Gwenn McGuire is an introvert, thespian, causer of good trouble, wife, boy-mom, and advocate for midday naps. She attended the University of Central Florida as a theatre major, walked away from corporate America to eventually focus on fixing the broken system, is a board member for the YMCA Carl E Sanders facility in Atlanta, and has a deep background in scaling and growing startups.
Gwenn is the Co-founder and CEO of HBGM&Co., an Executive Search and Placement firm that meets companies at every stage of growth. Uniquely, HBGM&Co. develops and prioritizes the nontraditional female candidate and teaches organizations how to retain them.
Connect with Gwenn on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- About HBGM&Co.
- Nontraditional hire
- Unique service offerings
- Ingredients to retaining a great hire
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. Today on the show, we have Gwen McGuire with HBGM&Co. Welcome, Gwen.
Gwenn Mcguire: Welcome Lee. Thanks for having me.
Lee Kantor: I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about your firm, how you serve in folks.
Gwenn Mcguire: Absolutely. We are an executive search and placement firm. We meet companies at every level of growth. And so we serve solopreneur to corporations. Uniquely. We develop and we place the nontraditional female hire, and we teach organizations how to retain them.
Lee Kantor: So what exactly is a nontraditional hire?
Gwenn Mcguire: Yeah. When Janey, my co founder, and I were in the early stages of constructing the framework of HPG, and we got super clear around the description of the woman that we wanted to uplift through the corporate ranks. And so the vision of our company is to diversify the C-suite and in understanding the face of C-suite, past and present, we realized that the nontraditional woman wasn’t a prominent figure on, let’s say, Fortune ranked list. And so those are women who identify as veterans, as differently able as bipoc, transgender or first and second generation. But the why is more important than the what, right? Like, why aren’t these women making the list in larger numbers and in corporate America? There is a favorite topic of conversation amongst leadership that the pipeline is broken, meaning that there are very few qualified candidates to fill the pipeline. And when the conversation is extremely overexaggerated and quite frankly, it’s a dangerous one as it disqualifies the nontraditional, nontraditional individuals, corporations are facing three things right now the mass retirement of baby boomers, the great resignation. And on top of that, 3.5 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic. And so the pipeline isn’t broken like the priority of companies are and have been heavily focused on the Ivy League outfit, the traditional hire. Right. And so disregarding the evolution of today’s talent and that evolution is indicative of talent that are looking for more creative ways to diversify their skill sets without the burden of college debt. And this proves that the way that we qualify talent has to evolve. The very definition of qualified needs to shift how we screen resumes needs to shift as well as how we interview.
Lee Kantor: Now, a lot of organizations, especially those Fortune 500 Fortune 1000, give lip service to the importance of this type of diversity and inclusion. Are you seeing kind of a disconnect between actual action and an actual kind of progress in this area rather than just a lot of talk around in and around this area?
Gwenn Mcguire: That’s my favorite topic to discuss, actually. Yeah, and it’s a hot topic as far as diversity in corporate America, especially since the pandemic. And like, what does that mean when we’re defining a truly diverse workforce?
Lee Kantor: Well, I find that an easy way to check is just go on their web page of leaders. If you just look at those little boxes, it tells you pretty clearly who the people are that are making the decisions. It may not be what their customers look like, but it tells you what their leadership looks like.
Gwenn Mcguire: Absolutely. But other things that we gauge as well are most certainly, you know, their leadership and how diverse their leadership is. But like also we gauge like what is their retention rate for marginalized individuals? What are the the ERGs that they have in place? And then most importantly, my favorite is following the money philanthropically. I want to understand what initiatives and initiatives and organizations do these companies fund consistently? Are they funding and supporting companies that are led by diverse founders? A truly diverse workforce is committed to diversity internally and externally.
Lee Kantor: Now. So what of what have you found? What are some of the kind of discoveries you found by checking into that and holding them accountable for those type of activities?
Gwenn Mcguire: Absolutely. So just a little background there. Post George Floyd, Corporate America was in the spotlight regarding rampant systemic racism and toxic practices within the workplace. Right. And I think this caught corporate America off guard as companies then went on to spend $200 billion plus promoting equity and racial diversity. And so this is an example of Americans holding the largest employers and defenders of these practices accountable. However, of these companies, less than 18% publicly committed to internal improvements and even less actually improved. And so what’s been apparent today on our end is that we were given lots of lip service in masterfully crafted statements of support on social media. I think where a lot of people, a lot of companies also get it wrong is that, you know, promoting that one bipoc employee to chief diversity officer, having them lead your first DEI initiative is blatant tokenism. And so that difference between diversity and tokenism, there’s a lack of understanding there. And in this specific example, like it’s lazy and it shows that you don’t understand what true diversity is in your workforce. You have to also have ERGs and support as well as a culture built around marginalized individuals within your company.
Lee Kantor: So how does your firm help? Like say you have that leader that says, You know what, I looked in the mirror and I think we can improve, I want to improve. And then I hear about HB GM And what are some of the conversations you’re having to help that leader improve their organization and maybe take their organization to a new level?
Gwenn Mcguire: Absolutely. This is my favorite topic also. Well, actually, generic co founder, she loves talking on this as well. Retention is is like her department. But before I go into that, I think it’s first important to understand that the retention clock doesn’t begin once the candidate is seated in the role. And so this is where we come in and helping companies to just basically understand what their culture and their systems, what they have in place, how it is either setting up their candidate for success or how it’s hindering them. And so it’s important to understand that retention starts with the company’s digital marketing. Candidates want to see themselves reflected on the social media platforms within the team section of your website and even the stock photos that you use. They want to see themselves in the audience and on the panels of your conferences. Candidates are researching potential employees more than ever before, and they want the slightest. And if they have the slightest feeling that they won’t have a sense of belonging and support, your company can quickly become obsolete in their in their minds. And so also, to be clear, like this advice is to give a company agency to switch up how they market and attract employees, completely bypassing the internal human to human work. That has to happen. Like you can’t bypass that process. And that’s where we come in. We teach retention strategies through the funnel of marketing to leadership promotion. And this takes dedication, it takes open minds and communication, and it also takes a human responsibility to better the environments of those that contribute to your bottom line.
Lee Kantor: So what’s some actionable advice you can give an organization, maybe some low hanging fruit that they could be doing today to really make a difference What’s what some of the baby steps they can be taking?
Gwenn Mcguire: Yeah, I think one is to actually talk with your employees. You know, there are leadership has become so comfortable with, you know, having they become so comfortable with. Kind of standing apart from their employees and not taking the time to actually have a conversation and understanding how their employees are feeling, how they can support them. You know, we haven’t we’re working within a firm pretty soon. And one of their major issues is that their bipoc talent don’t have the support like they’ve been asking for months. You know, I’m looking to to grow within this role. I want to understand the trajectory of this role. But not having that support has really disabled them and has kept them from moving up, you know, up the ranks. And so I think it starts with just that human to human connection. One not. Don’t send out a Google form, you know, to to survey your employees, like literally sit down and have a 1 to 1 conversation with them and show them that you care about their well-being.
Lee Kantor: That you can’t really emphasize enough those open lines of communication, the clarity and the messaging and and the being congruent between what you’re saying and what people are seeing with their eyes. Is that like, walk me through like when you start working with an organization, what are those first conversations look like where you can see, number one, if you’re the right fit and that you can help them achieve the outcomes that they desire.
Gwenn Mcguire: Yeah. So that that looks like we like to speak with leadership first and get their take on how they’re running their department, how they feel that they’re running their department, how they feel that their employees are doing. And then usually the next conversation happens with the employees themselves, and the feedback just doesn’t line up. You know, there is there is a blatant disconnect between what leadership thinks and feels is happening within their departments. And then there’s what the employees are actually feeling and thinking. And so we like to have those those those two different perspectives to then be able to share back anonymously, of course, but also. Providing an action plan of what we can do going forward to strategize and to help the company come out on top.
Lee Kantor: So what separates you from other kind of firms like yours?
Gwenn Mcguire: I’m sorry. Can you ask.
Lee Kantor: What separates you from other firms like yours? What makes your services unique?
Gwenn Mcguire: Yeah, absolutely. During the early stages of founding our company, we’ve taken the time to really poll companies at different stages within their businesses. And we learned that recruitment firms hold very little trust amongst businesses. Some feedback that we received were centered around firms under-delivering or overpromising or prioritizing culture or prioritizing role over culture. I think the feedback also that was just most interesting is, you know, post-pandemic. Many firms jumped on the diversity bandwagon post the pandemic without firm understanding around diversity and tokenism, which I spoke about earlier. Placing diverse hires in spaces that are unsafe or haven’t built culture and ergs to support them for the sake of placing that diverse hire. And so HPG and Co is really intentional about the impact that we make post the placement process, offering our support and building company culture systems and processes and changing leadership management are ways that we ensure retention for our candidates. And this is also how we’re instrumental in transforming corporate spaces for the betterment of future generations. So we work closely with companies to ensure that our candidates land in a safe space to lead.
Lee Kantor: So what is your ideal client look like? What is that? Or are they for Fortune 500? Fortune ten? Like, who are your ideal clients? Who are the ones you want to work with the most?
Gwenn Mcguire: Yeah. So we work with solopreneur hours to fortune companies. Our our services meet companies at every level of growth. And what this means is, for example, we find that our solopreneur that we service are most engaged in our contract service, which provides contract experts for short or long term needs, such as your virtual assistant or your virtual project manager. And then, like our small businesses to enterprise sized companies, they engage in our contract to hire service in our development program, and corporations are most interested in our direct hire service and our 1 to 1 retention strategies.
Lee Kantor: So what do you need more of? How can we help?
Gwenn Mcguire: Absolutely. We invite leadership to the table. We invite leadership to our table. We want to engage with more leaders around the topics that we’ve discussed today. We are deeply committed to transforming companies from the inside out with attraction, development and retention strategies that builds better corporate spaces.
Lee Kantor: Now, what about advice for that employee that’s out there that wants to be found, that wants to that feels they are ready for that next step? What things can they be doing to get on your radar so you find them and then they become a good match in some of the organizations you work with?
Gwenn Mcguire: Absolutely. Reach out to us directly. Like we love having those 1 to 1 conversations with potential women that we add to our roster. We create a very, very safe space for our candidates, even during our interview process. And yeah, we’d love to connect with you 1 to 1. You can find us on social media, HBM Co or take a moment and email us, inquire at HBM COCOM.
Lee Kantor: Is there anything they could be doing to make them a more attractive candidate?
Gwenn Mcguire: Oh, absolutely there is. I think there’s there’s so much in this space now. There’s so much that’s offered to candidates to be able to diversify their resumes and upskill, you know, their resumes as well, such as certifications. Yeah, things of that nature. And I think too, like we just recently had a conversation around patrons, parents, you know, that’s huge in the news right now. And we encourage employees to continue to have the conversation around pay transparency, but also take the conversation a step further. If you realize that upon having these conversations, you realize that one of your colleagues is being paid, let’s say, you know, 3000 more than you in salary, take the opportunity to really have the conversation with them and understand what certifications are, what type of what other attributes do they serve to their role that maybe you’re missing, that maybe you can join in on, so that when it’s time for that, that pay raise or whatever, you’re prepared and you have something to bring to the table to show how impactful you are for the company now and in the future. And so I say that to say, you know, have the conversations with your colleagues inside and outside of your workplace and just better understand how you can upskill.
Lee Kantor: Is there anything a candidate can be doing on LinkedIn that are there’s some things that are must haves that you’re not seeing and things they shouldn’t be doing that are red flags?
Gwenn Mcguire: Red flags. You know, I haven’t seen many red flags lately. It seems to me that candidates are especially more careful, even within their social media space, about what they post, especially when they are eagerly looking for placement, when they’re eagerly looking for that next job. And the job market is is interesting right now. And. Candidates are really clawing for like the next opportunity, I would say, especially for us within our firm, we. We really take the time to dissect a candidate’s resume? We take the time to basically piece together what their skill sets are and what their responsibilities have been within past roles. Because sometimes we find that, let’s say, for instance, a a candidate doesn’t necessarily have the title of executive assistant. However, within the different roles that she’s been employed in, she’s got all of of the expertise. She just lacks the actual title and the title in order to get her paid at market rate or more. And so that’s something that we do within our firm is really dissecting our candidates resumes to put them in in better positions.
Lee Kantor: Now, if somebody wants to learn more again, can you share the website or the socials? The best way to get a hold of you or somebody on your team?
Gwenn Mcguire: Absolutely. Our website is HPG, COCOM, and you’re able to, for our candidates, apply to our roster on the website and for our clients. If you want to hire an executive or inquire about our services, you can do that there as well. Also, our email address is inquire at HPG, BGM COCOM. My personal email address is Gwen g w e rn at code dot com.
Lee Kantor: Well, Gwen, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Gwenn Mcguire: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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