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OpenTable

OpenTable’s CEO On How Women In Tech Can Stop Becoming “The Diversity Candidate”

It was the "bullshit" heard round the world, or at least Silicon Valley. During a Fortune event in 2017, a man claimed that one reason behind the tech world's gender gap is that "women don't always support each other". To this, Christa Quarles, who since 2015 has been the CEO of OpenTable, countered: "bullshit".


"In Silicon Valley today there is a sisterhood of women who are supporting each other, telling each other about board opportunities, giving each other business ideas," explains Quarles. OpenTable has embraced this sense of sisterhood like few other companies. In November 2017, Quarles pledged to have the entire company be comprised of 50% women. "Over the last quarter, 40% of the people that we hired into our engineering organization were women," states Quarles.

For OpenTable, reaching this goal begins with interviewing multiple female candidates. "Too often there is one female candidate and the studies show that they become the diversity candidate, not the candidate," says Quarles. Even with her busy schedule, this CEO is willing to speak to a candidate personally to seal the deal. "I got on the phone a few times, making sure that we're pulling out all the stops to achieve our goal."

While it's the ultimate goal of OpenTable to open up more opportunities to women, Quarles is keen to not leave out the other half of the population (i.e. men). "We want to make sure that that men have a place in the story," says Quarles. "One of things I've been encouraging men to do is ask women about their story. Ask what's happening and build that empathy muscle."

But what happens once these women are hired? How can OpenTable create an atmosphere that is welcoming while still open to feedback? For Quarles, this is about creating an environment where you can bring your 'whole self'. "Not always in my past have I felt comfortable bringing my whole self to work which also meant my femininity and who I was as a woman." Through their efforts, Quarles and her team have fostered a company ethos where this kind of openness can not only be accepted but thrive. Part of that is moving away from the dreaded words "cultural fit". "People used to talk about culture fit and we're always talking about cultural addictive, who's going to add something to our culture, who is going to bring some different perspectives, who's going to challenge the assumption."

Through employee resource groups such as Women of Open Table (WOOT), OpenTable is providing the necessary skills for their female employees to take their careers to the next level. "They are holding brown bags so that they can share how to interject in meetings more effectively, share ideas around how their voice is getting heard relative to those in the room, even things like asking for promotion," says Quarles about OpenTable's resource groups. "It's by women, for women. We're creating the infrastructure to do that but it's women who are the ones signing up, creating it, organizing it."

Next time someone tells you that women in tech do not support each other, just point to the initiatives of Christa Quarles and the team at OpenTable.

PowerToFly is presenting an invite-only evening with OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles on Wed. March 14th at 6pm in San Francisco. If you are interested in attending, please email hi@powertofly.com for an invitation or contact us through the button below.

Eventbrite - An Invite-Only Evening With OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles
WW (Formerly Weight Watchers)

Tech Talks With Women Building The Future Of Wellness At WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

If you are based in the New York area and you'd like to attend this event, please email hi@powertofly.com to be considered for an invitation.

Weight Watchers has relaunched as WW which stands for "Wellness that Works". They are now a company dedicated to becoming the world's partner in wellness.

PowerToFly has partnered with WW for a series of tech talks led by women who are on the forefront of the company's transformation.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 14th from 6pm to 8pm at 675 6th Avenue, 6th Floor, New York.

Agenda (Subject to Change):

  • 6:00pm - Check-In and Networking over Light Food and Drinks
  • 6:20pm - Kickoff with PowerToFly
  • 6:25pm - Welcome & Introduction by Michael Lysaght, CTO of WW
  • 6:35pm - Tech Talk with Ifeoma Okereke, Software Engineer at WW
  • 6:45pm - Panel Discussion featuring women tech leaders at WW
  • 7:00pm - Audience Q&A
  • 7:20pm - Networking continues over Light Food & Drinks

Topics for the evening will including WW's work with Android and the process of integrating with conversational AI such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. We will also discuss WW's recent rebranding and their employee resource groups like Women in Tech are helping WW's women engineers take their careers to the next level.

Also, WW is hiring! To learn more about WW and their open positions, visit their page on PowerToFly.

About our Events: All RSVP'd attendees are welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, or age. If you require assistance to fully participate in this event, please email hi@powertofly.com, and we will contact you to discuss your specific needs.

Unfortunately, PowerToFly and HomeAway cannot admit outside recruiters to this particular event. Please email hi@powertofly.com if you have any questions about this policy.

About WW: WW is looking for candidates to help change people's lives. We are a global wellness technology company inspiring millions of people to adopt healthy habits for real life. We do this through engaging digital experiences, face-to-face workshops and sustainable programs that encompass healthy eating, physical activity and positive mindset. By drawing on over five decades of experience and expertise in behavioral science, we build communities in order to deliver wellness for all.

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