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Research shows that people prefer their leaders to have lower-pitched voices. But women can win by embracing their authenticity.iStock/Getty Images Plus

Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. To subscribe, click here.

What does a leader sound like?

According to research into how people perceive voices, a deep baritone is much more likely to connote leadership than a breathy soprano.

“If we ask people who sounds like a leader, who sounds like they would be dominant or in charge, even when it comes to women’s voices, it’s usually the lower pitched voice that is preferred in terms of leadership,” says Jillian O’Connor, assistant professor of psychology at Queen’s University, whose research focuses on how the voice influences our perceptions of others. “[And] if we ask people who sounds more trustworthy, it’s still a lower pitched voice.”

Even in stereotypically feminine leadership settings, like parent-teacher associations and school boards, this preference holds, says Dr. O’Connor. The gender of the audience also doesn’t seem to matter. When someone is speaking as a subject-matter expert, such as giving a TED Talk or a presentation at work, both men and women subconsciously lower their voices, says Dr. O’Connor.

“It’s about lower pitch being [perceived as] more authoritative, more dominant and more powerful.”

For tips on learning to love your voice, read the full article.

Hybrid workers are eating healthier, sleeping and exercising more, survey finds

A recent report by IWG, a global operator of flexible workspaces, found hybrid workers eat healthier, exercise more and drink less alcohol.

The company’s survey of 2,000 workers in Canada shows:

  • More than 70 per cent of hybrid workers now cook and eat healthier meals
  • Workers enjoy an extra 73 hours of sleep a year
  • Exercise over 40 minutes per week longer compared to before the pandemic
  • More than a quarter (27 per cent) said they have decreased their alcohol consumption

Overall, 82 per cent of respondents believe hybrid working has improved their quality of life and 66 per cent reported improved mental health and well-being.

“The data [from the report] really underscores the impact that hybrid working is having on the ability for people to live healthier lives, both mentally and physically,” said Dr. Sara Kayat, a U.K.-based physician who co-authored the report. “What really came through were the daily changes people had made during their hybrid week that added up to these bigger, positive shifts.”

Read the full article to find out how employers can make hybrid work for their organization.

Why this ‘Momfluenced’ author hates Mother’s Day

There’s Kelly, the Ohio mom with flushed cheeks and country smocks, who darns her kids’ cottage aprons by hand. There’s Hannah, whose cherubic children milk cows in faded Carhartt dungarees. And then there’s Sarah, the Toronto mom who last Christmas dressed herself and her two-year-old in matching Santa Claus dresses.

Anyone who has spent any time on Instagram has likely come across these photos: Moms on Instagram, or “momfluencers,” whose feeds present an idealized image of motherhood that is at once creative, fulfilling and always, always aesthetically pleasing.

They’re the subject of author Sara Petersen’s new book, where she explains how momfluencers reflect our culture’s complicated and, yes, sometimes cruel ideas around motherhood. The title says it all: Momfluenced: Inside the Maddening, Picture-Perfect World of Mommy Influencer Culture.

Read the full article for more insights into the multibillion-dollar momfluencer industry.

In case you missed it

When mothers and daughters go into business together

When it comes to mother-daughter business partnerships, there are several built-in advantages: familiarity, understanding, history. But perhaps most importantly, there’s trust.

“You can anticipate how they will act and engage with other people and trust they will act in a way that’s consistent with your own ethics,” says Rebecca Reuber, professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto.

And while relationships – whether business or personal – are seldom without any kind of conflict, the bonds between a parent and child mean there’s significant motivation to make it work, both in and out of the office.

Vancouver-based Métis entrepreneur Teara Fraser is partnered with her daughter Kiana Alexander-Hill in three different businesses, and she says that each project is an exchange of ideas which has deepened their mutual respect.

“We are peers,” Ms. Fraser says. “We are alike in many ways, but also different, each with unique skills and strengths. Kiana is involved in everything I do.”

Read the full article.

Would you recognize a microaggression in your workplace?

Have you experienced a microaggression in your place of work? Or could you be a microaggressor?

Fleeting and often casually delivered, microaggressions can happen anywhere, from the workplace to the classroom to the street. They can range from asking an individual, “Where are you really from?” to complimenting a colleague on being “articulate” or asking to touch their hair. It could be telling someone they look great for their age or saying, “You don’t look trans.”

Often indirect and possibly unintentional, microaggressions can be racist, sexist, ageist or ableist, serving to reinforce stereotypes and further marginalize people. According to recent data, it’s commonplace behaviour. In McKinsey’s 2022 Gender Diversity at Work report, more than 60 per cent of senior-level women reported experiencing at least one form of microaggression during their day-to-day work.

Women of colour reported experiencing microaggressions more than any other group of workers, such as having their judgment questioned in their area of expertise (28 per cent), hearing others express surprise at their language skills (15 per cent) or being confused with someone else of the same ethnicity (14 per cent).

Read the full article.

Ask Women and Work

Question: I suspect that one of my employees may be having challenges with their mental health. They have always been a great worker but lately something seems to be off and they have been struggling to finish tasks. As an employer, how do I bring this up? Or should I bring it up at all?

We asked Roxanne Francis, CEO, Francis Psychotherapy and Consulting Services, to field this one:

You should definitely bring it up! A report from the Government of Canada on Psychological Health in the Workplace suggests that only 23 per cent of Canadian employees feel comfortable talking with their boss about their mental health. Bringing it up may give your employee the opportunity they need to talk about it.

When it comes to how you should raise it, consider what your relationship with that employee looks like. Are you cordial/friendly with them? Do you ask about their family? What does your department’s psychological safety look like? Do you briefly chat about your own wellness and make space for others to talk about things like going for walks, doing yoga, hitting the gym, etc., to manage stress? Are there initiatives at your workplace to help mitigate mental health problems?

If your answer to these questions is a resounding YES, then it shouldn’t be difficult to bring it up in a one-on-one meeting. ‘Hey Allison, I wanted to check in with you on a more personal level to see how things have been going. You don’t seem like yourself lately. I’ve noticed [insert observation] and I wanted to let you know that you have my full support if there is something that has been impacting you.’ End the conversation by offering mental health resources that the company offers and let the staff member know that your door is always open. Ask if it’s OK if you check in with them again in a couple of weeks.

If your answer to the above questions is NO, it might be a more challenging conversation. That employee might not feel psychologically safe to talk about their personal issues at work. But having that confidential conversation is still important – not only because you should care about your staff as people, but because your productivity hinges on employee wellness.

The script as above would still apply, though the employee may deny that anything is wrong. You might want to briefly share a time when you struggled personally and how getting support helped. Ensure that you are ready to share information on mental health resources that are covered by the company’s wellness plan. Be sure to let your employee know that seeking support for psychological/emotional wellness will not put their employment at risk (if that is indeed true).

Be sure to address the situation as best as you can. Ignoring it leaves employees feeling undervalued, which worsens the stress they are already feeling.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

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