World Book Day: Q&A with Julie Kratz
This World Book Day, we sat down (virtually) with the author of ‘Lead Like an Ally’, Julie Kratz. Julie is a highly acclaimed speaker and trainer, best known for promoting gender equality in the workplace. In addition to holding an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Julie is a TEDx speaker, an executive coach and a certified unconscious bias trainer. ‘Lead Like an Ally’ teaches leaders how to be inclusive by providing proven strategies for positive change and a manager tool kit to take action right away. In this Q&A, Julie discusses the importance of allyship and the lived experiences that inspired her books.
When did you realise diversity and inclusion was a topic that needed more time dedicated to it?
I spent my full corporate America career with companies led by people that did not look like me, and I did not feel a sense of belonging. When I started my business 'Next Pivot Point', 6 years ago, the purpose was to create inclusive workplace cultures where everyone feels seen, heard, and that they belong.
How do you think views have changed on the topic since you started working in the field?
Over the last 6 years, I've seen tremendous growth in organizations: not just talking the talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but walking the walk. The conversation about being allies is a very hot topic. All leaders need to know the benefits and techniques to lead inclusively.
What is key to creating an inclusive workforce?
It has to start with senior leadership. If senior leadership is not engaged in diversity and inclusion, it will not work. You need to be super intentional with your diversity efforts, in addition to being consistent with education, training, communications. Just like with anything else, culturally, it takes several messages for it to land with people.
What was the greatest inspiration for your book?
When I wrote 'Lead Like an Ally', I wanted to tell an entertaining story about diversity that truly helped people and leaders understand how to be inclusive. The manager tool kit section of the individual chapter helps people know what to do with the content, and it's told through an entertaining story of a woman in corporate America. I also just wrote a children's book, 'Little Allies', that came from my challenges having these conversations with my 3 children at home.
Why do you think it’s important to start these conversations earlier?
It is clear that children care about diversity and inclusion; they naturally seek out differences and value them. It's only through the process of unlearning that, as adults, we struggle. I believe we can learn a lot from our children on how to manage differences successfully. The next generation needs tools to help solve the problem created by past generations.
What feeling or action do you hope is achieved when someone reads your book?
I want people to feel inspired. Everyone can lead like an ally. Young people, all generations, it takes all of us for real change to happen.
What do you hope for over the next few years when it comes to inclusivity?
My hope is this conversation will continue to grow, and that organizations will be accountable for diversity. Let's stop the 'one and done' corporate statements and donations and truly commit to measuring diversity and aligning incentives to support diversity.
Julie’s most recent book, ‘Little Allies’, is a beautifully illustrated children’s story that ‘reminds us of the importance of accepting each other, celebrating our differences, and working to become an ally.’ Inspired by experiences with her own children, the book aims to spark important discussions - at home and in the classroom - about inclusion, diversity, and becoming an ally. Find out more here: https://thelittleallies.com.