Alexandra McGroarty, CDP, CPC, SHRM-PASCFollow
On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Alexandra from McGroarty & Co. about how men can help create opportunities for women in the workplace.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 29 minutes
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This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live podcast where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing and talent acquisition. Each week we take one over complicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup (00:34):
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Alexandra on. She’s from McGroarty and Company, and our topic today is how men can help create opportunities for women in the workplace. I look forward to learning a whole bunch from Alexandra. So let’s just jump right into it.
Alexandra McGroarty (00:56):
William Tincup (00:57):
Alexandra, would you do us a favor, introduce yourself and your company.
Alexandra McGroarty (01:01):
Sure. Absolutely. I’m Alexandra McGroarty. I am the Co-Founder of McGroarty and Co. Consulting. We do HR consulting and placements, both globally and within the US. I’m a certified, diversity, professional and certified coach, and I recently just published my first book, Bridging The Gap: Reducing Gender Bias in the Workplace.
William Tincup (01:21):
Tell us a little bit about the book.
Alexandra McGroarty (01:22):
William Tincup (01:22):
How was that your experience for you?
Alexandra McGroarty (01:24):
It was great. It was a definitely mix of personal and things I’ve gone through myself as well as fact-based research. It was very personal to me. I lost my husband last year and he was a huge motivator, a huge presence and an advocate for women in the workforce. A good deal of my heart and my writing was dedicated to him. It was really a labor of love to get this out here.
William Tincup (01:50):
Well, and condolences of course-
Alexandra McGroarty (01:54):
William Tincup (01:56):
… but it looked like you took something negative and turned it into something really positive, which is-
Alexandra McGroarty (02:00):
William Tincup (02:00):
… what we should all learn from that. I’ve had a couple near death experiences myself so I get that. Let’s take a look at this in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Alexandra McGroarty (02:16):
William Tincup (02:17):
[inaudible 00:02:16] let’s go for men, we’re breaking this down. Because most women are probably going to listen to this and go, “Yeah. Yes, you should do that.” But what would like the basics, so if we’re building a pyramid, what are the basics you think that men should do and then we’ll just start building towards some of the things you think that are a bit more innovative.
Alexandra McGroarty (02:38):
Sure. I think in the workforce itself, educate yourself. I think be aware of the biases that you may have. Some of them maybe are unconscious or implicit as a lot of our tests like to tell us. But just take a step back and see what stereotypes you may throw out there without even realizing it. Be a sponsor, be a mentor for a female or a minority. I think that’s amazing way to be able to support someone within the workplace get ahead.
I think it’s ever more important now that we’re in this hybrid and remote work because a lot of the research is telling us that working hybrid or remote makes it harder to develop mentoring and sponsorship relationships because you’re less visible. Reaching out and making sure you put those in place would be huge.
William Tincup (03:25):
Two things on that. One on the biases. How do you suggest men audit their biases? Sitting back and reflecting, especially if you’ve been doing something for 30 years, 20 years, whatever the bid is, you probably mansplain a whole bunch of this stuff to yourself.
Alexandra McGroarty (03:48):
William Tincup (03:51):
I get the reflection part, but it also, it’s like, okay, how do I audit my biases?
Alexandra McGroarty (03:57):
William Tincup (03:58):
How do I go about that?
Alexandra McGroarty (04:00):
I think one, start to evaluate a person and not a group. That’s huge. Look at the person and not a group as you have before. I think promoting procedural fairness when you’re in a position of power is huge. Take a look at your procedures and how they show up for people in your organization. Then I think welcoming and embracing multiculturalism is huge. It may not have a direct impact on gender, but it will have an impact. And I think those are three ways that you can start to take a look at that. I think as an HR, former HR trainer, everyone’s going to say, “Go and take an unconscious bias test and you’ll figure out what you need to do.” That’s certainly a way to be able to do it, but here are some steps that you can take without having to go and take an assessment.
William Tincup (04:43):
So I’ll give you a recent story. I was talking to a company that I wanted to advise. It’s two African American entrepreneurs and they asked me, “Why do you want to advise us in our company?” And I said, “Well, I’ll go with some of the obvious, okay, I love the technology, I love the market opportunity, but I’ll go ahead and dance around the elephant in the room. I’ve never mentored or coached or advised African American entrepreneurs.” And I’m assuming it’s similar, but I’m more probably find out there’s some things that are different.
Alexandra McGroarty (05:26):
William Tincup (05:27):
But I don’t know. The conversation was good, but weird.
Alexandra McGroarty (05:32):
Absolutely. And I think it’s leaning into that uncomfortableness.
William Tincup (05:37):
Alexandra McGroarty (05:38):
William Tincup (05:39):
Okay. Because we all laughed about it and they’re like, “Okay, well yeah that seems fair.” I mean, the answer was okay but I think in mentoring, I think if is the way that you’re talking about it, men reaching out to women and saying, “I’d like to do this,” and I’m trying not to be a creepy old man type sucker type deal. However, I’d like to mentor if that’s something you’d like.
Alexandra McGroarty (06:04):
Absolutely. And I think that’s great. I think it’s a great way to do it. As long as you’re being respectful about the approach, I think that’s exactly the way that you can approach that situation and you may find that a woman approaches you to be a mentor or a sponsor, but it’s always great to be able to go out and offer that as a way to come up in an organization.
William Tincup (06:26):
As we go through the approach, if someone were to approach you as a mentor and a male were to approach you as a mentor, what would you respond to?
Alexandra McGroarty (06:40):
I think the best approach would be one, thank you for considering me. That’s huge. Two, what are you looking to get out of the situation? What are you looking to learn? How can I mentor you? What’s effective look like to you? And to really understanding what the individual is coming to you for or sees in you as a mentor is going to be huge, a huge part of the process.
William Tincup (07:05):
Oh, I love that. I love that already. Last thing before we go to the next level is, fairness. How do we measure fairness? God, okay, that sounds terrible, but how do we institutionalize fairness?
Alexandra McGroarty (07:21):
Yeah. So I think it’s a really sticky topic, because there is no data or metric that you can put around it.
William Tincup (07:26):
Guess I’m being less fair today.
Alexandra McGroarty (07:28):
Yes, I’m much more fair to the women in my office at this point. My data analytics heart would love to be able to do that. I think it’s about one, taking stock in each of the functions in your organization. For example, if you take a look at the first thing that somebody would come into contact with, your job descriptions, are they motivated more towards male language or gender neutral language?
For example, are you looking for a rockstar? Are you looking for words that imply that they’re inherently male dominated roles? So I think it’s taking that different lens, taking a step back, not just expecting that you have all the answers. Bring in the people that can supplement your knowledge, especially in the diversity space, to make it really strong within your organization. I don’t think there’s one person out there that can say, “Here’s the magic fix for everything in your organization,” it’s really going to take a team.
William Tincup (08:24):
Right. So one of the things that I think is going to really resonate with people is to look at the person.
Alexandra McGroarty (08:31):
William Tincup (08:32):
Not the group.
Alexandra McGroarty (08:33):
William Tincup (08:34):
I think that’s a huge takeaway so far is just, okay, if it’s Yolanda, then don’t think of Yolanda and women.
Alexandra McGroarty (08:45):
William Tincup (08:46):
And how do I approach all women about this bit?
Alexandra McGroarty (08:49):
William Tincup (08:50):
How do I approach this? How do I hyper-personalize? How does this going to suit her needs, et cetera. So let’s go to some of the things that are… Okay, those are the basics. So we got that.
Alexandra McGroarty (09:01):
William Tincup (09:01):
Check. What’s the step up above the basics?
Alexandra McGroarty (09:07):
I think one of the huge things we’re grappling with right now is this coming out of a pandemic hopefully. And do we go back to the ways in which we were before or do we stay in this hybrid/fully remote world? And that is really adjusting the way that people work. So I think one of the things that we’re starting to see is there’s assumptions about commitment in a hybrid and remote work environment.
And I’m not saying this in every case, but primarily during the pandemic, a lot of the care taking, a lot of the teaching at the same time we were working fell on the woman of the household to do. So there’s a commitment bias there to the job so that inherently puts her a step back from her male or those who identify as male counterparts in the workforce. So I think it’s that safety of being able to say, “Yeah, I can work remotely, yes I can work hybrid and I’m still showing up just as much if not better because now I have a bit more flexibility than I was when I had to be there 9:00 to 5:00.”
William Tincup (10:09):
So the keyword for me is flexibility, which is what women in the workplace since the ’60s and ’70s have been kind craving flexibility so-
Alexandra McGroarty (10:22):
William Tincup (10:23):
… it’s not a new concept. However, we were forced into flexibility, March of 20.
Alexandra McGroarty (10:30):
William Tincup (10:30):
So what’s your take on the return to the office, because I’ll give you my bias first. I believe it’s a commanded control.
Alexandra McGroarty (10:42):
William Tincup (10:43):
That comes out of manufacturing World War II, mostly male, mostly white male. And I want to see you work in order to believe that you’re working. Now, that’s just me and my bias all hanging out there. First of all, what do you see?
Alexandra McGroarty (10:58):
Yeah. So what I’m starting to see is you trusted me for two years to get my job done at home, as long as I wasn’t a frontline worker or an essential worker, you trusted me. And now you don’t, because you’re calling me back in. And for some roles that’s just the right fit and in some roles it’s not. Where did that trust go that you had for me for two years?
So you’re starting to see a breakdown in employee experience and these relationships that you have with your teams because they’re starting to feel that, oh wow, it’s not okay anymore because we’re not in the same situation we were. So where can I go because there’s a ton of opportunities elsewhere that will let me be hybrid or remote that works better for my flexibility and what I want now. So to me it comes back to trust.
William Tincup (11:45):
So I love both the flexibility, focus on flexibility, but also the focus on trust. So I think these things go hand in hand in some ways or could possibly go hand in hand where if someone wants to go into the office. So if a woman wants to go into the office, fantastic.
Alexandra McGroarty (12:04):
William Tincup (12:06):
Great. But if not, then I think then the underpinnings are definitely trust.
Alexandra McGroarty (12:13):
William Tincup (12:15):
But we’re getting to the same place around flexibility and where do you thrive? Where do you get your best work done? If that’s in the office, great, that’s fantastic. But it’s having that flexibility I think is super important. I think you said something about early in the pandemic, a lot of the responsibilities, there was study that was done, I think it was McKenzie. But basically that the first, let’s say 2020, women were disproportionately impacted and at the end of ’20 they were also disproportionately terminated and disproportionately they were the ones that stepped up and did this. So it’s like three different things coming together all at once, which is crazy. All right. If we’ve laid down the basics and now we’ve get to flexibility and trust, what’s next?
Alexandra McGroarty (13:19):
So I think in that hybrid and remote environment, what we’re starting to see is it’s harder to speak up. This plays into imposter syndrome, when you’re sitting around the boardroom with a bunch of men, why are you here? Why are you interviewing for the job you already have, will now put that virtual wall in between you and your teams and it becomes a bit harder to speak up and interject.
I think it’s making space for the women on your team to respond. If you see people cutting them off or interjecting, take a step back and say, “Hey, I think Joanne had a point there, let her finish her sentence or let her pine before we go into your point.” So it’s calling it out as it’s happening too, to put a name to it so that the behavior is recognized.
William Tincup (14:09):
So one of the things that this unearths is the talking over either I said not having space to feel like you can talk, or if and when you do talk, that you’re interrupted or talked over or disregarded, et cetera. I think the thing that for the learn for everyone listening is encouraging everyone to speak. Right now we’re talking about women, but let’s just encouraging folks and then giving people space and enough space to then have their thought like anybody else would have their thought or have their response to somebody else. But also what I think is key about what you just said is at the moment it’s happening, correct the behavior as it’s happening.
Alexandra McGroarty (14:59):
William Tincup (15:00):
Because some of that would be corrected, but it would be corrected later.
Alexandra McGroarty (15:03):
William Tincup (15:04):
And it’s like, well that’s not… Then the other people didn’t get to see that or didn’t get to hear that so there’s a real benefit in terms of actually doing it on the Zoom call, right in front of everybody say, “Ted, Margaret had a point, she was mid-sentence, you’ve got a point too, cool. Just wait until she finishes her point.”
Alexandra McGroarty (15:27):
Right. Exactly. It’s all about respect.
William Tincup (15:29):
What’s interesting on some of this that uncomfortableness is going to come up probably multiple times during-
Alexandra McGroarty (15:36):
William Tincup (15:37):
… the time we talk. But that’s uncomfortable for folks to… That’s almost like conflict and conflict aversion.
Alexandra McGroarty (15:46):
William Tincup (15:47):
And again, that’s not going to get anybody any further if we avoid it.
Alexandra McGroarty (15:52):
Exactly. And I think we’ve gotten a lot better or not better so to say, but a lot more comfortable with being conflict avoidant now that we’re mostly virtual too. So it comes hand in hand with having to rebuild that skill being in a hybrid or a remote environment.
William Tincup (16:07):
Right. You know what’s interesting, I don’t know what your take on conference calls have been, but I think in person it was really worse. Zoom calls, especially at the beginning of COVID, I’m using Zoom and conference calls as synonyms, but basically it seemed like there was so much empathy, that especially for what was going on, that it felt like there was more space, because people were going slower.
Alexandra McGroarty (16:41):
William Tincup (16:42):
Alexandra McGroarty (16:43):
Yeah. No, I just remember I’m internally laughing because I remember my first few days of the pandemic when both children were at home and I’m trying to hold them out of the frame of the Zoom call to be able to have a Zoom call and then get them back on school. But I think over the pandemic, it’s an interesting juxtaposition, I think. It becomes harder to speak up but I also think we saw at times it was easier to be more authentic. You brought your authentic self to work because you were essentially didn’t get to leave work or home. So you saw everything. You got to learn the person as a person. So I think that would definitely be a benefit for me to this remote and hybrid situation.
William Tincup (17:23):
Any downsides to…
Alexandra McGroarty (17:24):
Yeah. So I would say one, yeah, you lose that water cooler conversation. What I could probably get accomplished or build relationships in a couple of minutes during the day, in person, I now have to be super intentional about and I’m regulated to a teams chat or a WebEx or a Zoom. So you’ve lost some of that natural networking in person, which could hinder progress, especially for those people like you said, say I have to see you, for you to be able to move up in our organization.
William Tincup (17:59):
Yeah. I’m terrified that, that’s actually going to be a reality of we’re going to create different citizenship. And we’re going to see it in promotions. We’re going to see it now, again, that could benefit women, if they’re in the office.
Alexandra McGroarty (18:15):
William Tincup (18:16):
But still it’s going to be, I’m terrified about A, going back to “2019” as like 2019 was great. So I’m terrified that we’re going to go back to some of those worst practices. Let me get your take on, I’ve heard this and I believe it’s mansplaining, but I want to get your take on it, is that soft skills are very difficult to develop through virtual means, meaning there’s another reason outside of we want to see you work, we want to do collaboration, creativity, we want to be able to do help with soft skills and their development. Do you buy that at all?
Alexandra McGroarty (19:10):
I don’t. I think we have to shift our-
William Tincup (19:13):
Alexandra McGroarty (19:14):
… mindset. We have to shift our mindset to say this is the way of the world now, so how do we accommodate the fact that we’re all either at home or in the office a portion of the week and not the true week that we were before. How do we make our practices work for our people? How do we build skills that you may not have necessarily had to build in the office now that you have to manage remote or hybrid teams or be a part of a remote or hybrid team? So do I think there’s differences? Absolutely. Do I think that we can’t get that done virtually? No, I don’t think so. I think it just takes a different mindset to be able to accomplish that.
William Tincup (19:49):
That’s fantastic. Okay so let’s move to some innovative things that you see men doing, potentially men doing in the workplace to, again create that space but also just create more opportunities.
Alexandra McGroarty (20:06):
Yeah. Absolutely. So I saw something today through the Society for Human Resource Management that one of the big retail CEOs put out a statement that says bringing your whole self to work as a leader is going to encourage your team to bring their whole self to work and that’s what our leadership team will be doing, because that’s what I’m going to be doing. So I thought that was huge. It’s leading from the top down and showing it’s really important to us to make sure everybody feels comfortable here, and it’s going to start with me as the CEO.
I think I’ve seen a lot more virtual mentoring and sponsorship programs pop up throughout the pandemic. We worked with one of our clients on launching a virtual mentorship program where you were able to be paired with another individual through their system, but you’ll be fully remote, you’ll never meet one another in person. You’ll always have to interact virtually. So they’re seeing how that’s going to work and it was intentional to take a diverse lens on that, whether it was ethnic diversity or gender diversity to start with, that we know that there’s multi dimensions of diversity there.
And then I think really just understanding the data that’s out there. I know it’s not transformative, but it’s taking a step back to understand what are trends? What does the data look like? How can I be a supporter? How can I be helpful? What do women feel like when they go to work? What are some of those areas that they’re struggling with during the pandemic or moving into a remote and hybrid or even coming back to the office full-time. So those are areas that I’ve seen really shine in the last couple of months to start to move the needle.
William Tincup (21:42):
So this is going to be a really odd question, so I’ll just set the table. It’s a worry of mine so it could be real or it could be completely fictiual. So with all the talk of diversity, obviously you can look at that as you said many different ways. Do you worry about women getting drowned out by the talk of diversity? It’s an easy way. Because again, we already know that there’s disparity between men and women in the workplace, check. If you don’t know that, you’re listening to the show, we can point you to a number of studies that show this, pay equity alone. So there is that. Is there a fear or worry about the more we talk about diversity, the less we talk about women?
Alexandra McGroarty (22:34):
Yeah. It’s an interesting question and I think we need to be super intentional about representing every level of diversity, and that’s huge. I think we naturally go towards ethnic, racial and gender as our top, but there’s so many different levels of diversity. It’s your thought leadership, abilities, different abilities, and that’s just to name a couple others. I think it’s being intentional to make sure that’s not lost.
It’s interesting I had someone as I was pursuing my diversity certification say, “Oh, you have women checkmark. You’re a woman, that’s great. That’s gone for you, but you’re white.” So it’s interesting the conversations that we’re having about diversity and what truly makes a diverse individual. So I always push my clients and my colleagues to think there’s so many different levels that you need to be aware of that one thing doesn’t just constitute the entirety of diversity.
William Tincup (23:31):
Okay. Thank you. I don’t know if that’s a real fear, so I’m glad that you tackled that.
Alexandra McGroarty (23:37):
William Tincup (23:37):
Two things I want to ask you about is, one is the, when female candidates look at a job, what should they be looking for in terms of environment, that’s I will say female friendly?
Alexandra McGroarty (23:54):
Yeah. I think it’s different as we said for everyone. What might work for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but the things that I look at from my perspective are what are your benefits? I’m a mom. So what does the care taking or caregiver benefits look like to you? If I need to take a leave of absence, what does that look like for you? Are you truly flexible? If I have a sporting event that I need to get to with one of my children at a certain period of time, are you going to allow me to flex my time? What does your PTO and your benefits programs look like? Do you allow for professional development? Because that’s really important to me. Do I want to go back to school or do I want to continue to grow within your organization? Will I get to a certain level and top out? Those are all things that I think of when I’m planning for my career so that would be something that I would dig in during the interview process on and ask in a respectful way.
William Tincup (24:52):
Wonderful. Thank you. So with those questions, should that be stuff that’s already covered in the job description?
Alexandra McGroarty (25:01):
I think sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. So it gives you a really great… You’re always told when you go into an interview, have questions, right?
William Tincup (25:08):
Alexandra McGroarty (25:09):
So it gives you a couple of questions that you can start to talk through with either the recruiters or your hiring manager or the next level manager, depending on how many levels they have within the interview.
William Tincup (25:20):
Okay. Evaluating the board and the C-suite. Is there anything to looking at the leadership team and-
Alexandra McGroarty (25:27):
I think so. I think that’s huge, yeah. I think that’s huge. I think you’re going to want to take a look at what does that mean to them? How are they advancing people within the organization if they realize that they have a diversity issue. Is it top of mind? Are you putting programs in place to continue to strengthen your bench strength to be able to promote internally and not always have to go external?
William Tincup (25:52):
Dumb question alert. So years ago I remember going to the VC in Silicon Valley and going to their management team and it was all middle-aged, pear shape white guys. And obviously that’s wrong. We can all look at that and go, “Okay, yeah failure.” What if that was all middle-aged pear shaped females.
Alexandra McGroarty (26:23):
I would still say, we have a diversity problem. So I think to have true diversity, you want to look at those, again, multi-level, multi dimension layers to get diversity of thought. I think one of the biases is you look like me, you think like me. That’s great. I automatically am attracted to the way that you talk and think and how you’re going to opine on decisions. But that’s not how we move business forward. I want to be challenged, you want to be challenged. How do we bring people from different backgrounds and experiences and look different from me, that talk different from me, so that we can truly move the organization forward.
William Tincup (26:59):
Awesome. Last thing, and this is about me too, the movement, not me.
Alexandra McGroarty (27:06):
William Tincup (27:13):
What’s been your take on how that movement has shaped the relationship between men and women in the workplace?
Alexandra McGroarty (27:21):
Yeah. If I think about it, there can be some disparity. I think there is an overarching fear. I’m not saying everyone, but there’s a fear that are we moving too far in the way of diversity and essentially the straight white male is now the minority? I don’t think we’re going that route. I think what we’re trying to do is say other people have voices and it’s really great to hear from other people that have come from different places. And that’s how you move things forward instead of doing the same thing over and over again. That’s the bane of my existence. We always done it that way. So I think it’s about creating space for everybody and not necessarily taking space away from one group or another.
William Tincup (28:09):
And I think especially early on, I think men were using that as an excuse to not engage, because they were terrified, truthfully terrified. But again, I think if you’re predisposed to being a bad person, then turns out bad things are going to happen.
Alexandra McGroarty (28:34):
William Tincup (28:35):
But I think again, I think when we look at it objectively, we look at me too. I think when we look at, first of all, we’re like 20 years too late to actually talk about what was going on. When we too first started, I was shocked that people were shocked, so my initial reaction to, let’s say Harvey Weinstein was… I looked around at my peers and I was like, I can’t believe that people were shocked. First of all-
Alexandra McGroarty (29:07):
William Tincup (29:07):
… I just assumed that everyone knew that this was going on, which is terrible. I mean, on its base, it’s just horrible that I would even think that. But I was shocked and as I started to explore and listen to people about it, it’s like, “Okay, yeah now I understand.” But again, I think there’s so much learning that’s why these podcasts are so important.
Alexandra McGroarty (29:29):
William Tincup (29:30):
For people to listen in, learn some things, maybe a trick here and there, and maybe we can make this better, so thank you.
Alexandra McGroarty (29:37):
William Tincup (29:38):
So much for your time.
Alexandra McGroarty (29:41):
William Tincup (29:42):
Absolutely. And thanks everyone for listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast, until next time.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.