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FREDERICKSON PARTNERS NEWSLETTER
November

In this issue:

LETTER FROM VALERIE   |   FEATURED SEARCHES |   CLOSED SEARCHES A SPOTLIGHT ON…   |   FREDERICKSON PARTNERS ON THE MAP   |   OPEN TO CONSULTING? EVENTS   |   ABOUT FREDERICKSON PARTNERS

LETTER FROM VALERIE

Fixing the Board and C-Suite Gender Gap: Practical Solutions from A Wise Woman

I was overcome with ideas and reactions when Hunt Scanlon asked me to speak at the Harvard Club in New York on November 6th about Next Generation Leadership: Advancing Women To the C-Suite. I thought about everything from how gratifying it is to show employers how to accomplish this, to what the best takeaways will be for the audience. This sold-out event’s attendees were primarily CHROs and HR teams from leading companies, positioned perfectly to utilize best practices and data in order to improve their executive hiring and promotion practices. It was an incredible opportunity for me to share practical solutions, cutting-edge research, and everything else I’ve learned about diversity over the past 25 years. Tom Wilson from my team and I had a great time meeting with New York-based executives and introducing some new members of our growing team.

Approaching 2020, how can your company implement best practices to help narrow the gender gap at the executive and board level? Why is it still so hard for women to break through the Glass Ceiling, climb up there, and stay put? How do we continue to support men and promote their careers while helping women succeed? First the What To Do’s and then the musings.

Top Ways to Fix the Gender Gap at the Board and C-Level

Set aside the Old Boy/Old Gal Network and instead recruit fresh blood. Everywhere we turn, the status quo protects itself and always has an excuse to keep things as-is. Example: a private university recently decided to exclude most women from attending its annual Directors’ College by only allowing attendees who are currently sitting board members. This is a problem because only 13% of board seats at Russell 3000 companies are held by women. Oddly, they made this decision to limit prospective board member attendance at an event where you learn... how to serve on boards. Who does this help? Certainly not the boards of directors in California who must have a qualified woman serving on their board by 2021. Certainly not the 100,000+ women executives who Equilar’s board of directors’ candidate pool says are highly qualified and interested in serving on boards but haven’t yet been recruited or appointed to one. What makes this example particularly galling is that the person who sent this email was a professor from the law school and a woman. Why doesn’t this leading university do the opposite and encourage female executives who are not yet on boards to attend the annual Directors’ College, then help companies recruit them to their boards? Better yet, invite CHROs and Chief People Officers who are not yet on boards to attend the annual event since 50% of this executive pool is female. The average CHRO has a plethora of practical knowledge of board recruitment, selection, performance and development—much more than the average board member-- and could be a great asset on a board. CHROs also have their finger on the pulse on the talent inside and outside of their organizations – the talent pool from which future boards can pull.

Don’t develop the candidate slate for board searches by asking current board members for referrals unless you want new board members to look like current board members. Instruct your search firm to go out there and actually search. I’ve heard senior partners at search firms say that when they conduct board searches they primarily develop candidates referred to them by current board members. To me, that is the definition of insanity and a waste of money, especially since interviews and selection methodologies can be limited to a nice steak dinner with their board buddies. Use Sukhinder Singh Cassidy’s theBoardlist to find qualified women for your board, use Equilar’s Diversity Network to find male and female diverse candidates, and dig deep into Chief and VP-level talent at larger companies to comprise your slate.

If you want to hire a female for an executive position, recruit female candidates. As a former white water kayaker, I know firsthand that when you are barreling down a rapid fighting the current and feeling out of control, the one thing that is guaranteed to help you survive is turning your face and looking directly at where you want to end up. When you’re recruiting, do the same and look where you want to go. If you want to be able to fill a specific role with a woman, studies show that you’ll need to have 75% of the candidates be women. What if women make up 50% of the candidates? Worse odds than paddling with your eyes shut. 25% of the candidates are women? Hold your breath because you’re going under. Insist on a slate of 75% qualified women and stay in control by writing the interview questions for each interviewer yourself.

Change your job description to embrace candidates, not screen them out. Must have SaaS experience. Must have run an enterprise sales organization. Must have spent time as a CFO or on the Compensation Committee. Must have a degree in Engineering. Must have a degree. I have been delighted to see major employers including IBM, Google, Penguin Random House, Apple, Bank of America, Nordstrom, and of course, my favorite Chipotle (burrito bowls!) no longer make degrees mandatory for any role including executive ones. Also, a switch from years of experience in a specific area to abilities and domain expertise would open up the pool even more. Who is making these rules about degrees anyway? Probably inexperienced recruiters who are just trying to follow the rules by creating something similar to what they’ve seen before, but who need guidance around updated and modernized company policies. Also, limit the Must Have’s on the job description since studies show that many women and minorities will only apply for a job if they have 90% or more of what the JD says is required, while white men will apply if they have 70% or more. If you want more women and people of color to apply, soften the requirements. Counter-intuitively, this will get you more qualified candidates. Great ways to pull in female executives or feeder pool executives who haven’t yet worked in high tech or banking or whatever your industry is? Look for specialty mid-level roles like Privacy, Project Management, Government Relations, and Research & Development where you can pull women candidates from government, academia and non-profits.

Create Real Work-Life Balance. Do you really, really need the candidate to fly to India four times a year, Asia four times a year, and Europe a few times, too? I just met a Head of HR Business Partners who has done all of this travel in the past year and has a two year old at home. Yes, he is a guy. I don’t know any women with small children who could do this, and frankly for the good of our society, I don’t know many parents who should be doing this. Do all board meetings have to be in your home country? Can board meetings ever be done via well-organized video conference with materials reviewed in advance? I have a friend who is a highly sought-after CEO and board member and decided to step down from one board due to the international travel. Mandatory long hours? I’ve known so, so many women HR executives who’ve had to quit their huge corporate jobs when their parents got ill. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could give them flexibility and allow them to continue to contribute and lead?

Why is there still such a huge gender gap?

We still live in a patriarchal society and change is difficult. Going back to my example of the woman at the university who is now excluding women from board events, if you live in a sexist society, you will be sexist unless you work very hard to acknowledge and overcome your biases and put in programs to encourage different behavior. Our society keeps us where we are and the media reinforces that. And where is that?

  • The responsibilities of being a parent. In traditional marriages, professional women who work full-time still do most of the housework in their marriages and over 95% of the child coordination with playdates, schools, sports, summer camps, etc. I estimate that I spent over 800 hours a year on this myself, even though I have live-in help. If the burden of finding and booking summer camps, gymnastics classes, planning and cooking dinners, buying endless shoes and clothing that the kids outgrow, taking care of their own elderly parents, etc. was evenly split between both parents, fewer female CEOs and female executives would quit their jobs and stay at home. It’s exhausting.
  • Competing forces make it hard on women. I’ve had a preschool teacher tell me that it would be a lot easier for the school if I quit my job and stayed at home with my three-year olds. I’ve had a stay at home parent serving as Homeroom Parent treat me poorly and tell me that because I worked, the only volunteer assignment they would give me at school was managing the database, not teaching art or helping with the fun stuff.
  • Our institutions make it hard on women. Schools schedule parent-teacher conferences during the workday so primarily the moms must miss hours of work each time. All opportunities to volunteer in the classroom take place during the school day. Your kid feels sick? You’ll soon learn to dread the call from the school nurse saying that your kid has a fever or bonked her head and that you need to drop everything and go pick her up. Random minimum days, half days, vacation days, teacher development days—not only does all this make me insane, but makes it almost impossible for women to work full-time and have kids until they can afford nannies, who these days cost upwards of $80,000 a year, furthering the thoughts about quitting and staying home with the kids. And there thickens the Glass Ceiling.
  • Our employers make it hard for women. If the husband must do business travel, then the wife must pick up the slack. I saw a working mom at a Halloween party this year muttering to herself that she was overwhelmed and that she had given up on limiting how many mini cupcakes her two girls were eating. Why? Because her executive husband had left for a 10-day business trip. If the job entails too much travel, the wife may need to quit her job or take a demotion to avoid the travel.

I say the solution is a radical overhaul of our society and our work world, but since like most working mothers I’m too tired to do that (did I order the glitter the fourth grade teacher asked me to get for the Day of the Dead Celebration?) let’s at least make sure that we’re mandating some changes and supporting them in all ways possible. I always look to the Northern Europeans for how they manage to have so many women on their boards and in executive positions. Evenly divvying up the work of being a full-time parent between both caretakers (one parent makes the lunch, the other makes the dinner) can make a big difference. And nothing replaces active recruiting

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FREDERICKSON ON THE MAP:
NYC

Popularly known as the Big Apple, New York City was once the nation’s capital under the Articles of Confederation from 1785-1789 and briefly the new nation’s capital in 1789 - 1790 under the United States Constitution. As one of the quickest cities to recover from the Revolutionary War, New York rapidly developed into one of the country’s most important trading ports by 1810 and in 1825 became the trading capital of the world with the completion of the Erie Canal.

Today, New York City is the epicenter for finance, culture, fashion, and more within the United States, all of which contribute to it being one of the wealthiest cities in America. New York is famously known as the “City that never sleeps” with its fast-paced lifestyle and comprised of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Most of what many people identify with New York City, however, is situated in Manhattan; the Empire State Building, Times Square, The World Trade Center, Park Avenue, and more.

Frederickson Partners has done extensive work in NY and the East Coast over its 25 years of experience in the industry. From placing the Director of Total Rewards & People Operations at ZocDoc, to filling the Global People Lead position at ConsenSys, Frederickson has developed an extensive network of top-tier HR and People leaders in the East Coast. Our list of East Coast clients continues with names like Sophos, Peak6, ActiveCampaign, Airtime, Sprinklr, InvisionApp Inc, Frontier Communications, eFront, and more.

Our most recent trip to New York City was the week of November 4th. In midtown Manhattan amidst iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, the Harvard Club of NYC hosted Hunt Scanlon’s conference on women in the c-suite. Hunt Scanlon, a global news network and market research firm specializing in connecting members from the talent community, organized the Next-Gen Leaders: Advancing Women to the C-Suite event that took place on November 6th . The event was a convening over 350 of the top business professionals from around the country to collectively discuss the broad range of issues impacting women in the workplace and how talent leaders can influence that.

Frederickson’s CEO, Valerie Frederickson, was among the panelists discussing best practices and the role executive search consultants play in advancing women in senior leadership roles. It was a completely sold out event, with a full day of stimulating questions and discussion topics revolving around the issues impacting women in the workplace. With the talent climate evolving and all the movements going on in society, it was thought provoking to hear firsthand from the experts themselves about ways companies can help push these movements forward and make opportunities equally available to all.

A SPOTLIGHT ON
BEN TAYLOR

Ben Taylor is our Chief of Staff and a Renaissance Man. An executive in our firm, Ben loves to cook, read, and is an avid podcast-listener with a creative side. Ben has a BS from the University of Oregon in Human Physiology and worked as a Rehab Specialist after graduating in 2013. One of his favorite pastimes at the U of O was attending football games in the rainy Eugene weather (Go Ducks!) and exploring the surrounding neighborhoods in search of lively new restaurants and breweries. A Menlo Park native, Ben grew up a five-minute walk from Stanford University and attended soccer, basketball, and baseball games which eventually shaped his passion for athletics.

Ben was recruited to Frederickson Partners by Valerie Frederickson in October of 2015, initially helping with Marketing projects before becoming an integral and trusted leader in the business. Around two years ago, Ben stepped into the Chief of Staff role with a focus on executive search operations. Today, Ben helps lead the search practice, serves as a general executive advisor across the entire business, and supervises our coordinators and researchers.

What do you like to do on the weekends? Since I grew up an active child who played every sport I could get my hands (or feet) on, I still love to be outside and engage in some friendly competition. When I’m not outside, you can often find me at the local theater or concert venue, checking out new movies, musicians, and comedians. In college, I would take weekend trips with friends to Portland or Bend to check out local performers, hit Oregon’s renowned ski slopes, or visit some of the state’s spectacular national parks. There I developed some of my longest lasting friendships.

Hardest thing you’ve ever done? In March of 2018, I tore my Achilles tendon while lunging to steal a pass in a Monday night recreational basketball game. I was taken to the ER and had the surgery a week later, but it was tough being on crutches for months and not being able to participate in any of my usual activities or routine. Looking back on the injury and recovery, it helped me put a lot of things into perspective. It taught me not to take anything for granted and appreciate the struggle of those less fortunate, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional hardships.

Favorite books or movies? One of my recent favorites is Shoe Dog - the memoir of Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. What I enjoyed most about the book was the way it was able to describe the level of grit and determination it took to build a global powerhouse company like Nike in the pre-digital age. As far as movies go, one of my favorite directors is Damien Chazelle - my favorite movie of his being ‘Whiplash’ - the story of a promising young drummer who must overcome a tyrannical instructor who pushes him to the breaking point.

Why Frederickson Partners? I get to come to work every day knowing that I can make a difference by helping HR professionals land their dream jobs. Working at Frederickson is a lot like playing on a basketball team - we celebrate our wins together and pick each other up when we fall. More importantly, we all try to help each other succeed. It’s a great community here, with incredible exposure to the world’s top companies and an even better team.

Open to Consulting?

Are you a high-level, experienced human resources executive who is looking to make a transition into consulting and contract work? We’re in the process of expanding our consulting bench for all functions of HR, with a focus on Head of People professionals. Contact us here, if you’re interested in learning more.

Events

November 6th 2019

Next-Gen Leaders:
Advancing Women to the C-suite
New York City, NY

Valerie Frederickson spoke at Hunt Scanlon's Next-Gen event that dedicated an entire day to addressing the various issues women face in the workplace and solutions to bridge those gaps. Alongside over 350 business professionals, she discussed the multiple ways to aid in paving the path for women leaders and specifically about the role executive recruiters play in advancing women to the c-suite.

June 11th 2020

Global Private Equity
Talent Summit
New York City, NY

This event is a convening of over 800 private equity leaders, Chief Talent Officers & Executive Recruiters, exploring how to drive higher investment returns through talent management.

About Frederickson Partners

Frederickson Partners recruits high impact human resources leaders for innovative companies. Frederickson matches startups, tech unicorns, and the Fortune 500 with world-class full-time and project-based talent. The country’s leading People executive search firm, Frederickson Partners is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices nationwide. Clients include Alphabet, Facebook, Gartner, Gilead, Intel, Pinterest, ServiceNow, Roche, Twitter, Uber and Workday. We also enjoy working with VC and PE firms to help their portfolio companies build world-class HR teams.

Visit: fredericksonpartners.com