We’re More Than businesswomen, we’re More Than co-workers, we’re More Than wives, we’re More Than mothers, we’re More Than friends. We are so many things and we’re really just More Than. In this episode, Fiona McKay interviews Gina Radke, CEO of Galley Support Innovations and author or More Than. They discuss how being ‘More Than’ is embracing everything that we are and moving forward with it and saying, ‘I’m proud of this.’ From dealing with the labels often assigned to strong & assertive women, to creating to male allies, to fixing each other’s crowns, there’s no topic too bold for this duo. They conversation brings both heart and humor to changing attitudes towards gender in the workplace.
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Read the Show Notes Here: Being More Than, with Gina Radke
Hi everybody and welcome back to another episode of the leading ladies of podcast I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Gina Radke joining us here today and boy is this woman amazing – or should I say GIRL – is this woman amazing! Gina Radke is an entrepreneur, economic influencer, and author. She is an owner and CEO of aerospace manufacturing company Galley Support Innovations and she uses her international business experience to serve as an international trade advisor to the US congress Gina has also received awards both locally and nationally in business and has been named one of five women to watch in international business, as well as being named as a 2019 STEP ahead honoree by the manufacturing institute in Washington DC. In addition to all of these amazing achievements, Gina’s book More Than was released in late fall 2019 and sold out not once, but twice, across retailers during pre-release sales Gina now travels the country speaking on topics such as leadership entrepreneurship, social activism, and making male allies. Gina, I am so excited that you’re here with us today!
Thank you, I am so excited to be here, I love the idea of this podcast and of course I have an affection for red heels, so I love the logo. Right I always say if I’ve got my red pumps on that means business is about to get done
Yes, absolutely! Gina is there anything that I didn’t say about you in your introduction that you would like our audience to know about you?
Other than the fact that I am a wife and the mother of three both adopted and biological children, and so that adds a whole different dynamic to my background, and of course a little bit about what my book is about, so I think that’s it. I think you covered it pretty well.
Yeah, all around badass is what I’m hearing. So, Gina, I always start with our first question. What do you think of the glass ceiling, does it still exist?
Oh, it most definitely does still exist. I think that I really recognize that in manufacturing. Of course, I’m one of – we do have a growing number of women in manufacturing, but not quite as many in aerospace manufacturing. And so I see that glass ceiling because there are more women who are coming up and people are saying, ‘oh, I hear we don’t have women who qualify, or we don’t have women who have applied for this position,’ and the truth is we’re such a small percentage in the manufacturing field that we have to get more to get in there to break through that glass ceiling. And I always tell everybody that you go with what you know. So, if you look across any manufacturing, any aerospace company, just about any company at all in in the US and across the world and it’s all dominated by older white men. And so, you go with what you know. So older white men are seeing other older white men and going, ‘oh I trust him, he’s a good friend, he’s trustable, I can see myself in him,’ and so that’s who they tend to surround themselves with because that’s who they feel comfortable with. And I am not in any means saying that that is all intentional, I think the issue is that they are not in doing intentional diversity and so they’re not intentionally looking for people who are not like them. So then that’s where that glass ceiling is. They think that it’s disappeared because we’ve said it’s disappeared but it’s not disappeared because they are not actually being very, very intentional about finding people that don’t doesn’t remind them of themselves, and who doesn’t look like what they see on a daily basis when they go to the golf club or when they go play tennis, or whatever it is that they do, so it’s still there – and now it’s just, it’s almost like it’s there but it’s veiled as not being there kind. Kind of like your background – the sky is behind it and so they think it’s open and it’s like, ‘nope, that’s still glass, we’re still the birds that are running into the very clear glass, because people are not being intentional and opening it up.
I really love about what you said about people hiring what they know. I actually have an upcoming podcast called ‘like hires like, barrier to being employed.’ And sometimes it is intentional, but I would say the vast majority of the time it’s not. I think our brains are hardwired to automatically look to people like us. As a brit living in North America, if I hear a British accent, I’m like, ‘oh, who’s that, who’s that, yes! And so, we really need to be conscious of what it is that we look for and what we don’t look for, so that we’re actually proactively looking for it.
I have a an example, I had a gentleman that was hiring a lot for my engineering department and I told him, I said, ‘I want you to go out and go to this HBCU, which is historically black college and university, and talk to them about coming to work in our engineering department, I want to cast a wide net.’ And he got a little offended and he said, ‘I feel like you’re telling me who I have to hire,’ and I said, ‘I am not telling you who you have to hire but I want you to be intentional in who you reach out to.’ And I brought it to his attention, he was about 32 at the time, and I said, ‘tell me who you’ve hired that is not a young ,white male’ and he said, ‘well that’s all I know,’ and I said, ‘exactly.’ I said, ‘I am not calling you a racist, but I’m saying that’s all you know, so that’s all that you’re comfortable with, that’s the people that you talk to, the people that you go and have drinks with. And they’re engineers because you went to engineering school and you say, ‘hey we’re hiring,’ so what I’m telling you is I want you to be intentional about knowing other people and be intentional about getting the word out that we’re hiring.’ And so he came back to me actually a couple days later, he said, ‘I thought about it and I never, ever thought of myself as not wanting to hire women or not one to hire people of color, but I realized that I was accidentally doing that and so thank you for making me aware of that.’ And I said, ‘that’s it that’s what the biggest thing in life is to become aware of other situations,’ and it was a great conversation, we had a great eye opener for him. Shortly after we brought in our first our first female engineer and our first person of color as an engineer so – or I should say our first person of color from the US, we do have some foreign nationals that work for us. But this was our first person of color who was born in the us that came to work for our engineering department in 15 years, and not because we weren’t open to them but because they weren’t applying and so I said, ‘well that’s on us; let’s go out and make sure that they know that these jobs are out there.’ And so, we specifically started advertising our jobs with HBCUs and with minority-based job searches.
Gina I just want to dive through the screen and hug you right now. I know I’ve only ever talked to you on the phone or through zoom, but man I just love you! I mean woman I just love you! I’ve gotta top saying man!
I do all that, it’s ok, man and dude, they’re universal. I say to my husband sometimes, I’ll say ‘girl’ and he goes, ‘I am not a girl stop talking like I’m your girlfriend,’ and I’m like, ‘it’s a habit!’
I just love your candidness and your boldness to go and have those conversations. I have been scratching my head because I keep having these conversations with men and they’re like, ‘we want to hire the best person for the job,’ and I’m like, ‘okay how do I how do I have this discussion with them?’ Because who you think might be the right person for this job is not who I might think the right person for this job. I mean I might even be biased; I might be looking for women over men! I just love the way the way you explained it. You’re just being intentional and again it’s about what makes the best decision for your team and your outlook, and for me that’s diverse thought.
I think, I mean, obviously in my position it’s a little different because I am the owner, so I’m there, I signed their paycheck. And one time I told a guy, I said – it was funny, he was a new guy and he was actually explaining to me how expensive the machine was he was working on – and I was like, ‘I know because I signed the check for it.’ And I joked about, ‘do you know that it’s my name that’s on your checks?’ And he’s like, ‘well I get direct deposit,’ and I’m just like, ‘okay, but it’s not what I meant.’ So I do I carry a little more weight, so it’s a little bit easier, and I’m aware of that, for me as the owner to say these things, but also talking to people in in areas that I’m not the owner. Where I’m just a board member, or a volunteer, or appointed somewhere. Talking to them and just making them aware. The first thing is to take down their defenses and say, ‘listen I’m not calling you out and saying that you’re bad, I’m just saying I want you to be aware of this.’ I have unconscious bias myself, everyone does, and so once we become aware of that we can check it and go, ‘okay this is an unconscious bias and I need to remove that,’ and move forward. It’s really important to realize, to say that you do not have unconscious bias you’re just lying to yourself. Once we can realize that then we go – I mean people used to talk about with people with tattoos all the time, ‘they’re tatted up and so they look scary,’ or, ‘they’re this or they’re that.’ And then you go, ‘okay, wait. I think that for whatever reason but let me actually meet this person.’ It’s all over the board, I talk about it in my book about how if a woman and a man have the exact same resume you’re more likely to look at the man and go, ‘okay this is good,’ because unconsciously what we think about women is, ‘what if they get pregnant, what if they have to leave, what if they have a bad attitude. ‘Or and – even unconsciously – we think, ‘oh we can’t have two women in the same department because they’ll gossip, or they’ll be bitter, or they’ll be bitchy with each other.’ And so, these things that are in our psyche. Okay, sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, but we need to say we realize that’s an unconscious bias and move past that.
And then the systems and structures and the media, it’s trained us that way. And with all of the all of the discussion and the debate and the demonstrations happening right now I just think it’s so important for us to recognize that we will we will all slip up, we’ll all make mistakes, you’re not a bad person, you don’t need to beat yourself up. I mean, for me one of the new the new things that I’m really conscious of is being a performative ally and I’m going around and I’m like, ‘is this okay, is that okay.’ But I’ve got friends that are people of color and they’re willing to say to me, ‘it’s okay to make a mistake,’ and, ‘don’t beat yourself up.’ And I think if we could all talk more openly the world would be more awesome.
Yeah and I think that’s the truth with people of color and with women, and especially with women of color. We see now that they’ll say, ‘silence is betrayal,’ and, ‘silence is violence,’ and what we’re saying is – we’re not saying speak everything perfectly – we’re saying when say something ask, ‘was that offensive, did I accidentally cross the line? Make me aware. And so that’s all women are asking for, and that’s why I talk about when I talk about making male allies is it’s making men aware because 99, I always say 99.9 percent, of men are not sexist pigs. Now my husband says I’m, ‘you’re being generous, that’s probably about 65 percent. But they’re just not aware, same thing with different races, different nationalities, we are just unaware. And so, we need to make ourselves more aware, and once you are aware then you have the choice to be an ally or not. And that’s it’s the same with male allies, with white allies, I mean with allies’ period.
I have a male coaching client and he commented to me recently, ‘there’s so much that I now see that I didn’t see before…somebody came into the facility today and said, ‘where’s the girls?’ and he turned around and was like, ‘do you mean this person and this person?’’ And I’m just like, YES, YEAH!
And I know we’re here to talk about More Than, what it means to be More Than. So, Gina, what does it mean to you to be More Than?
Well the original title actually of the book was ‘More Than a business bitch’ and I’m gonna tell you where it came from. It’s because I got an email one time from a male customer. We were doing contract negotiations and he meant to – I’m assuming – he meant to forward it to his boss, but instead he replied to me and he said, he replied all and he said, ‘she’s being a real bitch about the marketing section, but the contract’s almost all finished.’ And I remember when I got that, and I tell the story in the book. I literally sat back in my chair, in the office that I built, my safe space, and was like, ‘are you kidding me?’ Two things…one, how dare you, just because I won’t give you what you want I’m a bitch; and two, what does that say about his work culture that that was okay to make that statement to his boss? So eventually I took a moment and I took a couple deep breaths and then I saw all of a sudden, he was recalling the message and recalling the message and I’m like, ‘oh too late there buddy.’ And so about two hours later I got a message that said, ‘hey everything’s good in the contract I’ve sent it over for you to sign,’ and I was like, ‘yeah, I bet you did.’ That person actually is no longer with that company and I don’t know if it had anything to do with the email or not. But that was the original title, and so I did take ‘business bitch’ off because I do know that that word is a trigger word. Some women, they use it as a term of endearment, some do not. But the overall meaning of More Than is we’re More Than businesswomen, we’re More Than co-workers, we’re More Than wives, we’re More Than mothers, we’re More Than friends. We are so many things and we’re really just More Than. And so, I’ve heard women say, ‘oh you’re a lot,’ or men say, ‘you’re a lot, you know.’ And yes, I am ‘a lot.’ I’m a lot of things and I’m okay with that. And so being More Than is kind of embracing everything that we are and moving forward with it and saying, ‘I’m proud of this.’ And the subtitle of course is, ‘how to be bold and balanced in life in business’ and that’s the question. I’m in business with my husband, and I talk about that in the book as well, and how it’s, actually I think it is, viewed as a negative when I work with a lot of men. Because then they can dismiss me and go, ‘oh, she’s not really the owner.’ I’ll get the question, ‘are you the owner for tax purposes?’ and I’m like, ‘you get no tax benefits for being a woman, my husband’s a Native American veteran if we were going to do anything for a government contract or anything we would put him on there. And so that’s sort of an infuriating thing that I have to deal with. But the other thing, and the reason for the subtitle and the basis of the book, is no one ever asked my husband, ‘so how do you balance life and work?’ They never say, ‘how do you balance being a father and running a business,’ they don’t ask him those questions, they ask me these questions. And so before I would always be asked to speak about balancing work and life, like, ‘how do you find that balance?’ or, ‘how do you find that harmony,’ whatever you want to call it, some people don’t like to call it work-life balance anymore, some people like to call it work-life harmony. Whatever you want to call it. They were asking me that question and they were not asking my husband that question. And so, I thought it was really important to write the book and to say this is how I’m doing it and here are some practical tips. I even give tips on things like dealing with sexual harassment and sexual advances and different tips for different personalities I’m a very bold personality, I crack myself up, I think I’m funny so I’ll use humor sometimes to deflect it or to point out, ‘hey this is what you just did to me.’ And some people are not like that at all, and so in in that particular chapter I said here are some options, based on different types of personalities, that you can use to deal with this. I had so many women come to me and say, ‘will you be my mentor?’ And I didn’t have a female mentor coming up in manufacturing. As a matter of fact, I remember one time I called a guy and I said, ‘listen you’ve done well in manufacturing, and aerospace manufacturing at that, I’d really like to ask if you would be my mentor.’ And he said, ‘yes, I’d love to have dinner with you.’ And I was like, ‘okay, well my husband and I will meet you and your wife there.’ And once that statement was made, he never contacted me again about being a mentor or working with him to be my mentor. And so, the book, I wanted it to be a mentor for women. Because just numerically we are so outnumbered. Women are 52% of the workforce, 14% of management positions and only 4% of CEO positions. So, there are just simply not enough women in management or CEO positions to mentor all the other women. So I really wanted my book to be sort of that mentor that you could have in your bag and read on the plane, or that you could listen to on audible, and be that for people. One of the best compliments I ever got – and I kept begging her, ‘if you’d please write that in a review that would be amazing’ – she said, ‘when I read your book, I felt like I was having a hour-long lunch with someone who was at 10 years ahead of me in their in their career. And she said, that was so good for me, I didn’t feel like you were trying to be like ‘I know everything’ and speaking over my head, you just laid it out and you’re like , ‘this is what I’ve dealt with, this is what a lot of women deal with.’’ I use a lot of stories in the book from other women and so I just wanted it to be that ‘hey, you’re not the only one out there and here’s some tips.’ And as a matter of fact one email I got – and she allowed me to share this on my social media sites – it just it broke my heart but, it made me happy she said that when she was actually reading the intro that she began to tear up and she said she found herself just crying…and she said, ‘I realized that what it was is that I didn’t feel alone,’ she said, ‘and I feel alone so often in my career field that it was such a relief to not feel alone that it literally brought me to tears.’ And I shared that and I had men comment on that and say, ‘I felt the same way.’ And so it was wonderful, it’s been neat that it’s been a universal thing, and men have read it and had good feedback on it, so it’s been a good, it’s been an interesting experience. I’ll be honest, when I wrote it, I did not expect it to sell out in pre-sale. I thought I was going to be stuck with thousands of books sitting in my garage and when Amazon called, and Target, they called and said, ‘hey we’ve already sold out.’ So, we did another run, we did another printing and it was pretty amazing. It actually sold out twice during pre-
|“And yes I am ‘a lot.’ I’m a lot of things and I’m okay with that.”
sale, and that was just word of mouth. Still to this day I’ve not done any advertising on it. I think women just needed it.
Yeah, I totally need it totally and I love the concept around ‘mentor in a bag,’ especially with the distinction that there’s just not enough women in in in senior positions to mentor everybody. For me, I have people approach me on LinkedIn and I want to help, but I’m a business owner, so how do I make time? And I guess that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to start this podcast. Because I know so many amazing women and I’ve had so many formal and informal mentors, men and women, that have really helped me get where I am, it’s like ‘how can we put some on loudspeaker around the world?’
So, I know that your book doesn’t necessarily focus on this, but I’m really curious about your statement on ‘More Than.’ Because I feel like women that are louder, more opinionated, strong… I’ve been told, ‘you’re too intense fiona.’ All these labels that we get given, how do you how do you keep filling your cup despite getting those things sent your way?
Actually, things like this. Listening to podcasts of other women, reading blogs, reading books. I’m a constant learner and it’s so amazing, like I was saying about feeling alone, because I get that all the time. I actually just did a video, we won an award, it was wonderful, and it was the social impact award and for the women-owned business category and I made the comment that I’ve been called, ‘a bulldog, the toughest thing in a skirt and, of course, a bitch.’ And it was funny, when I made the comment about a bitch they bleeped it out and it sounds so much worse when they censor it than if I just say the word, but I’m always reaching out and trying to learn from other people and trying to hear from other women who are ‘the toughest thing in a skirt.’ And you go, ‘yeah I get called a bitch.’ They don’t say it to me out loud, but they say it underneath their breath or whatever.
Well they make the jokes like, ‘oh here comes fiona, she’s scary, what’s she going to hold me accountable for now? And I’m like, I’m just doing my job mate. Calm down!’ —
Yes, and I love that, you said ‘you know what, she’s going to hold me accountable.’ Well, hello, that’s my job to hold you accountable… but because you’re a woman that’s bad. I have a friend who is an attorney at a major company, their general counsel as a matter of fact and she said they started calling her ‘hatchet lady’ and said she was coming for all the white men’s jobs. And she said, ‘no, I’m only coming for the men that aren’t doing their jobs.’ And so, it’s this idea that because we’re coming, and we are More Than. I tell everybody I’m not a bulldog, I’m more like a chihuahua, I’m just yappy and I won’t go away, I’m just not gonna go away I am very consistent. And so, because we are doing that, we get these labels and it’s like, ‘listen I am More Than what you see from eight to ten hours a day or however long I’m at work.’ I am multi-dimensional. I’m a mother, I’m a carer, I’m a lover, I’m all these things and yes, I’m a person who gets business done. And no one ever looks at a man and says, ‘oh gosh, he’s a giant asshole because he’s making us do our job. They say, ‘man, he’s gruff but, boy he’s good at his job.’ And so, I think that it’s important that we remember that there’s nothing wrong with being More Than, we want to be More Than. And one of the things that I tell people all the time is – I heard this statement actually so it’s not original to me, but someone said – ‘if you were to act like you were a white man, what would you do? And I thought, man, I think I would get away with everything. I mean I would do so much more because it feels like – and it may just feel like this, I don’t know – they’re doing all sorts of stuff. I mean we look at people who run for politics and they have multiple affairs and they have multiple bankruptcies and tax evasion and they’re still like, ‘I’m the best candidate for the job,’ whereas women are like, ‘no, we have to be perfect, we can’t take chances, that may hurt us.’ And so, I’m looking at these men in office going, ‘well if they can do that why can’t I? And have that freedom.
Yes, totally. And also giving each other permission and the freedom. And just so it’s clear to our listeners. We’re not saying that all white men are this way , but these conversations are happening to us all the time, and one of the things that that I found, and more so in the US than in England, is that we just don’t talk about it. And even though we don’t talk about it and we shove it under the rug, it’s going to continue. I was speaking to a dear friend of mine who’s the owner of Gender Intelligence Group and I learned that when most women leave a company it’s not because we had some big incident of sexual harassment or some real mistreatment, it’s constant, it’s the day in day out, the comments, the assumptions and it just wears away at you.
Yeah and the microaggressions I talk about that in my book, the constant microaggressions just chip at your soul. And you’re right, you know we are not saying all white men are bad, as a matter of fact if it hadn’t been for white men we would not be where we are in society because it was the white male allies that came and stepped up and gave us a place and said, ‘let me open this door for you.’ In the Rosa Parks story, when she was on the bus and she was arrested her husband did not want her to pursue it, and it was actually a white Jewish man that came in and said, ‘I will represent you for free if you will go and move forward with this, this has to be changed.’ And so, it was it’s the white male allies, and I mean black male allies, men of color period and men period. Those allies who are helping us move forward, and so I always tell everybody, ‘listen, I don’t hate white men, I love white men, my daddy was a white man…yeah I didn’t love you enough to marry one of you, but I have nothing against white men.’ And I hate that it sounds like I’m picking on you guys, but when you look at it you are, I mean just google the executive leaderships of any company, it’s predominantly white men. And so, I want you to call it out.
I think to my husband, and I say that my opinions and my feelings are not reserved for the men I work with, so I’m telling my husband all the time, ‘use your voice, I want you to stand up for the women in your office.’
I think that’s the difference in an ally and a friend, an ally moves forward. In my book I call them an ally and a supporter. A supporter is like, ‘yes, you go girl, you can do anything,’ and ally says, ‘have we noticed guys that there’s no women in this room, have we noticed that there’s only men in this room?’ And one, there’s a story I tell about a guy in my book, he is a quality manager, actually at a major aerospace manufacturer, and he talked about he was in a board meeting, it was a volunteer thing, he was in a board meeting and he was the chair of whatever board this was. And there was a woman who was supposed to speak, they put her last on the agenda, and then the director got up and left before she spoke and that gave the okay for other people to leave before she spoke before the meeting was over. And he called him out and he sent an email to everyone and said, ‘I noticed that you have never gotten up and left before I speak.’ He didn’t say, ‘you did that because she’s a woman,’ he just said, ‘I feel like she gave her time and you did not respect her time.’ And so, I wrote about it in the book. He actually read the book later, he said he turned around and bought five copies for his daughters, his wife and actually for his HR department, and he said, ‘it made me feel good that you said I did this great thing and I was an ally, but also reading it I realized there’s so much more I need to be doing.’ My husband is a wonderful ally and before he knew, before he became aware, he was sort of like, ‘oh do they always talk about how you’re a woman, is it all really true?’ And then one time I said, ‘I just want you to watch how many comments are made about my gender, that’s all, and see if they the things they do to me would they do to you.’ So, we were at a major aerospace trade show and by the end of the day he said, ‘I am exhausted, oh my gosh there are micro aggressions everywhere.’ He said, ‘I cannot believe how many times people asked if you were in marketing, how many times they asked who did you work for, how many times they would speak to me and not to you, how many times they assumed you were my assistant.’ One guy – and I this story in the book as well – reached over and I had my name badge, my lanyard, and it hangs literally right on my chest there, my breast, and he just reached over and grabbed it and looked at it.’ My son happened to be behind me at this point and my son was so upset after. And I kind of put the guy in his place and he walked off and my son was like, ‘how dare he do that, he would never do that to a man, how dare he do that to you!’ I said, ‘it happens all the time. you would not believe the things that I have to deal.’
Yeah, it’s amazing I mean when I when I first moved here I was the customer business director to Boeing for Rolls-Royce and I would go to these conferences…and I would sit down at the table and the men wouldn’t acknowledge me. And then and then somebody would catch sight of my business card and all of a sudden, they would be like, ‘oh hello, hello.’ Then the comments, ‘you’re very young to be a director.’ Well I was the best person for the job, throw it back at ya!
Yeah, it’s like we have to work harder for respect. And it’s not with every guy, but and you’re right it’s not there. Again, back to the book, I tell the story of a senator named Joe Jett, that was his real name and he was in aerospace too. He made the comment to me one time – it was funny because he said, ‘now no offense,’ and usually when someone says that you’re like, ‘okay be prepared to take offense’ – he said, ‘no offense, but I have found that women in aerospace have to work twice as hard to get half the respect as men.’ And I was just like, ‘can I quote you on that, thank you so much?’ And like you said it is not with all men. And I don’t believe it’s intentional, I really don’t know, and I think it’s occasionally intentional but occasionally, yes occasionally intentional, but for the most part it’s not. And I believe that the more and more that men become aware – and I’m seeing more men at the events I’m speaking at, I’ve spoken at many events, there’s one called WIN, women in nuclear power, that I spoke at, and there’s one called WIP it’s women in power and it’s for utility companies. And I was so excited to see men there, and I told them, I said, ‘guys, we don’t need you to stand up on this podium and be like, ‘women’s rights!’ what we need you to do is when you’re in the office and they’re looking at that resume and Gina Radke’s resume comes across, to not go, ‘well, I wonder how old she is, is she gonna have to take off because her kid’s sick, is she gonna get pregnant, is she gonna have an attitude. We need you to just look at us for our experience. and when you get to that final section go, ‘guys, let’s just look, do we have any people of color, do we have any women?’ That’s what we need. We need you to be our allies behind closed doors.
They need to ask themselves, ‘is this a diversity-wise decision? Because again like hires like and we just need to be conscious that that’s just something that humans do, and let’s call ourselves out on it.
I always say like goes with like. Once when I was, I think I was 24 years old and I just got to work for this company prior to owning my own company and they had this diversity training. Now we didn’t know they did sort of a social experiment on us, but they had us all go out and then a group of us came in and when you came in the tables were separated and it was black men at one table, white men at another table, white women at one table, black women at another table. And there was only one chair at each table. So you go in and you find your seat…and naturally the white men went to the white men the, black men went to the black men, and I went to sit at a table full of black women. And the woman said, ‘everyone did this except for you, will you stand up and tell us why?’ Oh my gosh, I mean I’m 24 years old and I’m like, ‘I have no idea…and it’s the worst thing in the world to be called out like you’ve done some amazing, very aware thing and you have no clue as to why you did it. I thought about that for years and I thought, ‘why did I do that when everyone else went to what they were like?’ And I realized I was the only white girl on my block. I had four houses on my block, each one of them was all girls, we were all around the same age, and I was the only white girl. So, I’m very, very comfortable around women of color, so that was natural to me and it was the funniest thing. And that’s when I really realized how you really do go to what you grew up with, into what is natural to you. But of course I didn’t realize it until like seven years later…and I remember one day, all of a sudden, I was like, ‘oh that’s why that happened’ and that made me become more aware of my own unconscious bias, and all the bias that other people have.
So, Gina, I know we talked quite a bit today about men and how we feel about them. Could you give us some examples of male allies and how they’ve contributed to your success?
Absolutely, and one of course my husband – he’s very quick to say, ‘no, no, my wife runs this company,’ or, ‘my wife does this,’ but also I’ve had male allies who have said – I think it’s been all men who have put me on executive boards it’s been all men who have put me on international trade boards – and so they have come along and said, whether it’s intentional and they’re like, ‘hey you need a woman and she’s a great woman,’ or not, it has been all men who have put me in those positions and who have vouched for me. And what’s wonderful is they know that they can put me on there as the token, but I will not be a silent token. And they know that, and they continue to do it. And I think that’s probably what’s so wonderful, it’s knowing that I’m not going to be a silent token, and they continue to do that. And I actually had someone come to me one time and say, ‘I want you to be on this board,’ and he gave me a whole presentation and at the end he showed me the board of directors and he said, ‘do you see something in common here?’ And he looked at it and he said, ‘it’s all white men over 40 with goatees.’ And I said that I love intentional diversity, thank you for thinking of me when you’re being intentional. Now of course I don’t want a job just because I’m a woman, but I do want you to look at something and go, ‘huh this isn’t right, we all look the same, we need something different.’ And to reach out to people and to women and to people of color and ask them to join your organization or whatever you’re doing. So, I 100 percent say within my own company, and even outside of my own company, that it has been the white male allies who have put me in the positions that I’m in. I’m trying to think, but I do not believe, no there is one senator, one female senator who put me on an executive or a state level board – of course I had to be okayed by our governor who’s a white man – but other than that it has all been men who have put me on those boards and who have vouched for me and who have pushed my name to the front and said, ‘this is an option.’ And there’s been things I’ve applied for that they said, ‘hey we think you’re great’ and others where other white men have gotten the position. And I’m like, ‘that’s okay, at least you were intentional, they may have been more qualified for me for that position, but at least you were intentional in including me. And so, I 100 percent give credit to the men who did that. I’m overly grateful for them and then I go forward, and I thank them, and I tell others about them. And there’s a guy, Barry Sellers, I talked about him in the book too, he actually coined the phrase for me, pale, male and stale and he came to me and he said, ‘Gina we got to do something, this board is pretty pale, male and stale…’ and I looked at him and he said, ‘old white men, we’re nothing but old white men.’ And I was like ‘I love that!’ So, he was aware, and he came me, and he said, ‘what other women do you know, what other people of color too.’
If you met a young woman who was starting out in their career, what would you tell her in terms of how to find those male allies like, what advice would you give?
Well probably the first thing is, ‘buy my book, read my book.’ You see that’s good; I’m always getting in trouble because they say I don’t push the book enough. But what I would tell her is, ‘find the people who you feel comfortable with, and you think that maybe they’ll make a good ally. Then go to them and make them aware and say, ‘hey, can you do me a favor.’ You can flat out ask some of them if you have the relationship. Once you’ve built that relationship to say, ‘I need you to be my ally in this situation…when I speak in the boardroom and someone repeats me can you make note of that to the other men, can you say, ‘yes Gina just spoke on that,’ or, ‘that’s exactly what Gina said.’ And then also ask them questions like, ‘I need another set of eyes and another set of ears for this,’ and this is what has been absolutely the best thing is , I’ll say, ‘I need another set of eyes and another set of ears on this…when we go, will you notice, me tell me if it’s just me, are they looking at you when they speak, are they talking to me as well, are they giving me the same amount of attention and respect when I speak as they’re giving to you?’ And you would be amazed once they see that, I mean that’s what made my husband so exhausted that one day once he saw it he was like, ‘oh my gosh I had no idea.’ And so just making those allies aware and then flat out asking them, saying, ‘hey will you be an ally for me?’ And I can promise you very few men, even the ones who don’t really want to be an ally, will say, ‘no I don’t want to be an ally.’ They’ll go, ‘sure, what do you need,’ or, ‘what does that mean?’ And that’s when you get to have that conversation and say I just need you to be an extra set of eyes for me, I just need you to be an extra set of ears for me. And then there is yet to be one person I have asked that question of that they have not come back and gone, ‘oh my gosh, I did not realize that.’ You know I got a call the other day and – I talked about this term in my book about ‘riding bitch,’ I had never heard that term until recently and I wrote about it in my book – and he goes, ‘I did not realize how many times men said, ‘I’ll ride bitch’ which means I’ll ride in the passenger seat yeah of the car. And he said, ‘I’ve heard that so many times since you said that to me, so I must have been hearing it this whole time and just never been aware of it.’ So just those little things, they’ll recognize, and they’ll go, ‘oh, that’s not okay.’ And even if it’s just them and themselves recognizing that bias that they have and going, ‘I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to think that,’ that’s what it is. It’s asking them to be aware, asking them to be your ally. I have made so many great male allies, I would 100 percent say I have more male allies now than I have male aggressors, people who are coming after me don’t want me here because I’m a woman, because like I said I don’t believe that’s what the men want. There are just those little unconscious bias things that they’re unaware of.
I love what you say there about, ‘ask for what you want,’ and ‘ask them to be aware.’ It’s two simple things, I need this from you and I just want you to be aware of it. I really love the graceful, but bold and powerful way you’re approaching these situations. So, let’s switch now to female allies. Talk to me about some of the female allies and the female mentors and the female sponsors?
Well I have a wonderful tribe. I have several different text messages with different groups, but I have one tribe in particular and what happened was I joined a leadership class and it was with my state leadership program and there were two women in there that we just connected, and we just became sort of our tribe, with the group chat. You know they always say, ‘for the woman who makes the big decisions, there’s the group chat behind you going, ‘you can do this, you’re awesome, you’re a rock star,’’ and that is exactly what this group chat is. And before that I had such a hard time, especially being in aerospace, especially being in manufacturing finding male or female allies. And so, when I was very intentional about that I joined these leadership programs and I found some female allies in that. And what’s beautiful is there’s this group and one of them is – we all come from completely different backgrounds – one of them is a general counsel for a major electric company, one of them is a nutritionist specialist plant-based doctor, I mean she’s sort of the everything of health and nutrition, one of them is the one I call the ‘behind the scenes go get it done.’ I remember one time and you’ll have to pardon my language, but one time I was telling her about things I want to do and she looked at me and she said listen we gotta get shit done, it’s time. And so she’s the – I call her the pusher she’s – behind the scenes going, ‘you need to get out there and you need to do this,’ and, ‘you need to get out there and you need this,’ so she’s like the motivator of our group. And actually, I had someone make her a little sign that said, ‘get shit done!’
Yeah, everybody needs a friend that’s a get shit done friend, yeah! I’m very proud to say I’m a get shit done friend. JFDI as we say in the UK!
Oh I love it, JFDI, I think I know what that means, I love it! yes and so I have that group and I met them through these leadership programs and it’s just a wonderful group and so and one of the things I do is I always make myself open to meet female friends and to me to add to my tribe. Now I am very, I will tell you, I’m very particular, I tell everybody, ‘listen, my life is an open party, but only certain people get invited to the dinner table.’ There are things that I absolutely will not tolerate in my life. I don’t tolerate gossip I, don’t tolerate negativity, you’re not going to talk bad about somebody, and I am really quick to adjust. They tell you in business you need to be slow to hire and quick to fire yeah. And so for instance, I went and had dinner with some friends and this one woman she walked up to join us and immediately she said, ‘I don’t hang out with so and so anymore because they slept with so and so and they started doing…,’ and I was like, ‘not my people!’ she may be wonderful at her job, she may be great, but if you’re going to put down other women you’re not my person and it’s not that I don’t like her, not that I hate her, not that I’m like, ‘oh you’re awful.’ We’re friends on Facebook, we chat every once in a while, we’re very cordial. But that type of person does not get invited to the dinner table of my life. They might get invited to the networking event, but not the dinner table. And so I think that it’s okay to be very particular about who you invite because, let’s face it, we don’t invite people to our dinner table to have dinner at our house that we don’t really know, that when we go have dinner out with them. But the ones that are at the dinner table – and I call them the after party group, when everyone has left the party and they’re helping you clean up – those are that tight circle of friends, those people are so important to have in your life. So, I always make myself open to have friends and to add to that circle, but I’m very, very quick to cut out the negativity and the negative people. And maybe those people can come back in my life later and become closer later, but when they have decided for themselves that you know being a gossip or being a mean girl is not is not a good characteristic to have. Then they can come back in my life. So I am, I’m very, very protective of my inner circle, but I’m also very open to add to that inner circle if that makes sense.
And what do you think it is that sometimes has women not supporting other women?
I think that there are multiple things. I actually have a chapter about the mean girls in my book, and I think that there are multiple things. One, sometimes I think women get so used to being the only woman in the room that they don’t want that competition, they’re like, ‘no this is my spot and I don’t want the competition,’ or they think that we – this is a problem that we have – we think that we have to represent the entire gender, the entire feminine gender. And so we take all of that on our shoulders and we think, ‘if I bring another woman in here, what if she’s a gossip, what if she’s catty, what if she’s bitchy, what if she’s all these things and then she’s gonna make me look bad.’ The truth is we don’t think that about men, men don’t think, ‘oh if I bring another man in here, what if he’s a sexual harasser, or what if he’s an asshole?’ they don’t think that. And so, we shouldn’t have to think that either.
I was having a great conversation with somebody about women supporting other women, and I think a lot of it is down to the ego, and letting go of the ego and recognizing that there are things out there that try and pit women against women and don’t buy into that. There’s room for all of us and put the ego down and welcome other women in. And if they get off track, talk to them, get them back in. But if we really want to change it, we proactively have to make sure that we are not the only ones there and we have to be willing to stand up to the men and say, ‘there might be ten of you thinking this but I disagree.’
That’s right, and we cannot talk about other women in front of men. There’s the saying that, ‘queens fix other queen’s crowns in private,’ and we cannot add to the stereotype by saying, ‘gosh that woman she’s a bitch,’ or, ‘I hate it when women like her come in because it makes the rest of us look bad.’ Do not do that. If they are not doing their job you speak specifically to what they are not doing correctly, you do not downplay their entire gender because that is not making it any easier for you. We think that it makes us one of the guys for that moment, but it doesn’t. It hurts the entire fight for all of women’s equality.
Yes, and if you’re listening as a female listener right now and thinking, ‘oh my god, I’ve done that,’ don’t worry. I’ve done it, Gina’s done it, we’ve all done it at some point. The key thing again is that intentional awareness. High school often makes us that way and let’s just notice it and call ourselves out on it. We don’t need to beat ourselves up, we just need to acknowledge that that thinking, and that behavior exists, and actively work to change it.
So Gina, I could sit here and talk to you all day long, this interview could go on for six hours, if not six days and I really want to be respectful because you are a very busy CEO and general all-around badass. So my question for you – and it kind of seems a bit silly now considering all of the advice you’ve given, but I always like to end this show the question, ‘what would you tell your niece, daughter, or a young woman entering a male dominated industry? What would be the one piece of advice you would you give her about smashing that ceiling, the glass ceiling?’
It’s okay to cry. And I know that is a shocking one. It is okay go to the bathroom, have your tears and get back out there, it is okay. we see men throw fits and cuss and act a fool and then no one goes, ‘oh my gosh, that was crazy.’ But women, if they cry, they’re like, ‘oh she’s being emotional again.’ No, it’s okay you excuse yourself. You go to the restroom you check your feelings why are you having those emotions and then you get back out there, because it just happens.
I love that, you’ve got to give yourself permission to cry, it means have grace with yourself. Somebody once said to me ‘in order to feel true joy, you have to be able to experience sadness and anger.’ And so it’s so important to let those feelings out, to make space for the good you want to be in the world, and so thank you for sharing that because I think that’s something that I hear so many women say, ‘oh my goodness I cried and I’m mortified. And I’ve stood on stages in front of groups of women and I thought, ‘if only they knew how many times I’ve sat in the bathroom balling my eyes out in the stall.’ You know, just because we look strong doesn’t mean that we’re always that way, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have things happening in our lives.
That right, and we need to make that okay. Now, if someone is crying next to you please do not reach over and start hugging them, don’t bring more attention to it, but let them have that moment. Get up, excuse yourself, I talk about it in the book and I say, ‘listen, what you need to do is you need to say, ‘I’m having some issues going on over here,’ or whatever, ‘I’m not in the space to deal with this right now. By close of business today I’d like to come back and discuss it.’ And you give them a time, it’s not like, ‘oh I’m upset and I’m leaving, no, you give them a time, you come back, and you do your job. Don’t batter and beat it yourself up for having emotions, we are made that way, men are made that way. I always get the question, ‘what do you think about women being emotional,’ and I made the statement, I said, ‘anger is an emotion, right?’ And it was so funny, there were four men standing up against the wall and when I said that they all went, ‘oh my god.’ They never realize anger is an emotion; we see men get angry and, but we don’t call them emotional, but anger is an emotion.
Yes, it’s just part of your humanity, it’s part of you. Well, listeners, I am sure that you are sitting here thinking, ‘my god I want to hear more from this woman, she is amazing.’ I just want to jump through the screen right now and I really encourage you buy her book. You know, she has not asked me to plug it, but if it’s anything like what we’ve heard today you gotta get out and buy it! If you go to mckayunlimited.com you’ll see the show notes, and there’s information there on Gina and some of the things she’s referenced today, and her book, how you can buy it. Please go take a look and find out more about this amazing woman, you will not regret it. So once again, thank you for listening. Please jump online we’ve got plenty of shows for you to listen to; give us your feedback, tell us which women that you want to hear from and we will keep going talking about this glass ceiling until it is well and truly broken
Gina Radke and her husband, Wade, purchased the product line of an interior hardware business in 2005 and moved the struggling aviation business from California to her home state of Arkansas. Gina’s determination and focus has led Galley Support Innovations to new heights – including being named SBA Businessperson of the Year in 2016- and put her in the forefront of community service as well as international trade.
Gina’s book “More Than” was released in late fall 2019, the book sold out across all retailers twice during pre-release sales.
A passionate believer in community service, Gina serves on many nonprofit boards. Gina is currently President of the Arkansas Aerospace & Defense Alliance and a commissioner on the State Office of Skills Development. Gina has also been appointed to the Arkansas Economic Development Council.
Gina serves as a trade advisor to congress on the International Industry Trade Advisory Committee in DC where she advocates for small and minority businesses. International Business Magazine named Gina a “Woman to Watch” in international trade.
Gina has traveled the country speaking on topics such as; leadership, entrepreneurship, social activism and making male allies.
Recent awards and accolades include Winning the 2016 SBA Business Person of the Year, Arkansas Business Magazine’s Business of the Year, winner of the Small Manufacture Export of The Year, and the Muse of Discovery Spark! National Business Aviation Association 40 Under 40 2018.
In April 2019 Gina was awarded as a STEP AHEAD honoree by the Manufacturing Institute in Washington DC and in 2018 & 2019 she has been named to the list of the 250 Most Influential people in her home state. In 2020 she has been named one of the Top 25 Influencers in Arkansas.