4 LA Women Share How Their Tech Companies Support Them — Personally and Professionally

by Madeline Hester
October 15, 2019

Sheryl Sandberg recounts in her biography “Lean In” how she demanded parking for expectant mothers at Google while experiencing her own pregnancy. The Google founders agreed, albeit admitting — as men — they never considered the need for it before.  

Intentional or not, there is a long history of discrimination against women in the workplace. History has shown that progress happens when women are promoted to executive roles and can enact change. 

From mentorship programs to inclusive benefits for new parents, many companies are now stepping up to bridge the gap on gender inequality. We turned to four women working in LA tech to understand how their companies are supporting them. 

 

zwift
ZWIFT

Zwift’s platform may want to gamify indoor cycling, but when it comes to gender inequality, they’re  all business. Jackie Craver, senior director of community support, shared how making diversity part of the recruitment process ensures that women are included in the ride.  

 

Pick one or two specific examples of issues facing women in tech and tell us how your company is addressing them. 

While the number of women in the tech space is growing, there are still very few female leaders at the highest level. This gender gap can dissuade candidates from even considering whether or not they should join a company, and it may also be a factor in why some women may not choose to stay. I almost didn't pursue the job I now love because of the gender gap. I addressed the topic head-on and was happy to hear how Zwift is making diversity an overall part of their recruitment process — which includes having a woman's point of view on every hiring decision we make. The environment here is open to all people, particularly women. Companies always have more work to do, but I’m glad to be a part of it, since we appeal to all people and athletes. 

Zwift, we have established a quarterly Women’s Breakfast which allows us to address these things in a safe and constructive way.

 

What other initiatives does your company have in place to support women in your company?

Everyone has different styles and needs, but there are some that are specifically shared by women. At Zwift, we have established a quarterly Women’s Breakfast which allows us to address these things in a safe and constructive way. An outcome of the last meeting was the start of our monthly Women’s Ride. As an inclusive fitness company, it’s a way to help females feel comfortable riding with others, and ultimately have the confidence to join the co-ed company bike ride which occurs every week. It's also a venue for women to speak candidly and receive coaching and guidance on being a more effective employee. This is supported by women and allies at all levels at Zwift, and makes us all stronger — as employees and as a company.

 

ez
EZ TEXTING

For a company whose aim is to make communication easier, it is no surprise that EZ Texting is actively listening to issues women face. Director of Global Connectivity Shannon Donohue explained how a fair maternity leave policy and volunteer opportunities help her and other female coworkers feel supported.

 

Pick one or two specific examples of issues facing women in tech and tell us how your company is addressing them.

A major challenge for women in tech is returning to work after maternity leave and maintaining the same level of expertise and influence. The EZ Texting senior leadership team has taken it upon themselves to learn about the “Motherhood Tax” — an idea that women often return to the workforce after having children, only to be offered fewer opportunities. Having recently returned from maternity leave, I feel 100 percent supported at EZ Texting. Not only does our organization offer amazing benefits to new parents, but there is also a clear and conscious choice to support parents returning after leave.

Having recently returned from maternity leave, I feel 100 percent supported at EZ Texting.

 

What other initiatives does your company have in place to support women in your company?

Many companies boast about being an equal opportunity employer. EZ Texting embodies this sentiment by offering mentoring in the form of personal development plans, tuition reimbursement, and paid volunteer time. I've used the paid volunteer time for the past several years to participate in the Hour of Code, a program that connects software engineers with local teachers in order to teach programming skills to their students. These benefits are not female-specific, but they do help promote women's advancement both professionally and personally.

 

patientpop
patientpop

PatientPop’s marketing platforms helps healthcare businesses grow their visibility online. Similarly, PatientPop is making issues facing women more visible and creating new internal programs to address them. VP of Data Lacey Plache dove into how mentorship programs and team sharing activities bridge the gender equality gap at PatientPop.

 

Pick one or two specific examples of issues facing women in tech and tell us how your company is addressing them. 

One key issue facing women in tech is the lack of other women. This can mean fewer informal social opportunities where key business relationships can form, such as lunch outings or meetings to surf or golf. The end result is that women’s networks can be less extensive than those of their male counterparts. One area where this really matters is hiring, since an estimated 85 percent of the jobs are filled through networks. 

At PatientPop, we value diverse teams due to their greater ability to drive innovation. Living our values starts in how we hire. When positions open up, hiring managers assess existing teams for gaps in approach and experience, then create hiring plans to enhance team diversity. Our recruiting team makes an extra effort to source candidates beyond existing employee networks and closely monitors candidate diversity levels. Our awareness of and focus on diversity is reflected in who we hire. Candidates regularly comment on the diversity of my team’s backgrounds. My reply: It’s intentional. 

As the VP of data, I create opportunities for female and male team members to learn from each other’s skills and perspectives.

 

What other initiatives does your company have in place to support women in your company?

Another key issue for women is the need for mentorship. Women often find it harder to establish mentor relationships due to fewer women in tech leadership and a stronger reticence to reach out and ask for advice. At PatientPop, we are addressing this in multiple ways. First, we created an official mentorship program for our R&D team. In this program, everyone has a mentor. The program serves as a forum to work on strategies for career growth as well as nearer term success. The mentor provides encouragement, acts as a sounding board, and shares their experience. 

As the VP of data, I create opportunities for female and male team members to learn from each other’s skills and perspectives. One example is our weekly team sharing session where team members share work in progress and get and give feedback. Such formal activity fosters connections and trust that lead to informal mentoring beyond the meeting.

 

tamara mellon
TAMARA MELLON

When it comes to building a women-centric business, Tamara Mellon knows how to put its best (high-heeled) foot forward. Senior Director of Integrated Marketing Caitlin Bray told us what Tamara Mellon does to close the gender pay gap.

 

Pick one or two specific examples of issues facing women in tech and tell us how your company is addressing them. 

 At Tamara Mellon we believe in equal pay for equal work. Women in the U.S. still make, on average, 80 cents on the dollar to men for doing the same work. This transcends industries in every direction of the corporate ladder. On Equal Pay Day, we raise awareness by sharing tips for negotiating salaries, facts about pay equity, and lower the prices on our website to reflect the pay gap.

 This past year we assembled a panel of women across various industries ­­–– including actor Storm Reid, Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue Lindsay Peoples Wagner, CEO of Ellevest Sallie Krawcheck, and journalist Noor Tagouri –– to share their experience with pay inequality and offer advice to the next generation of working women on how to advocate for pay equity. 

...we’ve partnered with Carrot Fertility to offer benefits to employees for fertility-related healthcare, including egg freezing and IVF.

 

What other initiatives does your company have in place to support women in your company?

In a similar vein, we create equity and value for our majority women workplace by offering essential benefits: four to six months paid maternity leave, unlimited vacation, and flexible working hours, which are all vital to creating a work-life balance, especially for working parents. Additionally, we’ve partnered with Carrot Fertility to offer benefits to employees for fertility-related healthcare, including egg freezing and IVF.

 Additionally, it’s deeply rooted in our company culture to own your voice. All employees, no matter their age or position, are encouraged to speak up in meetings and provide feedback across the business. 

 

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