EMSNOW Executive Interview: Audrey McGuckin, CEO, McGuckin Group and Women On Their Way (WOTW)
EMSNOW: As you say in your webinar, the lack of women in leadership positions in the tech industry is getting worse not better, and Covid really has slammed families, resulting in women leaving the workforce. How bad is the situation right now?
2.5M women left the workforce during the COVID-19 crisis. According to a survey by LinkedIn, 74% of women said they are very or somewhat stressed for work-related reasons, compared to just 61% of employed men. I have found that women aren’t dropping out, they’re being pushed out by bad policies and processes. The data backs that up. It’s a dire situation at a time when gender equality is even being mandated in some states.
While the representation of women, across many levels of corporations, has somewhat improved over the past few years, the ‘broken rung’ continues to limit growth and opportunity in the workplace–especially in tech. The World Economic Forum currently predicts that it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and that’s much too long. Companies know they need to change but they don’t know how. They are throwing money at programs that don’t move the needle, but have the right intentions.
EMSNOW: What kind of corporate culture encourages women to aspire to leadership roles? What does that look like?
Corporations that address their systems and encourage women are the ones who can encourage leadership growth. The current corporate cultures hold women back, so while corporations throw money at empowerment programs, real change isn’t happening because systemic changes are not being made. Why? Companies need to be honest about what’s not working at a systems level, make changes, train men and women, and coach women to aspire to leadership roles. It’s about making growth mindset part of the culture. A Korn Ferry study of women CEOs found that only 12% of women always knew they wanted to be a CEO, and more than half gave no thought to being a CEO until someone explicitly told them they had it in them. This is why coaching is so important for women in leadership roles.
EMSNOW: You say mentorship programs are flawed and sponsorships are better. Please explain.
It’s really about helping women realize their professional aspirations and creating environments that support and facilitate success. Sponsorships enable executives to help women in their organizations rise to the top.
EMSNOW: Are corporations doing enough to reach out to the next generation of engineers? Is that a factor in pumping up the pipeline of women in leadership?
No, they are not. Again, it’s a systems issue. Companies might throw money at recruiting, but once the women join the company, they are dealing with bad policies and processes. If companies want a pipeline of dedicated women in leadership they need to illuminate and eliminate old ideas, identify personal pain points, and uncover landmines that are hampering career progression within their organizations. Once they do that their empowerment programs take off.
EMSNOW: How do your coaching programs work, and do you have some stories you can share about the companies you’ve worked with?
Women On Their Way (WOTW) has two programs: Navigator and Compass. WOTW Navigator works at the individual level through a 12 month-long peer group learning journey that is led by experts and focuses on empowering women for their career progression. Our first 12-month cohort starts November 16th and is currently open for registration. At just $6,900 for director level, and $9,900 for executive level, this program is an inexpensive solution for companies wanting to empower their women, retain their talent, and set them up for growth and success. Companies or individual women looking to advance their careers can participate.
WOTW Compass works at the organizational level, engaging leadership and management teams through a program designed to help implement and sustain more equitable practices and mindsets. This includes a two-phase systems-based talent and culture consulting program. WOTW Compass helps leaders see, understand, and address the systemic blocks their company have in place that are impacting women’s advancement, staying power, and success. It’s about working with the executive team to transform mindsets, build leadership capability and design innovative talent strategies that advance women in a department or across the organization. Pricing starts at $45k, with final pricing determined by the size of the organization. Benefits include Navigator seats for the team as well. More information on both programs can be found at https://www.wotwjourney.com.
While WOTW is a brand new program from McGuckin Group, we’ve been working with Fortune 100 companies for years, helping them to cultivate talent, reimagine their leadership and transform their cultures.
EMSNOW: Anything else you’d like to say to EMS executives?
I can’t emphasize enough that companies need to address organizational gender inequality and leadership diversity at the systems level to create lasting change and real progress. You can be unknowingly working against your own DEI investments. Fix the structures within the company, while at the same time giving women the skills to navigate the system. Stop throwing money at a flawed system and start investing in real change. This is what will ultimately help you attract and retain top women leaders.