and likeness) deal with Nike last week. The junior guard is widely seen as one of the best college basketball players in the country.

    Gov. Kim Reynolds last week signed a proclamation stating Oct. 13, 2022, as Metastatic Breast Cancer Day in Iowa. The proclamation was spearheaded by Celeste Lawson, who is an advocate for metastatic breast cancer awareness. Reynolds also signed a proclamation for Metastatic Breast Cancer Day in 2020.

    This year’s class of 25 MacArthur Fellows was announced last week. More than half the class are women, and fellows include a mathematician, artists, a primary care physician, musicians, writers and scientists. The fellowships are awarded to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

    A recent U.S. News survey found that 70% of people across the world believe that countries led by women tend to be better managed. The survey involved more than 17,000 people in 36 countries. The findings also showed that 90% of respondents believe that women deserve equal rights.

    A new March of Dimes report found that 36% of all counties in the United States are “maternity care deserts,” where there is limited or no access to maternity care. More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in the maternity care deserts, the report also found. More than a third of the counties in Iowa are classified as deserts, according to the map. (Read more about Iowa’s dwindling birthing units on the Fearless website.)

    Women gained 155,000 jobs last month, and have now recovered the net job losses they experienced in 2020. This marks 21 months of consecutive job gains for women, and means women now hold 85,000 more jobs than in February 2020. By comparison, men hold 429,000 more jobs than in February 2020.

    Worth checking out
    First female air traffic control tower manager at Eastern Iowa Airport brings visibility to field (Cedar Rapids Gazette). Three things business leaders can do to help finish the fight for women’s equality at work (Fortune). Tarana Burke: What ‘Me Too’ made possible (Time). Why you can’t find child care: 100,000 workers are missing (New York Times).
    We invite you to join us and others equally passionate about empowering Iowa women as we celebrate two years of the Business Record’s Fearless initiative. Women, gender-nonconforming individuals and male allies are all encouraged to be fearless with us.

    To celebrate Fearless, a lineup of inspiring women will share their stories of fearlessness and courage. Attendees will be seated at a table with female leaders, including some of our past Women of Influence honorees, who will lead powerful discussions to share perspectives and insights on succeeding in work and life. Attendees will build additional connections with leaders and other participants as they rotate to different tables throughout the event.

    As part of our Fearless core values, this event will create an atmosphere where everyone has a seat and voice at the table. This dynamic interaction will give you not only a chance to learn from others’ experiences and engage in topics facing women in the workplace, but you’ll also have the opportunity to develop and deepen your relationships with women across the state.

    The event will be at the Sheraton in West Des Moines on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to noon.

    Filling the gaps: A look at the role of food rescue organizations
    Mary Palmberg and Nancy Weber load a cart full of donations from the Coralville Costco into the Table to Table van. The most common types of food rescued by Table to Table are dairy products, bakery items, produce and grocery items like cans of soup or boxes of pasta. Photo by Emily Kestel.
    Hundreds of thousands of Iowans don’t have access to enough nutritious food. At the same time, more than half a million tons of food ends up in Iowa landfills each year.

    Consider this: If all of that wasted food was instead diverted from the landfill and given to food-insecure Iowans, they’d each have access to more than eight meals a day.

    “Food scarcity is not why we have food insecurity,” said Aubrey Alvarez, executive director of Eat Greater Des Moines. “It’s a logistics issue.”

    Food rescue organizations like Eat Greater Des Moines and Table to Table in Iowa City work to keep excess, edible food from going to waste by collecting it from donors and safely distributing it directly to recipient organizations that serve those in need of food.

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