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 email@example.com for an invitation or contact us through the button below.
When you bring together leaders from SendGrid, a digital communication platform that delivers more than a billion emails to hundreds of millions of users every single day. to talk to women in tech in the Bay Area, you're going to get a conversation that looks at gender parity from a novel, data-driven perspective.
Check out the highlights from the SendGrid-PowerToFly event held on January 30th. The night in Redwood City was mc-ed by PowerToFly's Chief Talent Officer, Rachel Valdez and featured SendGrid's CEO, Sameer Dholakia, Chief People Officer Pattie Money and a panel of women tech leaders at the organization. Follow SendGrid for more information on the company, including its open jobs.
- SendGrid CEO Sameer Dholakia explained how the team breaks down familiar phrases like "diversity" and "inclusion". Dholakia cited the explanation of how "diversity" is like being invited to the party and "inclusion" is about feeling comfortable enough to dance once you're there. Dholakia emphasized that building inclusive environments must be an ongoing effort, embracing different perspectives ultimately result in the best products.
- Pattie Money, SendGrid's Chief People Operations Officer, spoke about SendGrid's current efforts to promote diversity by embracing transparency through releasing their gender ratio data. She also shared the measures SendGrid is undertaking to continue to improve the company's stats moving forward.
- Engineers and Product Managers from the SendGrid team led an in-depth product demonstration on new tools SendGrid will deploy in 2018 to provide their clients with the best email delivery experience possible.
- VP of Software Engineering, Sha Ma, explained how tech has evolved during her 20 year career and the best practices she's seen for leading diverse teams.
- Jennifer Kelser and Chiara McPhee, formerly CEO and COO of Bizzy.io, discussed the acquisition of their former company by SendGrid, and their exciting transition to becoming Directors of Product Management. Jennifer attested to the importance of drowning out the noise and listening to your gut when it comes to succeeding as a woman in tech.
- As one attendee noted of SendGrid: "I loved the company culture and how they are actually "walking the walk" and not just talking about it all time. I also loved the way the CEO and the execs think about themselves as support systems! Great people, great culture and great company!"
Follow SendGrid on PowerToFly for more info on job openings, events, and more.
This is an invite-only event for women in tech. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the event password if you think this event would be a good fit for your skill set.
Please join PowerToFly and top women at SendGrid for an invite only evening featuring SendGrid's CEO Sameer Dholakia on Tuesday January 30th.
PowerToFly's Chief Talent Officer, Rachel Valdez will lead a discussion on how SendGrid is building an environment where women can thrive, and not just survive. The agenda also includes networking with top women in your field, and hearing about SendGrid's latest tech builds that enable Airbnb, eBay and other giants to connect to customers via email. Meet the female leaders at SendGrid including the female tech leaders who are revolutionizing the way we think about email.
SendGrid is committed to transparency and inclusiveness. In 2014, SendGrid achieved a 22% increase in female employees. SendGrid's latest numbers show that women hold 32% of all leadership jobs, up from 27% in 2015 and 19% in 2014. And the number of women in technical positions at the company has increased from 12% to 17% over the last year.
To learn more about SendGrid including their open opportunities and benefits, visit their page on PowerToFly.
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