The Recruiter On a Mission to Increase Female Representation at Board Level, with Venesa Klein, Ep #62

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Why do companies struggle to hire female executives? How can we, as recruiting professionals, help our clients to address the gender-gap particularly in C-suite level searches? What steps can be taken toward a long-term solution?

By sharing her own experience, my special guest Venesa Klein gives her take on how businesses and organizations can make a meaningful, long-term impact on the gender-gap at executive levels. Venesa is a partner at Calibre One, a leading executive search boutique with offices in San Francisco, London, New York, and Singapore. Based in LA, Venesa manages the Women Board Member Recruiting as well as Diversity Recruiting specializing in VP and C-level searches for consumer internet, e-commerce, CPG and category-defining tech companies.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:48] Why do companies struggle to hire female executives?
  • [5:38] What is the long-term solution to close the gender gap into recruiting C-suite levels?
  • [10:08] Are your clients serious about addressing the gender gap in your organization or just playing lip service? Venesa shared the signs to distinguish which is which.
  • [21:00] Venesa shares her own experience in balancing motherhood with work during the pandemic.
  • [30:34] Critical roles husbands play for their working partners.
  • [34:00] How boundaries and flexibility in schedule contribute to actively working mothers.
  • [38:00] What could companies do to get an edge in attracting women top talents?
  • [42:50] Venesa shares her experience in helping out build Google’s internal executive search function.
  • [49:59] Hear our discussion on effective tools and recruitment technology.

Addressing the Gender Gap: Small Steps for a Long-Term Strategy

As businesses and companies focus on gender diversity, it can be a challenge to close the gender gap. The reason? Venesa said, “That is the important question, what is the strategy? What is the long game? I think that’s the piece that companies are missing, is it’s very reactionary to pressure from aboard, you know social media pressure...We need to think much bigger than that.”

Although it can be difficult, Venesa laid out a few solutions as a starting point to address the challenge of closing the gender gap, especially in C-suite levels by creating pathways for women to progress within their respective organizations. Some of the pointers are as follows:

  • Recruiting women early and often into entry-level roles and defining career paths for them.
  • Providing mentorship opportunities.
  • Moving them through the organization in a thoughtful and structured way.

Venesa also added, “You have to have a strong HR function that is thinking this through with you.”

A Roller-Coaster Ride

One of the life-changing events that Venesa shared is her “jolting experience” of motherhood and how she was able to balance it with work. While everybody has a different experience, becoming a mom (especially during the pandemic) was a wake-up call for Venesa. This is how she describes it, “I know that when I became a mom, it had felt like it wasn’t talked about. I don’t know whether because I didn’t have children or I wasn’t just tuned in to the conversation or that the conversations just weren’t happening.”

Some of the challenges she relayed, on which some of our listeners may be able to strongly relate to are:

  • From work being the priority and the ability to work all hours to having finite stop-start working hours and feeling exhausted.
  • The challenge of focusing at work with so little sleep like it was survival mode.
  • The challenge of spending as much time with children as possible while being an effective business partner.

Have you had the same struggles when juggling work with motherhood?

Business Best Practices to Attain Female Top Talent

What can give a business an edge in terms of employing female top talents? Based on Venesa’s experience, it really is important for a business to take care not only of their female employees but also their employees’ relationships with their children. Some of the best practices mentioned would be offering reimbursement for childcare or offering childcare onsite. Also, measuring success and accomplishment based on outcome rather than time spent is a significant factor to offer them flexibility.

Venesa Klein Bio and Contact Info

Venesa Klein is an executive talent recruiter and Partner at Calibre One, a leading transatlantic executive search boutique. Since 2007, Venesa has helped some of the world's most successful companies build out the critical leadership teams that drive their success. Her robust network of C-Suite and VP-level executives make her a highly sought-after full-cycle recruiter across a portfolio of consumer internet, eCommerce, CPG, and category-defining technology companies.

As a Partner at Calibre One, Venesa founded its Purpose-Driven Practice, which focuses on placing executives in growing organizations seeking to create innovation with meaningful impact. Her empathy-forward personality along with her strategic thinking has enabled her to work with Google, Thinx, Rev.com, Mixbook, among others, to identify and recruit essential leaders in operations, marketing, and human resources. Before joining Calibre One, Venesa was the Senior Recruiter at MarketTools a 500 person enterprise technology and services company where she was responsible for the recruiting function internationally. She was also a consultant at Google where she was responsible for building out their internal executive search function and was The Consumer Practice Leader at The Pacific Firm.

Outside of work, Venesa is actively involved in various roles within a number of animal welfare, environmental, and educational charities. Her commitment to philanthropy and her two young children keep her quite busy. She splits her time between Northern and Southern California.

People and Resources Mentioned

  • “So you want to hire a woman onto your C-Suite? Here’s why you won’t get one..” article link
  • Helen McGuire on LinkedIn
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