Join Susan Lamotte, CEO and founder of Exaqueo as she dives deeper into gender reduction in the workplace.
Welcome to the CXR channel, our premier podcast for talent acquisition and talent management. Listen in as the CXR community discusses a wide range of topics focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent. We’re glad you’re here.
Shannon Pritchett 0:18
So let me introduce our next presenter, which is a friend of ours at a CareerXroads, which is Susan Lamotte. Susan is the CEO and founder of Exaqueo, one of the things that really attracted me to her is her voice within the community. And I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the call, she wrote an article that was referenced in a discussion that Gerry had, I believe, on Facebook, that had had had to do with back in 2013. And it was like, Can women have it all which, of course, we’ve all had that kind of debate. And I love Susan’s honesty. And I love her point of view. And I couldn’t relate to an article more, especially one that was eight years old. And so I asked her to come speak, and she is here with us, Susan, would you like to draw? Would you like me to Dr. r? Would you like to take controls?
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 1:13
Whichever you prefer? Shannon?
Shannon Pritchett 1:15
All right. I’ll give it to you, sharing and then you can just share your screen and really excited for this. All right, give me just a second.
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 1:26
Sorry, I’m having some technology difficulties today. That’s got to come up at least once for one person, right?
Chris Hoyt 1:31
I just appreciate the Peloton in the background, Susan.
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 1:34
Thank you. It’s a little dusty this week, unfortunately,
Chris Hoyt 1:38
I’m on a streak.
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 1:41
Hopefully y’all can see my screen. Well, it’s great to see everybody some new faces for me for sure. And dump some familiar ones as well. So thank you for the privilege of being here. And I’ve noticed I’ve got some old, some I shouldn’t say old in age, but some folks are married on the line as well. So great to see you all as well. What I wanted to do today is actually not talk about what I do for a living, but rather tell you a little bit about my journey as a working woman. And so I know that Shannon already shared with you some of the statistics that are really troubling and, quite frankly, brought me to tears. And I think when you see things that affect you personally, and you feel like nothing has changed in your own personal situation, it’s really hard to see. And we’ve all seen the statistics, right? There’s a million examples of things you can share of underrepresented populations in the workplace and how they’re affected in many different ways. But this one really struck me and here’s why. If you look at this particular chart, the data is a little bit old. It’s 2017. It shows the ratio of male to female, median earnings by age. And, you know, certainly it’s no surprise, right? Women are learning less than men, we know that we’ve known that for a long time, it hasn’t changed as much as we’d hoped. But what’s really troubling to me is the gaps haven’t changed either. Oops, sorry about that. So if you look at 1979, right, younger women still had and were earning more pay than older women. Fast forward to 2005. And that gap is still there. So for me, it’s not looking at the surface data, right? The surface data is great for headlines and clickbait, and oh my gosh, women have no jobs. What’s really interesting to me is the why. And hopefully my story will illuminate a little bit about that, almost 10 years ago, to right now, I was on top of the world. I was literally at the pinnacle of my career. I started working when I was 1314. I’ve worked ever since I put myself through almost three degrees. And I was literally killing it at work. At the time I was the global employer brand and marketing leader at Marriott International. I took that job over after the luxury tanked in 2008 2009. And Ritz Carlton essentially did a complete reorg where I was running talent acquisition at the time. And we all got lifted and shifted as the the fun term that we often use for reorganizations. And they said, Gosh, would really like to see you run the employer brand function for Marriott at the time, I had a 50% resource so as a team of one and a half, and that was in 2009. Fast forward to 2011. And I felt like I was on top of the world. We had just launched the first social recruiting game in the world. This the screen you see here, this is all the press that we’d gotten as a direct result of my work. I was labeled A k I was a high contributor. I couldn’t have been more proud of my work. But here’s the thing I wasn’t happy and I couldn’t figure out why. I was feeling and I didn’t even have kids at the time. I wasn’t even married. I was feeling burnt out. I should have been like flying high. So Marian offered to promote me to VP My dad was over the moon, he worked his whole life to become VP at a corporation, right? I grew up very middle class, this was a big deal. And I turned it down. And I left. And people thought I was crazy. And it wasn’t a statement necessarily on Marriott at all. I had an amazing experience there. I am still connected to so many people. people that weren’t Marriott and have left are now clients and friends of mine. Really what it was was what was inside me. Some of you guys have seen Laurie Reitman has a new book out on this week called Betting on you. And one of the things that I really liked that she talks about is, if you’re thinking about leaving work, it’s not on the company. It’s on you. Right, I wasn’t looking for Marriott to throw more money at me more benefits more anything. What had happened is I was sitting in a boardroom at Marriott I was waiting for my turn to present to the chro. And I looked around that room. And as many of you may have experienced, it was mostly women save the chro, who was a white male. And I looked around at these women, and they were all I was the only senior director in the room, they were all VPS or SVPs reporting directly to chro. And I could not find a role model. And I don’t mean in work or in person. These were amazing colleagues I had. I mean, there was only one person in that room, who was married with children whose husband or partner also worked full time. And at the time I was that’s what I wanted in my life. I had a boyfriend but not a husband. And I thought, Oh my gosh, how am I ever going to achieve this here? How is it even possible in the corporate world? There were also some, you know, business opportunities that I saw for, you know, potentially creating my own business, I thought, you know what, I’m going to take some of that control back and see if I could figure it out. So I leave Marriott at the end of 2011, literally the last day, December 31, and 2012. Anne Marie Slaughter comes out with this article that I’m sure many of you heard and have read Why women still can’t have it all. Anne Marie Slaughter is really famous in politics and academia. She’s got a long, successful career. And she had her own sort of personal issues where she was at the top of her career and sort of fell and said, I’m gonna leave and people told her she was nuts. And her question was really, you know, can women have it all? And if so, can we what can we do to actually make it work. And so I pondered this for a long time, as I was setting up my business and started to make a few small choices. One was to set up my business as 100% virtual, I actually don’t use the word remote. Because I feel like when we’re working remote, we’re automatically saying we’re far away, and we’re disconnected. But if you say I work virtually, that means you’re using the technology at your disposal to stay connected. So my entire team, our whole company is virtual, and we’ve always been. And so there are a few things I started doing to try to think how can I solve this. But the more I read, the more I heard from friends family that were still in corporate America was that gosh, Susan, if you really want to get married and have kids, like, you better just, you know, kind of hum along, take a few clients at a time and try to manage it. And so in 2013, after doing a lot of networking and having these conversations, because the sort of plight of the working woman has always been a side interest for me. I wrote this article for Forbes. That said, not only do women not only can women not have it all, they don’t really want it all, what I found out all these conversations is that women were telling me, you know what, I don’t really want that job. I don’t really want to be chro. And I flashed back to sitting in this, you know, this corporate boardroom at Marriott, where I had this wonderful chro, who was a white male. But then I thought to myself at the time, why were most chros, white men? Why were most executives, men and white men. And when I dug further, a part of it wasn’t that, you know, women or women of color didn’t want these things. It’s that they didn’t think that they could get them they didn’t think they could have the life they wanted to do it. And so they made choices, or were thinking about making choices like I did and saying, you know what, forget it, I’m never going to pursue that chro world because I know what it takes. And I’m never going to be able to have the life that I want. And that was really sad to me. So at about the same time, the US Chamber of Commerce was doing this summit on you know, women in the workplace. And their logo was a pink chess piece. And that bugged the heck out of me, for any of you that play chess. And the the the chess piece they chose was the queen and it was a pink queen. If you want to win your game of chess, if you capture the queen, that’s the best way to win. And for me, it was a sort of sad analogy of like, we’ve surrendered. We’ve been captured and I wonder is this ever going to be fixed? And so I started flash forward. I said, You know what, the only way I can really make a difference is to start looking at what I do for a living and say, Can I help educate my clients in any small way? They weren’t coming To me for that they were coming to me for our employer brand, which is what we do. But because one of the things that always troubled me was the way HR collects data, I thought, gosh, we really need to stop collecting data about what women want, and start digging into collecting data about what women what employee is, what really is getting in the way of their success. So I want flexibility, why can’t I have it and why if I do have it, is it still not going to help me become that chro. So in 2014, we had a really large healthcare client, and that healthcare client was a large, you know, health care companies, a lot of call centers. And the data that we collect tends to be both quantitative and qualitative. We look at data, you know, not just from the time you walk into work, the time you leave, but what we call wholesale your whole life.
And one of the big challenges we found that this company was facing is they were having trouble recruiting for this call center, and they were having retention challenges. And what turns out what the real challenge was, they hadn’t thought about that they built this call center outside of Nashville, in a really challenging part of the city outskirts of the city, that were really challenging to commute. So you have these workers that were parents, both men and women, and their shifts were ending, and they needed to go pick up their kids at daycare, because this sort of median age of these individuals meant that they had kids who are similar to the ages of my kids, you know, young, I have a three year old and a six year old. And what happened was, these folks were at the end of their shifts, and they were trying to meet their productivity metrics, or performance metrics. But they were looking at their watch and saying, shoot, I gotta go pick up my kids. So we shared this finding, and this is the quote you see on the screen is a direct quote that we got from one of the participants in the focus groups. And we shared the finding, and this the the entire executive team. So this was a billion dollar company. So not incredibly large, but not not certainly not small potatoes. The whole executive team was all men, except for one woman, and that woman did not have children. And as we presented the findings, and we start talking about daycare, the CEO crossed his hands and sat back and said, I don’t believe you. And I looked at him and I said, you know, all the data is the data happy to show you the raw data. You know, we can certainly talk about the assessment and what it means a lot of that is up for, you know, debate as you analyze data, but it is what it is. When we started digging in deep. Turns out, no one in the executive team knew that if you have young kids, and you’re late to pick them up, oftentimes you pay a buck a minute. Has anybody ever had to pay money? Because you were late to pick up your kids? First of all, if you’re making an hourly wage, that’s challenging. Second of all, it’s incredibly guilt ridden, right? I’m late to pick up my kid. How does the kid feel? Third, it’s just embarrassing, right? My mom used to run an aftercare program, and she would sit with the last kids who were waiting to get picked up. And you know, there are no kids left to play with. So my mom would try to engage these kids, but it just wasn’t the same. I have that feeling. Now, my daughter is six, she’s in kindergarten, my son is three, they go to the same school right now. They literally have a contest as to whose parent shows up first in the carpool line. It’s painful. And so I sat there and thought, Gosh, it’s not that these executives don’t care if they don’t know, they truly don’t know. Because when they had young kids, they had somebody else who was either, you know, managing the childcare at home, or they had a spouse who was at home, managing the kids. So they just had no idea that this was even an issue. So they kept going down this path of how do I truly understand what these challenges are? How can I better educate? So I started seeking out women who I thought could potentially solve this, or were navigating this or managing this balance. You guys talked about balance and harmony earlier. You know, I don’t even think there is such a thing as balanced, right? Nobody’s perfectly even anymore. And I met this woman, Janice, Shark Marquez, and Janice was a 30 year veteran of the Federal Reserve. She is incredibly well educated. She’s incredibly talented. She was one of the first women promoted at the Fed into her role as an economist. And she had a young child. And what she did at the time, this is in the 90s, is that she set up a crib in her office, because FaceTime was so important, the Fed so she would leave the office, she’d go pick up her daughter at daycare, bring her back to work and put her in the crib. And she’s telling me the story. And I’m horrified. So I had just had my daughter in 2014. So I’ve got a young child at home. And I’m trying to imagine being at Marriott having a crib in my office and having to come back and keep working and looking at my baby like this. Now, some of us are all doing that at home right now. But I couldn’t imagine that and my heart just like, jumped and so I kept saying to her, what did you do? How did you do this? How did you get to successful and she said I finally gave up trying to make it work. So in 2016 I convinced her to share her story with Time Magazine, this is an extra excerpt from that article in Time Magazine. And what she used to do Is she finally said, Forget it, I’m just going to leave and go pick up my kids. And if I get the work done at home, I will. But instead of trying to sort of like sneak out of the office, what she did, she made a big deal. She walked by every cubicle and said, bye to everybody. So it’s five o’clock, I gotta go pick up my kids. Imagine that in the late 90s, doing that in the office and making this huge deal. And so I thought to myself, here’s somebody who’s really dug deep not to say I need flexibility, but to really start to get at root cause. So flash forward to 2017, I have my second kid, my little my little guy, Dylan, that’s my husband, Peter, and my daughter, Scarlett, clearly My daughter is thrilled to have a brother. And you know, if your parents you know, right, one kid, like, you have your kid and you’re like, Oh my gosh, like, This is crazy. I don’t know how I’m gonna do this. And then you get your sea legs and you’re like, Okay, I can have another and then maybe you have another, and then you start to realize, okay, for you football fans, right? It’s man, oh, man defense here, one to one. We stopped it two, but many go on to have more. But you really start to figure out like, Okay, this isn’t just me anymore. This isn’t just me managing a relationship with it with another person. Now I’ve got this web of relationships in my household. And I’m trying to manage those relationships. But I’ve also got this relationship with my employer who puts food on my table and roof over my head. Right, this isn’t a transaction. And so I have to think through all this, but there were also all of these emotions that were happening to me. So I had a miscarriage for I had my daughter, I also had to go through IVF to have my son, I’m an older mom, and 45, I had my first kid 39, my second at 41. So when I was pregnant with my son, if anyone’s ever done IVF, the hormones are outrageous. These are all things that sure my employer could have given me time off, they could have invested in my IVF, all these benefits are great. But nope, it could have done anything about the hormones or how I felt, or how sick I was, or how challenging how stressed I would get during the day on client calls, knowing I had to do a trigger shot at night. So these are all the things I started thinking about, you know, part of my day job is employer brand and telling stories of employers and what makes them a great place to work. And we’re talking about this, give and get and these benefits in this value proposition. But at night, I’m thinking to myself, it’s not about that it’s not the transaction. It’s figuring out how to meld this together. And I just want someone to ask me if I’m okay, at work, and not ignore everything that’s happening. So things progressed, I grew my family, as as many of you do, and 2018 me too hit. And my my sort of big mind shift, there was, oh my gosh, we’re trying to solve for all this work life stuff. And yet, we haven’t even solved for work in general, women are still getting harassed at this rate. Now at the time, you know, obviously, I’d been doing my own thing for a while. And so a bit out of, you know, the day to day corporate America. Like most women, I’d been sexually harassed plenty of times, at work at conferences, you name it. But since I hadn’t been in corporate America in the office, hadn’t seen it. And so that really struck me. Gosh, we have not progressed at all. And then 2019 hit right before COVID 2019 was a great year for our business, but it was probably the one of the hardest years of my life before COVID hit. I traveled 50 nights that year, I was away from my two little kids for 50 nights. And that’s hard to even say, because I waited so long to have them I tried so hard to have them. And yet every time I showed up for a client, every time I showed up to do a pitch, they would tell me on the one hand, we want to hire you know more women and minority vendors, procurement cares about this. But here I was pitching to a roomful of you’re mostly men in many cases. And a lot of times I had to then go back to the hotel room, do all my work, and I would hang up the phone or hang up FaceTime and I would cry because it was hard. But again, you can’t you can’t share that with anybody right? at work. Sure, more benefits might be helpful. But these are the personal things. So the real tipping point for me was 2019. I went to pitch. We had scheduled to go pitch a big client. We were one of two firms that were finalists for the work and a big snowstorm hit I live in Charleston, South Carolina. So I my flight was canceled. I couldn’t get up there. The next flight I couldn’t take because it conflicted with childcare. So I had all of these challenges. Do I scramble and get a babysitter? My kids have never meant to try to stay overnight with my kids because my husband also worked he had a work conflict or do I say to the client, I’m sorry I have to pitch virtually no mine just pre COVID another one of my colleagues was going to go to the pitch with me she got stuck she couldn’t drive there and she said you don’t Blizzard where I am. I don’t think feel safe. So we didn’t go we pitched virtually. And we lost. And when I called the client to say, Hey, I totally appreciate that, you know, I wish you the best in the in the future, I’d love some feedback. We’re always trying to grow, can you tell me why we didn’t win the work. And the claim said, You guys were really strong contender, you’re number two, you were super close. But it really bothered some of the people in the room that you weren’t there. 90% of the people in the room were men, the other person, the firm that won the work well respected firm, like them a whole lot. The people who went to pitch didn’t have the same childcare issues I had.
So for me, pre COVID, all of this was already bubbling, we were already struggling with, you know, it’s not just solving for these problems of women at work. It’s really about getting to the root cause. So fast forward to March, my husband and I are on a split schedule, I’ve got the kids from eight to 12, he takes them from 12 to four as we homeschool, four to five, we play that super fun game of whose meaning is more important, who has one more last thing to get done before the end of the day, five to eight, kid time, we’re back on the couch working from eight to midnight. And then we do it all over again the next morning. And by me, I said to myself, we’re screwed. As a gender, we are screwed between everything that’s happening with the social justice movement between what I’m feeling personally, what my clients are telling me what people are so scared to talk about, you know, I’m going to push my kid out of the screen, rather than just saying, Hey, guys, I got to end the call today, I’ll finish this over email. We’re just scared. So I wrote this article for working mother. And I really hoped I was wrong. But now we’re in January 2021. And it’s come true. So what I’ve done, and I’m really hoping that this will jumpstart a conversation here, but also other places, is trying to get past this notion of what can we give women? How can we make their lives easier, and instead, really get to the root of trying to understand this root cause analysis of what’s really getting in the way. So this is a mind map I did for myself, it’s not necessarily right. I think if you do your own or one with women in your own organization, it might be different. I’d encourage you if you’re married, if you have a spouse or partner to do this. I broke it down into four buckets that I struggle with career family, self and logistics. On the career side, you know, we talk a lot about people with kids. But you know, because I started looking at all of this long before I even had kids but knew I wanted them. You think a lot about family forecasting, like when’s the right time to have them and Oh, crap, if I don’t have them soon, I’m gonna have to go through IVF or it’s going to be harder to have them. And if you go through fertility, man that is on your mind 24. Seven, when you decide you want to can you try to have one? And then you can’t? It is so hard to get work done. So for all the women out there that you all work with who don’t have kids, but want them that’s a challenge, the sort of parental expectations, right? Like, what did my parents expect of me that conversation I have with my dad? You know, we work so hard. How could you possibly turn down that VP role? What I thought I was strong at but also sort of the demographic characteristics, I already knew it was going to be hard for women to be successful. That’s one of the reasons that I left. On the south side. What are all the feelings that we have, that we don’t talk about? Right? So we talked about flexibility and how hard it is, but like the real conversations, I love that there are men on this conversation today because I can’t tell you how many of these women conversations I’ve had that are mostly women. I had, we have a woman on our advisory board, who is amazing. And she, she’s an African American woman. And when the pandemic hit, they came to her and they said, Oh, do you want to be our new head of diversity and inclusion? She said no. And she posited to me What if companies hired as their heads of diversity, white men, then they’d be forced to understand it, they’d be forced to go out and say, Tell me how it feels. And my husband and I have these conversations all day long. Last night, while I was working, he was legitimately cutting rice, crispy dinosaurs with cookie cutters at the counter. And that gave me a little bit of hope, because he knew he couldn’t do it shared responsibility. And so but it’s the feeling that that gave me it’s not that he did it. He’s an awesome partner. It’s the feeling behind how I felt being able to sit there and finish my work last night while he did that. So the mental health of the self piece, and then there’s the family piece. We touch on this all the time. But women at home, the overarching feeling of why they’re leaving is they’re in charge of too much stuff. I tell my husband all the time, my brain is full, right? Like when we went I dropped my kids off at school this morning, and I went to deliver those Rice Krispie treats. The teacher said to me, oh, are they peanut free? And I was like, oh yeah. And she’s like, well, you got to send me pictures of labels. So I was like, Okay, one more thing, driving home thinking about my day, I gotta go home. It’s gonna take a picture of the labels of all the ingredients that went into that. Now. I’ve got to send those I have a husband who made the trade, right? Shout out to the women who are trying to manage this on their own and many art. It’s not because their spouses or partners aren’t good people, it’s because they don’t understand. And Gerry, you touched on that earlier. So there’s the self piece, there’s the family piece. And then there’s logistics. And the logistics is the piece that we think we’re solving with benefits. But you know, it’s wonderful. If I work in a call center, and you give me a nursing room, thank you for doing that. That’s super helpful. But you haven’t talked to me, how does it feel to have to leave my shift, have my performance metrics affected, because I need to go pump. And that lies the root of the problem. For me, that’s where I really want to see us talk more and share more, because we’re all in different stages. So like, I’ve got these young kids at home, but I know many of you have teenagers or college kids. Um, Joe, you said earlier, like you maybe wish you could have had some of those moments, Shannon, you’re talking about how it feels to have a first kid, like, these are all such personal things. And all we’re trying to do is solve them with benefits or you know, more structure, not that those things aren’t great, I don’t want to devalue them. But I really want to think about root cause. So I’ll stop talking, I absolutely am grateful for the privilege to share my story. And I want to kind of open it up and share three really important questions for me. One is how do we teach executives to have this empathy, they’ve got a lot of money, they’ve got a lot of opportunity, you know, they have the homes and the space. And there’s no doubt about it. I’m not saying executives didn’t earn that. But in many cases, even if they came from the bottom up or work their way, they’re not in those shoes now. How do we communicate the reality? You know, in my world and employer brand, look at 10 career sites, they all say the same thing, growth, opportunity, diversity inclusive, were a great place to work. But what’s it really like? Because if you communicate the reality, I’m going to be much more likely to accept that and say, Yep, I can make that work, or I want to be part of your story to be more diverse and inclusive. And then finally, what we’ve been spending the most time about, is it researching right now is how do we shift from transaction, this idea that we’re just trading things to hire people, to the fact that we’re building relationships. And I’ll finish with this one anecdote. A couple of months ago, I interviewed the CEO for a project, we’re working on a really large manufacturing company, it’s family owned, he’s in his 80s. He works 365 days a year, he said his wife has to beg him to take off at Christmas. And he started talking about millennials. And in my head, I had a stereotype. I was like, Oh, no, you know, here comes another Silent Generation member complaining about young people today. Now, I’m not a millennial, I’m an Xer. But I was completely proven wrong. He said, I think that part of the problem that people have with millennials is they think or young people that they job hop all the time. But that’s because they’re looking for a relationship. And all we’re doing is giving them stuff. We’re just throwing things at them to try to solve for it and say, I’m going to give you more money, we’re going to do this for you, instead of really building a relationship. And when I think about the effective COVID, I think the companies that are going to come out the strongest are the ones where people stick around because times are tough. And that’s what I love watching about Marriott right now is those friends of mine that are still there that are working their tails off, even though they know they’re in a low margin industry. They’re sticking around when times are tough. And that’s the mark of a really good relationship. So she had an I’ll pass it back to you. Maybe we can talk a little bit about some of these questions. And certainly happy to continue the conversation with everybody. I’ll also share my my LinkedIn, please connect with me. Online, happy to talk one off with anybody to, and I’ll pass it back to you, Shannon.
Shannon Pritchett 28:49
Wow, is what I have to say. Thank you so much, Susan, that was very impactful. In like I said, begin to call 100% relatable and the chat was just on fire when you were presenting because I think a lot of us felt that as well. You know, I know we’re running out of time, but want to open it up. You know? Does anyone have anything they want to add or any questions for Susan?
Chris Hoyt 29:13
Susan, look, I’ll just chime in. I know everybody’s eyes a little nervous to go first and I talk the most so just put in the chat. I’m a huge fan. You know, I just think you’re fantastic. And I have loved watching watching you move into your own space and really taking on the industry. And I think you did just wonderful work. And Jaron, I love working with you. And it’s it’s exciting to bring you in and have you sort of share with everybody a wonder. Are you seeing your passion for this topic based on your experience? I mean, are you seeing more of an interest at the executive level of organizations trying to take this topic? very seriously, not as a I’m going to use this it’s it’s it’s it’s a little bit trite. It’s terrible. But you know, for years when the Blair branding team was tasked with working on DNI. Right? The marketing branding and comms team for talent acquisition, what they would typically do is take someone with a visible disability and slap them on the website, right? Or they would tell you that they’re going to X amount of PRC career fairs or job fairs or you RM work, this is what we do here. There, it was all feels very topical, a lot of times and from executive level, it often felt like, we’re just checking a box to say that we did these things. So we look like good corporate citizen. So my long winded question is, like, are you seeing more interest now real traction in the last year for these challenges that women as well as some men, but but predominantly, women are facing across the board from a partnership standpoint, with the company, not just at home?
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 30:49
Yes, with a caveat. So yes, we have lots of plans that are asking us that I think, you know, certainly the social justice movement, we think about di we’re thinking about it as a whole, right? Or what are all of the underrepresented groups, and how can we best connect with them? And then obviously, it differs geographically. So women tend to be the one global underrepresented group, right in like in China, for example, that’s the one group they’re focused on over potentially other minority groups. And the caveat is that the way that they’re solving the problem, so two things I see with CEOs, that happens all the time one is what I call the CEO email effect, where the CEO reads an article or sees a data point, right. And I can only imagine after some of the more recent data points came out, they send an email off to their SVP, their head of talent acquisition, or a VP, perhaps you’re the recipient of one of these emails, what are we doing about this? It sends a flurry of activity, we start scheduling meetings, we create tasks first, how are we going to solve the problem? And I think that’s part of it is, you know, in HR, we’re problem solvers. So we’re old solve the problem by, you know, recruiting more women, or let’s focus on sourcing more women, or let’s have conversations. But when I think about how we consume content, what really gets at the hearts of us, it’s when we hear the stories when we see the emotion, I can’t talk about being on the road 50 nights a year without tearing up, I really personally can’t, because it affects me so personally, and yet, I know there are sales execs that are on the road, 300 days a year. So I think instead of executives focusing on the data, I think what they really need to hear is the stories from women to really, truly ask themselves, how do you balance capitalism and culture? Right, like, Is it really just about making as much money as you can? And oh, you’ve got to be on that investor call, or and I think about that with investing in women, just women’s businesses, too, right? Like shark tank is all about what’s the return? That’s all they care about. Nobody cares about advancing women, or advancing minorities. In that sense, it might be a great byproduct. But there therein lies the challenge for me.
Chris Hoyt 32:48
Yeah. And I suspect that as that focus shifts, like earnestly shoves, we see an ROI that’s often unanticipated. I think a lot of companies get that not as many as we’d like. But but it’s nice to see that light sort of getting a little brighter.
Shannon Pritchett 33:01
Well the change is going to come if there’s an investment in real solutions, which is why this first of all, there has to be some interest, and actually having real solutions related to literally each of the stakeholder groups who, who, you know, are in this women, from a racial point of view, from a veteran point of view, from a disability point of view, every all of those groups have stories that fundamentally surface I think, systemic issues, that that will if we invested in them and solve them, would the company thrive, if you will maybe not make maximum dollars for a short period of time while people then you know, leave and get burned out? But But fundamentally thrive. And if investors had that data and consume that data, they would change the way they invested. And that would impact those CEOs enormously. And hopefully, some of the work that’s being done with by the SEC, and some of the compliance issues might lead to that, but it’s no guarantee for sure. Well,
Chris Hoyt 34:13
I go back to the pay equity challenge, Gerry, in that I think that often is a really underrepresented factor in why women are leaving the workforce. And I think the same can be said, or the cousin to the issue is women in senior leadership roles, because when you’ve got a woman at home who’s making $100,000, and a male at home was making $160,000. And one of them has to cut back their work or one of them has to quit it. I mean, that’s a tough decision to have to make.
Gerry Crispin 34:45
It is but we can’t ignore the fact that there’s also too There may be a man and a woman, neither one of them making $12 an hour.
Chris Hoyt 34:54
Gerry Crispin 34:54
And we got to be able to deal with that issue as well.
Shannon Pritchett 34:57
Yeah. Just Just to give you data around that it actually has nothing the data shows as nothing to do with salary, why women are leaving the workforce right now or that women are underpaid or the men may make more it’s the at home responsibilities. And they often quoted the amount of people who are leaving the workforce are often the breadwinners within their families.
I think it’s not it doesn’t come up, to be honest, in part, because it’s been such a systemic, embedded practice of that difference. So, so so naturally over a number of years, because there’s such a gap, there’s been a sort of entitlement on the part of too many men that I’m, I’m kind of the breadwinner, so you get to do some of the other bullshit,
Chris Hoyt 35:45
or I can’t cut dinosaur snacks for the kids. That’s your job. Yeah, I don’t know how to do that.
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 35:53
Funny you say that? Because my, my husband had a long conversation about we’ve made progress. He’s like, you know, we’re doing you’re doing like you meaning women today are doing so much better than my parents generation did. But at the same time, all of other things have shifted as well. So sure, I, you know, I now am working. But now I need more help at home. Right, the laundry is not going to do itself. And so I think but I think it’s also the feelings and the emotion. This is all the crap we don’t talk about at work, because it’s too soft, right? But it’s digging into the pay equity thing and having that conversation and saying, okay, maybe my husband does make more, and maybe, but maybe financially, that’s okay. And so to Shannon’s point, maybe that’s not the reason he’s going back to work. It’s that are my relationship, you know, hypothetically, this is not my personal case. But my relation with my husband is I don’t want to admit that I’d rather be at work than with my kids that I get more value from that. And those are the things we don’t talk about, because we’re so data driven data drives decisions, and we forget that employment is a relationship. And yet, we’re trying to just use the data to solve the problem, as opposed to digging into the feeling and the emotion and the root cause and really trying to underscore what the problem is, that’s when
You have a really powerful yet a really powerful slide there to Susan, what about some of the reasons the pillars, and I think a big piece of that comes back to also is the guilt of I should want to stay at home, I should want to, but I kind of don’t, but it should, you know, and figuring out how that drives. It’s, it’s fascinating.
Shannon Pritchett 37:25
I just love the transparency of this session, and the kinds of conversations that I’ve been having more and more of over the last year to two years. And they include with my wife, with my daughter with my granddaughter. And, and fundamentally, I do see a lot of hope, in a shift in terms of all of this happening, obviously too slowly for some. But fundamentally, if we keep up the awkward conversations, we can’t help but move the needle forward.
Yeah, one of the awkward conversations, Susan, that you mentioned, you know, was both childcare and infidelity. I started my recruiting career in Nashville. And we use Dollar General as an example of companies who were getting right, I don’t know if that’s the client you’re referring to or not, but you’re located far away. And they were the only company in Nashville that offered child care services on site. So that was our big pitch. When I went down the IVF slash surrogacy route, which is a nice six figures in cash, like I said, My whole life savings that I was lucky to inherit. Because I impossible to save, I went and I looked and I did research of every single company I possibly could about months of research because I want to see what companies can give me you know, some incentive to help pay for that. I didn’t find any companies that if it was it was very small, just one round of IVF is gonna cost you $20,000 cash. And that’s it’s not always successful the first round. So all the companies were advertising adoption benefits and stuff like that, which if you do IVF is very, very, very last resort. You do not say anything gets that, but what is it? Are we not having the conversation around one that about women wanting to start families First off, and two um, you know, there’s parental leave, there’s maternity leave. I have never seen a company offer leave for miscarriages, which you need it stays I showed you at the same time off, you know, to to grieve and to process that. You know, and why are we Susan, are we talking? Are companies talking about this? Or is this another thing that we’re sweeping underneath the rug with pay equity?
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 39:47
I think in general, we tend to be we’re because everything is driven by the dollar, right? We’re capitalist organizations, we have to make money. So sure should we offer these benefits? Yes, absolutely. Let’s offer parental leave, like we know it makes sense. We know it will help all the things about the data and the productivity. They’re all there. But then we go to cost it out, then we start prioritizing it with all the other things that we’re going to do. And so it’s not a question of should we offer leave for miscarriages? We’re looking at how many people I mean, I guarantee you, you’re out there, organizations will run numbers, if they were to do this and say, how many people are in our workforce are likely to have a miscarriage based on data? And then what’s the value of offering that? And then you know, the other the other challenge is, we start to get into these murky areas of life and work and personal information. I’ve always struggled with the fact that we only click data from the time people walk in the door to work to the time that they leave, right. So like, our big thing is we focus on that whole self data, we want to know everything about you. Yet Apple knows everything about me, right? They know how many kids I have, how much money I make, they know all of it. But from an HR perspective, we’re too scared because of legal reasons, and rightly so to venture into that space. So this is where it gets challenging, because I’ve been in enough of those rooms with lawyers to know of the pushback, and what does it mean to have those conversations and when you admit you have a miscarriage to take advantage? What then happens to you and your career. So it’s all of these sort of under underscore, you know, these things that underscore it, like, it’d be great to have that leave. I’m interested more in the fact that I took parental leave. Now what happens to my career? And do I get dinged for that three months off? Or, you know, do I now have to work three months harder in order to be considered at the same level? And oh, by the way, these parental issues are not just women, they’re men, too. And we have not, I have not touched on it all same sex couples, that is a big part of this, because you still have somebody at home that’s owning the lion’s share. I’ve been doing all of this research on romantic relationships and family relationships. If you geek out on that stuff, that we know. But that’s part of the challenge. And that’s the conversations that have to be had, I think,
Shannon Pritchett 42:04
To, to close out, Susan, what is one call to action that you can give us that is going to allow us to keep pushing and pressing and researching on this topic.
Susan Lamotte, Exaqueo 42:17
Get women who have turned down promotions, or are getting ready to leave or have just left, find women who are willing to share their honest story of why they’re leaving and what’s getting in their way, and put them in front of your CEO. Ask your CEO, she or he is willing to hear these conversations. And then ask yourselves as an executive team, are you willing to let these people go? Is there anything you can do to keep them or to change the way you work? And that’s really the key for me is to make sure that your executives have some empathy, and they understand. I think that’s just the first of many things that can be done.
Shannon Pritchett 42:56
Excellent. I can’t thank you enough. You know, huge round of applause only for you but everyone who attended this meeting, best conversations I think we’ve had this year. Job Fair. We have a lot going on next week at CareeXroads. I hope you can join us for our CXR Connects call, which is going to focus on 2021 trends, which is going to take place Thursday, Friday, we’re also kicking off our new book club and also a special chat with us on a little QPR Ruby doing. So lots of good stuff in store. Susan, thank you. Thank you so much to our panel, all of our presenters and our next meeting is going to be February 3 on diversity, inclusion and equity. And I look forward to talking further and the exchanges
Chris Hoyt 43:40
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