Going. Ahead. With Gage: Interview with Madison Butler, The Blue Haired Recruiter

“If companies were as committed to being good to people as they are to metrics, we would live in a very different world.” @madisonameliab #leadership

Are you ready for the first #GAWG of 2020?! We were introduced via email, started engaging on LinkedIn, and now I think I found a new bestie! My interviewee is Madison Butler, The Blue Haired Recruiter — she’s currently the Senior Talent Engagement Partner at EverlyWell, a fairy job mother, an outspoken diversity and inclusion advocate, a culture queen, and an overall awesome person that you should follow — enjoy the read!

You’re a mega diversity advocate in life and all over social media — why do you think companies are still struggling to make a diverse workforce?

I think the biggest issue is inertia. Humans fear change, it’s part of our nature. Change takes hard conversations and sometimes its hard to take the leap into having them. The hard conversations will make people uncomfortable so they would instead prefer to shy away.

What are 3 things companies need to focus on this year to move the needle in diversity and inclusion?

  • Attrition metrics matter more than entrance metrics.
  • Make sure people have a seat at the table and a voice.
  • Look around that same table and ask who isn’t there.

So many companies are so focused on metrics, when metrics are feel good statistics. The metrics aren’t important if you aren’t making people feel valued and included. Metrics appease the board. If companies were as committed to being good to people as they are to metrics, we would live in a very different world. 

“#Culture fit is code for fitting into a mold. True #diversity has no mold.” @madisonameliab #leadership #inclusion

I love that you say the words “culture fit” is a lie — can you share the reasoning behind it?

Too often culture fit is used to play down inherent biases. People use the term when a candidate is too old, too black, too queer. Culture fit is code for fitting into a mold. True diversity has no mold. You can’t always hire people you LIKE- you don’t need to want to get beer with everyone you hire. It is healthy and normal to bring on people who are completely opposite, who are different. True diversity means all backgrounds, all experiences. There are no culture fits, only culture adds. 

You’re speaking at the Culturati Summit later this month (congratulations!) — can you give us a snippet of what you’re going to cover and it’s importance?

I will be speaking on BIPOC panel! We will be talking about to best navigate the world and work while being a person of color but how all people have different experiences. My experience will be different from someone who is latinx, and different from someone who is queer and indigenous. I will focus on how to own being yourself at work in order to better at work. 

What’s your secret passion?

Secret passion? Writing and reading. I was an English major in college and have committed to writing a book at least once in my life. I also have A LOT of rescue dogs. 

“The right people will encourage you to be exactly who you are and call you out when you are putting the mask back on to assimilate.” @madisonameliab #leadership #inclusion

What’s something you’ve learned in your career that you’ve held on to inspire you to keep pushing forward?

Not everyone should like me. Entering the workforce, I wanted everyone to like me. I’ve since realized standing by my values and being unapologetic will mean that not everyone likes me- or even tolerates me. I’ve also learned that those are not my people. The right people will appreciate me for everything I am- black, queer, loud, blue hair- they will love all of those things. The right people will encourage you to be exactly who you are and call you out when you are putting the mask back on to assimilate. 

How do you encourage candidates to keep pushing forward when they feel like they aren’t getting anywhere?

Everything in life takes time. Most things do not move at the speed we want it to move. The biggest motivator I can give them is just being there for them when they need an ear, or advice. I try my best to network my candidates when they aren’t a fit for my roles. I’m in talent because I love to see people in roles they are in love with, even when those roles aren’t with me. I want to be able to be a resource and a support center. A lot of people in my field get a bad rep for not caring, but we’re not all bad- a lot of us really do care.

“TAKE UP SPACE and if they won’t let you take up space, create it.” @madisonameliab #beyourself #leadership

What advice do you have for young women who are early in their careers and trying to work their way up?

TAKE UP SPACE and if they won’t let you take up space, create it. The right company won’t be put off by you, the real you. Don’t tone it down, don’t smile more. Be exactly who you are and remember you aren’t intimidating, they’re intimidated.

“Go to the places that want change.” @madisonameliab #leadership #culture #inclusion

What is one of the most difficult decisions you’ve made in your career and what did you learn from it?

Leaving a company I genuinely enjoyed working at because they kept wanting to silence the hard conversations. I’ve got to go to the places that want this change. I refuse to work at another company that wants quiet, complicit diversity willing to assimilate into a white washed culture. Leaving was self care, and I will never stay at another company where my voice isn’t valued.

I love book recommendations to help me grow in my career and challenge my thinking – What books would you recommend as a must-read for career growth and/or just fictional fun?

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next #GAWG!

— Gage Grammer

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