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Uncovering Talent

A Conversation with Miquel McMoore

Miquel McMoore is the Founder and Managing Director of kpCompanies. Her business helps small, mid-size, to large multinational companies find the right executive talent for their culture. Chanda connected with Miquel to discuss job market trends, the complexities of DEI work, and the importance of relationship building.

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Chanda Smith Baker  00:00

This is Chanda Smith Baker and I am pleased to be back with you with another Conversation with Chanda. Today’s conversation is with Miquel Purvis McMoore. Miquel is an entrepreneur she has had a business for over 20 years called KP companies and executive recruitment firm. She has supported many people getting in and through jobs, worked with many companies in their efforts to diversify, and to hire talent across the board. This conversation spans her role as an entrepreneur, we discuss all things and recruitment and trends that are happening in the hiring space. I thought it would be a great conversation to have as we know, there are lots of people moving roles. There’s lots of conversations about how people can think differently about the roles that they are in. And so I hope this conversation is helpful and insightful, as we think about DEI diversifying our workspaces. And as we might be thinking about our own careers, so please enjoy this conversation.

Souphak Kienitz  01:07

You’re listening to conversations with Chanda a Minneapolis Foundation podcast that unpacks the community’s grittiest most vexing problems, hosted by Chanda Smith Baker.

Chanda Smith Baker  01:17

Yeah, Miquel McMoore welcome to Conversations with Chanda.

Miquel McMoore  01:21

Thank you Chanda Smith Baker. I can’t wait for this conversation with you on your podcast nonetheless. Look, I’m gonna have to tell you can I can I just go ahead and bring the energy you do not know how excited I am to be on your podcast. It looks like I feel like I have a raw I’ve arrived. I have arrived to be on the podcast with Chanda Baker Smith on conversations with Chanda. Okay. Baker, I swear to god, yes. Chanda Smith Baker. I know but I’ve known you forever. So I gotta I gotta be able to do that from time to time.

Chanda Smith Baker  01:58

I know if I call you you know Miquel Purvis just know. Yeah, okay. Fair. Okay. Yeah, man. So we have known each other for a long time elementary school, maybe?

Miquel McMoore  02:09

Yeah. Yeah. Church, Charlie community running around Zion.

Chanda Smith Baker  02:14

Isn’t it funny. I mean, a lot of times and I’ve talked to a number of people recently that are transplants to our state. Someone recently said like, it’s nice to be able to go somewhere else and sort of grow into who you are versus like this evolving in front of people that you’ve already and always known. Have you ever felt like being from the place and growing into your full self has ever been a hindrance?

Miquel McMoore  02:40

Good question. I don’t know about a hinderance you know, there’s a thing about, you know, the more you know, somebody, the less you like I forget what that saying is familiarity breeds contempt. At times, I think that might be true because people know you as one way. And they don’t know you as another after you have evolved, right? And after you have grown. And so if you’ve known somebody from childhood, and you haven’t been there to witness the evolution, and the growth throughout the school of hard knocks and all that kind of stuff, sometimes it could be a hinderance just based on all of that stuff. But Minnesota is one of those places, at least, I think. And I’ve heard to the contrary, that people are really accepting, right? You and I both hear this all the time, especially from people of color coming in, that were cliquey that we’re not accepting. And so it’s just where do you get plugged in? Right? Because we’ve got a lot of new people. And maybe that’s just because of me and the nature of what I do for a living, and the types of people that I meet on a regular basis that are always welcome. In the circle.

Chanda Smith Baker  03:55

Yeah, yeah. You do have that personality, though. Oh, is that right? Yeah, that is right. That what that is, is that, right? Like I always say, I always say you’re friendly and I’m nice. That’s true. Yeah. Like you just come in. And you just have such energy, which I think is really great for the work that you’re in. You been in your business for 20 plus years. That KP company. Yeah. I don’t remember you as a kid saying, like, I want to grow up and own a business, and like be an executive search firm. So where did this come from?

Miquel McMoore  04:26

Yeah, you don’t remember that because I would have never said that. I didn’t even know what executive search was. To be honest. Even after college, graduating from college. I went into education. At first, both of my parents are retired educators, you know, principals in the Minneapolis Public School System. So I just thought I was gonna go into education, which I actually did. So after I had a stint in corporate America, and after that I actually started teaching, writing curriculum business curriculum for students at Patrick Henry High School. So Um, I just kind of assumed that I was going to fall into that education. And it just so happened that I bumped into while teaching one of somebody I knew, who said, here’s an opportunity. And I was like, what is it? And I went to pursue it, I had no intention on being a recruiter, I didn’t even know you could get paid for this type of thing. And I went into a larger multinational firm, and met with a woman prompted by a friend, who then explained to me what it was, I was like, You mean, you get paid, I would do this for free. Like you, I can’t even believe this. So I ended ultimately started working for this multinational firm, and loved the role and didn’t necessarily love the firm, though, that I worked with, after I kind of learned some things, right. So after a good year and a half, and learning some things, and thank God for these communities, right? So when you talk about, you know, communities, you’re not necessarily wanting to accept you people growing up here, right? I have to say that the people in our communities, thank God, for people can I call out names, because so Kathy Madison, for example, right? When I first got into the business, I didn’t know what I was like, it was just really good to be able to call people in high places that would take your call and take the time to explain to you what you need to know. Right? I work with recruiters all the time ago. Let me tell you what is important to me. And let me tell you how we do things. And oh, by the way, I’m going to give you an opportunity, because I know you’re a hard worker, and I know you’re going to catch on and you’re smart. Right? So the type of opportunities we see a lot of other people get, right, just because they know someone I was fortunate enough in this community to know somebody.

Chanda Smith Baker  06:57

Yeah, I think you raise a good point. And I have often shared the story that when I started at Pillsbury United communities, I remember, you know, they wanted someone with this, you know, degree or advanced degree, I had neither at the time when I started in 2000. They wanted someone who had managed, you know, P&L’s, and budgets. And I’m like, of course, I have, you know, I didn’t quite tell him, it was like my home budget. Right, but like, what I knew, is that what I didn’t know was within my reach, right? Like, I knew that I knew people that would invest the time in supporting me, and I knew I had the drive, you know, the will and ultimately, the skill, I just needed some enhancements and, and some support and a system, right, that allowed me to build confidence while I was building in those roles. And there’s a lot of people out here, that often don’t take a step because they feel like they don’t have it all down before they’re willing to sort of either take that step into entrepreneurship, or into a stretch role. And I guess what we’re both sort of saying is, you know, use your network, is that the advice that you want?

Miquel McMoore  08:14

Without a shadow of a doubt, absolutely. Use your network to get a job and also to maintain and to stay in that job, right, to learn that job. And a lot of times, I think, because of, you know, and I hesitate to say this, because, you know, I don’t know how the systematic racism works, right? I’m a cog in a big wheel of crazy, right, that a lot of times, I will speak for myself and say that I did not necessarily want to take advantage of networks, especially in corporate environments, because you don’t know how well you’re going to be received. Right?

Chanda Smith Baker  08:54

What was a barrier, like, why would you? What were you questioning? Is that imposter syndrome? Or were you thinking because you were young, female, black, all of those things? Like what was the?

Miquel McMoore  09:05

Yeah, and I think that’s, that’s a very fair question. I think really, the impetus for that feeling is I think you learn from experience, right? So if you have corporate experiences, where you see one person getting one treatment with a certain individual, and you try to get that same treatment, because somebody told you, you were equally as smart, right? And then the consequence is different, then that’s an experience that you learned, and if that consequences and something that you really want, then you’re not going to try to keep repeating that. Right. And not to say that that same situation isn’t going to work differently with somebody else. I mean, you just learn that that I don’t know if that has to do with race or what that has to do. I don’t want to blame it necessarily on racism, because in my mind, I have conditioned myself to try to squash that because it was something that I just simply could not do anything about. But I needed to still get to the finish line. Because I wanted to call myself ambitious, right? I wanted, I wanted to make my parents but I want to be like everybody else. Now I knew that I had some other roadblock blocks, and there were some certain things that I couldn’t get away with it other people could. And those are just because of lived experiences. They’re there because I’ve tried them. I’ve seen them. I’ve tried them. They didn’t work. I regrouped. I course, corrected. Right.

Chanda Smith Baker  10:31

Is that denial? Or is it around surviving? Or is it around adapting?

Miquel McMoore  10:38

Those are all very good questions. Right. And I would probably say all three, depending on the circumstances situation, you know, I will tell you being president, CEO of KP companies an executive search firm, we talked about being in business for the last 20 years, you know, which is awesome. It’s a major accomplishment, I was just sitting down, I was like, wait a minute, I’ve been in business 20, and really challenging myself to grow that business and grow myself even more. Right? I asked myself those questions all the time, especially when I hear people say stuff like, oh, Miquel, you’re the diversity firm. I’m like, what is the diversity firm, never wanted to be the diversity firm. To me, that is crazy. We are an executive search firm that does exceptional work. And we know how to find talent for our clients. And we just so happened to be incredibly good at finding diverse, ethnically diverse talent. Because we make it our business to source talent, where talent exists, and that is everywhere. It’s not just in the white community, it is everywhere. And so because we make it our business to source talent, where talent exists, and we also try to understand our clients, to a point where we try to understand where are the gaps? How can we help your business grow? I’m a business person, too. I’m always looking for ways to grow my company as well, right? So we’re looking, we’re let’s identify how we can diversify your organization. And what does that really mean? Right. So it just, it kills me. And I think it’s well intended, you know, I think people are excited people are, you know, our diversity search firm is going to find us a good old, diverse candidate. But what does that mean? You want somebody assimilation? Who’s going to come in, I mean, we just had a situation, as you know, last week, that probably crushed the souls of every black person. And anybody with humanity, probably all people, right. So I couldn’t even watch the video in my head and talk to my kids about what’s happening. Right. But that is just the kind of the kind of stuff that you have to be able to explain that we are all culpable. Right? We’re all culpable for a system that doesn’t support somebody who has differences.

Chanda Smith Baker  13:09

Or they or, and how I heard this, so tell me if I heard it wrong. And, and I might be, you know, triggered a little bit because I have a question. Right, like, right. You know, Pillsbury United Communities. I always talk about that on this on this podcast. You know, as an organization that has services and buildings and businesses across Minneapolis. It was led by Tony Wagner for 35 years, a white male, I come into leadership, and now people are like, is it a black organization? Oh, no, it’s a North Side organization, because I live on the north side. So, people are always like when you ran that North Side organization? Well, it’s never been a North Side organization. In fact, it was founded in South Minneapolis. Right? And so I think that in the attempt to be woke, people minimize and narrow how they see people and how they see companies, right? Yes. This this conversation. So, what I want to know is, if you’re the diverse candidate, then do people only come to you when they want brown and black people to be hired? Or does that limit your business or how people see what your firm is capable of? Is it limiting in any way?

Miquel McMoore  14:30

It’s hard, It’s hard to tell because you don’t know why always. You might be passed up for another executive search firm, right? It’s hard to tell but I believe that I became the quote diversity search firm for a couple reasons. One, it is a compliment. Let me just be clear, though. It is a compliment to hear Oh, gosh, you guys provided us the most diverse candidate pool. Right? That makes me happy because now we are living out our purpose and At our brand promise, so I do not want anybody to mistake the fact that we source in diverse candidate pools for for that I don’t I don’t want anybody to feel that way. The diverse diversity search firm is a problem for me for the very reason you just mentioned is that the market defined our company as a diverse search firm, once they knew it was led by a black woman, right? Like I have worked with big, large, you know, companies, obviously, we’ve been in business for a long time. We’re still in business, we’ve been successful, right? Large companies. A lot of times when I first started out, most of the work we did was phone work. You know, we were on the phone, I definitely had that smile and dial phone. I knew how to talk the, you know, now I’m older, and I’m authentic. And I’m unapologetically who I am, right. But before I was like, Hey, I’m trying to make some placements, make some money. I was talking to talk, right, making lots of placements large firm right here in the Twin Cities metro area. And met, finally, after making maybe four or five placements with this firm, we decided we had to meet in person. Now I’m going to tell you, Chanda, I prayed the entire way to that meeting. I prayed the entire way. And I was like, Please God, don’t let them meet me. And then think that I probably can’t do what they need me to do even though I’ve done it. Like I just pray, please pray that there’s a connection and that, you know, they don’t lose, they don’t lose confidence in me anymore. All that I had. Where did that come from? Was that a race thing was that some I just you know, so I just that whole time. Got there was great. God answers prayers. I was very happy. We had a really good time. And, you know, when I was leaving, and this person ended up becoming one of my mentors, I love him very much. I’m not going to use his name. But when I was leaving, it was said, Oh, no wonder why you guys sent such diverse candidates. I love it. We need more diversity. We’re going to talk about how we’re going to get to all the sudden I’m defined by my diversity, partially because of our ability, our diverse candidates, pool pools, which I’ve always been proud of. But now it’s like, Oh, I get it. Okay, good. Okay, we’re, we you need to help us with our diversity, commitment, blah, blah, blah. It helped my business without a shadow of a doubt, because it filled a need. Right? I don’t appreciate. Okay. Appreciate it, necessarily. Now, my market share is shrunk. Right.

Chanda Smith Baker  17:50

Let me tell you a story that I had. How about that? Yes, I got into the role of President CEO of Pillsbury United Communities. I had someone say to me, I knew they were going to select you, or, or someone like you, because they were looking for a person of color. Right? Which what I took this was from someone White is that they didn’t want the best person, they wanted a person of color. Yes. So I sit on a number of boards, and then a number of opportunities where folks are hiring and they will say we want to prioritize hiring a person of color. I have been very vocal on I don’t like that language. Because I think what we want is the best candidate for a job. And we want to have a diverse pool to select from, because I think that it can unintentionally set the person up that gets hired, and that people around them feeling like they only got hired because they represent this specific demographic, versus the best for the role, the best align to the role. What is your reaction to that? Because I always think every time I hear it, I’m just like, man, is this a performative act? It’s the right thing to do, because we do need to diversify leadership, and our boards and roles, you know, I get all of that. But I can’t find in my own body, the right language around how to think about it other than to say, we need to have a process that is free from bias. We need to have a pool of folks that represent diversity, right of opinion and experience that is most aligned to this role, and then we need to find the best person.

Miquel McMoore  19:44

Yeah, I hear that I hear that loud and clear and I guess my thoughts around that are from an executive recruitment standpoint, we put together a checklist right? Of what makes a great candidate and we call it a skill was matrix, right? So we look at all the skills, and we base it, we customize it based on what’s good for our clients. Right? We know that almost every single company in the state of Minnesota needs diversity, right? Every board needs to diversify, right. So that’s one of the skills that we are identifying on a matrix. But that that’s the weight on that is, whatever we define it to be. Sometimes it weighs more than maybe another skill set. And sometimes it weighs less, just depending on that organization. Right. But I will, as a consultant, let’s search management consultant search consultant, I am going to make sure that we are very clear that we point out the bias in the process. You talked about biases, how do we get a process without bias there is no problem. As long as we are human, there is no process without bias. But we need to be able to identify what that bias is. So we can determine if we’re eliminating a good candidate, because we are bias.

Chanda Smith Baker  21:11

So Miquel, do you find that to be a conversation that people are prepared to have?

Miquel McMoore  21:17

Yes, I think it’s how, you know, it’s like, it’s not what you say it’s how you say it. And it’s also being able to establish trust with your clients. You know, what’s good for my clients is good for me, right? And so whether our clients show up with biases or tendencies, that may not be the best for a diverse candidate pool or not. We’re going to be communicative with them to let them know, this is our observation. And this is how we believe the candidate pool will interpret this information, whether they want to hear it or not, right or wrong. We’re going to articulate our thoughts. And that’s where I bring, you know, in that, here’s our another, you know, one of our competitive advantages is Joelle Purvis Allen, right, who is the CEO of interaction traction, and has done a lot of work in this space. And she really can help and she has tools, not just you know, IDI, she uses IDI and she’s served but all this good stuff to really be able to help us work through and our clients work through and evaluate where that bias may exist.

Chanda Smith Baker  22:27

Miquel, how much has the search business changed over 20 years?

Miquel McMoore  22:33

That’s a really good question. It’s changed a lot and also not at all. I would say the search business, we have better tools, right? So we have better tools, we’ve got artificial intelligence, we’ve got better technology, we have better ways to help us identify talent quicker. So that’s, that’s been a great addition to the search business, so and the relationships, it’s still all a very relational business, you know, you get the business based on relationships and referrals. My business has grown by 100% referrals. I mean, we don’t market, we haven’t a long time, we’re just getting ready to start doing that. Because I decided I’m I’m gonna grow this thing, right. It’s changed in how we do things. But in terms of people changing and how they look at and how they evaluate talent. That has not changed at all, I would say, just in the last three years since George Floyd, since the both pandemics right. People are now more aware of what they cannot do. People are afraid, you know, there are people who are really just downright scared to say the wrong thing. Right. And, and then people are afraid that they’re being replaced. Not everybody, but there are a lot of insecurities out there. Right about that. And really, you know, what I’ve learned and what I know to be true, is that there are enough jobs out there for everybody. Nobody is replacing anybody. People are now just being considered for opportunities, some of the plumb opportunities that there was no consideration for, because it’s all about the network, right? It’s all about, you know, referrals. It’s all about, I know this person.

Chanda Smith Baker  24:30

You sort of have to track so there’s you Miquel, as entrepreneur, which we’ll touch on in just a second. And then there’s you interfacing with both employers and folks seeking roles. And I know that I’m encountering more and more folks that have never worked with an executive search firm, or firms that are reaching out to folks that they would have never reached out before to for roles that are coming out. then. So what advice would you give to someone who has not worked with a search firm? On how to interact with one? Because it can be very exciting to get those phone calls or those emails or to be identified as someone that would be in position for a wall that’s open. But what advice would you would you lend to someone who maybe has never worked with a firm?

Miquel McMoore  25:26

Yeah, that’s a very good question. Yeah, I would say be prepared to tell an executive recruiter, exactly kind of what you’re looking for, like try to be as targeted and focused as you can, even if you don’t know, because a lot of times, people just don’t know, a lot of times executive recruiters are not in a position where they can spend a ton of time talking to a candidate, unless they are qualified for a job. I mean, that they’re that they’re recruiting for our clients, or our the companies that pay 100% of our fees, right. And so our candidates, are our clients too, we can help them. But if they don’t qualify for one of the jobs that we have on our board, we can’t necessarily spend a ton of time really coaching them, we got to find the talent, the right talent for our client, making sure that when you have time to talk to an executive recruiter, you’re able to clearly articulate to them what it is you’re looking for, and the types of opportunities you would like for them to call you on.

Chanda Smith Baker  26:33

So that when something comes up, they know who to call.

Miquel McMoore  26:36

Exactly. Yeah. You know, I am strategic, you know, leader, and nonprofit, or whatever it is, these are the types of roles that I would be, you know, interested in, I would consider these types of roles. tier one, tier two, tier three. So we love talking to people who are very clear about that, you know, this is what my experience has been, I’ve been in these types of roles. I like what I’m doing, but my next step is going to be this type of role. So if you come across any opportunities like that, you know, even on the horizon, let me know. So I can start preparing, you know, to get you my stuff on these types of roles. So somebody who’s really focused and kind of knows where they’re trying to go, and can clearly articulate that is good.

Chanda Smith Baker  27:24

The other thing that you and I have debated discussed is salary on posts. I know I have to go there. I wish everyone could see your face. I think my assembler position on this, which is not popular to where things are today. But do you first of all, do you post salary range on your roles?

Miquel McMoore  27:48

No, we typically do not. Well, number one, I don’t want to narrow our pool. We’re an executive search firm, we need to make sure that we get the biggest pool possible, even if they’re not people we can place today, we’re going to be able to look at them and evaluate them for future opportunities. So that’s number one, I don’t want to near the pool. But also number two, what we’ve learned in this 20 years that we’ve been in business and the 1000s of people that we’ve talked to, especially people, women and people of color, and there’s actually research to support some of this, but I was just seeing it firsthand, and that I talked to these people all the time, is that if there’s a salary range, let me just say that it’s, you know, well over what somebody is making well over people, then in their mind, they’re like, Oh, I can’t make that salary, I’m not going to apply for that position. And women and people of color have been grossly underpaid. That’s also a fact. Right? We’ve got data to support that. And so they may not even try to apply for the job or think they’re qualified, even though when they read the description. They’re like, Oh, I’ve done all that. Just because they’re looking at a salary range, that is too much. And so we have to coach people and say, Hey, listen, let me you know, we really have to listen to where they are, and come to find out. They’re very qualified for the position. They’ve done it. And we would have missed that opportunity to have just an exceptional talent in a role because of salary. So, we don’t do that. We’ve seen that more than once. We’ve seen that more than once. On the flip side of that, if it’s too low for somebody, I’ve seen so many employers, take the job off and repost it again, when people start meeting people. All of a sudden targets change right then oh, wait, hold on. Okay. So, I have seen people, double the salary range for the right person for the right person. So, it’s just not something that we do. And I don’t I don’t tie that to equity, like a lot of people are like it’s inequitable, and for diversity and people of color and all of this stuff. But that’s not accurate. And maybe some of the other maybe, I don’t know how other people operate. But we operate as a firm, we’re very transparent. We’re very transparent. We, we want to talk to people, we’re relational. You call our firm, you say you’re interested in the position, we want to know why we want to see your background. First, we’re going to algin you to the experience and the skill sets that you need. And we do talk about that we know that’s really important. We talk about salary. But we do that, first and foremost. And people always ask, well, what’s salary range? We’re going to tell him what the salary range is no problem. You just don’t post it. So, they don’t self. It’s not the front, it’s just not the front runner. The front runner for us is here’s a job. Yeah, these are the skill sets, this is what’s going to be required. And this is what’s needed. Can you do it?

Chanda Smith Baker  31:09

So, Miquel, what about the argument for folks that, like, why would I waste my time applying for something, if the salary is too low, like if it’s outside of my range? Because that’s part of it is, you know, folks will reach out to roles that maybe are not a great fit. And so it’s also about, you know, I need to know, up front.

Miquel McMoore  31:34

Yep, clearly, you’re actively looking, if you’re calling me, you’re not wasting that much time, you’re investing in yourself, and you’re talking to a recruiter, that might be a resource for you, not just now for this job. But for something else in the future. It will not be a waste of time for people, if there is no salary. But that that is my whole point. If somebody’s looking at something, and they look at the salary, and they’re like, this is a waste of my time, but I love the job. But they’re it’s like $100,000, less than what I’m paying, forget it, I’m gonna move on. I want to prevent that. As an executive search firm, why would I want to limit my candidate pool? I want to prevent that, I want to talk to that person, because maybe it isn’t the right job for them, that particular one. But who knows what’s on the horizon, even within those same organizations.

Chanda Smith Baker  32:25

But in some ways, it’s a benefit. It can be a benefit for those because they’re letting themselves be known. They’re also probably would get some insight of what is in market or the comparisons, right? But they’re also putting their name in the pool. In case that’s not a good fit, and or there’s employers that will change the range. And you don’t know if they’re going to change it if you don’t put your name in the hat.

Miquel McMoore  32:49

Yeah. I mean, you have a confidant, you’ve got an executive recruiter who is now your confidant in a search, you know, your employer probably doesn’t even know you’re looking, right. So now you’ve got a confidant in this space that’s in the space 100% of the time, that you can kind of talk to about what you want to do. And they are like a little mini agent, like they’re going out there not necessarily marketing you all the time. But you’re in their mind, you best believe you’re in their confidential database, you are somebody that they’re going to be reaching out to, if something comes up based on what they learned about you, when they have that conversation.

Chanda Smith Baker  33:31

Do you get pushback on this? Because it says this is quite the I don’t want to say trend, because I don’t want to reduce it, but it’s definitely expected. Now for those ranges to be posted. So, do you get pushback on it?

Miquel McMoore  33:45

Oh a lot! Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, we’ve had other recruiting firms comment on our posts and talk about their disappointments and in this, our clients, and then you know, all kinds of stuff again, it’s, you know, amazing how people decide, that don’t even have the lived experience, right, that they’re the authority on what’s right. And what’s equitable for black people like, and I’m like, this isn’t about race right now. This is about building a business and being efficient, and how you recruit candidates. This is not about race. It’s about race, if you don’t know about race, but it is not about race.

Chanda Smith Baker  34:33

It’s kind of race though, right? Or no, because I mean, if I were to play back what I think I heard, which is that race and gender right that when men and folks of color that maybe are less comfortable with negotiating, correct? Part of it is about like take the negotiation out of it and pay everyone fairly. And then there’s parity Yeah, right, which is coming from disparity and pay what you mentioned. So, there is a racial element to this. Yeah. And gender,

Miquel McMoore  35:09

okay. Yes from that lens. But I guess what is not about race, the decision to post like for us, it’s for us as an executive search firm, it is not our decision not to post is not just about race, how about I say that it’s not just about race, it’s also about increasing our candidate pool, like, we want to cast a broader and wider net, when we’re out there looking for talent for our clients.

Chanda Smith Baker  35:39

And I also hear you saying, right, and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re also doing it for the people that then interact with you that call you. Because then you’re able to put them in a good position, if you know what they’re looking for. If you know where value alignment might be, and you know where their salary requirements are, and that if they eliminate themselves from the game, then they’re not in play, when something else comes up.

Miquel McMoore  36:04

And we can kind of eliminate some of our own bias in the process. When we are looking at brass tacks, we’re looking at skill sets, right? We’re looking at experiences we’re looking at, can you do the job? How have you demonstrated it? Let’s talk about that kind of stuff. Let’s have a who are you? Here’s who we are. And we’re having a deeper conversation that gets us closer to qualifications than just how much money you make. Because I know a lot of people making a lot of money that really are not qualified.

Chanda Smith Baker  36:40

That’s a good ending that I thought I thought you were gonna say they weren’t happy. They weren’t value aligned or something.

Miquel McMoore  36:47

I mean, all that. I mean, I mean, there’s a lot of circumstances and situations right?

Chanda Smith Baker  36:52

There is okay, so we talked a little bit about the journey and you work for this firm. And then Kathy came into play, you are a black woman that is coming from a family of educators, and you decided to go out and be enterprising and start a business. There are so many people today that are thinking about how do we support folks in business? How do we nurture future business owners, particularly in the black community, and communities of color? And within our indigenous relatives? How do we support the growth of business that can be sustained? And what what does that mean? So number one, how much courage that it takes for you to go into that and tell your parents after they paid for that degree that she was different? Yeah.

Miquel McMoore  37:44

Yeah. I was fortunate, though, my parents, my parents were very supportive. Right. So, So I was really fortunate, I was able to, to do this because I had supportive parents, right? I wasn’t going to be out on the street, because I was gonna live in not my old bedroom, but my parents basement, right? Like I was going to be have a roof over my head. And so I was able to take risks that other people, other people couldn’t. But I would say, to your question around, how can people support entrepreneurs and help and all that kind of, besides doing business with entrepreneurs of color, I think there’s this thing about scaling there. My parents are educators and our business people, even though I did go to business school later, well, after I started my business, but one thing I found difficult is I didn’t have the exposure, or to understanding how to grow a business. And when I, you know, tried to do I did it big trying to figure it out, right? You know, you have time to read some books. So you go and you read, try to get what you need. But you’re you’re hustling, you’re you’re hustling, trying to run your business, trying to make sure that all your clients are happy. Your candidates are happy your employees as you’re hiring employees, and just hiring in your own company, you know, like I considered using a search firm just recently, for some of my roles so that I could remove myself from some of the emotion around making these hiring decisions and almost crippled me. I was just like, Oh, my goodness, this, the scaling businesses is serious business. So I have since joined a lot of organizations like WPO, and all of these things that have really, and I have to, you know, shout out and kind of say, I’m glad that organizations like women’s presidents organizations is really trying to diversify their group, because for a long time, I met the qualifications for years, but I never felt like it would be a good organization for me. And so now they’re making strides to make sure people like me feel comfortable. And I have to say that it’s been a good experience. And I’m glad that I actually joined it. I contemplated it for years. I feel like the scaling piece, just really reaching out to people and people say, Well, what about score? And what about all these, you know, organizations that are made just for diverse entrepreneurs? You know, I think in the service business, I’m not sure how helpful that is in that kind of structure. So, finding mentors, and people that you have access to readily that can help with whatever your goals are, is important. And just and just not worrying about asking for a long time. I never wanted to look stupid, you know, like, I never wanted to feel like, I was like, oh, I should have already researched that. I should have I should already know these answers, but I don’t. You know, I was really conscious about wasting other people’s time with my questions. Now I know better. And so I guess I want all entrepreneurs to know that, yes, sometimes there are some crazy questions. But if you need them to, to help your business, and you are already in business, and you’ve been doing well by your client base, if there’s somebody you can ask questions that have already done, because there are so many people that have never grown their own businesses, they’ve never been in business, but they can give you all the answers. They know exactly what you need to do. They know how you should do it, when you should do it, how much everything they know everything you need to do. They’ve never ever, ever done it. It’s okay to listen to those people, as long as you have to, like go on and do what you know is right for you and get advice from people who have actually done it.

Chanda Smith Baker  41:58

Yeah, that’s good advice, and having some discernment around what makes sense for you. Part of what I’m hearing too, is that even within the stretch of being entrepreneur, you can find safety in engaging with people that you’re most familiar with. Right? So that if you want to, if you want to scale your business, if you want to see it from different points of view, it means that you have to continue to stretch and put yourself in places that may not always be comfortable. You have to stretch into new communities, you have to stretch into asking questions that maybe you wouldn’t have done. And I think it’s such an important point to like all of the conversation that we’re having in terms of the importance of recognizing where you have comfort and bias, right, like it’s not just about bias, but where you’re most comfortable is usually where people will hunker down. And they won’t actually stretch out to meet someone new or to explore a new topic or to understand you know, you mentioned Tyree Nichols and what happened over the weekend. And there are people that are still grappling with what’s happening in policing, because they’re looking at it from their point of view. Because maybe they haven’t talked to someone that is that that can see themselves as Tyree and Tyree is me, and I’m his mother. Right? And he’s my son, right? Like, they don’t have the same level of proximity to the issue. And so therefore, they sit over in their comfort and we do that in all kinds of ways in the way that we hire and the way that we engage the way that we stretch ourselves. And so, it’s somewhat of an invitation for us to think differently about if you’re not an entrepreneur, how do you scale yourself in your workplace? If you’re in community, how do you how do you scale your impact and community, you only do that if you’re willing to take a step in a direction you haven’t been before?

Miquel McMoore  43:58

That’s very true. And if you have support and sponsorship, and I would say that’s really, really important. There, sadly, are times where that just does not exist.

Chanda Smith Baker  44:11

What do you mean by sponsorship, I want to make sure that we define a couple of things before we go. One of them let’s talk about what how do you define sponsorship?

Miquel McMoore  44:19

Sponsorship is somebody within your organization, or within your reach, or an entrepreneur that can support you in achieving whatever your goals are. So, if it’s inside of an organization where you want to be promoted, and you know that type of upward mobility, everybody wants that, right? You’ve got somebody within that organization that is seasoned and well versed in how to do that and has been successful themselves and have the influence and position and, and can help you to achieve those goals.

Chanda Smith Baker  44:49

They’ll speak your name when the world in the room when you’re not there. Right. What you wouldn’t getting into roles that that are aligned with where you’re trying to go to. That is correct. It’s not a mentor or a coach that’s giving you the tools to do it. They’re actually taking action on your behalf.

Miquel McMoore  45:06

Okay. Right. Yeah. And that’s, that’s, you know, critical. And I, you know, of course know that from my experience, when I led the corporate Talent Team at SuperValu, I was really, really very fortunate in that I was brought in under Chief Diversity Officer and senior vice president, who was a black woman. And, and that representation really mattered for me, not just because me that she was a black person, it was great. It was like awesome in the sea of something. But what was really, really important was knowing that she was a supportive black woman who understood the dynamics of a white corporate America, and was very successful navigating those dynamics, and would not only advocate for herself, and had people who could navigate for her, but would navigate for you. So I felt very fortunate because there were a lot of landmines I would have stepped on just because I didn’t understand the political landscape of that particular organization. And I had somebody who wasn’t afraid to tell me to sit my butt down, you know, like, you go sit this one out, we’re gonna you know what I’m saying, like, in a way that I could clearly understand. And, you know, there was no political tap dancing, either. But if there was no disrespect, and I never would disrespect her as my boss, I was always very respectful, I was prepared. When I would go into her office with our one on ones I had my list. You know, like, there was never any disrespect in that just because she was a black woman. I treated her like she was my she was my boss, right. But I felt really good that I had a boss that helped me navigate in areas that I just, I just didn’t know where a lamp they were landmines, but she already knew because she already stepped on that bomb, and got to fix her foot. Right. So she’s preventing me from doing that. So, so that was good. And, you know, I guess the sad part is, you know, you have, you know, I’ve had experience where, where people were like, Yeah, you and so and so have that black girl thing going. So you’re, you’re you’re good in this. And I’m like, Whoa, wait a minute. That’s not what that’s about. So I mean, you know, it’s

Chanda Smith Baker  47:37

That’s a whole other podcast, podcast around the assumptions around relationships and inability to stay professional, if you both. If you’re both black women, like, I have been in that situation, many times where I’ve been in role, and then someone will say, Well, I know that you’re friends. So you probably won’t wait a minute. We’re not We’re not in a friendship, like, this is a business, you came to me about business. Let’s let’s. And first of all, I don’t even know this person, right? Like, you know, you’re making all kinds of leaps and bounds here. So it’s very funny how that comes out. And just an invitation to all and you said it in the beginning that everyone has biases. And it comes out in the ways that we’re sort of touching on now. Notice any trends, particularly post George Floyd in the workplace that have been perplexing?

Miquel McMoore  48:28

Yes, of course, I think that it’s perplexing that now that all of the chatter is out in the open, right, people are openly talking about race. And everybody was jumping on the diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging bandwagon. Right, which is good. I think these some of these things are really, really good. I think people are really fatigued, and people were getting promoted, not knowing why. And, you know, the talent pool for for people of color is just slim to none, because everybody’s getting tapped. And that’s exciting, right? Nobody was ever seen before. Right? And so people are like, whoa, I’m being seen, oh, my gosh. But now you see people being right sized, or it’s the retention piece of it now.

Chanda Smith Baker  49:23

So, they’re getting hired and in the work place is not prepared for them. And or they made hires without having budgets?

Miquel McMoore  49:33

I think it’s a little bit of a lot of things. Right. I think one is the workforce is not prepared for them. I think, two, is that sometimes people will select talent, and this isn’t, and I’m talking workforce in general. I’m not talking about people that we necessarily place but sometimes in and people will read look at talent because they are a person of color and they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. And they might compromise on the skill sets that they need and They’ll hire them or three they’re not there. Mostly it’s because they’re not ready, right? Like, but people always have something they have to blame somebody else, right? A lot of times, the blame is on the person that got hired, right? When people are like, well, I told you, I didn’t have this experience or this experience. But you said that was okay like we would be training or developing on that, like there’s going to be some development.

Chanda Smith Baker  50:29

Do you have any advice for employers that recognize that diversity does help their business, that they do need to bring more diverse diversity to the table? Right? They recognize that they’ve had the biases that, you know, they’re coming to terms, because I’ve come in contact with a lot of people that in light of many new awareness, and with tools, all the things right, public pressure, understanding diversity of teams, they’re recognizing where they can do better? Absolutely, it may still be that they they have identified where they could do better. But they maybe haven’t created the environment that is inclusive, they’ve got to the diversity part, but not the inclusion part of the scenario. Do you have any advice for those that are wrestling with? What how they should be thinking about making more inclusive space?

Miquel McMoore  51:38

Yeah, I think there are companies that do that really well, a lot. So let me just shout out. I mean, I’ve got a lot of clients that are doing that extremely well. And we’ve helped a few in particular, diversify their teams significantly. And those placements and those hires, at least I can speak for the companies that I’ve worked for, are doing incredibly well, in those spaces. And I think, what are they doing? Yeah, I think a lot of it is carving out space for people to and it’s its management, its leadership, right. And so having a leader or a manager, or direct, you know, your direct supervisor, manager leader, who allows space to real and a safe space, not just not just, you know, tell me if we’ve got the space we’re safe. And then the next thing, you know, you’re not safe, everybody knows. And somebody’s offended, they, they’re deeply offended by what you just said, because it might involve them, right, or it might involve something that they put in place. So really having leadership that kind of hears you and before they just fall off the handle, they can kind of evaluate and think through and make sure that they really understood what was said and be able to kind of work through that. And then keeping the work first, right, like, so here’s still Yeah, right. You know, here’s, you know, is I think the bigger issues come into play when people are not meeting expectation, and they’re more performance related around not having any expectations, right. So really being able to keep kind of the work first, and saying, okay, well, let me tell you what the expectation is, and then being able to really evaluate, did you understand that? And did I clearly articulate that and kind of move on and have another opportunity to get it right, man, you’re comprehensive, Chanda Smith Baker. And this has been a very comprehensive discussion for the last hour. It’s been very thorough. It’s been very thorough.

Chanda Smith Baker  53:55

As we wrap, you know, I always ask folks, like, are there things that you are saying that are bringing you hope?

Miquel McMoore  53:59

Absolutely. You know, I’m an optimist. I’m an optimist. I try to see the good in every thing and everyone and every circumstance in every situation. Because that’s, that’s kind of the space I try to navigate in. What is bringing me hope is, I think, people’s willingness to continue to work through this even though it is hard. Even though we’re exhausted. Like honestly, Chanda, I’m so tired of this whole DEI. Yeah. Like, just the way people are talking about it at times.

Chanda Smith Baker  54:35

Why? Because it’s because it’s it’s just, I want to fill in works for you, but I won’t.

Miquel McMoore  54:41

You can maybe that’ll help me.

Chanda Smith Baker  54:43

I mean, I because…

Miquel McMoore  54:45

It feels contrived. It feels forced. It feels like we’re not moving the needle on anything real. It feels Yeah, just feels contrived to me. Like it feels like okay, So we learn this, and then what? I think things are going to move. I think that we’ve all learned a lot through this. And I feel like I have to believe that with the workforce being diversified, whether there’s issues with it or not, there are going to be issues. Right. But I think there’s more good in these hires than there are…

Chanda Smith Baker  55:23

Yeah. As I wrap my head around it, I mean, I guess one of the things that I could say in in the IDI and other things will tell you is that this is not a destination, right? Like understanding this world of diversity that exists within it, is it’s not like you just all of a sudden get there. Right? Right. Like, there’s no way I don’t know everything about black people, just because I’m black. Like, there’s so much I stay curious about even within my own community. Think that there’s the pressure, I think, has people wanting to get it perfect. And immediate. And not understanding that it’s relational and ongoing and intentional, right. That’s how you do the work. It’s not by making a hire. It’s a by being in relationship with the community. Yeah. And your employees that are there and being open to listen. And understanding that there’s more than one perspective, there’s more than one way of approaching something or delivering something or debating something like there’s, there’s, there’s room for diversity, and we actually all do benefit for it. When we started talking, I actually did not know where we were gonna go. And it is funny that we sort of stayed in this space around diversity, equity and inclusion. And I think that it’s something that, you know, I certainly have witness you be squarely in because many companies are seeking that. And the diversity of your relationships are really quite incredible. And you’re able to leverage it. And you can only make recommendations for communities that you’re in and not in, but like in relationship with, right. Yeah. Right. And so I think it’s an invitation to us all the last definition, I do want to get in what is an executive search firm,

Miquel McMoore  57:22

An executive search firm is an organization that identifies talent for companies, so usually senior managers and above leadership executives. So we help place and identify that talent for companies, all different types of organizations. So private industry, public government, entities, foundations, nonprofits. So that’s kind of what an executive search firm is. They used to call us headhunters. Right. So, we go we go find people who meet the qualifications for a job. That’s the basic the basic definition.

Chanda Smith Baker  58:04

Yeah. And for this salary scale and calm job posting, what you’re really talking about is salaries being posted on executive roles, right, that there might be room for contracted roles or other roles where there’s little flexibility. It might make sense, but those are not the roles you’re hiring for. That’s typically, yeah. That’s a different part of our business. Yeah. Yeah. And that might put salary range on there. If there’s no negotiation, because that does help with some parity. With an executive level, you really should be talking about compensation, your full compensation, package versus salary.

Miquel McMoore  58:45

Absolutely, exactly. And that’s usually a senior manager or above within an organization. Got it. This has been super fun. And thank you so much for having me.

Chanda Smith Baker  58:57

I hope that you see all of the strengths and gifts that Miquel McMoore brings to our community and the nuggets she was dropping. I hope that you have a better sense of what executive recruitment looks like and ways that you might engage in that process if you so choose. This is Chanda Smith Baker. Until then…

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About Our Guest

Miquel McMoore

Miquel Purvis McMoore, a native of Minneapolis, MN, is the Founder and Managing Director of kpCompanies – a national search firm headquartered in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. Established as kpRecruiting in 2000, the company quickly made gains by successfully matching top-notch professional and executive talent with multinational, US Fortune 1000, mid-size and small companies such as United Health Group, Medtronic, and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, just to name a few.

Prior to starting kpCompanies, she successfully participated in INROADS- Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter, where she was offered full-time employment with her sponsoring company, US West Communications. Additionally, McMoore taught business courses at Patrick Henry High School in the Minneapolis Public Schools and led the corporate talent team at Supervalu in her role as Sr. Manager, Talent Acquisition.
McMoore remains an active part of the local business community, serving on the Board of Directors of Summit Academy DIC and Greater Twin Cities United Way.

McMoore earned a BS in Business Administration from Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina and an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. She takes the most pride in being the mother of her two children, Mckenzie and Miles.