Changing Culture in Business: Moving From “I Know A Guy” to “I Know A Gal”

This company wants to make the executive ranks more diverse -- and allow you to monetize your network in the process.

Manon DeFelice

“I know a guy.”

We’ve all heard that line before, whether it’s to find a plumber or a table at a cool restaurant. But it’s also the same phrase used to fill way too many seats at the C-suite table.

It’s no secret that the corporate world desperately lacks women in leadership roles. In 2018, a meager 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs. And the news is much worse for women of color: Of the 22 female CEOs in the Fortune 500, not one of them is black.

How can we bring more women and diversity to leadership positions? It’s a million-dollar question, and a lot of companies are talking the talk, hosting D&I (diversity and inclusion) trainings that make them look like they’re addressing the issue. But they’re not always walking the walk. The “I know a guy” boys’ club culture is as pervasive as ever. ‘

I started my company, the executive-search tech startup Inkwell, to help solve the diversity problem at the senior level with jobs that make flexibility a part of the compensation package. Now, we’ve launched something to take our unique approach one step further: our groundbreaking bounty referral program.

We are bypassing the traditional recruiter’s rolodex (which is often largely white, male, and homogeneous) and making everyone a recruiter.

We debuted the program this spring, and it gives our community of diverse, high-level talent a chance to help each other by referring colleagues for open roles. We are bypassing the traditional recruiter’s rolodex (which is often largely white, male, and homogeneous) and making everyone a recruiter.

To put it simply, we all know a gal, and that gal knows lots of gals and guys from different communities. Top diverse candidates know other top diverse candidates, letting us tap into a rich source of exceptional talent.

Here is the revolutionary part: We are inviting highly accomplished women to tap into and monetize their networks. Our referral program offers a bounty, rewarding our community by compensating them (up to $10,000!) for each successful hire made from their referrals. On the flip side, they can also refer roles into the community and earn a bounty for that. It works both ways.

It’s a powerful model of women helping women, with the added incentive of getting paid for supporting each other and bringing more women and diversity to leadership positions. We want to disrupt the outdated model and break free from the tired old rolodexes that don’t work anymore. If this sounds exciting to you too, then join us!

Flexibility & the Future of Work

Obtaining quality referrals from a community of diverse, high-level talent is key to bringing more women and diversity into leadership roles. But the story doesn’t end there. The workplace in its current structure isn’t working for women. We need more flexible work arrangements to attract the best women to leadership roles.

The future of work is flexible, and a new wave of highly accomplished, rock-star women want to work flex so they can make their lives work. I’m talking about full, rich lives with children and family, and I’m talking about women who don’t want to make sacrifices in this arena. Whether it’s working from home two days a week or taking Fridays off, there is a solution out there for better work-life integration.

For women who want to work flexibly, this is a Rosie the Riveter moment. With unemployment at record low levels, the time is now to ask for flexible roles at the senior level. Flexibility is cash: It’s the new form of additional compensation. Some of the most talented people in business will only work flex.

Let’s break free from the old models that perpetuate the status quo, and instead champion our diverse networks and workplace flexibility.

And consider this: Having more diversity and flexibility at work makes companies not only happier but also more profitable. It’s a fact that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to have financial returns above industry medians, and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to have greater financial returns.

The benefits are too good to pass up and there is simply too much at stake, especially for women. Let’s break free from the old models that perpetuate the status quo, and instead champion our diverse networks and workplace flexibility.

If you’ve had enough of the “I know a guy” culture, It takes just two minutes to apply to the Inkwell referral program and help us build the workplace and workforce of the future. This is the way to change the face of leadership, break free of the boys’ clubs, and shatter the glass ceiling once and for all. The revolution begins now. We can do it and we know a gal!

Manon DeFelice is an attorney, entrepreneur, mother of three, agent of change—and the founder and CEO of Inkwell, an executive-search tech startup.


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