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NEWS | April 10, 2024

Members of 'The Band of Sisters' address workplace culture, gender bias during shipyard panel

By Ben Hutto, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

Three members of the company, "The Band of Sisters," spoke with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility employees, March 28, during a command observance in honor of Women’s History Month.

Cie Nicholson, Angelique Bellmer-Krembs and Lori Tauber Marcus represented the group as they addressed the importance workplace culture and the role gender bias plays in it, during a presentation in the Shipyard Auditorium.

The Band of Sisters is comprised of six women who have all served on the executive boards of large corporations, including Keurig, the National Football League, Pepsi, Black Rock and ESPN. Gathering their collective experience, the group wrote a book entitled, ‘You Should Smile More,’ about the effect of diversity, micro-offenses and language on work culture.

The three speakers held one session where the entire PSNS & IMF work force was invited to attend and two smaller sessions open to middle management and team leaders. The first session was sponsored by the Puget Women’s Employee Networking Group. The last two sessions were sponsored by the Diversity Leadership Council.

“This is about the future we are trying to create,” said Bellmer-Krembs. “An inclusive environment is good for business. It’s good everyone.”

Each speaker focused on ways to help audience members recognize small micro-offenses that, by themselves, don’t seem important, but add up to create a culture where women are placed at a disadvantage as they interact with their male counterparts. In addition to recognizing these incidents, the panel suggested using various techniques and strategies to help eliminate and overcome them.

“Call men in. Don’t call them out,” said Nicholson. “I’ve spoken to many professionals that have said, ‘I didn’t know this was a thing,’ until an issue was brought to their attention. The way you approach that interaction is important.”

Many of these situations come from ignorance, not malice, Marcus told audience members.

“A lot of times leaders have the best of intentions,” said Marcus. “They may ask the women members of the team to take notes because they believe they are more organized or have better hand writing for example. It isn’t until it’s brought to their attention that it’s noticed and corrected.”

As the leaders shared their experience and insights, the trio encouraged questions and allowed their audience to share their experiences and stories to create a better understanding.

“I think it’s always better to start where it’s easy,” said Marcus. “Culture isn’t written down in handbook. It is important to address these issues in an inviting way. I use humor and storytelling where it’s appropriate to get my point across. I’ve found very little pushback when I share rather than scold.”