SF Women in Tech - Q2 Event Recap

Last week, San Francisco Women in Tech (SFWIT) hosted our Q2 event in collaboration with Hired. Leaders from Salesforce, Affirm, Future Family, Marqeta, and SurveyMonkeyshared stories and thoughts around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Many thanks to Hired, our wonderful event sponsor and host, as well as the panelists who drove a highly engaging discussion last Tuesday. Some highlights and nuggets from the event are shared below. Stay tuned for more details about our next event!

Madhu Vasu, VP of Product at Marqeta, highlighted the distinction between a mentor and a sponsor, describing sponsors as someone who will directly support your career and advocate for you. She advised the audience "upon joining a new organization, it's crucial to identify a sponsor within the first 90 days." She gave tips on identifying sponsors: "Start with leaders you've worked on a project with where you've had the chance to prove your value. You'll feel more confident in asking for support." In her experience managing large teams, she finds women approach salary negotiations differently: "Men often have their accomplishments well documented, whereas women share positive anecdotal feedback from other people, but provide fewer facts. Women need to negotiate from a place of strength and be factually driven about their results."

Ragini Holloway, VP of Talent at Affirm, reflected on her role, stating "As a woman leader I have a responsibility to help people understand their worth." During a compensation review cycle, if she encounters a female team member who doesn't ask about salary bands or pay ranges, she'll address this at the end of the discussion, urging each employee to ask for this information. When asked about how she deals with imposter syndrome, she urged women to "Catch yourself in the moment. Become aware of how you feel in the room. Don't worry about sounding stupid - just say it. Someone will advocate for you and you'll realize you deserve to be there. You won't advance your career if you aren't able to do this."

Claire Tomkins, CEO of Future Family, called our audience to action. She stated, "It's our collective responsibility to be more vocal. We hold this responsibility for accelerated change." She called attention to our paradigm shift of living in a "post me-too moment." She noted, "Women use to discuss sexual harassment after work, over a glass of wine with a trusted friend," whereas today, women are able to openly address workplace issues with the support of the company. On the topic of being vocal, Claire mentioned "The things that we hold in our minds, it turns out, most men just say it. You need to say what you're thinking." When sharing that her company is at least 50% women, she was asked how she achieved this impressive milestone. She playfully replied, "We hire women.. and enlightened men."

Becky Cantieri, Chief People Officer of SurveyMonkey, addressed the need to develop and share our voices. "People are speaking up, but are not certain issues are being resolved. It's important to create accessible channels to share your voice." When the audience asked for tactics to protect against bias in hiring, Becky shared this tip: "Create company-wide ranges for all compensation: cash, bonus, equity. This can help prevent bias from seeping into the hiring process and will create standards for hiring managers." To the leaders in the room, Becky urged them to "Use your standing as an opportunity to advocate for pay equality. If you're not in a position to influence, connect with someone who can sponsor your position across the company."

Our moderator, Alexandra Legend Siegel, Sr. Manager of Equality Content, Narrative and Marketing at Salesforce, called out the different between intent and impact. In terms of handling uncomfortable scenarios in the workplace, she said, "Assume people have positive intent. When you bring it up at a later time, make sure not to socially shame and start with a line like 'I know your intent was positive, but this is the impact it had on me.'" When the audience asked how to get a seat at the table, she said a leader's job was to "Pull up a chair at the table for someone else. If there's no chair, pull up a folding chair."