Why Are We Losing Female Leaders?
I've been fortunate enough to work for some brilliant female leaders, during my career. I've been inspired, motivated, stretched, supported and I hope, valued by them, and I'm very grateful for all of that. Yet today, we are seeing more and more senior female leaders leaving their posts. The latest Women in the Workplace article, by McKinsey, said women leaders were switching jobs at the highest rates ever, far more than men. And ambitious, younger women were prepared to do the same. They called it “The Great Break Up”. Why is that? What is happening? What can and should we be doing about that?
One of my roles in life is as a host of the popular employee engagement and workplace culture podcast, Sticky From The Inside. It gives me a great opportunity to speak to many people with different perspectives on how brilliant work cultures are curated, and how we can help people thrive in the workplace. Recently, with this issue in mind, it allowed me to speak with career coach, Claudia Miller, to try and get a better understanding of the issues, and effective actions businesses and women can take to improve the situation.
Below is a transcript of the conversation we had, but you can also listen to the conversation here.
The Podcast Transcript
Andy Goram (00:10):
Hello and welcome to Sticky From the Inside, the employee engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition smashing consistently successful organizations from the inside out. I'm your host, Andy Goram, and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn the lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them, and create tons more success for everyone.
(00:39) This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work, and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it. So if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.
(01:11) Okay then. Retention of key talent continues to be a hot topic. The focus on retaining your best people rather than relying on a seemingly endless cycle of recruitment is perhaps more acute than it has ever been. That's not to say that it hasn't always been important because I think it has, it's just that retention planning certainly feels more of a conscious first thought today. And for this episode, I want us to be even more focused on a specific area. I want to look at the topic of retaining more women in senior leadership roles. We've recently had International Women's Day, and around that time I read the latest Women in the Workplace article by McKinsey, which said that women leaders were switching jobs at the highest rates ever, far more than men. And that ambitious young women were now prepared to do the same. They used the phrase, the great breakup to describe it.
(02:11) Now, the report went on to highlight that this could be absolute disastrous for some companies. Women are already significantly underrepresented in senior leadership roles and now businesses are losing more of them. Why is that? What is happening? What can and should organizations be doing about that and what can and should women themselves be doing about that? Amongst some of the reasons that the article flagged were that it was increasingly important for women leaders to work for companies that prioritize flexibility, employee wellbeing, and diversity, equity and inclusion, all of which have been topics we've covered in some detail on this podcast already. The thing is, if more businesses don't do something about this, not only are they risking losing their current female leadership, but also the next generations of women leaders too, who place even more value on flexible and inclusive workplaces. They are watching senior female leaders jump ship to companies that deliver on these things and are prepared to do the same to get where they want to be.
(03:23) So what can we do to keep more of them, and what tactics are the successful female leaders taking in order to take those positions? Well, with me today is Claudia Miller, who's a career coach who specializes on helping women in the tech industry secure senior leadership roles. Claudia is very familiar with the challenges expressed in the McKinsey article with her work in pretty much male dominated industries like tech and finance. So I'm looking forward to listening to how Claudia thinks this retention issue can be tackled and discuss the benefits of doing so. Welcome to the show, Claudia.
Claudia Miller (04:00):
Thanks for having me, Andy. I'm so excited to be here.
Andy Goram (04:02):
Oh, it's lovely to have you here. We were discussing earlier about, we've already had, well, you've had a full day already and you're only halfway through it.
Claudia Miller (04:10):
Andy Goram (04:10):
And I hope the next sort of 40 minutes or so is equally energetic and inspiring for you. So before we get stuck into this topic today, do me a favour, Claudia. Just give yourself a good introduction. Tell us a little bit more about you, where you've come from and what you focus on today.
Claudia Miller (04:29):
Thank you. Well, as you mentioned, I'm a career coach and I primarily work with career driven women in the tech industry. And up to this day I've worked across 26 different industries in all levels of experience. From entry level all the way to the executive suite. And I'm proud to say that even during COVID, and the saturation and competitive place in the marketplace, my clients are still able to get jobs within 90 days or less, and on average they get a 54% in salary increases. So I've had clients getting anywhere between 30 and up to $140,000 in additional earned income. And I'm so excited to be doing this type of work, especially now where I know a lot of professionals are getting impacted, layoffs happening, restructures happening, there's a hiring freeze, and as you mentioned, everything on top of that where there's currently systems in place within companies that are not there to really serve specifically women or diverse populations.
What are the similarities and differences between the UK and the US?
Andy Goram (05:22):
I think this is going to be really interesting as well, because I don't know, I suspect we might find some differences between what's happening in the UK, perhaps what's happening in the US, but I suspect there'd be some commonalities in all of this as well, right? So I'm very interested to understand about where you see things happening, where good stuff's happening, where terrible stuff is still going on, and what we can really do about it. If I take you back to the introduction that I put together at the start of the show, Claudia, this issue then of retaining senior female leaders and retaining more senior female leaders, did the overview sound familiar to you? Is that a landscape that kind of, yeah, frightens you, bores you, upsets you? Are you familiar with that?
Claudia Miller (06:08):
Yes, very familiar with and very accurate, I would say. Like I mentioned, I worked with a lot of women that are either managers, directors, senior directors, or all the way to the executive suite, and I definitely have seen where they struggle with getting ahead in their career, even though they have really great remarks, they have great performance reviews, they're told they're one of the best that they've seen, and they've even created groundbreaking applications where it's world renowned and it almost disrupts the marketplace, yet they don't get promoted and they're not getting paid equal pay.
(06:39) So I can definitely see why women are getting frustrated, why they're leaving the industry or why some of them are just going and starting their own businesses or just taking a break or going back to school just because right now what they're really getting impacted with everything is just becoming almost like hitting a wall. And it's really hard to break that wall, and that's why my clients hire me to really help them not only with helping them brand themselves, sell themselves, but how do we find the right organizations that would actually set them up for success versus a company that's going to stagnate them and just keep them in that specific position while being underpaid.
Andy Goram (07:16):
And is that what you see your kind of mission in life is this problem you are trying to solve is to primarily get more women in better senior leadership roles? Well remunerated, happy, comfortable, absolutely killing it. I mean, is that what you are on earth to do?
Claudia Miller (07:34):
Yes. I'm looking to approach both sides. So not only empowering my clients to say, here's how we advocate for ourselves. This is how you run and ask for that salary increase, here's how you go after that executive position. But I'm also working with companies to say, how can we create a leadership talent pipeline to be able to retain and attract more women and be able to move them to senior leadership roles and what are the processes in place, and KPIs we need to put in order to be able to track and retain them as well? Since we've seen that there are a lot of benefits of moving more women into senior leadership roles besides being also the right and ethical thing to do.
The gender pay gap in the US and the UK
Andy Goram (08:08):
So what's the landscape like in the US right now? Because you've mentioned a couple of things around pay. I'm interested actually to dig into it because you talk about equal pay. Because in the UK since like 1970, we've had the equal pay act, so it's illegal for people not to be paid the same regardless of gender. How well that's policed, that's probably open to debate and that's very different to the gender pay gap that we see. Do you have a sort of similar sort of thing going on in the US?
Claudia Miller (08:38):
For women overall and just encompassing, and this is more towards Caucasian white women, they get around 82 cents on dollar versus what a dollar our white male counterparts are making. But when you break it down to diversity, Latin or Hispanic women are making 55 cents on the dollar. Meaning it would take them 22 months to earn what our white male counterparts earn in one year. And if we break it down to African American women, also, they're around 63 cents on the dollar. So there is a vast discrepancy here when it comes to pay. One, they don't know how to negotiate their salary. Two, they're not asking for that salary increase. And even then how we typically tend to imagine our salary is, whatever we're making, let's add another 10, 15K on top of that, which kind of creates a compound effect of how much you're being underpaid. So that's why when clients come to me and work with me, they sometimes double their salary or get 50, $80,000 salary increases because they've been underpaid for so long, especially when they've already reached that manager, director, senior director level.
Andy Goram (09:42):
Sure. I'm just interested by those numbers because they are... There's some scary numbers there. The gap. I mean I think the information that I researched for us was in the UK our gender pay cap is about 10, 10.4%, so that's based on average earnings. Now, we're supposed to be getting better at this stuff. That's gone up a percent since 2016. So something isn't working in the chain. But to hear the massive gaps that you are talking about when it comes to gender and race, I mean, that's pretty frightening stuff. I didn't expect it to be quite as big as that. And the causal factors of that, is that just a whole load of awful tradition to unwind? Is there just terrible amounts of conscious and unconscious bias going on there? Well, how do you see it, Claudia?
Claudia Miller (10:37):
I think that it's really the ecosystem that we're in. Like you mentioned, there's that conscious and unconscious bias. There's no pay transparency here unless you work in federal state government, and even then some people don't even know that that salary is public information. The other thing is too is that people are not advocating for themselves, and usually it tends to be more men that tend to ask for that sound negotiation. But even then the numbers are very small in comparison where recruiters and hiring managers, 84% of them expected to negotiate their salary, but yet only about 30% of women actually ask for more.
Andy Goram (11:17):
Claudia Miller (11:17):
Yes. So it's really not only from a company perspective and just bad pay discrepancy and then it comes from the person itself where they're not even advocating for themselves or asking for the amount even though it's expected from most hiring managers and recruiters.
Why are women so underrepresented in senior leadership roles?
Andy Goram (11:31):
Well, maybe we can get into some of the individual actions that people can take in a little bit. Let's just continue thinking about the issue. I think we've covered a lot of the background issues. Are there any other major ones that spring out as to why you think women are so underrepresented in senior leadership roles?
Claudia Miller (11:51):
Well, what tends to happen is depending, and it could be in different formats, but when there's a new CEO, there's new senior leadership, they tend to bring their own leadership. So they kind of clean house, they bring in their own CFO and their own employees, and primarily CEOs and executives tend to be men. So they tend to almost bring men all on board. And I've seen this where some of my clients have been at this company for quite some time. They've actually started the department, they were a one woman show and now they've grown that department, the company got acquired and they're pretty much demoted and they bring in their senior leaders, and there almost feels like no place for them. So that's one scenario and I feel like there's multiple scenarios. The other thing is that data shows too that men, or women actually, are very unlikely to actually get feedback or positive overall feedback on how they can advance their careers, versus in comparison to men.
(12:43) So a man will be told, you know what, I think you're great, but you need to build these skillsets. This is how you can perform better and this will help you become a better manager. Whereas women are not getting that feedback or advocacy around it. And I don't know if it's because men just don't know how to talk to women, which I have heard at times where they'll say, "I sometimes feel uncomfortable. I'm going to say the wrong thing. So I tend to not talk too much to my female employees, versus my male employees that report to me. We'll go out for lunch and I'll just let them know, hey Andy, you need to improve better on these specific skills." Whereas they don't feel that level of comfort when it comes to women.
Andy Goram (13:17):
It's crazy, isn't it, really, when you think of it in that sense that it comes down to an inability to have a chat with somebody. It is an age old problem that we're trying to unwind here, but I think it's trying to think about things positively going forward because we're clearly trying to play catch up on all of the kind of mistakes of the past. But society's moved on and it's moving on at a pace. How much of this legacy is still to do with childcare? I mean, I can't tell you how many reports I've read on this, which you read and you go, really, we're still living in this world where it's primarily it's the female who ends up looking after the kids and taking a career break. Nowadays we hear the occasional stories of men doing it, and I know there's a lot more, but it's still predominantly the ladies, the females who end up taking the career breaks, and that must be having a serious effect.
Claudia Miller (14:09):
Yeah. And then when there's a career break, I mean, when you're job searching or interview, they'll ask you why did you have a career break? And if you were to say, I had to take care of my elderly parents or I had kids, they just look at it as, well, you just said you're maybe not up to par, to speed when it comes to the marketplace. But if a person was to say, well, I was nannying for two, three years, all of a sudden that's considered work experience.
(14:33) So it's always a dynamic of what you call it. And same thing, it's like, "Well, you haven't been working here. We're going to have to start you from the beginning. You're going to have take a pay cut." Which when you know how to do it correctly, and this is something that I've helped with some of my clients, I make sure that they're not taking pay cuts, they're not taking a step back, they're jumping right back in where they left off. And it just talks about how, again, you brand yourself, how you answer some of these questions, storytelling around it, because I can argue both sides and it's just more of, well, what does my client need in order to be successful?
What are the typical issues female leaders are facing?
Andy Goram (15:07):
What's typically the most common issues that your clients are facing, Claudia? What's the kind of number one thing that is getting in the way?
Claudia Miller (15:16):
Confidence. It's confidence and not just for personal reasons, it's more of from what the company has done to them at this point. And here's a really great scenario. One of my clients, now she's like around in her fifties and she's been working now for this company for over 15 years at this point, and she has over 20 plus years of experience. She is, I think, like a manager of applications and she ended up creating this application for her company, which now ends up being like got world renowned, it's got recognition, it's solved so many issues that other competitors are having. So you would think, wow, she did something great. She gets great remarks, she's been loyal to the company and been there. And once she was ready to mention, "Hey, I want to become director." They told her, "Well, you don't have experience, so why don't you do the job without the pay and the title and once you gained that experience we'll give it to you."
(16:12) Well, fast forward three years happened and now she's finally gotten the title and the raise. And even after she received the raise, she still realized that she's getting paid $50,000 less than her direct reports after she received the raise. Even though they have less years of experience, they haven't been at the company that long, she trained them, but yet again, this happened to her. So over and over again, once you feel like you've passed up for promotion, you're told, you have to do this, but yet your colleague or counterpart gets promoted and you've trained them and you can't understand why, when you have great remarks over and over again, they start internalizing them saying, "Maybe I'm not good enough, maybe I'm not as great as I think I am. If I can't even make it here, how is another company going to treat me?"
(16:57) It almost becomes this toxic, I almost think of it almost if you were to have an abusive domestic partner, also happens with companies. Or some of them do have that trauma and have very low confidence and sometimes they even say like, well, maybe I shouldn't even bother being a manager director anymore. It seems like everything I do is just not going to be enough. And it's not like they're underperforming, they're doing really great work. They just keep passing over and over and over again and eventually it will start impacting you and your self-esteem.
Andy Goram (17:26):
Yeah, I can only imagine that, that's awful. I guess it's very easy to slip into a conversation where we just moan about a load of stuff that's happening to people and there's a lot of history that we are trying to unravel and put right. But if we were to look forward here and consider the things that we can do to address some of these issues, I mean we started to talk about addressing bias that can come in the form of many things, but even just widening the search for senior roles, widen the spec, widen the search for the people that come into it. I mean, again, with the work you are doing with clients, is that something that you see happening more? Are they becoming more opportunities or is it still a closed shop?
Claudia Miller (18:15):
I would say that some companies are trying, while others are trying to pretend that they're trying. So there's definitely that difference happening. And, I mean, I would say some organizations, some companies are doing a great job, well, they're trying to do better. They actually have audits and assessments to understand what is their pay discrepancy within the company in itself. They're looking to build that leadership talent pipeline. They're understanding that there also are benefits to having more women in senior leadership. And according to the data that when we do have more women and it needs to be at least 30% at the executive and board level, but when we have at least 30% of women in those leadership roles, there is around a 10 to 20% increase in profitability. Also having more women de-risk the financial firm's performance, it increases innovations and plans within organizations. So not only are you doing a really great thing to do, it should be the right thing. It's ethical, but also it improves business performance and metrics and actually creates innovation around it when you have women in those leadership roles.
The benefits of having more women in leadership roles
Andy Goram (19:18):
And I'm guessing if you dig into those a bit, that must come from bringing more diversity to thought process and perspective in the workplace, in the market to customers. We talked about maybe a different perspective on innovation. I think, also nowadays, and this is one of those situations where I could say something that's going to come out wrong and I'll put my foot in it, and I really don't mean to, but I think today empathy is a hugely important leadership trait. Something perhaps in the past has been shunned or shown to be a bit weak or a bit soft, but I think with the changing generation attitude or I view, I think empathy's really, really important. Now, traditionally women are believed to show more empathy, or have more of it than men. So there's clearly a bit in terms of right fitting the leadership for today's workforce where having more empathy will be really, really important.
(20:16) But I also think there's a piece here around role modeling because if we don't have amazing women in senior leadership roles, where are the next ones going to come from? I find it quite frustrating because in my career I've worked with some amazing female leaders. I mean, I still get goosebumps thinking about some of the things that I did with them and work that they achieved and the way they spoke and motivated and inspired businesses. And I guess I'm just a bit lucky that that's what I've been exposed to. But that clearly isn't the same for everybody. Have you got any amazing female leaders that you've worked with or that you are working with, the clients, and what are they up to and how are they trying to break the mould?
Claudia Miller (21:04):
Yeah, they're definitely looking to move more into their executive leadership position. So maybe they are a senior director and they want to break into the C-suite position. They are also trying to advocate, they're joining organizations. They're also trying to mentor women to see how can we continue moving them up? How can I advocate for them? How can I be a sponsor for them as well within the organization and continue to really start expanding on that achievement that they have done. Because one of the things that I've seen from my other clients that may be a little bit younger where maybe they're first time managers or they're about to start their first time director roles, when they're looking at what company they want to work for, they specifically look at the leadership and if there's no diversity in that leadership board, they just don't even consider that company at all. Especially when they say, oh, we're all about diversity, yet their whole entire C-suite is made up of white men. So those are the things that people are starting to look at.
(22:00) And I mean, like I mentioned, I work with very ambitious driven women, so they're very well accomplished and they're top talent. And I think that there's also going to be that increase in movement, especially around this new generation where they're not just listening to what you're saying, they're paying attention and they're saying actions speak louder than words and they're looking at how the leadership board is made and those companies that are embracing and are looking to move and have that diversity within their company, not only is it going to increase profitability, innovation, that's going to derisk them and they're going to create more payments, but now of a sudden they're going to start attracting these top talent that would definitely will be able to dominate in the industry where they're in, versus companies that are just not even up to par. Once they do want to get up to that level, they might fell behind or they might just even close shop before they even get to that point.
Are things improving in the Tech. industry?
Andy Goram (22:46):
I think that's really interesting and especially where you work. So predominantly, you have a lot of tech and finance exposure. I know you've worked in lots of other industries and I mentioned in the intro that they're particularly or have a history, shall we say, of being particularly male dominated. Do you think in those industries that they are really making strides going forward? Are they kind of leading the pack or because of their history, are they still way, way back and have the wrong attitude? So I'm really just interested to get your opinion as someone who's working right in it.
Claudia Miller (23:18):
Yeah, I would definitely say that they're still behind. I think that there's so many things, and one of the things that I find most interesting is that kind of to the point that I mentioned earlier that some men that are managers or in manager positions are comfortable having conversations with the direct reports that are women. And when you look at the data, managers don't receive management training up until their fourth year in management. So it's a lot of things, not only is it systemic where the job postings when you look at it, some of them tend to be very male dominated, versus being gender neutral.
(23:50) And it really does make an impact because studies show that when you have a very male dominated job description, it almost detracts from women applying. But when you have a gender neutral job posting, both men and women apply, so it still doesn't deteriorate men from applying, so why don't we go just the gender neutral path when it comes to this. And then talking about actually having KPIs related to some of these performance metrics that we should be looking at, we should be auditing how much, where are we at? Do we have a 30% female population, but is it at the entry level or is it the leadership level because that is going to make a big difference in profitability and all the other benefits that I mentioned above.
Andy Goram (24:32):
It's really interesting when you say that Claudia, because we spoke to Nicky Wright a few episodes ago from Diversity Jobs and this is exactly the sort of issues that she was really trying to talk about. And it was one of those awkward conversations for me because again, being the person I am, I haven't experienced a lot of these issues or barriers. I've been very, very lucky. But this whole thing of being neutral or even targeted for diverse groups with job applications, what have you, and trying to widen the net was clearly not forthright or at the front of everybody's thinking. But guys like Nicky, things like you are talking about, we're trying to move these things forward, but it's still lagging behind, or for some reason it feels awkward or the wrong thing to do, but this is exactly the right thing to do.
Key strategies to move things forward
(25:23) We need a load more diversity to get a wider perspective because that can only help performance going forwards. It seems like a no-brainer and yet we seem to be stumbling over actually making it work. You've talked a lot about confidence and advocating for ourselves and whether that's come from history. Is it as simple as feeling that you are worthy of that position and therefore taking confidence from that and then pushing ahead? Or are there systems, techniques, mechanics that people can kind of use to make them feel better or to push themselves further to be okay with advocating for that position and sticking their hand up and saying, "Yeah, I want that job and here's why." What sort of strategies do you try and get your clients to employ?
Claudia Miller (26:15):
I would say about 85, 90% of my clients that I start working with at the beginning, they have very low confidence, but they're high performers. So one of the things that I need to make sure is that they are, we're able to build up their confidence by the time they start interviewing because if they're not confident, it will leak in through the interview process and either can cost them the job opportunity, or have them be offered a very low salary, which I don't want any of those situations for my clients. So the strategy that I really have to really start increasing their confidence is they have to find that in themselves. And it's not about, think about who you are, that's not my strategy. For me it's like let's look at concrete data. Once we see the data it'll be easier. And the thing that I've noticed is for a lot of job seekers, and I used to do this before I became a career coach, is that we tend to be very passive when it comes to our careers.
(27:05) We don't actually pay attention. We live almost like day to day to day. And if I were to ask you, Andy, "What did you do four months ago?" I mean, I don't even know what I did last week to be honest. I would have to look at my calendar and I live by my calendar, but I just don't remember what I did last week, three, four months ago, six months ago, let alone 12 months ago. That means that if we don't know what we did, our managers are not going to know what we did. So nobody knows what we did in the past 12 months. So one of the things that I have them do is to start collecting data. "What have you accomplished in the past 12 months?"
(27:37) You must have done something and what is your impact to the business? Is it savings and productivity? Is it increasing revenue? Is it adding new customer segmentations? Is it adding more leads to your pipeline? What is your value to the organization? Because if you didn't have a value to the organization, we wouldn't have your position. So clearly there's value. Let's figure out where that value's coming from. And then specifically look at what you have done in the past 12 months. So all of these achievements in these metrics is what now, what we're going to utilize to create that resume, the cover letter that LinkedIn profile and embedding those stories within the interview process. Through this, slowly they start realizing, "I didn't know in this past 12 months that I've increased revenue by over 25 million" or, "That I did a savings in the next 10 years, could be potentially saving over 3 million just because I did something that took me three months."
(28:29) And all of a sudden they start realizing that yes, actually I am great, I am really good at this. And then afterwards I have them start networking and primarily reaching out to people that are one or two levels above what roles they're currently looking to apply. So if they're the manager, I have them reach out to director, senior director positions and have them network to say, what are the hardest skills to hire for when you're looking to hire a director? Or can you tell me a true salary range when it comes to a director position? Just because when you look online, there's a $80,000 discrepancy. Would you be able to bring that a little bit closer to a 20K discrepancy?
(29:07) And then once they understand these things and once they get that salary, they start realizing, I'm not being greedy, I am not being crazy. This is a salary I should be paid. I just heard from them and I heard from five 10 people that this is how much I should be making. These are the top three skills that are hardest to hire for. And I have those skills. And when I told them about my background and my accomplishments, they were amazed enough to say, "I want to hire you or let me refer you. I know someone that is hiring and you would be a great fit." So it's almost like a snowball effect that first they need to start understanding their achievements. And I will admit, it's easier when you have someone like a career coach or myself to say, "Tell me more. How long did it take you? What was the impact? Let's dig deeper. I know there's an even bigger impact on top of that."
(29:52) "If we were to aggregate all of this, you mean to tell me in your career you've increased revenue by over half a billion dollars and that the average product or service that you sell is around 300,000 and your network is composed of A, B and C and D." All of a sudden they know now they have that ammo that they can switch on and off and pull that lever throughout the whole interview process knowing that they are a sought after candidate. They have the skillsets and what they're asking for is more than enough and it's actually very comparable to market rates. And sometimes it will be double their income. But the data, that's what the data shows.
Andy Goram (30:26):
I think it's fascinating listening to you because you're clearly into your data, Claudia. I'm a softer person. You are the hard data kind of person, but I love the idea of writing your career story as you go because it's a bit like your network, isn't it? You never know that you need your network until you come out of work and start using your network again and you realize, damn, I didn't pay enough attention to my network. And the same as you go in and you try and update your CV, okay, so what did I do? And yet every day you're doing stuff and making little notes and capturing those things and building that story over time. It's a lot easier to make a note in the moment than try and recall what we did six months ago, a year ago and what have you.
(31:09) So I think that's a really interesting concept to think about as you are in your career, what better time to keep that journal or write that story about the accomplishments? But it just feels awkward for some of us, doesn't it? It's like, well, that's a bit braggadocios that. I'm not going to make a big deal of it, but this is what we need to do. We need to put this stuff out there. We need to be more confident about our achievements and what we bring. But it's fascinating the amount of hard data you're talking about really digging into. We think nothing of using research to firm up our decision making. This is exactly the same. Right?
Claudia Miller (31:44):
And it just makes it easier to build a case on why you need to get that promotion or why you need to get that salary. If I can tell you I can bring in $50 million, that I've done that in the past 12 months and I'm asking for 30K extra, it seems very minuscule at this point, especially when most companies are offering, at least here in the US, anywhere between three to 8% salary increases. And if you get a promotion, it could be maybe up to a 15% salary increase. But if I go to an external company, I get a 20, 30% salary increase. Being loyal to a company, here in the US at least you're being penalized because you barely even get enough to even cover inflation every year.
Is there more cultural awareness of this issue now?
Andy Goram (32:21):
And I think the salary thing is clearly very, very important. We can't ever say salary isn't important, but today it's almost like hygiene factor, right? It's the table stakes to get you to the table. If you're not paying the right sort of salaries, you're going to miss out on the talent. And we've seen from the McKinsey report, we've put it in the intro, we've had discussions today. There's a big cultural piece within all of this as well. Whether it's about expanding diversity or whatever it might be. But what are you seeing happening or are you seeing anything happening since the last three years, where we've seen obviously a big social change on the back of COVID and everything else. Are you genuinely seeing more cultural awareness and growth in the businesses that you deal with? Or do you think people are going back to where they were before? And this kind of human workpiece has kind of been a lovely flash in the pan, but actually nah, let's get back to the way it was. What's it like over in the US at the moment, Claudia?
Claudia Miller (33:25):
What I've seen is that the companies that had a true intention of doing better are doing better overall. Where they might have already started the work from home for some people and maybe after COVID they went full blown. Everyone works from home, whoever that could still do the job from home. And if you want to come into the office but it's not mandatory and you can relocate. And they're doing really great work and that's who they've been attracting really top talent. Now, the companies that pretended to do well, they'll say, well, because of the Great Resignation, and they're almost bashing some of the companies that were forcing their employees to work in the office in itself, they were saying, "Well, we're doing work from home now and we thought about it long and hard and it's best for everyone." Well, now this is when employees had leverage.
(34:12) Now right now, companies have leverage, and what those companies are doing now is they're saying, "Actually, we want you to come into the office. I know we said we were going to make everyone work from home, but we're not doing that anymore. And if you moved, then you either moved back or you're going to have to find a job elsewhere." But that's because right now they're the ones holding the upper hand at this point, just how the market is doing at the moment. That's because they didn't have a true intention. They just didn't want to be blacklisted as a company that made them go back into the office. Whereas now some job seekers say, "I don't care if I go back into the office, I just need a job because there's a lot of layoffs happening." And they know that they can still get people to come in.
(34:52) And usually those companies, I tend to say, they tend to be very toxic because if you can do the job remotely and they have you come into the office, it's either because they're trying to micromanage you or something is happening along those lines, but to me that's not a great management infrastructure overall. So you can see now who the intention is. Also those organizations are the same ones that were saying, we just hired our chief diversity officer and we're looking to do better. And yet layoffs, at least a big portion of it have been personnel that were in DEI roles, which tends to be diverse employees. So as you can see, pay attention to the actions and not what they say because those can be very different from each other.
Andy Goram (35:31):
Oh, there's massive say do gaps everywhere, Claudia, there's no question about it. I think it's just interesting to understand how that's playing out with the talent that's out there. When we look at the report and we look at the other findings and research out there about how much credence people put into flexibility and inclusion, and we talked about both at different points today, but it just stands to reason for me at least, or in my head that if you say one thing or do another, you're going to get undermined. The real talent's going to see through that and go as well.
Which organisations are making progress?
(36:04) And I get the sense, and again, I'm very interested to hear from your perspective, that actually not just the people coming through, the younger people coming through, but more established employees are taking a much harder, firmer look at the companies they're going to work for and what they stand for, who they stand with, what the leadership, you've mentioned the leadership before, where a company's going. Am I just wishing for that to happen or is there good guys out there and can you flag any up that you think are really making a difference?
Claudia Miller (36:38):
Well, I would say that for example, Accenture, they're looking to hire a lot more women increase. They're really actively looking for that leadership tech pipeline to how can we move more women to senior leadership roles? And there's a company also like Avenac who follows and mimics almost that Accenture's mission. So they're trying to do better definitely that I've seen. And I do agree with you, this younger generation, they're not just, "Oh, because it's a great company, it's a great name, I want to work there." They're saying, actually no, that's not a great of a company. Here's what you have done or there's no leadership or when you impacted the jobs or layoffs, you primarily laid off person of women or underrepresented communities or these DEI professionals and you have not put any back into what you have said you're going to do.
(37:24) So they're definitely being more active and you can find this information. They're also very good at technology and finding this information where you can look it up really quickly. So they're definitely doing that and they have a different understanding of what it is to work. They're not that let's hustle and bustle, let's work really hard. I'm going to be the first one in last one out, and that's how I'm going to get promoted. Because honestly, that's not who gets promoted. And the person that says yes all the time also is not the person that gets promoted. It's the person that brings more value to the organization and or is very well liked, to be honest. This new generation kind of understands like, I am not going to... I know that I'm just a number, therefore you're just a company and if this doesn't work out, I'll go somewhere else and I'm going to be doing what I was hired to do. Nothing more, nothing extra because if you want me to do more, then promote me.
What Sticky Notes Will You Leave Behind?
Andy Goram (38:14):
Yeah, companies definitely have to earn loyalty harder than in the old days. There's no question about that. We're getting near the end of this episode, Claudia, and I want to ask some advice, but if we think about it from an organizational perspective first, the sort of things we've said in helping, have and hold more women in senior leadership roles. We've talked about addressing the bias issue. We've talked about creating a more inclusive culture. We've talked about being open to and offering flexible working arrangements, and we've talked quite a bit about prioritizing the development and advancement of women, and then the excellent piece around the data use.
(38:56) But I want us to think about what actions the female listeners can take who are listening today. So I have this section at the end of the show called sticky notes, Claudia. It's where we try and summarize the best bits of wisdom that you've got on three little sticky notes that people can take away. So if you were going to give three bits of sagely advice to any women listening here, on how they can go and grab and get that senior leadership role that they're craving, but perhaps don't feel confident enough, what three pieces of advice would you give them?
Claudia Miller (39:33):
I would definitely say create a plan and ask for what you want. So when you ask for what you want and you don't get it, you go to plan B. And my philosophy is, if they don't promote you, go promote yourself. You don't have to wait for your company to have an opening. You don't have to wait for them to promote you. You don't have to wait for them to recognize your value. Once you know you're ready, and this is where the plan comes in place, if you have a plan and you say, "I've acquired these specific skillsets, I know I'm ready for this position." And if your company says, we don't have anything for you, or you just got passed up a promotion, that's your cue to say, let's go to plan B and I'm going to find this role at another company.
(40:08) And then the next thing is salary negotiation. You have to negotiate your salary. Even if you're in an entry level position, even if you're pivoted from industries or even if they gave you a really great salary, still negotiate. There's still money in the table. So let's ask for it. And then the third piece is, this is really, and this is something that I use overall for my, not only in career and business, but do what others won't to achieve what others can't. So really understanding that of what are others doing and what can I do? And it's not, let me do this job for three years without getting paid. It's how can I get ahead in my career? And even looking at what are the masses doing and just do a little bit more than what everyone else is doing.
Andy Goram (40:53):
Three fantastic pieces of advice there. I'm sure that's more than enough for people to kind of take away and start killing it, Claudia. Listen, it's been lovely speaking to you today. Thank you for sharing what's happened at Stateside and everything that you are kind of working on and give us an interesting perspective on this challenge today.
Claudia Miller (41:10):
Thank you, Andy. Thanks again for having me.
Andy Goram (41:12):
Okay, no problem at all. Okay, everyone, that was Claudia Miller. And if you'd like to find out a little bit more about anything that we've talked about today or Claudia herself, please check out the show notes. So that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forward. If you have, please like, comment, and subscribe. It really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to The Sticky From The Inside Podcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.
Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.