What people get wrong about being a great salesperson?
In this episode of Here to Help, Indeed CEO Chris Hyams speaks to Ruth Leonard, one of the many inspiring leaders at Indeed who leads our sales teams in the UK and Ireland.
Leonard has spent the majority of her career in sales, and it’s something she is highly passionate about. As Senior Director of Sales, Leonard leads an inside sales organization that collaborates with our clients to help them deliver world class recruitment campaigns and optimize their recruitment tactics.
Hyams and Leonard discuss what it’s like to be a woman in sales, how to encourage more women to seek out sales roles, Women’s History Month and the importance of focusing on one’s mental health.
- Hello everyone, I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed. And welcome to the next episode of "Here to Help" at Indeed our mission is to help people get jobs. This is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us going all day. And what powers that mission is our people "Here to Help" is a look at how experience, strength, and hope inspires people to want to help others. March is women's history month and throughout this month, on "Here to Help" we're recognizing and celebrating the vital role of women in history. Last Wednesday, we also marked International Women's Day. International Women's Day began as an offshoot of increased labor unrest in the early 20th century. The first International Women's Day was held on March 19th, 1911, with rallies in Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland, more than a million women and men attended. It wasn't until 1975, when International Women's Day was officially sanctioned by the United Nations, today more than a century later, there's still much work to be done carrying on the movement that started at the turn of the 20th century. My guest today is Ruth Leonard, senior sales director at Indeed for the UK and Ireland. Ruth is joining us from Dublin, Ireland. Ruth, thank you so much for joining me today.
- Thank you for having me, Chris.
- Let's start where we always start with the question of how are you doing right now?
- I like that you ask this question each time, but it's actually pretty challenging question to answer. I have a lot going on at the moment. So I'm really excited to have this opportunity to talk to you, but I feel a real responsibility to do well. I want to be informative. I want to be insightful, and maybe challenge some ideas. And that brings with it a level of anxiety I'm feeling optimistic about COVID, two years through the pandemic and we are starting to come back to some normality. Nolan had his leadership team back over to the Capital Dock offices last week, and it was incredible to see everybody again and you get energized by being together, but also, I don't think any of us can avoid thinking about what's happening in Ukraine, and that utter devastation that is occurring. So a lot going on and I suspect I'm not alone in that. How are you doing?
- I'm doing well. And yes, it's always true that there's a lot going on. And that is, I think a huge part of my experience over the last couple of years, is whatever is going on in the world with family, with community that there are still beautiful and wonderful things happening at the same time. And it's important to figure out how to hold it all in at the same time, because it is easy definitely to feel the weight of all of those things. But thank you for sharing that. Let's start by talking about your role and what it is that you do every day, to help people get jobs.
- So I'm going to be honest with you here. I had a very functional answer for you full of acronyms and abbreviations that didn't say in English, what I did at all. And Aidan McLaughlin, who obviously worked so hard on these sessions, talked to me and said, "How would you talk about this to your niece?" I have a six year old niece Freia. So I would talk to her about the fact that my team and I get to work with businesses or employers, to make it a simple and easy as possible for them to find great people to come join their companies. So whether that's the drivers who bring our favorite products to the shops, or the people who put it on the shelves for us to buy or healthcare workers who look after us when we're not well, or the people in our favorite restaurants, we get to change lives by getting people, the right job, a job they can love, a job they can learn in, grow in, support their families and it's transformational. And it's an absolute privilege to be a part of that work. And I know we talked a little bit last week about how in this company, the luxury privilege of having our sales roles just align with our mission of putting job seekers first, and really changing people's lives. And I'm passionate about that and I know you are as well.
- Yeah. That is a really important and powerful feature of how we work. That in a lot of tech companies, you have something that is designed for a set of users, and then you have a sales team whose job is basically to sell advertising against that. And at Indeed what you and your team are selling is what job seekers are coming to Indeed for anyway, which is helping them discover jobs that are both a good fit for them, but also where there's an employer on the end, who is really interested in trying to hire someone like them. So it does create really a beautiful collaboration between all sides of the business. And so actually want to spend some time talking about sales, you are in sales and have spent a lot of your career there. Let's start by talking about experience and your career to date and how you got here.
- So I love sales. I love being a part of a sales team. Sales it's just about solving problems and you get to be creative, and innovative in how you do that. And you have to build real credible relationships with your clients, with your customers. So they tell you what the real problem is. So you get to the root of that. I didn't set out to get into sales. In fact, a lot of people don't necessarily set out to get into that. My first job after college with Nielsen Media Research set me on this path and I'm so happy it did. Sales isn't for everybody, but that's nothing to do with gender, sales is entirely measurable. You are fully and completely accountable to the business, you know when you're succeeding and when you are not, working as part of a sales team or leading a sales team is challenging. It's competitive, it's fun. And there's absolutely every salesperson will know that feeling of when their team hits a tough number in a tough quarter. And it's an incredible feeling.
- So I think for a lot of people who have not ever had a job in sales, they might have some idea in their mind of what a salesperson is like or what a sales job is like. And to be honest, that's probably true of almost every job. I'd imagine people in sales have an idea of what it's like to be an engineer, that might be also different, but can you talk through some of the misconceptions or ideas that you think other people have about sales, and what it's really like?
- I think this is a great question. I think there's a historical view, a traditional view that sales is a male profession that by its very nature, it's aggressive, you know? We've all heard terminology like the win at all cost, the hard sell. And that leads to sales being seen as a profession that as a woman, you shouldn't necessarily aspire to. Now I always introduce myself as being in sales because I am, and I always have been, and I get surprised or I get people asking, "Do I mean marketing?" And I don't mean marketing and nothing against marketing, great job, but it's not what I do. People believe that you have to be an extrovert that you have to be comfortable being the center of attention to be successful in sales. And it's so entirely not about that. It's about building real credible relationships and trust. And that's what makes a salesperson successful. I do think that some women may not consider sales as an option, because they do see it as a male dominated profession and they can be concerned that it'll be a boys club, and that they have to cover for some of their own perceived inadequacies. And they do doubt their own talents and their experience. And we'll come back to that, but I think imposter syndrome plays a role here. And in brief, that's where you doubt your ability. So despite your proven success, you kind of feel like maybe you got lucky and that you're going to get caught out. And it's something I have 100% experience in my career more than once. And I continue to, you know, when I'm asked to do things that are outside of my comfort zone, like this, this is a conversation I did not expect to be having I'm way out of my comfort zone, but I try to live by what I hear so many people say, and I've said it myself, "That it's only when you're uncomfortable, that you're learning and you're growing."
- Yeah. First of all, I think there's lots of different types of sales people, and I've certainly encountered different types of salespeople, when you go look at a car maybe, and even there's different people who are car salespersons to me the people that I've responded to are what you're talking about. People who are out to try to understand what it is that you really want or what you really need and help you get that. And it is unfortunate that not all of sales looks that way. And sometimes that probably makes your job a little more difficult 'cause people expect when they get a salesperson on the other end of a line, they're going to experience something a little different. And so how you build that trust and that rapport, and that collaboration, has to be a big part of the challenge. And you know, one of the things that we talk a lot at Indeed is about the importance of psychological safety, and about having an equal voice. And that's obviously a big part of, you know, what we're talking about during women's history month, how does that translate into a role in sales? And what does that mean for you and your team?
- This is a huge question. And it's absolutely something that we have to provide, if you go back to what I was talking about a minute ago, so sales is about problem solving and the only way you solve problems by being creative and innovative, bringing new ideas, new solutions, and nobody can argue with the research McKinsey and otherwise, that talks about diverse teams being more creative and innovative. And there's a reason that we link diversity to inclusion and belonging. We don't just talk about diversity because that's only part of the puzzle. It's only part of the solution. And I just want to reference something that Glenda said on her "Here to Help" with LaFawn. That's always stuck with me. And I think this goes back 18 months, maybe two years when they did it. But Glenda said, "When people feel that they are really included that they belong, you give them the confidence to do great work." And I love that who doesn't want to have a team of people who have the confidence to do great work, but the only reason that they have that confidence, if they feel that their views, their opinions, their experiences are valued, and that means they have to have a voice. And that's where we have to create psychological safety. So psychological safety as a leader and as a new leader for me was really hard to build, because it's about being vulnerable, and authentic, and transparent. And it's about being really open about the fact that you don't have all the answers, and that you'll make mistakes, plenty of them. And it's something that you build, you know, it's something that you build over time and you can damage it as well, and you have to then go back and rebuild it. So I have an example of when I didn't do this terribly well. So within the last year, I think 11 months ago, maybe I had a meeting with some of my leadership team and I'd asked them to work on a proposal for me. And when they brought me the proposal, I didn't like it. And I didn't react well in that meeting. And I didn't give credit to the work, to the thoughtfulness, to the genuine attempt to come up with a solution. And I knew I hadn't done well in that meeting. And I had that sick feeling that you get, and I knew I had to address it. And I'm really lucky with my leadership team is that they give me the gift of psychological safety. So I knew that as scary as it was, I could go and I could be authentic and I could owe my mistake. And I did. And honestly, Chris, the feeling of empowerment that I got after I did that, I felt closer to my team. And I think as leaders, we are responsible to be the template, we're responsible to... We need to be the people who say, "I've made a mistake, I own it." And that means other people will then do that. And it's an endless kind of cycle of growing psychological safety.
- Yeah. And that's such a powerful example because it's incredibly counterintuitive, and it goes against, I think what anyone would imagine a leader should be doing, but probably the single most important lesson for me throughout my career has been when I own that I've screwed something up, it has a really profound impact on other people. And it creates an opportunity for them to hopefully be able to do the same. But if nothing else to also see that the person who might be, you know, above them is extremely human. And that is incredibly important to, I think the work that we do. And now one thing that I wanted to get to. So you were talking about the fact that, you know, sales might feel like it's a profession just for men. It's clearly not, but if you look at the numbers, so in the US, for example, women make up well over half of the college educated workforce, but they're less than a third in the business to business sales world, those sales jobs, I'd imagine in AME, the data are similar. And yet there's a huge amount of research that also shows that women salespeople outperform men. And so I guess the one question for you is in your experience, what do you think prevents more women from pursuing a career in sales?
- I think there's a lot of factors. Absolutely, part of it is this outdated view of what it takes to succeed in sales. And that's a barrier to women 'cause they feel that they won't fit in, that they won't succeed. And I really want to challenge that because it's not the case, but I do think we need to talk about things like imposter syndrome. Now imposter syndrome is not something that only women experience absolutely not, but it's definitely something that women experience more or they're certainly more open about discussing it. So again, despite the success that you've achieved, that you don't deserve it. And I think for women in particular, it's an obstacle to both access in certain careers and progression within careers. And it's come up for me many times in my career, I've had it after I've got a promotion, started a new job. I had it when I joined Indeed, I was asked to deliver the Women in Tech Indeed keynote in 2020, for Indeed and sorry, 2019. And I was six months in the job when I was asked to do that and I had massive imposter syndrome, and I went looking for reasons not to do it. So I started having conversations around, perhaps I hadn't been in Indeed long enough, six months when I was asked nine months when I'd do it, that didn't get very far. So then I suggested, you know, maybe somebody more senior than I should do it. Someone who was a VP perhaps, and again, nobody was giving me an out instead I got encouragement, I got support, I got training. And it gave me the confidence to do it. And I'm so glad I did because I learned so much from that experience that I would've missed out on. But if it had been up to me, I would've negotiated myself out of it as quickly as possible. I think if people try to think about at a time that they might have experienced imposter syndrome in their life, if you think about a job interview, and we spent a lot of time in our jobs thinking about job interviews, but think about your own. And it's like, many of us, you sat outside a real or a virtual room, and you started to doubt yourself. You started to second guess whether you should even be going for this role. What's happening is your mind is creating thoughts and these thoughts trigger emotions, and those emotions govern our behavior. So if you're telling yourself that you're underqualified, that other people are better suited to the role, you're not going to do a great job interview. And you're probably not going to get that role. I did exactly that to myself, my very first opportunity for promotion, my very first opportunity to get into management. And I talked myself out of it and I had to do a huge amount of work on myself and my emotional intelligence, to learn to tackle imposter syndrome when it shows up because it keeps showing up. And the real challenge here as well is that was my first opportunity to get into management, that first rung on the management ladder. And we know that for every 100 women that are promoted to that first management position, only 86 women are promoted. And that causes us challenges down the line when we're trying to promote women, into more senior positions. I think the other thing that I have to reference here is perfection. And it's come up in the last two, incredible "Here to Help" that you've done. And if anybody's missed them, they should go back and watch them 'cause they're inspiring. But it came up around this pressure to do things perfectly and that women can focus on perfection as a goal. And it's just an unattainable goal and we just shouldn't do it to ourselves. And the world would be incredibly boring if nobody did anything unless they could do it perfectly. And this conversation won't be perfect. I forget things I really wanted to say. I bet you already have. I stumble over words I have, but that doesn't mean it's not a valuable conversation for us to have. I'm a big fan of Ted Talks. So I watched a Ted Talk and I wrote down the name of it here and it's Perfectionism Holds us Back, and it's by a person called Charlie Haversat, and she talks about being a recovering perfectionist. And I think that's what I may mean for.
- That's fantastic. Well, so let's talk about when you first came to Indeed, in 2019, and at that time you were one of the few women in senior roles in Dublin, and you were also coming in from the outside. So the entire experience was new. Can you talk about what it was like coming into Indeed? And stepping into this role and absorbing everything?
- So before Indeed I'd been almost nine years with a company I loved and I was the go-to person there, you've been there so long you know the people, you know the products, you know the processes, you know the answers to most of the questions. And I had to get comfortable at Indeed with not knowing the answers to the questions. And I found that really hard. 2019 was really hard. I loved so much about Indeed. I was absolutely brought into the mission, the innovation, the creativity, the energy. And I came in and I was 100% all in and I was determined to make an impact and I did, but I made mistakes along the way. And in hindsight, which as we all know gives us 2020 vision, there are things that I simply would not do again. And there are things that I would do again, but I take my time, I'd explain my goals and objectives more clearly. I get people bought in and I assume good intent. It's the only way that I can live, but you have to build trust and establish relationships for that to be there with people. And then frankly, there are things that I would do exactly the same and they may have been unpopular, but they were the right thing to do. And as a new leader, my role was to challenge the status quo. It was to bring in new ideas, new processes, new structures, to add to the culture. And as a female leader, you're not the norm and actions or behaviors that are entirely acceptable, from a male leader are much harder for people to accept with a female leader. As a female leader, you have to navigate through biases that a male leader doesn't even have to consider. And again, with the Ted Talks, I saw a fantastic Ted Talk by a woman called Robin Hauser and it's called The Likability Dilemma for Women Leaders. And she really shares insight on this. And I think everybody should watch it. I think it to be mandatory because it just encapsulates the challenges that female leaders have. And then there's a Sheryl Sandberg quote that have written down that I'd to read you, because I think it's really insightful as well. And she says it better than I could ever hope to. So she says, "Men are supposed to advocate for themselves. They're supposed to be leaders. They're supposed to be demanding. Women are supposed to listen, advocate for others, and be communal."
- Coming from that experience, you join in 2019, and then 2020, the pandemic hits. And we've spent a lot of time over the past two years on "Here to Help" talking about how we responded and how we set out to be "Here to Help," employers and job seekers. Can you talk about the impact on you and your team when the pandemic hit?
- Absolutely. So I distinctly remember March, 2020 when we all went home and I had no idea how I was going to do my job, and I had no idea how my team were going to do their job. And I was incredibly stressed by that to add to what we were all really anxious about with COVID. None of us had any idea where this was going to go, but we knew it was going to be bad. And literally my shoulders were up around my ears. I was so tensed and there was a Q&A that you did with senior leadership. And you talked about the importance of empathy, and you talked about the importance of empathy to our clients. And this was entirely new conversations we were having with clients. We were going from having conversations about how to source great talent, to drive innovation and growth in their companies, to talking to clients about them closing down their businesses and potentially not reopening. And you talked about empathy to our teams and we'd never done this. You know, sales teams had never worked from home. We'd always been in the office, so people didn't have a workspace, good Wi-Fi. And then you finished with talking about empathy to ourselves and honestly, and I've said this before, and it's not just for this conversation here today. You can fact check me if you like, but it was the oh wow moment for me. And it was when my shoulders came away from my ears and I said, "Okay, that's how we're going to get through it." Now that's not to say that we didn't have significant challenges because we did, but the path was laid for us that we were going to approach it with empathy. And I really don't think that the message around empathy had ever been as clear or as distinct as it was then, because it's the only way to lead through the global pandemic. And it's the only way to lead. And I think Indeed embrace the challenges of the pandemic to come out with something really good that we could become. And Bill Richards, who is the MD for UK and Ireland and my boss who I will be eternally grateful, for were giving me the opportunity to come join Indeed. He did a Q&A for the UK and he said something that just resonated with me. And he said, "We're all in this together." And we were isolated at home with our own unique challenges, whether it be childcare, or homeschooling, or as a bad Wi-Fi, bad roommates, or pets, or whatever it was, but we were all experiencing the pandemic together. And that was really important. I'm really proud of the people I get to lead. And we are the very definition of a high performance culture and people at times can focus on the high performance, but it's the culture that creates that. And at the very core, that is empathy, and the understanding that we're all so much more than our roles and our responsibilities, our titles, that we have challenges, which will be different from each of us. And to be honest, in the past, I could have been a bit of a game face leader. You know, you go into work and you might put that professional mask on, and you bring your personality, but not all of it. And during the pandemic, when we were in each other's homes, meeting each other's children, or nephew and nieces, or parents or roommates, you had to bring your whole self, you had to be fully authentic. And I actually found it liberating as a leader and transformative for me. And I think transformative to many people. And that message has remained consistent almost two and a half years now with COVID. And I think that's what real empathy is treating each other with care and kindness. And that's a rule.
- Beautiful. Thank you. So, along those lines, you have been responsible for a number of initiatives at Indeed, focused on women, in sales, and mental health. Can you talk about why that's so important to you?
- Yes. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about these. So I have niece Freia, who already mentioned who is nearly six and an nephew, Freddy, who is almost 11 and I adore them. And anybody I work with will tell you, I talk a lot about them and spend as much time possible as I can with them. And what I want for them is really simple. I want them to be happy and healthy, and safe, but I also want them to have an equal chance of success and to have equal opportunities in their lives. And the reality right now is that Freia, will have her choices more limited than Freddy, and I actually can't bear that. I can't bear the thought of that for Freia, or for all of the other little Freia's who are out there. And when I joined Indeed, it felt like for the first time in my life, in my career, I was somewhere could actually make an impact. I could change that. And there was a consensus within the UK. There was a consensus within the sales org that we needed to do something with the lack of gender diversity. We were 75% of our ICs were male and 80% of our directors were male, and people acknowledged that it just wasn't good enough. So Bill who I mentioned led a diversity inclusion and belonging project, that I had the privilege to be involved in. And it was really simple. It was focused on how do we let women know that Indeed, but specifically sales at indeed is somewhere that they will thrive, somewhere that we need their skills and experiences. And how do we create that messaging? And then we needed to make sure that that was a reality. We needed to make sure that those women who were believing us were coming into an environment, where that was true. So we focused on training people on psychological safety, diversity, inclusion, and belonging training. And then we needed to make sure we weren't just bringing women in. We weren't just keeping them, but we were developing them. So looking at transparent promotional processes, looking at coaching for women, mentoring for women, to make sure we are giving women that extra support that they need when they do come into more male dominated environments. I'm passionate about supporting my team. I'm 100% all in, and it was really hard during COVID. And if you think Chris, about any sales floor you've ever been on at Indeed, there's a buzz. There's an energy, there's electricity, because there's a community of people in this together. And then suddenly that was gone. We were all at home and we were isolated sitting on Zoom without that energy around us to sustain us. And by September, 2020, you know, we'd been home six months at that stage. And I think the reality for most of us was really hitting that this wasn't going away. We were in this for the long haul now, and I felt a responsibility as a leader to show up to every meeting with my camera on, and to be full of any and to motivate people. And lots of times I wasn't feeling like that. I was feeling isolated, I was feeling lonely. And I knew if I was feeling like that, that lots of other people were feeling that. And I just felt that coming into the winter of 2020, was going to be the most difficult phase of COVID up and to that point. And I'm very light driven. I hate the dark mornings, I hate the dark evenings. And I knew that this was going to be really hard for all of us to get through this together. And Paul Wolf, who was so incredibly open around his experiences with mental health, had described us as complex, fragile beings. And just the environment was created to be really honest about how we were feeling. And so within my org, we created our mental health squad and our entire focus was that is on how we connect with each other, support each other, and care for each other. And we live by the mantra that challenges with your mental health do not define you. We do lots of great things that I could spend hours talking to you about, but I can't. So I'll talked about Wellness Wednesday. So that's the first hour of every Wednesday, where people get to do something that's just going to be good for them. That can be a run, a walk, a swim, for me it will be yoga. It could be reading a book. It could be spending time with your kids, it doesn't matter. It's something that's going to make you feel better and better able to face the day. And we have our own variation on the Indeed mission. And ours is helping the people who help people find jobs.
- Yeah, that's incredibly powerful. And so clearly coming through the pandemic, there have been certainly a number of changes at Indeed, but probably everywhere. And I guess one question is, do you think that the changing environment and particular what the impact is on sales, does that in any way, favor women.
- I've thought so much about this question and I so want to say, yes, but it has to be a qualified yes. Because unless we're entirely intentional as business, as individuals, as governments, we're not going to actualize any benefit from COVID and from the pandemic and the changing sales environment. And we've all heard that COVID, and throughout the pandemic, it's had a negative impact of women at work, more women stepping back entirely, or stepping back from senior roles. And that's because childcare or general caregiving responsibilities disproportionately remain with women. And until we have the quality outside of work, until we have a quality at home, we can't have a quality in the workplace. So we need more men to take parental leave and paternity leave. And I have role models in my org who are doing that, but we need more. The hybrid or fully flex work environment we're moving into, I think that can create opportunities, but I think it can disadvantage women as well on their ability to network, on their ability to be visible. And that is more important than I ever knew. And women have indeed during COVID ran an incredible session and it was on the three things that impact your career progression and it was performance. So how you do your job and it was brand. So what are the words people would say about you if they hear your name? And it was about visibility or exposure. So who knows the work you're doing and the impact that it's having? And then out of 100%, they put a percent against each of these. And I was frankly, just completely shocked because according to this session, your career progression depends on your performance to 10%, on your brand to 30%, and on your exposure or visibility 60%. And I had never realized that I genuinely was one of those people who thought that if you did a great job, then opportunities would make their way to you. And it's just not the case. So women need mentors, absolutely. But they need allies and they need sponsors. And again, another Ted Talk that I listened to by somebody called Carla Harris, and it was titled How to Find the Person to Get you Ahead at Work. And she talks about how the biggest decisions about your career are made when you're not in the room. And I just think that that is hugely impactful. And I think people need to understand that.
- So for organizations like Indeed or our customers, or any out there that is interested in attracting more women into sales, what are some of the things that we could all be doing?
- So I'm going to start here maybe a little differently than people might expect me to answer this. And I'm a huge fan of Michelle King, and she's a thought leader in diversity, inclusion, belonging, and author of "The Fix." And I saw her do an incredible Harvard Business Review webinar, where she talked about how to address gender inequality in your workplace. And in that she talked about the systemic barriers that are foundational to and fundamental to, how our workplaces have traditionally been created. And that the systems and organizations that have been designed have been designed with a very traditional view of what a leader looked like. So very much built on a white male prototype characteristic, such as, you know, assertiveness, aggressiveness, willing to be 100% dedicated to work and that prototype and the systems, and the processes that support that just don't serve us well now or into the future. When you and I have spent much of the last 35 minutes talking about diversity, driving innovation and creativity, and that template doesn't suit men or women. There are many men who don't fit that prototype based on race, don't fit that prototype based on characteristics. So we need to move away from that. And the good work that companies do around this is on policies and processes. So things like pay transparency, things about trying to close the gender pay gap, which is vital because that's now gone to 136 years, from 95 years. So 136 years before men and women doing the same job will be paid the same amount of money. So businesses focus on that and they should, and individuals focus on that and they should, and training and diverse inclusion and belonging, and bias. But she makes a point that despite doing all of that bias can continue to exist, and it exists in the practices and the personal beliefs and that sustains inequality. And what do I mean about that? So I'll give you an example. I'd be surprised if none of you have ever heard a woman described as bossy in a work environment. If you've never heard of a female leader described as bossy, but I'd be very surprised if any of you have heard a male leader described in that way. And I have an example of a manager prior to Indeed that I worked with, and I did a job interview with them and they walked out of the job interview and they looked at me and they said, "I couldn't hire that individual. I couldn't manage them, they're older than me." And I think we all have heard somebody turn around to us and say, "I couldn't hire, or I couldn't manage that person because they are other to me they're not the mirror of me. So they're not the same race. They're not the same gender. They're not the same socioeconomic class." And that's just, frankly, not good enough. So we need to educate on practices and personal beliefs, and we need to call out when that behavior is present and just make it unacceptable. So yes, we need mentorship. Yes, we need coaching, but that's where we can make a real impact.
- You talked about your niece Freia. And I think about my daughters who are 24 and 26, and they're of a different generation, just in their early careers right now, obviously, the environment is changing, but what do you think some of the biggest challenges that will face the women in the next generation of the workforce?
- I think there's lots. I think for me, the overarching one though, that if we don't address none of the other challenges get solved. So for me, it's any sort of sense or belief that we're done that because we have some high profile women in roles, in government or in the EU, or in business, that we've achieved equality. Because until we stop talking about individuals until it's not noteworthy for a woman to be in a role, until we can stop talking about female entrepreneurs and female leaders, then we're a long, long way from equality and there's incredible conversations happening. But those conversations have to turn into tangible actions and concrete plans to keep moving forward into equality.
- We've obviously over the past couple of years, been through some significant challenges. And this is, I think true of everyone regardless of whether or not they're in leadership. But one of the things, hopefully when we face challenges, is that it helps expose something to us about ourselves that we might not have seen before. What are some of the things that you've learned about yourself over the last few years?
- The last few years have been really hard. I consider myself incredibly privileged to work at Indeed, where I was able to do my job from home, and where the health and safety of all of us was put as an absolute priority. But that doesn't mean it still, wasn't hard. You know, we all lost things over the last two years. You know, some of us lost low funds. You know, we know people who lost jobs or who lost businesses. We lost opportunities to connect, the events that get us together, the birthday celebrations, the weddings, the anniversaries, we lost the ability to travel, and on Deepak Sharma "Here to Help" with you. She said something that I needed to hear at the time that she said it, and she said, "Life can be simple and still be beautiful." And I loved that because what it made me do was stop looking at the things I didn't have, and look at the things that are important to me and that I did have. And the things that are important to me are the things that are important to most people, which are family, our friends. And I want to take that with me as we come out of the pandemic. I want to remember that life can be simple and still be beautiful because I think looking back, there was an element of us all been on a treadmill. There was an element of us all being incredibly busy, doing things all the time, but maybe things that didn't bring us huge amounts of joy. And I want to just try to look at things that bring me joy and bring those back into my life, but not just start back into patterns of behavior because they were what I used to do. And I think we have time here and I'm hoping we do. 'Cause I think this is a great question. And I'd love to ask you the same question, Chris, what have you learned about yourself, as you faced the challenges of the past few years?
- Well, you know, it's interesting. I think for me, what we went through as a business, obviously, the entire world was impacted profoundly when COVID hit. I'm someone who worries constantly, especially when things are going well, 'cause I'm sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. And so I'm like, I'm always thinking about what might be around that next corner. I think that I had probably just assumed that if things actually got really, really tough, that it would be much more difficult. And ironically, I've talked about this before. The hardest time in my entire professional career was January and February of 2020. So before we made the decision to send people home, when we were watching COVID unfold around the world and we were seeing our different offices around the world with people potentially getting exposed, and having the weight of the health and safety of 10,000 people on my shoulders, which I'd never had before in the line of work that we're in. As soon as we made the decision that everyone was going to work from home, I felt a relief that I've never felt at work before. 'Cause then we could just focus on, well, how do we take care of people? How do we take care of people looking for jobs? How do we take care of the employers of ours, who weren't hiring anymore? The ones who suddenly needed to hire more, but that I actually found it incredibly natural to be in a position of just practicing empathy, and trying to be open and thinking about other people. It actually as difficult as what was going on in the world outside my job felt really, for the first time, like I woke up every morning and I felt like I knew what I needed to be doing. And that was a real surprise to me. And as the world has gotten better now I'm looking around those corners, and work a little bit more, but that was a really interesting insight. And it certainly, you know, hopefully it will help in the future as other challenges come up to know that it is possible primarily, by thinking about other people to actually, to feel comfortable in showing up every day in that role. So thank you for asking that question as we are unfortunately out of time, we could keep talking here for a long time. I'll ask the final question that I always ask here, which is that given all of the challenges and all of the difficult things that we've all been through. What, if anything, over the last couple years that you've experienced has left you optimistic for the future?
- Yeah. I'm naturally optimistic. I think many people in sales have to be, we get an awful lot of no's in our jobs, but it's really hard right now, given the current situation in Ukraine, and the devastation that's happening there and the mass migration of people to escape utter horror. But I do look at how we navigated through COVID. I do look at how we came together to support each other as a community. And that makes me optimistic because by large, most of us wore our masks, stayed home, socially isolated from each other because by doing that, we were keeping each other safe. And we're seeing the same sort of outpouring of support now with people sending money, with people opening up their homes to support, the people in Ukraine. So I am optimistic. I think it's hard. I'm proud of what Indeed is doing in practical terms and making a stand here as well. But yeah, I have to be optimistic. It's the only way I can get through life.
- Well, Ruth, thank you so much for joining me today. And especially through whatever nerves there might have been. None of them were apparent to, I think certainly myself or anyone else who was listening. It was such a joy to talk to you and thank you for joining, but really thank you for everything you do every day to help people get jobs.
- Thank you so much.
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