IN THIS EPISODE . . . .
Did you know that Corporate investment in sustainability efforts has more than doubled as a percentage of company revenues over the past five years?
With this type of focus on Sustainability – where corporations, organizations and governments are putting their money where their mouth is – it is important that you understand your accountability in the sustainability conversation and how to best help lead sustainability activities in your work environment in a courageous, but impactful, way.
To help be our guide, Bridgette McAdoo, VP and Global Sustainability Officer at Genesys, will connect the dots for us on how Corporate Sustainability efforts require high acumen in the leadership tactic of Leading with Courageous Agility (the ability to have the fortitude to take calculated risks to stand up for what you believe, and do the right thing, even when the consequences or future are unclear).
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WHAT TO LISTEN FOR:
- How to know if a company really cares about Corporate Sustainability.
2. Bridgette’s perspective on how a lack of focus on Corporate Sustainability disproportionately affects the underserved individuals in our communities.
3. The 3 things one of Bridgette’s bosses told her that was working against her in her career ascension.
4. Bridgette’s addition to the LATTOYG Playbook:
Bridgette shared that she loves the quote that references, “Adversity introduces man unto himself.” Conflict may be your test, but don’t let it break you. Let it be your testimony and give yourself space and grace to regroup, if needed.
In times of turmoil or challenge, think, “this is just my test to be my testimony, but I won’t be broken by it.”
[3:53] Hear Bridgette explain what the term “corporate sustainability” really means.
[6:30] Understand how Corporate Sustainability contributes to companies becoming an employer of choice.
[7:51] Bridgette shares the link between Corporate Sustainability and Diversity/Equity/Inclusion initiatives
[9:50] Understand why people of color and the underserved don’t want to be “saved”. Learn what they really want.
[12:51] Listen to Bridgette’s addition to our LATTOYG leadership playbook
[19:44] Learn about career options in Corporate Sustainability (P.S. Very lucrative!!!!)
[25:39] Hear Bridgette’s choice on one of the most important leadership tactics involved in leading corporate sustainability efforts.
[27:45] Signature Segment- FULL DISCLOSURE: Learn how Bridgette and her husband rejuvenated themselves during the pandemic.
[35:35] Signature Segment- KARAN’S TAKE
ABOUT BRIDGETTE MCADOO:
Bridgette McAdoo leads the Global Sustainability practice at Genesys. She is responsible for sustainability as a management approach that holistically optimizes our economic, social, and environmental impact. In her role leading sustainability at Genesys, Bridgette drives stakeholder engagement, education, and the evolution of the sustainable strategy and programs across Genesys. She also leverages sustainability metrics to track our non-financial performance and deliver integrated reports to our stakeholders.
Bridgette has over 20 years of experience in sustainability leadership roles across multiple sectors, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where she most recently led corporate strategy and engagement for WWF’s Freshwater and Food goals, Global Director of Sustainability for KFC, where she headed all sustainability issues for the brand, internally within Yum! Brands and externally with various sustainability stakeholders, and operations roles that were part of NASA’s Space Shuttle and Mars Rover programs.
This podcast episode is sponsored by Shockingly Different Leadership, the leader in on-demand People, Talent Development & Organizational Effectiveness professional services, all designed to up-level leader capability and optimize workforces to do their best work.
Episode 2: Corporate Sustainability: How a Buzzword Became a Secret Weapon of Industry Leaders w/ Bridgette McAdoo
Bridgette McAdoo 00:00
All these things link back to inequities and lack of access, or just straight out racism, right? So I have an extreme vested interest to want better for our communities. But I don’t think we’re aware enough. There’s a lack of education and understanding that the people who are affected the most are the people who don’t usually have a voice at the table.
Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.
Karan Rhodes 00:55
Hey, there everybody! I have a question for you. Did you know that corporate investments in sustainability efforts have more than doubled as a percentage of company revenues over the past five years? I didn’t realize that till I saw a recent research report on it. And it hit me that with this type of focus, you know, where corporations and organizations and governments are putting their money where their mouth is, it’s really important that you understand your accountability in this whole sustainability conversation. And it’s also going to be crucial to really understand how you can best help lead sustainability activities in your work environment, and lead them in a courageous but very impactful way. So to help be our guide on today’s show, we are fortunate to have Bridgette McAdoo. She’s the VP and Global Sustainability Officer at the Genesis Corporation which is a large tech company that helps organizations provide superior customer service through their cloud, digital, and AI offerings. Bridget has championed corporate sustainability efforts at previous companies such as the World Wildlife Fund and Yum! Brands. So I do encourage you to listen as Bridgette shares with us what corporate sustainability really is, what it’s not, and why CEOs have reprioritized sustainability efforts in recent years. Also, you don’t want to miss Bridgette’s addition to our leadership execution playbook nor my brief segment called “Karan’s Take” where I share tips on how to use the insights from today’s show to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the episode. Well, hello, Bridgette! Thank you so much for joining the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast. We’re super excited to have you as a guest today!
Bridgette McAdoo 02:52
I am honored as you know I love… I love everything that you do with your work. So…
Karan Rhodes 02:58
Awww, thank you. Thank you. Well, one of the reasons why I had asked if you would be a guest on this podcast is because you are doing and have done for many years some fantastic work in the areas of corporate sustainability and helping to guide organizations in this area. But it’s such a little-known area to the layperson, I’ve had an opportunity to follow you and talk with you about it but the amazing work that professionals like you do is extremely impactful across the globe. And so I thought, “Wow, what a great opportunity to have an executive such as yourself come and raise the awareness of the efforts of corporate sustainability, and help our listeners better understand what it is, and just share why you became so passionate about it!”
Bridgette McAdoo 03:53
I like to refer to sustainability as… it’s kind of the pulse of a corporation, right? Doing work behind the scenes, it’s making sure that you are staying viable and resilient, that you can… you know that you’re thinking about everything from womb to tomb, that it’s a holistic 50,000-foot view of how do you actually show up and for me, I always tell our teams “It’s our license to operate.” Because, you know, I think at times there’s… you can feel entitled to certain things in corporate America and you don’t have to actually do some of those things. But regardless of how you show up in society, sustainability is something every single person does whether you’re a corporate, nonprofit, entrepreneurship, it’s how you sow back and provide opportunities into the markets where you live or conserve; sustainability shows that. So, you know, I like to think of my colleagues as those unsung heroes that’s doing the work in the background. You don’t need accolades; you don’t need the recognition but it’s so important. I fell in love with this space about a good 10-12 years ago.
Karan Rhodes 04:57
And what are some of the areas of focus? Can we dig down just one level deeper? What are some of the areas of focus in sustainability? What did corporations really look and plan for?
Bridgette McAdoo 05:04
It really depends on the company; the good thing about sustainability is that the intent of the work is to look at that kind of that cross-connect between people, planet, and in economics and your company. But some companies have kind of diluted it to where they are only looking at the environmental and that’s what they refer to as sustainability is “What are we doing around climate change? Waste and recycling? Or water energy?” and that’s how they look at it. Others refer to it as CSR where they’re just only focused on their community impact and things like volunteerism, or philanthropy, and community giving. And then there’s people who refer to it as ESG because the word sustainability has been so diluted that it refers to the pillars which are the environmental work, that social work I refer to, and then there’s this governance side of it which is all things around corporate governance, anti-corruption, anti-bribery, ethics, and compliance. So, all of those things, holistically, when you integrate them, that is the true essence of sustainability. It’s when those… all those things actually shouldn’t be working off of each other. When you work in them in silos, you’re actually not getting the full benefit out of doing the work or being committed to the work, but when you actually integrate them into how you do your business, you will start to see win-wins that you usually would not see if you looked at them separately.
Karan Rhodes 06:30
And you know, me, coming from a kind of a people in organizational effectiveness perspective, I would imagine companies that have a strong sustainability approach and program are probably more likely to be employers of choice.
Bridgette McAdoo 06:44
Especially for this generation, you’re starting to ask about sustainability issues. They want to know if you’re committed to diversity and inclusion which is part of sustainability. They want to know what your attraction and retention. They want to know if you’re committed to the climate; we’re in a climate crisis. So all of these things start to become like, you know, deal-breakers and table stakes for… especially this new generation. It is a strong vehicle for retention and attraction of employees, in my opinion. I get emails all the time from employees that are just interested in our company and employees that just started with our company so excited that we actually made these commitments when it comes to sustainability because it’s so important to them, right? If we don’t do what we need to do today, then, future generations are going to suffer the consequence and that’s where sustainability shows up. It’s actually showing that commitment and… and it’s not about what is best for the company-it’s what’s best for society. If you’re doing sustainability right, it’s best for the company and best for society.
Karan Rhodes 07:45
Absolutely! I can definitely see that correlation and I’m just curious just because I don’t know the breadth of executives that are in this field, unfortunately, which is what… why we’re so happy to have you. I know diversity and equity inclusion is a piece or pillar or focus of sustainability but why should sustainability be a particular interest to say people of color or the underserved in our communities? Why should they want to know more about this?
Bridgette McAdoo 08:17
I love that you asked that question because for me, one of the things that hurts me the most is when you look at climate issues, water issues, food deserts, climate issues when we’re talking about higher temperatures, when you look at who suffers the most any type of issue when it comes to sustainability, diversity issues, lack of access, and equitable access to anything whether it’s Wi-Fi, internet education, it is communities of color. So, we’re actually the ones who suffer the most from sustainability issues not being addressed. However, we are never at the table so even if you look at this space, it’s extremely whitewashed; it has been forever. And what I have spent some time doing in the past few years, especially with the rise of conversations around social equity is to just kind of move away from having just a singular conversation. It’s about intersectionalism. It’s about climate justice and about environmental justice. It’s about making sure that everyone has equal access to all things clean water, nutritious food, access to energy. And if you also look at, you know, the root of a lot of the historical notions around redlining, right, when you look at the fact that a lot of those neighborhoods of color were put in areas of manufacturing areas, right? That means they don’t have clean air, that means they have… they’re more susceptible for disease or health issues or high blood pressure or asthma, or diabetes. All these things link back to inequities and lack of access, or just straight out racism, right? So I have a extreme vested interest to want better for our communities but I don’t think we’re aware enough. There’s a lack of education and understanding that the people who are affected the most are the people who don’t usually have a voice at the table. So, it’s been very personal for me to want to make sure that these inequities are addressed. You know, I often tell colleagues, especially colleagues who are not of color, “Black people and brown people don’t want to be saved. We don’t need white saviors…”
Karan Rhodes 10:31
No, no, no.
Bridgette McAdoo 10:33
“…(intelligible) inequity-that’s what we need.” This space at time can feel that way. It could feel like, “Oh, let’s go just save as like…” No, no, no. Make sure you understand the root of the issue. Let’s start there and, then, make the change happen.
Karan Rhodes 10:46
But I can imagine that corporations can’t do it all by themselves. They’ve got to partner with community organizations or politicians, and… and leader, those that have a hand in all of these areas in the community that are the ones that are empowered to help make change. Am I wrong? Or…
Bridgette McAdoo 11:07
Oh, no, you’re right! There has to be connected tissue, right? I can’t have societal impact without actually going into my communities to make sure I’m impacting them in a way that’s authentic and intentional to them, right? I can come up with a whole bunch of things sitting behind my four walls but if it doesn’t actually resonate with the people who I’m trying to impact, then, it’s going to be a false start, right? So, you absolutely have to have a foot within your community; you have to make sure you’re showing up in a very authentic way. You also want to partner with some strong nonprofits that can help you use your voice in a way that means something to you. So, I always love signature partnerships with nonprofits who are committed to the same causes that you are; people who can be boots on the ground that can help you to amplify the voice that you’re trying to be heard. And it’s not about being on front lines meaning having your face be the one that says, “Oh, it’s because Genesis wants to do this.” It’s actually because we’re committed to this cause, right? So, I think that companies, you’ll find them if they’re really committed, they will probably have a signature partnership with a nonprofit that they’ve committed some great time and attention to that’s helping them to further move the needle in an area that they know they can’t do by themselves. None of this work we can do by ourselves but one thing I love about sustainability: it’s usually the area that’s not competitive. I can usually go to a competitor in my industry and say, “Let’s do this together because it’s in our best interest, and it’s in the best interest of society.”
Karan Rhodes 12:40
And how rare is that-that you can get to… you know… othe,rs in the industry or your, like you said, even competitors, and still find a way to have some synergies, you know?
Bridgette McAdoo 12:50
Karan Rhodes 12:51
Bridgette, one of the premises of our podcast and what we try to provide our listeners is like opening up the playbooks a little bit to help them understand a lot of the good things, but also some of the challenges in your being a leader in your particular field. So, I was just curious, are there any challenges with… in general with convincing the C-suite to do some of the major initiatives that sustainability executives such as yourself proposed for companies? I mean Genesis is a very open; it’s progressive in this fashion, but I can imagine there are many companies that just don’t embrace it quite as much as your company does. Yeah, I’m in a very blessed situation where I have a CEO who’s fully committed to sustainability and a chief strategy officer who’s fully committed. So,first-ever our C suite has completely been so supportive of me coming in as our first ever Chief Sustainability Officer and making a strategy that we are really pushing to, but I have been in plenty of situations where that is not the case and plenty of my colleagues… it can feel like an unnecessary fight at times, right? Because there are these myths around sustainability-this myth that it only adds more to the bottom line and it’s just going to cost more. You’re just asking me to just put dollars and I’m not getting a return. But you know what I always push back on that return on that investment might not be quantifiable, but I promise you will be qualifiable, right? It is… it can be like around protecting your brand image or just doing what we are supposed to do. There could be regulatory requirements that we need to meet and that might be an investment but, there’s also things that we just want to do because we want to differentiate ourselves or just commit to something. So, I do think at times you have to… as leaders in this space, you have to do what’s necessary. Make sure that you’re, you know, following all regulations and laws and requirements so that your compliance’s in place. You have to do what’s necessary around. You know you want to be as efficient as possible. I always tell people sustainability is actually one of the best ways you can be operationally efficient, and reduce your risk. If so… you know if you want to talk to a CFO or COO, start with those two things and say, “We’ll be more efficient and save money if you’re… if you commit to sustainability.” That’s (intelligible). You want to go to the legal team: “Not only am I reducing risk, but I’m improving our brand, and I’m keeping us in compliant,” or to marketing: “This improves our brand image. We can… we don’t need to market; this markets itself if we’re truly committed to it.” I’d like to think of sustainability is if you’re doing it right, you should be able to tell one event ten different ways, right? I’ve done one thing, but this is what it means to each of you. And so I always tell our teams here, “It’s a team sport. It doesn’t happen to you; that happens because of you. And because of you, these things are happening.” So, I think at times, it can feel so painful when you’re in this space trying to do this work because you’re competing with all the different priorities that every single leader has and you’re saying, “Oh, I know it’s important that you drive revenue but I’m also asking you to do this. And I know it’s important for you to drive sales, but I’m also asking you to do this,” or they might say, “Why do I need to be focused on that?” Haha. Right.
Bridgette McAdoo 16:09
You have to kind of build these business cases and you have to try to put these nuggets in a show to prove so much better when your leadership says, “We’re doing it because it’s just what we should be doing.” As I’ve been telling our leaders, it’s the power of the “and”‘ it shouldn’t be “or”. I gotta do this or do that. And I’m like, “Well, what about “and”?”
Karan Rhodes 16:27
And, why can’t you incorporate that into your strategies that you’re doing anyway? You’re going through that plan and rhythm anyway, right?
Bridgette McAdoo 16:34
Karan Rhodes 16:35
Are there a lot of sustainability executives in the world? I don’t know the scope. Does every major corporation have a you or… or is it just a field that’s now growing now that people are a little bit more conscious, socially conscious in the world?
Bridgette McAdoo 16:51
It’s a little bit behind the trend of what you’re seeing happening with chief diversity officers, right? People kind of maybe had a director or they kind of had somebody leading it, but then it wasn’t like a CTO. And now you see all these CTOs and Chief Sustainability Officers hop in the same thing. The last survey I saw, it’s grown significantly over the past three to five years. Ten years ago, there were… i mean there were very few. I think most major companies, especially publicly traded or Fortune 500 have a chief sustainability officer, or something such as that like the head of ESG, or the head of social impact like whatever name they’re calling it, it does not meet the need that other C roles have is it usually… I don’t find that it reports directly to the CEO as you find those other roles that are just as impactful. Maybe because they have a P & L, but I’d argue so does… HR doesn’t have one (intelligible).
Karan Rhodes 17:49
Bridgette McAdoo 17:50
When I see the structure of the role doesn’t report to the CEO, I absolutely believe it should… it should support somewhere in the C suite, right? There should be a whole bunch of layers in between because then it becomes diluted in the ability to really be impactful becomes more hard.
Karan Rhodes 18:07
How have you thought about your career? Have you… How have you differentiated yourself as a… a leader in this industry?
Bridgette McAdoo 18:15
Well, I can tell you one big difference is I’m a black woman so, uhm, marry me!
Karan Rhodes 18:19
Oh, there’s not a lot of, uhm, (intelligible).
Bridgette McAdoo 18:21
We have some amazing… the ones who are there some amazing, some amazing women that… …that I admire that are in this space but I think what the differentiation, honestly, is… are the background and, then, just being a minority. This is a very, you know, non diverse space, unfortunately, because people just don’t know what it means. It is one of those spaces you constantly have to explain, like, this is what we do and this is why we do it and this is why it exists. The space where you kind of know what’s next and, so, for me, I think I’m trying to have way more conversations around what the significance of the CSO role can be or shouldn’t be to organizations. But there is… I mean I’ll never get away from the minority lens on it. It’s this specific lens that others would not have or wouldn’t understand to the degree I would just because it’s a very personal lived experience and you want to see that difference. So, I think what I bring different to it is that personal lens of saying, “I live and breathe this; this affects my family, my community, loved… people that I love and care about,” and you want to see that change in a very intentional way; not in a way that’s just kind of inauthentic and, you know, not sincere.
Karan Rhodes 18:26
I can imagine. You know and even just reading up on sustainability since I, you know, then, the work that you’ve done and your colleagues have done has just excited me as an individual even though I have, you know, very little in leading it, it is a fascinating field. We didn’t have any, and I don’t know if there are degrees where you’re at school and can get a degree in corporate sustainability, but what advice do you have for anyone looking to transition into this field or industry or some of the younger generations, next-generation leaders out there that have a passion for this? I mean, how would you advise them to move or transition into the field.
Bridgette McAdoo 20:27
There are some schools who have specific programs around like (intelligible)…
Karan Rhodes 20:32
Oh, they did?
Bridgette McAdoo 20:32
or environmental science or environmental engineering. That wasn’t my background; I’m an engineer, but I didn’t study environmental engineering and that wasn’t something that was even offered when I got mine back then. But nonetheless, now, there are programs, there are schools who have these sustainability institutes and there are universities that have fantastic programs. I do think they’re missing some core things that we need in corporate sustainabilit. They focus very much on the environmental science. I don’t know if they’re actually teaching it from that holistic kind of that ESG approach more on the east side which is still significant, don’t get me wrong. Climate crisis, and I think, these programs are fantastic. The advice I would give and even like the internet that I have is dig deep within your program, ask those questions like you’ll use that internship experience to say, “Here’s what’s actually happening on the corporate side. We need a class on this or we need a class on that. This isn’t being offered, but it’s expected once you actually graduate.” School is theoretical, right, and, then, you get into the real world and you actually need to apply something. And so I would tell anyone that’s studying this if they actually do want to go deep into sustainability, look for universities who do have these programs, and either environmental engineering or environmental science, or you might actually want to do something that’s very specific into like animal science, or food science, like explore those things and, then, look into programs. There are minority programs like minors that has great programs devoted to minority students studying any type of environmental or animal food science. There’s programs like NSBEwhere you can go in and even in… they have environmental engineering tracks there or even programs like, you know, the MBA, Black MBA, Hispanic MBA and the SHMBA. All of them are starting to recognize this kind of lens. There might be a vertical around diversity; there might be a vertical around corporate governance. So, just expand your… your… your learning capability and capacity to look in those not, you know, those abnormal lanes of growth.
Karan Rhodes 22:35
And there’s a lot of resources. And we’ll put some of the links to some of those suggested things in our show notes so thank you for sharing this. So, it wouldn’t be in leadership podcast without talking a little bit more about your journey as a leader over the years and I was just curious, what is one thing that has occurred during your career, positive or negative, that you didn’t expect?
Bridgette McAdoo 22:58
I feel like especially for some executives, and maybe executives of color, we all at times, at least when I talk to my friends and colleagues, there comes this moment when you have this kind of… this… you have to make a decision if you’re going to… to follow your path that aligns with your values. And for me, it was a decision where I could either sit still and do what I was doing even though I knew it didn’t align with my my personal values, or act, pivot, and do what was going to keep my soul at peace. It takes an amount of courage and it also takes an amount of being willing to a resolve of what the consequences of that decision. And that’s never easy because it’s… there’s no guarantees in that. You’re betting on yourself and just saying, “I’m going to have to do this regardless,” especially when you’re so used to taking care of everyone around you. But I think for me, having to put my… my soul at peace, I had to ensure that my personal professional values were all aligned and make decisions for my career based off that was a hard but necessary moment. Before the moment, I think there was fear. After the moment, there was so much relief because who wants to sit in the car and cry before going to work, right?
Karan Rhodes 24:24
Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness, yes.
Bridgette McAdoo 24:29
Because you knew that everything about that experience look good from the outside. You get to travel the world, you’re paid well, you have all these moments, but then you realize this is not a healthy situation. And I think at times we… we sit in that unhealthiness because out of necessity, but you can’t… you’ll never… you’ll never actually get to what you’re supposed to get what your… those blessings are if you sit in… in that space, right? You have to be willing to move. It’s never easy, but it’s necessary.
Karan Rhodes 25:02
You’re so right, and the story that you just described, you know, actually, you know, I read a book about some of the, uhm, the successful leadership tactics of some of the world’s most successful leaders and that is a perfect example of courageous agility, you know, which is doing the right thing that aligns with your beliefs and values, you know, even if the future or where it’s put the next steps are unclear. And, to your point, sometimes you’re going to have to take a stand in order to be at peace with what you’re doing when you know internally and in your heart that it’s right. It’s the right thing to do, right? When you’re trying to take care of people.
Bridgette McAdoo 25:39
And it’s… I think, you know, out of all your seven principles, there… (intelligible) they’re all easy by any means, right? These are all steps you have to take, right? Whether it’s, you know, intellectual horsepower, the executive presence, you know, you know, that’s something I’ve… I have been intentional about. It’s that shadow of leadership-making sure that people can talk about you when you leave in a way that’s just as positive and that they can advocate and sponsor for you and understanding all the stakeholders who read the room well. These are all things, I think, you build the capacity and capability for through your career if you’re paying attention, if you’re honest with yourself, and if you’re being open. But that courageous one man, I tell you, it has created some… some tears, some angst, and some high blood pressure.
Karan Rhodes 25:39
Oh, no, I can’t have high blood pressure.
Bridgette McAdoo 25:45
Ha, well, you know, I’m a Georgia peach at the core so, I still rise for my Falcons. And, I… taking the big one now, any… any other consequence or courageous discussion I need to have, I’m more resolved with it because I’m so willing to sit in the consequence.
Karan Rhodes 25:53
Bridgette McAdoo 25:55
I grew up being a football girl because my brother played football. I love sports but I now have just kind of have this affinity towards tennis. More probably because of Serena and Naomi and Sloane, but I just, you know, I just love watching it. So, I’ll probably say that the new sport is tennis but I am still a Falcon fan.
Karan Rhodes 26:04
Got you. What is a movie or a book that you would recommend? And why?
Bridgette McAdoo 26:06
Depends on (intelligible).
Karan Rhodes 26:07
I can imagine, right?
Bridgette McAdoo 26:08
You know, one of my favorite books is “The Coldest Winter Ever” and I wouldn’t recommend it to someone that’s not an adult. But there’s… that book, I mean, I remember reading it, and I was like, I can’t wait to see this as a movie. Like I could just imagine it kind of coming to… to screen. One of the books that we’ve read recently as a couple was “Atomic Habits”. It was something we really both enjoy just kind of looking at, you know, some of the habits we had and how we can be more productive and… and be more mindful and intentional. I remember having a professor in grad school who was like, you know, multitasking is inefficient. I was like you a lot. But also, he also taught mindfulness and he taught me education and so I was like, oh, multitasking is everything. But as you start realizing like I’m really inefficient when I’m not home.
Karan Rhodes 26:09
And that’s a big shift in mindset, too, to become to… being comfortable in that space. Not everyone can be, which is a great segue to my next question. You know, being a leader is tough. I mean, people love the title, or the… the level but it’s very tough to be a high-performance leader and especially in today’s world. I always joke that our leaders today almost have to be athletes, you know, to take care of their mind, body, and soul to have the energy and the brainpower and the… to be able to sustain that high level of performance at all time. I’m just curious how, as a leader, do you take care of yourself. How do you make sure that you know that you’re able to function on all cylinders when you need to? Oh, that’s funny. That’s precious. What is one thing about you that sometimes people misunderstand about you?
Bridgette McAdoo 27:38
I’d say a lot of wine, uhm…
Karan Rhodes 27:41
You know, I love a glass of wine myself so…
Bridgette McAdoo 27:45
No, actually, what is, for the past year, my husband and I have made like a recommitment to fitness and it has been a game-changer. So I’ve been so focused, I mean, a pandemic, the blessing in it for us was, you know, the fact that we just had no excuse not to recommit to fitness. And so working out on in, you know, almost every day and, then, if on the days I don’t work out to do yoga and meditate, and it’s been freeing. It’s put both of us in a different space, right? You just make that. But we’ve also, especially in a pandemic is making time for each other, it’s easy to kind of get into these, because we’re now both working from home. I’m upstairs, he’s downstairs, and we’ve truly made sure we eat dinner together. And I want to go walk, you know, take my dog for a walk so that I can just get some air and there’s things I’m trying to be way more intentional about I took for granted prior to the pandemic because you know, life was moving so fast. But I think it helps me to show up better for my team, because I have outlets of release.
Karan Rhodes 28:53
So, I love that you shared that and similar to you, I’ve done the same thing because I was on the road all the time traveling across the globe. And with the pandemic, I was forced to spend more quality time in more thoughtful ways both with myself and with my family and friends. So, you’re absolutely right. That’s one of the, I say, the positives that came out of the pandemic, definitely. All right, well, we have just a few more minutes and so I want to close by asking you a few fun questions. We call this round “Full Disclosure”, but they’re fun questions to help our listeners know just a little bit more about you. So, my first question for you is do you have a favorite sport or sports team?
Bridgette McAdoo 29:43
Oh, where do I start? So, I remember… I always tell people this. I had a boss tell me, at the beginning of my career, she said to me, she said, “You have three things working against you.” She said, “You’re black, you’re beautiful, you have brains.” And she’s like, “Don’t become a bitch about it, and don’t let it be a burden. Like always say the five B’s.” I think for the first part of my career, it was a burden because, you know, I felt like I had to kind of made sure people felt like I was a softer version of me all times like, because no matter how I showed up and said nothing, I was intimidating. And you know, I suffered from what a lot of black women suffer from sitting for your feedback thinking you’ve done it, and they’re like, “You’re so amazing but people just have a hard time.” I’m like, “I can’t change who I am.” and it… it wasn’t until later in my career that I was just fine with saying either you accept me as I am or you know, like, am I intimidating or are you intimidated?
Karan Rhodes 32:41
Right, right, right. There’s a big difference.
Bridgette McAdoo 32:44
And, so, I’m now willing to ask and push back on those questions when they’re like, “Oh, so people just feel like you’re…” I’m like, “If you know me, you know, I’m like the easiest person to talk to. I’m (intelligible) hilarious so I don’t know what your problem is.” But, you know, you… people, I think at times, being a tall, dark-skinned black woman, natural hair, I’m supposed to be this kid twistings, finger-snapping, ready to go off, and when I speak, it’s, “Oh, don’t be angry.” And it’s just like, I am not angry; I am not emotional. And I think it will take still a minute for us to be seen for who we are. Right? Brilliant, successful, impactful, caring, dependent, like, that’s who we are. I dare to even say strong because it’s misused, right? We can’t even be strong because it doesn’t allow us to be vulnerable. That misconception, unfortunately, like so many (intelligible).
Karan Rhodes 33:49
Well, listen, there’s one last question on positiveness: what is one piece of advice that we would love or statement or encouragement that you would love to leave with our listeners.
Bridgette McAdoo 34:01
Our family quote, my brother and I, is “Adversity introduces me and into himself.” And it’s a derivative of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of his quote, but what I love always about it is… it’s just, you know, it will test you, but it will break you. And I always like to say that this is just my test to be my testimony, but I won’t be broken by it. So, I just try to focus on, if I can, what’s on the other side of that moment. If you can but if you can’t, always… now, especially with my team, and let’s use your words if you don’t say something that’s right. And, internalizing it only it’s going to harm you in the long run. Find some place or some space to let it out.
Karan Rhodes 34:53
Love that. Love, love, love that. Well, on that note, I just want to say thank you so much for joining the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast. I know I got a ton of nuggets out of this and I know that listeners will as well. Thank you, once again, and we hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.
Bridgette McAdoo 35:10
I hope you enjoyed our conversation with Bridgette McAdoo, Corporate Sustainability Expert, and VP in Global Sustainability Officer at the Genesis Corporation. Links to her bio, her entry into our leadership playbook, and additional resources on corporate sustainability can be found in the show notes both on your favorite podcast platform of choice and at leadyourgamepodcast.com. Now, for my segment called “Karan’s Take”, where I share tips on how to use some of today’s insights to sharpen your leadership acumen. You know, I bet if I asked a hundred employees what was their employer’s top three corporate sustainability goals, 90 of those 100 probably couldn’t do it. So, my first piece of advice to everyone is to see if your employer has a sustainability plan and take the time to read it. This one act alone will differentiate you from 99 percent of your peers and if you’re wondering where to find the document, that can most likely be on your company’s website or is housed somewhere on your company’s intranet. So, next, once you read your company’s sustainability plan, take the time to brainstorm a couple of recommendations that you would love to see added to the plan yourself, and, then, seek to share them with both your direct manager and your skip-level boss or manager. This will require you to lead both with courageous agility and stakeholder savvy as you muster that courage to stand up for what you believe and communicate it in an effective way to your work colleagues. Remember that whether your managers accept your suggestion is not the real win. The real win is the increased visibility and deepened relationships with key stakeholders and your work environment. You know those who have that power and influence to help you grow your career business that they sit up and take them and you never know what opportunities may come out of the experience. Good luck to you! And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast where we help you leave your seats at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at leadyourgamepodcast.com. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K-a-r-a-n. And if you liked the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand project or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Bye for now.
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