At Chicago-based Hireology, Julie Rodgers and Lindsey Branding easily rattle off stats about the state of talent. In particular, they cite a Hewlett-Packard study, which found that women applied for jobs only when they felt they met 100 percent of the qualifications; men applied when they thought they met about 60 percent.
Rodgers, chief operating officer, and Branding, controller, bring a keen awareness to the challenge.
"We’re cognizant of that as we’re reviewing resumes in our applicant pool,” Rodgers said. “OK, they haven’t done the exact job before, but let’s get them on the phone. Were they in a role where their performance was measured? Were they doing something comparable to what they might do with us?'”
This could have an impact, as the company plans to add around 30 to 50 people in about a year and will grow close to 100 percent from a revenue base.
We recently met with Rodgers and Branding to discuss how they empower employees to understand that, at Hireology, everyone who does great work is eligible for promotion.
HIREOLOGY AT A GLANCE
YEAR FOUNDED: 2010
EMPLOYEES: 100 in Chicago; 30 remote in multiple locations across the U.S.
THE COMPANY: Hireology, a hiring and talent management platform, helps companies address their human capital needs, from sourcing candidates to automating onboarding to managing payroll and more.
NOW HIRING: Pros in sales, customer success, project/program management, engineers, product.
NOTABLE PERKS: Unlimited LaCroix, unlimited PTO.
FIVE CORE VALUES: Pathological optimism, own the result, eager to improve, create “WOW” moments, no assholes.
Describe your role — what’s a typical day-to-day?
Lindsey Branding, controller: I am Hireology's controller, which in simple terms means that I help oversee our daily accounting and finance activities. The cool thing is that no two days are the same. I’m involved in preparing financial statements, accounts receivable, tax compliance, audit — things like that. On the finance side, I help budget and do forecasting.
Julie Rodgers, chief operating officer: I run the majority of operations. We are a metrics-driven business, so we continually monitor our activity and results. At the beginning of the week, I look at what we did the week before to see how to improve or capitalize on successes. I am also involved in pitches and customer conversations, and I work with our CFO.
For leaders who want to build a tech company where women flourish, what are important practices for the promotion and retention of women?
Rodgers: There are the obvious ones, of course. We have great maternity and paternity leave policies. But I think the language you use is also very important. In certain environments, there’s a bro culture. And there are a lot of masculine metaphors: “Are we gonna play ball?” Or “run that play.” It’s mostly innocent, but it can lead to an exclusionary environment.
In fact, we chose to name our weekly business review, “MADRE.” It’s an acronym for “marketing, acquisition, deployment, run.” But it’s also a choice to use language deliberately.
Branding: When it comes to the retention and promotion of women, I think the biggest thing is to treat women well and support them. We focus on providing opportunities for growth, continued education, being transparent about promotions and making anyone — male or female — believe that they’re eligible for promotion if they’re doing good work.
How do you incorporate these ideas into your approach to hiring?
Rodgers: When we hire people, we don’t require that applicants have done the exact same job before. We know from research that a lot of women will not apply unless they’ve done 100 percent of the job at some point in their career. Men will apply when they’ve done around 60 percent.
We’re cognizant of that as we’re reviewing resumes in our applicant pool: “OK, they haven’t done the exact job before, but let’s get them on the phone. Were they in a role where their performance was measured? Were they doing something comparable to what they might do with us?”
How do you then coach women to help them advance?
Rodgers: I believe it’s important to acknowledge that women can have a tough time in the workforce. For example, during business meetings, I hear a lot of women saying: “I’m sorry.” So I meet with them. I say, “OK, we don’t do ‘I’m sorry.’ We do ‘thank you.’” Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I know it’s late,” I coach them to say, “Thanks for being patient.”
If we create a culture of respect and hire people who embody our values, in addition to offering the supportive HR policies we discussed, we can ensure women that they will be able to grow and succeed here.
Your five core values are emblazoned on the wall. Tell us how they show up in the day-to-day.
Rodgers: We hire, fire, and review by our values. At all times, everyone has to be meeting or exceeding the belief statements that go along with the values. It doesn’t come off cheesy. So you never hear Lindsey say, “Did you own the result?” It’s more organic. And “pathological optimism” doesn't mean blissful ignorance. It means we’re willing to say: “OK, we messed up, and we’re going to mess up. What can we do to make it better?” We can admit mistakes and fix them. It’s a common thread in how we solve problems.
You mentioned transparency. Give me a few examples of how transparency shows up.
Branding: Hireology is transparent across the board. Julie will tell you we’re transparent about metrics. And managers are transparent about performance. I meet with my manager every week, one on one. I meet with my team every week. It’s important to keep the dialogue open and praise good work.
Rodgers: As far as transparency in our metrics, we have a Tuesday huddle where we talk about what we did last week, literally down to the dollars and cents from a revenue, churn and forecasting perspective. We telegraph where we’re going. We say, “This is what the next quarter’s going to look like.” At the beginning of every year, we say, “This is what the next year’s going to look like, and here are the roles we’re hiring for.”
With that being the case, what kind of career growth can people expect here?
Rodgers: We open roles internally first, and then externally. When we do open a position, I’ll reach out to people internally and say, “I think you’d be great for this role. Have you thought about it?”
Branding: That’s really important. I’ve been at companies that tended to go external, which means they were ignoring a great pool of candidates right in front of them — people who have industry and company knowledge, and could kick butt in the role.
When interviewing, what is the must-have trait for Hireology candidates?
Branding: For me, it’s culture fit. We want people who believe in our core values and are excited to help us grow the business.
Rodgers: Another quality we look for is curiosity. The only way we succeed at a 130-person company, growing 100 percent year-over-year, is if we’re all curious. I don’t care if something is not in your job description. Be curious about what that next thing is. Ask questions.
Branding: The fact that Adam [Robinson, CEO] still takes time out of his schedule to talk to each potential new hire is amazing. He typically gives people 30 minutes before we make an offer. He talks about our core values and checks in: “How do these values resonate with you?”
What do you want new people to know about the leadership here?
Rodgers: That their interactions with leaders are going to be real. Whether I’m talking with sales reps or board members, I’m having transparent conversations: “What are our challenges? What do we need to do better? What do we need to do more or less of?”
Branding: People should know that leadership will support them. What’s really cool is that we have an open-door policy. I can swing by Julie’s office any time I want — or my boss’s office. Any time you need to talk about anything, the leaders are there for you.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.