March 8, 2020, has been designated “International Women’s Day,” the theme for which this year is: “An equal world is an enabled world.”
According to the official IWD site: “Equality is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. Gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive. A gender equal world can be healthier, wealthier and more harmonious.”
Many businesses are supporting IWD, but none are more dedicated to equality and diversity in the workplace than Grow. Just ask CEO, Rob Nelson. “We hear a lot about diversity in the workplace,” he said in an interview, “and it’s genuinely something I am interested in and really believe in.”
Grow, he explained, has customers all over the world, so it’s been important to Nelson to create a diverse workforce to support a diverse customer base scattered around the globe. “That was important to me when I started the company,” he said, “to create something that scaled even outside the U.S. And the best way to support those outside the U.S. with a diverse workforce.”
In addition to just being the right thing to do, said Nelson, there is further proof in the data. “Spend some time doing research and it becomes clear that companies with a diverse workforce and diverse leadership perform financially better,” he said. “It’s just better for the company. So we’ve had a concerted effort to bring more women into the company, more diversity into the company.”
But there’s another reason Nelson is so keen on equality and diversity: four daughters. “What I am telling my daughters now is that STEM is where it’s at and that’s where they need to focus if they want to go into business.”
While he thinks women tend to be well represented in the business side of things, Nelson said he sees improvement on the technology side. And Grow is doing its part. “Our QA manager at Grow is in a leadership role here, and she’s fantastic. And we have great female engineers. So it’s certainly improving. I think, given the area we are in, we are doing pretty well with diversity in our workforce.”
In one case, a woman has even entered the executive leadership ranks at Grow: Bridget Quinlan, Chief Growth Officer. “Bridget is the first female executive we’ve had at Grow, and it’s really made a big difference. It’s helped us as a company, it’s brought a different dynamic. . . and we get to thinking, why didn’t we have this before?”
One of the other major concerns Nelson has—and the data supports it, he said—is that women’s compensation and titles and roles are not always fair. “There is some kind of ceiling there, and we’ve got to be better as a society, in general, to fix that,” he explained.
There are things that draw people to technology, explained Nelson, and he believes innovation is a big part of it. “We here at Grow want to do things differently. And innovation only happens when there’s diversity of the workforce and diversity of thought. All of that breeds innovation, and that’s what we all love.”
Which leads to an innovative group that has formed at the company called, Women of Grow (WoG). This group of 10 or so women meets every month for lunch to just talk--about how things are going at work and at home, expectations, what would be good for women at the company, and other career and personal things. For instance, the last meeting began with the asking of a personal question: What was your biggest challenge growing up? The answers were surprising and heartfelt, setting the tone for future get-togethers.
“I love the Women of Grow thing. I think it’s really cool,” said the CEO. “The coming together of these women allows us all to help each other and learn and grow and advance careers and talk. I love peer-to-peer groups with everybody sharing. Everybody needs connections and friendships at work, and this helps with that. They rally around each other.”
To find out more about the Women of Grow—what they think, what they do, where they came from, etc.—Data Scientist Juliet Fletcher sent out a survey to the group asking a variety of questions. The data collected has been aggregated and anonymized and used to create a dashboard, which also includes some verbatim information and photos of the participants.
Here is a screenshot of that dashboard, and here is a link to the live version.
Part two of this report takes a deep dive into the data and report on just what makes WoG tick--especially what they think about being women in the rapidly changing high-tech business world.