• Summary

  • After decades of ineffective quotas, a revolutionary approach to breaking through the glass ceiling for women has come into focus—one shaped by a greater understanding of our gender differences instead of trying to ignore them. Today, Gender Intelligence is improving communication between men and women in organizations around the globe. It’s resulting in superior innovative thinking, more effective problem solving and decision-making, greater team productivity, and more enduring customer relationships.
    Gender Intelligence Group
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  • Jun 23 2021

    When the pandemic surged around the world, tens of millions of people were told their employment was suspended, or they were asked to work from home. Now, as the vaccine rollout is gaining steam, and cases of COVID-19 are declining in most countries, employees are being asked to return to the workplace.

    This has created uncertainty and an extremely stressful situation for many. Will I be safe at work? Will my job be the same? Will I be working with the same people? Will I still be working from home on a full or part-time basis? So many questions that all lead to the potential for increased anxiety.

    It’s a challenge that companies are now turning to diversity and inclusion expert Barbara Annis for assistance with. She says many CEOs have expressed their biggest concerns as employees’ wellbeing and productivity. In response, Barbara created a series of Learning Nudges, microlearning modules that can be helpful in addressing issues, specifically related to returning to work with success.


    Back to Work with Success Program Overview:



    There are also important gender differences relating to ‘back to work.’ Barbara explains. She says that in the research she’s done, men are experiencing twice as much stress as before, and women are experiencing four times as much. Brain differences help to explain some of that, as women have a larger pre-fontal cortex, where it’s believed most of our ‘consequential thinking’ takes place. 

    Barbara says it’s up to employers to provide the tools to deal with anxiety and stress in the workplace. She says they have a responsibility to set the tone for teams and be welcoming, empathetic and inclusive. Paul described an event he attended where they made special accommodation for introverts including buttons to wear, and a room where they could go go and unwind. He described as a great way to set the tone.

    “The biggest trap is to do nothing,” says Barbara. She says organizations shouldn’t assume that everything is going to go back to normal. She says smart companies are being planful and intentional. The Back to Work with Success program is designed to empower individuals to be more self-initiated in reducing anxiety. “With our program, they can do it in brief 3 to 5 minute ‘microlearning’ moments.”

    Overview of Learning Nudges Programs for Organizations


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    20 mins
  • Jun 16 2021

    Paul and Barbara kick off the podcast with a discussion about the quote “feedback is the breakfast of champions,” a quote by author Ken Blanchard in his groundbreaking book “One Minute Manager,” and co-authored by Spencer Johnson MD. 

    Barbara describes giving feedback as one of the biggest challenges, particularly between men and women. She says men often find they have to be cautious in giving women sensitive feedback. Research shows that women want the ‘straight goods’ in feedback, but men are often uncomfortable if the feedback is met with an emotional response. 

    Barbara shared a story about a woman who was unsuccessful in becoming a partner in a law firm, despite meeting all the metrics for being promoted. Later, she was infuriated to receive the feedback third hand. She eventually left the firm and became a partner in a competing firm. It’s an all-too common theme, and research shows men often feel they have to be more careful in giving women feedback.

    Paul and Barbara discussed a PowerPoint deck which was part of a workshop Barbara delivered on “Pathways to Inclusion: Giving and Receiving Feedback.”  Barbara described two important components of the workshop that led to a breakthrough for the client. She provided them with insight on the science of brain differences between women and men, and a set of tools for overcoming challenges. She believes that one important key is for men to be empowered to sponsor and mentor women.

    Studies show that 42% of men find it difficult to receive sensitive feedback. Barbara says the first step is to be straightforward, not vague with feedback. She says men prefer getting guidance on what specifically they can do to improve. She adds that it’s always best to ‘declare your intentions’ from the start, to ensure the feedback is seen as a positive and constructive way to perform better at work.

    Paul reflected on the statistics that show 64% of women find it difficult receiving sensitive feedback, though at the same time, 82% of women say they want more feedback. Barbara explained that part of the reason for that is that the hippocampus (memory centre) is larger in women’s brains. Women tend to remember a bad experience they had in receiving feedback.

    Barbara says men who want to improve at giving feedback to women should remember one important fact. “Women are their own worst critic. We ruminate and scrutinize ourselves all the time,” she says. On the other hand, for men, they sometimes need to step back, reflect on feedback, and replenish their testosterone. For both men and women, the key is validation. 

    Link to “Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business” by Barbara Annis and John Gray PhD:


    Link to the book ‘One Minute Manager’ by Ken Blanchard Phd and Spencer Johnson MD


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    24 mins
  • May 26 2021

    Barbara Annis and host Paul Colligan kick off this episode with a story about Barbara’s husband, also named Paul, who had a negative experience during an Unconscious Bias training session.

    Barbara explains that Unconscious Bias does not work, and companies need to stop delivering that kind of training. She says it has a reverse effect on people because:

    1. It’s a band-aid approach that has no correlation to learning;
    2. It lowers morale;
    3. It is a waste of money for companies because there’s no return on investment.


    Barbara insists that even the term has negative connotations. The first word, unconscious, is about helplessness, while the second word, bias, evokes blame. She described the work she did with a company where they removed the term Unconscious Bias and replaced it with Blind Spots. It is non-blame and focuses on a-ha moments of discovery, and new insights.


    Paul and Barbara discussed the experience that people have in a Gender Intelligence training session where the focus is on Blind Spots. Barbara says that once they realize it’s not about blame, but about building understanding, everything changes. There’s engagement from the start, and it’s relevant to their lives, both professionally and personally. Barbara says it takes the divisiveness out of the conversation.


    Barbara described a situation where a large financial services firm faced the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in the history of Wall Street. She says the legal action came on the heels of Unconscious Bias training in the firm, prompting the company to remove UB training from any mention in its culture.


    Harvard business review article “Why Diversity Programs Fail”:



    Paul reflected on the benefits of a Gender Intelligent conversation around hardwired differences between men and women, and the value each gender brings to the table. He says it’s about answering the questions, “what can we learn about each other, how can we perform better with each other, and what does each style bring to the game that gives us an advantage?


    Barbara referred to a quote from Dr. Fernando Flores PhD, a linguistic professor at Berkeley. He said “You can stall or initiate anything through how you use language.” Barbara says it reflects the importance of using language that engages an authentic conversation. It can make it a transformational experience for men and women.


    Find the Book “Be Gender Intelligent,” by Barbara Annis and Dr. Keith Merron:




    Find Barbara’s first book, “Same Words Different Language” here:




    Are you interested in becoming a Be Gender Intelligent Ambassador? Get in touch with Barbara’s team at tdrezet@genderintelligence.com, to learn more about the advantages of becoming a Gender Intelligent leader within your organization through our digital learning programs for men and women.

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    17 mins

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