Today, we have with us Colleen Habeski from Salsify at EcommerceNext whom we are going to interview. Colleen joined Salsify with many years of experience in building, scaling and transforming people and talent functions. Previously, Colleen was the Head of Talent and Experience at Vistaprint.
Let’s ask her some questions and read about her views on them:
1) Why do you feel it’s important for tech/ecommerce companies to prioritize accountability and transparency initiatives for women this year?
There is tremendous work still to be done in eliminating gender inequities. Women account for 47.7% of the global workforce but in my industry, women only account for 26.7% of tech-related jobs. And as you’d expect, the number of women in technology leadership positions is substantially lower than that. We are moving the needle but without transparency and accountability it is difficult to judge real progress. Transparency and accountability are also the building blocks for building trust, and trust is what is going to keep people within the organization, and also attract those that we want to bring in.
2) When it comes to ED&I programs for women, what can the tech/ecommerce industry do as a whole to drive more meaningful progress?
Many tech companies have sections of their website devoted to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) initiatives documenting percentages of traditionally underrepresented communities, including women. However, it is hard to tell if the data demonstrates progress. Tech companies must start by collaborating and listening to the women within their organizations. The best way to drive meaningful and positive change is to bring people into the conversation. Additionally, it’s about understanding the problems we are trying to solve, what the root causes are and then going after those versus focusing in on surface level fixes. After that, the tech/ecommerce industry must show their work. How are they prioritizing programs for women? What resources are being dedicated to this work? And of course, what are the results?
3) How is Salsify specifically upleveling its ED&I programs to attract and retain more women talent?
One of our ambitious diversity goals is that by 2024, senior leadership globally within each department will be at least 30% female. We added resources to execute this long term vision, including building out the ED&I team.
To attract and retain more women we do an annual pay equity review to ensure that we aren’t allowing unconscious bias to creep into compensation decisions. We also have programs that focus on providing leadership development to underrepresented talent within our organization with the goal of growing our people into bigger roles and ultimately challenge the view of what leadership looks like.
We are starting to see these investments pay dividends.
For example, at the leadership and individual contributor levels, Salsify is closing the gender gap. Women now account for 39% of company leadership, up from 32% in 2021, and almost 45% of individual contributors, up from 39% in 2021.
4) Are there some mistakes that you have made that you can share that have helped shape and build a stronger culture of equity and innovation?
We are always learning. We have tried things that have worked well, and we have pivoted from things that haven’t been as impactful. One of our biggest lessons learned is trying to do too much, too fast and without clarity of small, simple (but impactful) outcomes. It boils down to picking a few things and then doubling down on those things. Most recently, we have chosen to focus on inclusion and more specifically, building high-performing, inclusive teams. That translates to a focus on education around bias, inclusive leadership, allyship and more. And we will continue to leverage our ERGs, employee pulse survey and open forums of communication to tell us how we are doing along the way.
5) With annual events like Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, how does Salsify honor and celebrate these moments?
Our Women of Salsify (WOS) ERG is the largest of our ERGs with almost 200 members. For Women’s history month, the WOS put together a strong line up of events to drive community engagement and celebrate women in the workplace. Events included:
- The challenges of balancing career and family: Leadership panel
- Speed Networking
- Fundraising for Dignity Matters
- Sponsorship of the IINE for global refugees