Diversity Archives - Ascent Conference

How to Accelerate DEI Efforts with a Remote Workforce

Recorded at Ascent: Spotlight on Human Capital

Karine Bah Tahé, Founder & CEO @ Blue Level Training
Jiun Kimm, VP, Head of DEI @ Quartet Health

Diversity & inclusion is a demonstrated benefit to business by not only making leaders more effective but also unlocking the potential of teams. This session will focus on how to sustain and strengthen diversity and inclusion in our new remote environment
– How inclusive is your company? Conducting a D&I survey
– Gathering actionable data for D&I initiatives
– Building space for diverse perspectives and encouraging greater participation
– Remote team building programs
– Mentoring and developing all team members



Where Minorities are the Majority: A Tale of Two Tech Cities

Sunil Sharma, Managing Director & Barry Givens, Manager Partner @ Techstars

Ascent Conference 2019

Sunil Sharma [00:00:07] Welcome. So my name is Sunil Sharma. This is Barry Given’s. We’re colleagues together. We both run TechStars accelerators. I run it in Toronto, Canada. Barry is in Atlanta, Georgia. So when we came up with this idea to do a talk together, one thing really struck us is that is that both of our cities are thriving, fast rising tech hubs, highly acclaimed, creating a lot of investor interest and captivating the minds and spirits of entrepreneurs around the world. And in both cases were fueled, I think, by one common characteristic, and that is that we are we are cities where minority populations actually make up the majority of the domestic population or the municipal population of the two cities. So just before we get into that a little bit, I just want to quickly tell you about TechStars. So TechStars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. We operate tech accelerators throughout the world more than 50 and counting. And so the TechStars Toronto program and the TechStars Atlanta Accelerator are both open for applications right now. So we’re here at a center in part to meet with you and really see and discover some amazing entrepreneurial talent from anywhere in the world and encourage you to apply to to TechStars. So I’ll I’ll pause and let Barry introduce himself a little bit.

Barry Givens [00:01:29] In a quick plug for we got TechStars Chicago in the back of the room, as will. Their applications are open as we speak in both of our applications close on the 13th. 14TH, 13th, so, yeah, so if you’re interested, please go apply. So thanks for the brief introduction. As you mentioned, I’m from Atlanta and I’m a recovering founder. I started a company back in 2012 when there was no ecosystem in Atlanta. I would say no ecosystem. It was it was up and coming and then sold my company in 2017. I’ve spent the last two years before coming on to TechStars is really trying to close that gap, particularly for African-American founders, making sure that where I ended will be where they started.

Sunil Sharma [00:02:16] Right. And so and my background as well in tech investing was a partner at a seed stage fund up in Canada called Extreme Venture Partners before encouraging tech startups to launch in Canada. Now, we actually have three programs. The one that I’m managing director of is a city program. So it’s open to any vertical. And Barry’s is a corporate program. But but ultimately we were exact same thing. We’re looking for an enormously high potential entrepreneurs and really helping them through a combination of mentorship and network ecosystem facilitation, of course, some capital and just kind of our commitment to work and grow with these founders over the course of their entire startup journey. I’ll just say about Toronto. So, you know, it’s exciting for us in Canada to to really be witness to a growth of a domestic tech industry. And I think, you know, the numbers are proving it out. So Toronto is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the world. It’s now the fastest growing in North America. There have been more tech jobs created in the last two years in Toronto than in any tech city in North America. And that includes Silicon Valley. So it’s it’s an incredibly fast growing market. It’s the fourth largest city in North America. So just behind, you know, Mexico City, New York, L.A., bigger than Chicago and at roughly the same, roughly on par with Atlanta. And I think that one of the reasons why we’re seeing the growth in tech is that our economy and our country has been fueled by immigration. And so we are a country of immigrants. There have been some advantages to immigration policy that you see in Canada that you don’t see everywhere else in the world, including, I would say, from this country. And and so that’s inspiring a lot of people to apply into programs like the Startup Visa or other fast track programs that bring in tech talent that can quickly lead to permanent residency. So one such program is called the Startup Visa, and that’s a program that I had been have been involved with since the very beginning. And it allows for a founder team of up to five co-founders once selected by a designated investor like like a TechStars Toronto to get fast track permanent residency to Canada almost almost immediately. And so that’s what you would call a green card. So it’s not contingent on the startup or on the success of the company, but it’s really the fact that we’ve made a bet on you as an entrepreneur. And so the country should stand behind you long term and you’ll be there to create jobs. So that type of diversity is great. That’s immigrant fueled diversity. But what I want Barry now to discuss a little bit is other types of diversity and essentially the incredible racial and ethnic diversity that you find in Atlanta.

Barry Givens [00:04:57] Yeah, so Atlanta is regularly known as the the black Mecca. But beyond the title, we have a thriving similar to Toronto. We have a thriving entrepreneurial and business community. We have 16 of the Fortune 500. And we look at our population size, the cities that are above us, almost double in population. So from a density perspective, having 16, Fortune 500 is another 11. When you go to Fortune 1000, we have this unique opportunity to not only grow with all the education that we have there from the top bcuz at Morehouse, Spelman, Clark, the Georgia takes the Emory’s Georgia state. But one thing about all of these education systems is they all have this component around African-American education. So Georgia State is actually the number one, number one and graduating African-American undergraduate degrees. You have Morehouse and Spelman and Clark, some of the top schools in the country bcuz are historically black colleges and universities, if you’re not familiar. And then we have Georgia Tech, which graduates the highest number of African-American engineers outside of computer science. And so all that leads to we then have this corporate world where there’s a bunch of money. These companies are doing almost a true close to a trillion dollars in revenue a year. And we’re starting to see these merges with the tech ecosystem in Atlanta as well. And then another interesting fact is these corporations, if you look at the engineers and other major hubs for technology, the percentage of African-Americans in these companies from a tech perspective is typically, you know. Silicon Valley’s like two and a half percent, you get up to, like, I think New York maybe a little higher, like seven percent. Oh, almost 30 percent of the tech workers in the city of Atlanta are African-American, and so it leads to kind of this melting pot of innovation that also rolls over into the culture that we have. And that’s kind of the secret sauce that we have in Atlanta. So Atlanta is the only place where you have African-Americans leading in politics. So we have an African-American woman as the mayor. We also have many African-Americans sitting in leadership positions in those Fortune 500 companies. And then we also have a ton of African-American startups that’s really fueling the need or the desire for the I’s and the ludicrousness and, you know, the Tracee Ellis, Ross, all these people to want to get involved in tech because it finally looks like them and it finally represents things that they want to get involved with in solving problems that typically they would just get into tech for money. But now they’re getting into it because it’s solving things that they deal with, that they grew up, problems they grew up with. So it just is really interesting ability for us to grow the tech ecosystem, but with another culture in mind.

Sunil Sharma [00:07:58] So, so many interesting points to just draw parallels to. I mean, so I learned through the chats with you a lot more about Morehouse. And I’ve certainly known that Georgia Tech is an engineering powerhouse and Emory and other schools. But really, it’s it’s that’s the fuel for the ecosystem. And then within the universities, it all comes down to who are the students graduating, what are they studying and what’s their entrepreneurial like desires. And I think that’s something that we share in our ecosystems. And I’m assuming many of you do as well, wherever you’re from. Certainly it is the case in New York City, but in Toronto, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, these are very strong technical schools, very strong computer science, strong business, strong design, all the all the ingredients that helped launch great startups. And like Atlanta, which is a which is a major fortune. Five hundred center in Toronto is the Canadian headquarter city. I think it’s like twenty seven or twenty eight percent of all the headquarters in Canada and the entire country are in Toronto. And I think for city planners it’s actually an interesting thing to study because what’s happened in the case of Toronto and actually in when chatting with Barry, he confirmed the same with Atlanta is geographical zoning. The density of the companies matters. Toronto is becoming incredibly downtown oriented city, in part because of poor infrastructure and roads and lack of good transit. People who don’t want to have an hour and a half commute or an hour commute. They choose to live in maybe micro condos or small small footprint homes in the city. But that leads to a vibrancy of of of of accidental or deliberate collisions with each other, not vehicle vehicular collisions, but people meeting each other at events and at tech meet ups and at startup weekends, which is one of the things that we both organize. And I think the same you were mentioning is the case in Atlanta, the way the city has been zoned out, that there’s a lot of construction, a lot of high rises being built in the downtown core, and it’s fueling growth. But I want to touch on something you just mentioned about you were referencing T and Ludicrus, you know, pop culture, entertainment, arts and entertainment, sports. These are these matter. And we’ve seen it in Toronto. We are the NBA champs. I’ll remind you all here. And it’s funny, like two years ago, the I Heart Music Awards Male Artist of the Year, it’s a global awards competition like Billboard, all for male artists of the Year finalists. All four were from Toronto. You’re all thinking like, who are they? OK, I got Drake Weekend, Justin Bieber, Shaun Méndez, all from within, like a forty five minute drive of downtown Toronto. That’s for the whole world. That’s probably a statistical fluke, but it shows that there’s a tremendous amount of of cultural activity and energy and creation. And so one of the objectives that we have in my fund is to engage, to get some of these folks to kind of show up at a demo day or in a we work that we’re at or something like that. I don’t know if you’ve got any tips for me on how to how to get that done in Atlanta. But I think it matters that we have an entertainment industry that is kind of thriving and that fuels a lot of the tech. And I think you maybe you would like to just touch a little bit more on how you’re engaging because you’re becoming like the creative city, like that’s what Atlanta is getting known for. Right. And how how are you? How are you inspiring more of that?

Barry Givens [00:11:18] So I think one of the big things is what I hit on earlier is that. When we start to you know, people are in silos, right? You grow up making music your entire life, you’re around people that make music or a part of that industry. The same thing goes for corporate. You know, if you’re in that corporate structure, you’re going to go to work every day and you’re stuck in that corporate structure. That’s who you talk to. You go to conferences like this. Those are the people you meet. And one thing that we’re now so on top of TechStars, I also run a phone call collab with two other partners, Julia Bergesen, Justin Dawkins’, and it’s specifically focused on black entrepreneurs. And I’ll get into that a little bit later. But one of the things that you get is that these people now start when I say these people when you break down these barriers around the creative industries and start to mix them and bring them into the room with with entrepreneurs. And typically, you know, 15 years ago when that happened, they would typically send someone else into that room or they would send their business manager because the only thing they cared about was money. And typically the people in that room did not look like them. So they didn’t really care about the person in the room. And one thing that we hear a lot as far as you kind of joked about getting people involved on, one of the things that we hear a lot from these entertainers and athletes is we’re working with them is and in the I include the film and music. All that in the creative side is that we now get to walk into a room with people that look like our little brothers, our little sisters, our nephews, our nieces, and that engages them. That makes them want to get up and say, hey, you know, I’m going to actually make this meeting. I’m going to show up to this meeting. And now and as I mentioned before, we’re out there also solving a problem that my mom dealt with growing up. And this is a kind of an opportunity for all the investors in the room as well. I know that, you know, Atlanta and Toronto, they may be anomalies. They probably aren’t too many other cities that have these type of diversity metrics, but they’re airplanes. We have two of the busiest airports in the world and it’s very cheap to fly in. And so what happens is these opportunities, we’re bringing these people in the room and creating opportunities for other venture capitalists and investors to also fly in and have these same meetings. And the main thing that we want to do for now, I would say that this is probably similar to what you’re seeing in Toronto, is that many of the entrepreneurs that we’re getting around and then we’re matching them and bringing these creatives into the room is people have overlooked them for decades. Right. And as they’re being overlooked now, they we’re bringing I guess we call it the important people, the influencers into the room. Now, it’s making them more relevant. They’re more important. And so flying in as an investor, these are opportunities for you to get into markets that you may not have known about before. You may not have understood. I know you talked about a little bit on the the female the future female panel before us. But these are opportunities you may not understand. But what we’re trying to do is build a culture that you can now come into and write checks into and we welcome it. And so that’s a little bit about how we bring the creatives into the picture. But I’ll say in Toronto, I mean, you guys are, as you mentioned, one of the fastest growing cities. And you don’t have the the music capital of the world. You know, you have Tyler Perry who just opened up. He’s the first black owned studio for four film. Two hundred fifty million dollar studio. So how are you guys fueling all this growth?

Sunil Sharma [00:14:51] Yeah, so I think so. There’s a lot of money in Toronto and we’re seeing a lot of corporate philanthropy, a lot of foundational support to institutions. The universities are are generally public universities. Hospitals are health care, as you’ve heard, is public. So there’s an opportunity for money to be deployed into into things that people care about. So we’re starting to see the rise of hubs of more incubators and and programs and support. But I think it really comes down to people who, you know, don’t necessarily look like each other. In the case of Toronto, it’s a fifty two percent of the population is is is foreign born. It’s really high percentages. The UN says it’s the highest percentage of of foreign born citizen residents of any major metropolitan city in the world. And similar to Atlanta, which I think is more than fifty five percent African. Fifty three percent. Three percent. So more than half. I think that actually is the secret to what’s happening in both cities. It’s people that feel like if if they want to get to where they want to go, they it’s going to be up to them to make it happen. And they don’t necessarily get that pattern recognition that if I just stay in this corporate job long enough, I’m eventually going to be in the in the corporate suite of the Royal Bank or in your case that, you know, one of the large ups or Coca-Cola or any of the big companies, they might think that what we have to do is do our own thing. We have to launch our own company and be resource. And where, you know, it’s embedded in us from a young age to be entrepreneurial, we’re surrounded by family members who open up stores or have micro entrepreneurial activities of their own or even bigger ones. I think I think you grew up in an environment. You’re well, you’re definitely been surrounded by entrepreneurial life. You are an entrepreneur. But that is not also the fabric of Atlanta?

Barry Givens [00:16:43] Oh, yeah. I mean, just from a historical perspective, you think about being left out or ignored or kind of blocked out of opportunity. You look at the history of Atlanta from other industries from a music perspective, when there were no black record labels and face records launched. And now we had Toni Braxton, not just all these fantastic artists that also birthed So So Def with, you know, Criss Crossing. That was Jermaine Dupri label. And so where there wasn’t a table, we’re kind of known in Atlanta from an African-American perspective to go create a table and not complain about who’s not opening doors, who’s not doing this or that for us. And as I kind of alluded to it earlier with Tyler Perry, many of these African-American actors that you’re seeing now on the big screen, they couldn’t get jobs 15 years ago. So you look at the Taraji P. Hinson’s and the Meghann goods making she was getting a little bit. But many of these African-American actors and actresses, their careers were made because Tyler Perry opened up Tyler Perry studios and Woolpack, who started Packer Productions in the city of Atlanta. And they were all blocked out from a directors and a leadership perspective as well, not only the actors and actresses. And so to your point, it’s. When you have this a city like Atlanta or a city like Toronto, where there’s a leadership that is diverse, like having a when I wasn’t born in Atlanta, I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And I remember when we moved there when I was about seven or eight years old and we were driving through a neighborhood and I looked at my dad and all of these little black kids running around and bikes and these big old houses. And I look at my dad and I was like, black people live in these houses like this. We don’t have this in Milwaukee. And that mindset of being able to see something as a kid, it really fuels you being able to not have any ceilings or to not have any limits as you’re growing up. So as I was growing up, there was no one could tell me anything that I could not be like. My parents believed in me and that’s all I needed. And so very similar. When you have that environment where your family’s building businesses, you’ve seen entrepreneurship before. Even though I was the first graduate from college in my family, I wasn’t afraid of anything because we had a black mayor in the city of Atlanta. The entire time that I’ve lived there, my doctor was black, my dentist was black. Everything that I saw was that I could be whatever I wanted to be. And that fuels the growth, right. So now you have entrepreneurs growing up. You have people growing up with the sense that I can do and I can be whatever I want to be. And also, we’ve seen other from a tech perspective, we’ve seen other industries do it. And so now we’re trying to do that with the tech space. We’re building our own table so that we can. That’s why we started a fifty million dollar fund for black entrepreneurs is because we’re not complaining anymore that people aren’t writing. Even though we’re thriving in Atlanta, we’re still not getting African-Americans as a whole. We’re still getting less than two percent of venture capital dollars. And so we had to build that table. And it comes from that confidence. And that’s to your point. That’s what that’s what fuels the engagement in the ecosystem.

Sunil Sharma [00:19:47] Well, that’s actually a good point to kind of close to and this thing off with, which is that it’s meant as much as we painted a rosy picture of how aligned we are and how great these two cities are in terms of our ascent, no pun intended to among the tech world. But also it’s the fact that neither of us are considered Tier one capital investment cities. We’re not Silicon Valley. We’re not in New York City, we’re not London. What I see happening in Toronto is that there is more of an angel investment community taking shape. There’s some money that’s being taken off the table from companies like Shopify and others that have kind of gone public light speed and more in Montreal that have led to some investment that people kind of understand the need and the opportunity for investing in startups. There’s more seed funds, obviously, TechStars, but there’s more seed capital and some growth stage capital. But we have a lot of work to do, and I think you do in Atlanta as well in terms of, you know, pound for pound, getting up there with the big with the big cities in terms of tech investment.

Barry Givens [00:20:43] Oh, yeah. And I think one of the big takeaways or one of the things that I hope people take away is that we’re talking about diversity from an immigrant perspective, from a racial perspective. But every once you get outside of the Boston, Silicon Valley, New York, I’m kind of the top three places where venture capital is spent. Every city has a unique and diverse opportunity with the industry that they have. Like, what is it that you do well? What is it that you have that any other city, every other city is lacking? That can be your strength. And too many times, I think in cities, everyone is trying to copy Silicon Valley. Everyone’s trying to be Silicon Valley. When Silicon Valley, you can walk into a Starbucks and it’s thirty people that can write you a three hundred thousand dollar check. It’s not many cities, any other cities where you can get that. They also have the venture capital structure where they have, you know, 10 or 12 Damanhur billion dollar funds. Right. So being able to get the checks that you get in Silicon Valley or even in New York may not happen in your ecosystem. But one of the things that kind of we’re talking about now is fueling an ecosystem based on what you have and what do you have to, uh, to wrap up one more minute, are you building an ecosystem based on what you have available to you and not trying to copy Silicon Valley because you don’t have the resources that they have? And I know I’ll make that quick. We have to wrap up, but.

Sunil Sharma [00:22:05] Yeah, yeah. And just to close, Berry and I made a commitment that if Ascent has its back next year, we’re actually going to come back here with with delivered plans that actually involve connecting materially our our cities. We think it’s a big opportunity. We didn’t realize it actually before before we started strategizing about this panel. I don’t think anyone really thinks the two cities that need to light up are Toronto and Atlanta, Georgia, that that isn’t on a lot of people’s radar. But we we get it. And whether it’s engaging airports, municipal leaders, sports celebrities, musicians or just entrepreneurs, we’re going to do it. And we have we got some big ideas. So, again, Barry and I are both with tech stars are we’re recruiting for startups. We’re easy to find. Sunil Sharma at Texas Dotcom and.

Barry Givens [00:22:54] Barry Givens at TechStars dot com.

Sunil Sharma [00:22:56] And we’ll, uh, we’ll talk soon.




How to Diversify Your Portfolio with Diversity

Elizabeth Edwards, General Partner @ H Venture Partners; Zavain Dar, Partner @ Lux Capital; Sutian Dong, General Partner @ Females Founder Fund; Laura Chau, Principal @ Canaan Partners

Ascent Conference 2019

Elizabeth Edwards [00:00:07] My name is Elizabeth Edwards, I’m the general partner of H Venture Partners, we are a consumer focused fund. We invest all over North America and seed through growth, equity and all the major consumer categories. So I like to say, if you can find the category at a mass retailer like a target, it’s probably a category that we invest in. But a lot of our brands are digitally native and they end up and retailers like Target, Whole Foods, Nordstrom or Stand Alone retail. So I just want to open up our talk with a little bit of context. And I thought it was so timely because I was in the airport on my way over here. And I’ll just show you the covers of Entrepreneur magazine and Karlie Kloss code with classI, the founder and also a very prolific angel investor here in New York is on the cover. And then ink, we have Audrey Gelman, who is the founder of The Wing, which is a coworking space focused on women. And then we have Fast Company and Whitney Wolfe Hurd, who’s the CEO of Tumblr, the dating app. So there’s a theme here, which is that it’s a great time to be a female and diverse founder, but there’s so much work to do. And I want to just give some context around that work. So whether you look at the U.N. study or Helena Morrises, 30 percent club or categories, pipeline equity estimates right now are that it’ll take about 100 to 200 years to reach gender parity, which seems to me like a long time to wait a Korean pitch. But only about two percent of venture dollars go to female founders. And according to Forbes, only about five percent of venture decision makers are women. Credit Suisse tells us that there’s a lot of money left on the table because adding one woman to an all male corporate board increases performance by twenty six percent. First round capital tells us that of their portfolio companies having at least one female founder on the team, that means that those companies are outperforming the rest of their portfolio by 63 percent. And when we talk about racial and ethnic diversity, according to McKinsey and Fairview Capital, there is a linear relationship between financial performance and diversity on the management team. So for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior executive team, earnings rise by one percent. So there is, I think, a compelling business case that we can talk about here today about why diversity matters. And I’m so excited for our panelists to do so. So they’re going to tell you just a little bit about themselves and their firm, what they invest in, so you can hit them up later. And also, I’ve asked them to share a couple of companies that they’re invested in that you may have heard of. And then one fun fact, which is what you’re first paying gig was.

Zavain Dar [00:03:20] So I take it off, OK, get the one guy leading that off, I’m Zavain Dar, I’m a partner at Lux Capital. We’re based in Menlo Park in New York. I spent time in San Francisco and New York. I teach at Stanford, of course, on machine learning and philosophy. A few companies of note of ours, one of whom was just acquired by Facebook two weeks ago, control labs. I just learned right now sitting on the boyfriend was the chief strategy officer. Josh, their small world, it’s a very small world. Another one we sold earlier this year, orris for upwards of six billion to JMJ, a surgical robotics company. Our bread and butter is deep tech. So that’s EHI block chain robotic space, autonomous cars, a good amount of biotech, a pretty broad gauntlett, but really probably stay away from consumer mobile or low hanging kind of tech enterprise. SAS. We just raised two new funds about a month ago, so five hundred million early stage fund and then a five hundred and fifty million growth stage fund and fun fact about me. Anything. First job, first job, first paying gig was in high school, knocking door to door over the summer, selling solar panels. So learn salesmanship early.

Sutian Dong [00:04:38] Awesome, well, I’m so, so excited to be here and thanks, guys, for for choosing to spend your time in this panel. My name’s Sutian Dong. I was most recently a GP at Female Founders Fund. Female Founders Fund is the preeminent fund for early stage female founders based here in New York. It was founded in 2014 with the thesis that the world is changing. Very simple, right. And that the face of entrepreneurship, if you think about it today, is going to looks very different than what it did 10, 20 years years ago. And it will continue to evolve 10, 20, 30 years from now. And we were set up in 2014 with this belief that there was an absolute return opportunity by investing in a portfolio of solely female founded companies. Some of the names that you may recognize in this portfolio are companies like Rent the Runway, Zola Talla, Mavin Clinic costar Freney, Astrology and astronauts out there and a host of other early stage companies across both consumer and enterprise with the again aligning characteristic that all of them are female founded. I left Female Founders Fund full time. Let’s see, this was only two months ago to start a new project that I’m excited to share more about in in twenty twenty. But it’s safe to say that I will be doubling down on this focus in diversity by funding not just the companies and founders, but also the voices and funders in this space. Let’s see one fun fact about me, my first job or my first moneymaking opportunity was in elementary school when I would convince my parents to go to Sam’s Club and buy me those bulk packs of candies and then repackage them in a very, you know, not probably health conscious way in these little Ziploc bags and go around school, try to sell these to my friends, which was popular until my teachers found out.

Laura Chau [00:06:40] Hi, my name is Laura Chau. I am a principal at Canaan Partners, which is an early stage fund. We’ve been around for about 32 years, have five million assets under management and are currently investing in our out of our 11th Fund, which is an 800 million dollar vehicle. Some of the companies in our portfolio that you may have heard of are companies like the real real instr Cataldo Bird Roe Help. And we are a pretty diverse fund in a number of ways. We invest in both biotech and technology, so both consumer and enterprise on the tech side. And then in terms of our partnership, 40 percent of our investors, even at the GP level, are women and about 25 percent of our or 40 percent of our investors also are either immigrants or first generation. So around the table, we really talk about diversity, even among our investors. That is having a huge trickle down effect in terms of what we invest in and the types of conversations that we have a fun fact around. My first paying gig when I was 11 or 12, I also went door to door selling things, but it was Popery. I started a potpourri business and sold popery out of a red wagon knocking door to door. It was actually a pretty good business.

Elizabeth Edwards [00:07:59] That’s awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for sharing that. So shooting at Female Founders Fund, I’d love for you to share and also as leader of Global Women and VC, that’s also a really great platform for for female investors. I’d love for you to discuss the challenges that you’ve seen for women raising capital at the earliest stages.

Sutian Dong [00:08:24] That’s that’s a great, great starting question. So, you know, I think Inventure, when you invest it, it’s both in art, in a science, in the earlier you invest in a company’s life stage, the more of an art it is. And with that comes less a fewer numbers. Right. And more and more intuition or pattern matching or seeing something in an entrepreneur that compels you to as an investor, to make not just a financial commitment, but a commitment to work with that founder in that company for the next seven to ten plus years until the business exits. And I think one of the challenges historically for female entrepreneurs is that, you know, honestly, there weren’t that many women on the other side of the table. And as a consequence, they had a harder time raising capital because not only were the businesses and the the the industries, they were operating in slightly different, slightly foreign to some of the men across the table. But because women tend to and again, speaking generalizations, women can pitch differently and share their ideas differently. And if you’re an investor and you’re taking 20 minutes to make a decision, not if you want to invest in that company, but if you want to take another meeting to get to know that founder in that business better. The female founded companies we found often fell off the pipeline earlier so that they just didn’t reach the final decision point. That being said, the number of female founded companies that I’ve seen has ballooned, just exponentially grown from 2014 when Female Founders Fund was established to now. And that’s just not in the number of companies that have been started, but also in the companies that have raised not just seed funding, but series A, series B and Series C, and I think an ongoing challenge and an ongoing, you know, point of of discussion among founders and funders is, well, how do you continue supporting these opportunities? There is no dearth in this current market. There’s no dearth of early stage capital. And there’s many people who want to support female founders and honestly diverse founders who see the world a little bit differently. But the question is, will one who is going to find and what firms are going to continue funding these companies as they scale? And to what are the opportunities for funders to raise more capital, to invest more money in these companies? So it’s not just a problem that originates from the companies side, but it has also affected the thinking for VCs around how they finance their own business.

Elizabeth Edwards [00:11:04] That’s great, so Zavain you pointed out that you’re the only dude up here, but your mom has a Ph.D. in feminist studies, I read in your bio, I thought that was so interesting. So you probably have a leg up on the research, I would imagine. I would love for you to discuss how you’ve seen diverse teams succeed and why you think diversity in those management teams is so important.

Zavain Dar [00:11:31] It’s a good question. So my mom actually has a piece in feminist ideas, but before that she had a masters in computer science, in undergrad math at Cal. And I remember spending as she was a single mom raising my sister. I mean, I remember spending nights in the computer science department with her during her masters and even even noticing back then she had to leave computer science because it was so male dominated and just kind of like the cultural and the kind of work expectations on her as mom being in the lab, you know, until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. working on problem sets, which is something that I guess as a single dude or even as maybe a single woman. But once you have a family, particularly, women tend to get the burden of the familiar expectations on them just having to get kind of whittled out and actually moving to the social sciences. So it’s been something that’s been, you know, top of mind, very, very close to home, no pun intended for a long time at Lux in Canada. Even as I think about my portfolio companies and boards, I was reading a stat recently. I think male CEOs tend to be more honest and more accountable if there is at least one woman in the room. And I don’t think that’s one of the stats. Yeah, I just I just saw that maybe on Twitter this weekend. But it’s interesting thing to note, and certainly I know that even at Lux we we had a for the last four or five years now, we’ve had a female partner on our team. And I think that’s increased kind of the level of candor and kind of intellectual integrity that that we hold ourselves to, which is important. It’s not just kind of superficial. And certainly I think like, you know, like race, religion, gender, sexuality, all of these things kind of play play big things. But where we invest, which is deep tech, the best companies tend to have kind of intersectional backgrounds of founders. So, you know, it might have some mad scientist from computer scientists, some kind of, you know, molecular biologist and maybe some business person that’s having diversity from from kind of both an intellectual background, a background of perspectives, a background of experiences or varied experiences. And all of those tend to be important. So, you know, I can ramble on and on. I think there’s truth for for both. One, the quote unquote superficial, because, again, we are, you know, a collection of our experiences. And superficially, we’re all very differently based on kind of our outward appearance. And that tends to affect how we think and act and and speak and how we feel comfortable talking. The other is, of course, actually the kind of cognitive diversity that’s kind of fundamental ground truth. So we look for both and I think they’re both important.

Elizabeth Edwards [00:14:00] Yeah, I love for folks that are investing in deep tech when I see, like biologists and, you know, I teams, right? I actually started in the computer science lab at University of Michigan trying to figure out how human beings make decisions. And we were actually working a lot, you know, with biologists right at the time. So, um, really. So, Laura, you spent a lot of time in consumer as well. And we know that there are a lot of female founders and consumers, about 85 percent of consumer purchasing is done by women. Talk about some of the women that you’ve invested in and just what compelled you about them.

Laura Chau [00:14:42] Yeah, when it comes to venture, I think typically it’s all about pattern matching. Right. You’re looking for companies that fit a certain profile or founders who maybe hearken back to past success. And I think that’s a huge pitfall when it comes to investing, especially when you’re putting diversity as a part of that category, because a lot of female founders don’t necessarily fit that stereotype of wearing a hoodie at Stanford or having founded multiple companies before. So you really have to rethink what the criteria is that you’re looking for and essentially take it down to the ultimate characteristics or first principles of what you think are important in a founder. A couple of the founders from kanon that I think are fantastic. One is a portfolio company that I share with Sutian, a company called Khodary, which has two female founders. And I think you mentioned only about two percent of venture capital dollars go to fully female founders teams, but they were repeat entrepreneurs. So they hadn’t been CEOs or executives before, but they had been on a founding team of Daily Harvest in New York and previously before that at Birchbox. So they’d really shown that they had the ability to work at early stage companies. They knew how to hustle. They knew how to operate and execute. And when it came down to what I was looking for, individuals with a huge amount of hustle, with a vision, with deep understanding and expertize in the space that they were going after and a hunger. And I think they hit all of those characteristics. And even though they hadn’t been founders before and maybe didn’t look like the typical Stanford hoodie wearing student, I felt very compelled to invest in them. Another example is a company called Quiana, which is a women’s apparel and accessories brand. Again, a female founded company, two women and the CEO, Carla was an immigrant from Ecuador, had a very traditional path through Goldman and had been at Brown before that, but was a very timid founder in many ways. I think compared to some of the founders that you see that are very aggressive and paint this huge vision, she was much more conservative in her approach and it took a little bit of a kind of understanding her and realizing that she had a different way of presenting her company and maybe didn’t throw the huge pie in the sky vision out that some other founders might when they’re initially pitching, but had really strong bones and foundation to what she was doing. And it’s a fantastic company. You can go see their store down in Soho and multiple locations around the U.S.

Elizabeth Edwards [00:17:23] I remember Sarah and London when they were at Daily Harvest. And even then I think it was probably one of the best models that I’ve ever seen because London owned the model. And even now, like, just if you have a chance to check out Khodary, it’s the only way that you should be buying your party supplies. So I want to I want to just really, like, humanize this issue as investors, because I think we’ve all been in situations where we’ve had that moment where we’ve realized just how important diversity is and making investment decisions and in building great companies. And so I asked each of you to think of a situation a moment when you really realized that and just, you know, what happened.

Zavain Dar [00:18:19] I don’t know if there’s a single moment I’ll it’s top of mind, because it literally just happened this morning. We were in a meeting and of course, the locks on Mondays, we have kind of external teams come in and present to us. We had on entrepeneur come in and he was actually quoting Steve Jobs autobiography and saying he really loved one particular quote, which was, you know, the best way to invent the future, the best way to know the future is to invent it yourself or something along those lines. And then he kind of chuckled out loud to himself and said, you know, it’s hilarious. Like, you know, me and all my guy friends, we love that book. We like love jobs. And my wife and, you know, all of our female friends, they’re all like, he’s such a douche. And and I think my partners and I all we kind of paused for a second because it was it was doing this kind of, in his view, like this. Imagine being a female on his team. It’s like the gender expectations of of, you know, even even that kind of generalization in like, you know, and not having almost dehumanizing himself and belittling his wife and women broadly. So I think I think it happens even like, you know, of course, we’re two or three years now into the meta era and it’s still so tacit and pervasive and kind of present in all of our conversations. And it’s easy. It’s still easy to, like, laugh it off, but it’s still everywhere. And so, you know, I kind of made a mental note of that. And I was like, it’s interesting because I’m speaking on this panel in a few hours. But, you know, it still happens all the time.

Sutian Dong [00:19:51] How many of you in the room have heard of this company called Izola? So for those of you who have it, if you go to a wedding at some point in the next several years, I would put money on the likelihood that you will use Zola to buy something off of the couples registry. So Zola’s in New York based company. They are a wedding company that caters to millennial couples. Their first product in the market was a universal wedding registry, which sounds very simple. But if you’ve ever gone through Bloomingdale’s on a Sunday with your clicker or Crate and Barrel and click, click, click, click stuff for your wedding registry, ZOA eliminates the need to do that and also allows couples to add anything they want to their registry as across the Internet. So literally anything in the world, which is pretty cool. And Zola has been around. I think they were founded in 2000 and 12 or 13. And they so they’ve been around in the ecosystem for a while and now they’ve raised us. The last round was over 100 hundred million dollars. And so they’re a real company that has made an incredible impact in New York and beyond. The founder is a woman. And when we saw the company, that Female Founders Fund, they were out pitching an idea that was that had a little bit of traction and had a there there, but was not yet the the the presence it is in the ecosystem today. And when we saw the business, my partner and you and I were like, wow, this is incredible. Weddings are a multimillion billion dollar industry that really hasn’t seen any kind of innovation since Registry’s sort of went online. And if you think about all of the spend that happens in the space and all the consideration, why isn’t there a company that creates a more modern experience that can own the end to end experience for couples like. Oh, so it is probably that company. We’re going to do it. All right. That’s an oversimplification of our investment process, of course. But I want you to consider that and take the converse, which I think a lot of less diverse firms express, which was they looked at that company and they said, yeah, a lot of people get married, but a lot of people get married once. Right. So what’s the what’s the recurrence in the space? Right. What’s LTV here? And and how do you build a big business? Let’s look at all the other businesses in this space and use a historical context to project out future outcomes. And I think that’s where the flaw is, right? Where when you don’t have a diversity of thought around the table, you use you use proxies that don’t actually hold true in the real world. And so, you know, from 2013 or was a 2014 when we invested to nouse or has done some incredible things and again, become the predominant wedding company in in the space. And that was a very different that was a very different view that we took that ended up being a really good bet and unorthodox but relative to other investors.

Laura Chau [00:22:57] I will also point to one of our portfolio companies, which is the real real if you’re unfamiliar with the real real, it is an online luxury consignment platform where you can confine your used or potentially new luxury items. So clothing, handbags, accessories, art, jewelry and consignment onto a secondary market. The real real takes all of that inventory. They authenticate everything and then they sell it and they have massive amounts of data to understand how to move all of that product. Very, very quickly to company, actually, iPod earlier this year. But when Julie Wainwright, the CEO, went out to raise capital early on, she initially was pitching a number of male investors. And the response that she continually got was either they didn’t understand the business and said, why would someone want to buy used shoes from someone else? That doesn’t seem realistic. Or they would say, oh, let me go home and ask my wife and see if this is a real thing. And I think oftentimes investors get caught up in the biases of their own experience. And when you have an investor base that is primarily male or primarily, you know, a single demographic, you end up missing out on a lot of these opportunities that might be obvious to other people. And so Julia said multiple times that she didn’t have success finding an investor who understood her business or believed in the vision until she met with Cain. And I met with a female partner. And now, again, the company had a fantastic IPO earlier this year. I think there are dozens of other investors kind of have their tail between their legs and have the real real on their entire portfolio. But it’s a great example. And it was something that really struck me of recognizing not only do we need a a more diverse investor base, but also there’s huge upside and huge opportunity in investing in diverse entrepreneurs and also, you know, categories that often are for a different consumer set. The other thing I’ll add with Julie is that, you know, she was a repeat CEO. She had been CEO seven or eight times by that point. She’d previously been the CEO of a public company and she still had not much trouble raising money.

Elizabeth Edwards [00:25:18] And oh my God, I see that all the time. So one of our company’s previous portfolio, pelletized, it’s actually mostly male founding team, but they’re like target, target, like the eye. A customer was a new mom that made over one hundred thousand in income because she’s the one that’s having trouble going to the gym. Right. She’s got young kids at home. She can’t go anywhere. They pitch to a thousand angel investors and early stage funds in order to raise the first 20 million. We’re like the last two million in there. And it was really hard. It was a slog like how do you tell that story and say, like, this is a real problem. Another kind of interesting one. I was talking to some other investors in the consumer space and we’re talking about incontinence and incontinence is kind of an interesting category, because if you look at Japan and actually the U.S. is pretty close to this, the sale of adult diapers is going to eclipse the sale of baby diapers. Are it already does in countries like Japan where you have more older folks there. But that’s not the only story around incontinence. So is talking to this investor and he was looking at a deal on incontinence. He goes, yeah, it’s incredible because like what we’re finding is that these millennial women are buying it for their parents. And I don’t know if there are any women in the room, but I’ve had kids, but I’m like, really? Are you serious right now? No, no, they’re not. They’re not I’m not buying incontinence products from my mom. My mom can get online. Trust me. She buys plenty of things online. Millennial women also have issues with incontinence, which is why you have companies like Thinks an icon and like massive, massive companies that are selling incontinence products to women who have recently had a child, because that’s actually a big part of the market. And so what it really highlighted was, you know, why on this investing team, but probably also on lots of different founding teams, if you’re not really, really willing to get in there and address what the consumer pain point is and really know your consumer, if you don’t have those people on your team, you need to do a whole lot of insight work. So I think there are a lot of blind spots, so we can probably go on and on forever talking about. But one last quick question. So we have a long way to go. And seeing parity and venture capital, what do you think needs to happen in order to accelerate progress?

Laura Chau [00:27:59] I can go first. It’s a huge question, and I think there’s so many things that need to happen and are in the process of happening. First, I think we need to start at the top in terms of diversifying the investor base, which I mentioned, because I think, again, so much of that capital can trickle down. I think identifying ways to democratize access, both in terms of access to capital, access to introductions, access to community, I think a huge amount of building up kind of a an ecosystem where women or minorities or underrepresented groups can become successful, find capital or even just find the right connection to another entrepreneur who can help them out means that we need to figure out ways to build that community early on.

Sutian Dong [00:28:46] If I were to double click on one thing, it would be more more diverse. Funder’s right. So to get more diversity into Founders’ who look a little bit different, you need to have more people who see those opportunities without needing to do the depth of industry research because they natively understand those problems.

Zavain Dar [00:29:08] 100 percent agree with everything that you guys both mentioned. The only thing I’d add is just guys and kind of guy only rooms, which unfortunately still happens a lot in venture and tech and finance. And all that stuff is holding each other accountable. And again, I think about the example from earlier today. We’re down to kind of gave our guys will be guys haha joke. And in so many ways that kind of you know, it normalizes a lot of the horrible behavior that that’s happened in the last decades and business. So holding each other accountable I think will hopefully never change in the Vasseur kind of capacity.

Man in the background [00:29:41] And our time is up. Our next speakers are ready.

Elizabeth Edwards [00:29:43] Let’s give our Panelists and big round of applause. Thank you guys so much.





Fireside Chat: The Story of Building Bloomberg’s Marketing Team

Deirdre Bigley, Chief Marketing Officer @ Bloomberg; Martine Paris, Freelance Tech Journalist
Ascent Conference 2019

Martine Paris [00:00:05] My name is Martine Paris and I’m based in San Francisco, but this is my hometown, so it’s always so wonderful to be in New York and especially with Bloomberg and I write for Fast Company and VentureBeat, and I’m also a contributor at Forbes. I cover tech. I also cover FinTech. So I write for some other outlets that are based here in New York, Queens, ask in the Block. And I’m really excited to be talking with Deirdre Bigley today, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at Bloomberg. And he just got an amazing story because you already had a storied career at IBM before coming over to Bloomberg. So can you share with us what it was like to have a full career at IBM, who I understand like not many people ever leave IBM, but again, it’s Bloomberg. So tell us how they wound up recruiting you.

Deirdre Bigley [00:01:01] Um, yeah, it’s been 13 years at IBM and I’d had a lot of different jobs. And that’s the wonderful thing about IBM, is that they keep moving you and they keep giving you new experiences. So it was a great ride. But, you know, 13 years in, you kind of go, OK, am I ever going to get another job or am I going to stay here forever? And I was approached by Bloomberg because they had no marketing organization. They were a twenty five year old company, kind of a startup, still feeling very entrepreneurial and never really felt like they had a need for marketing until that point. So it was this like insane challenge to go into, you know, a company that was still growing and start from zero and build it into what we could.

Martine Paris [00:01:47] Yeah, that’s pretty remarkable. I mean, an eight billion dollar company with no marketing and the job of marketing, of course, is to do lead generation and user acquisition. So what was it like coming in? You know, what was your marketing budget? What were the resources you were given? Yeah. What was your task? What was your vision for them?

Deirdre Bigley [00:02:09] You know, it would be like I’m sure like any startup, none. We came in and, you know, there was a I think there was like two events. People there was a creative person. And there was I mean, it really was just like two cats and a dog. And then some people doing like random acts of marketing around the company. So there really wasn’t any kind of cohesive marketing group. The one thing that was made clear to me at the beginning was that the only way that we were going to be allowed to grow as an organization is if the business units chose to actually give us resources. So the way my organization works is that we are all consolidated from a marketing perspective. We’re on one team, but the business units pay for us. So in order for us to do work for business unit, we develop a scope of work with them. We tell them how many people we need in order to get that scope of work done and then they fund us out of their PNL. So there’s no way I could grow unless right off the bat we were showing some kind of benefit to each of the businesses.

Martine Paris [00:03:11] Yeah. So how I mean, I guess, first of all, Bloomberg has several business businesses that you support, right? Yeah. So and many of them, I’m sure, are competing for attention. You know, how do you go about divvying up? The business units. Yeah, what are the business units that you are serving?

Deirdre Bigley [00:03:31] Yeah, so I mean, if you think of it, it’s like three or four pieces. So basically there’s financial products and that’s that’s the side of the house that makes all the money and gets most of our attention. And then there’s the media team. So, you know, Bloomberg Dotcom, Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Radio, BusinessWeek markets, and then there’s Mike’s Foundation. So we also do all the work for Mike’s Foundation, you know, but then we also like work in recruitment. We work in, you know, tech, we work in, you know, diversity, H.R. So those are kind of the other little pieces that we have very all very different.

Martine Paris [00:04:06] And then what are the KPIs, you know, your brand new marketing organization. How are you measuring success for these particular business units? How is it hitting their PNL?

Deirdre Bigley [00:04:14] Yeah, I mean, like in the early days when we first started out and we were really struggling, you know, we were really just trying to figure out one. You know, we did some research to figure out, OK, what is this brand all mean? And which, of course, we found out it means the man and everything flows from there. So it was very clear to us that the brand had to be kind of a direct reflection, which was which was kind of unusual. I mean, at least for me to know that a brand was going to be led by a famous person at the top and then everything else kind of falls from him and how he is. So for for us, you know, when we first got there, it was like, OK, understand the brand, you know, understand build a brand style guide because there wasn’t any there was you put it all up on the wall and it was like, oh, my God, you know, was 20 different companies. So pulling it all together into one thing, they didn’t have any websites. I mean, we had Bloomberg Dotcom, which was a news site, but there was no corporate websites. It was building the websites. And then gradually, you know, you kind of you start building out your capabilities in design and video and content and social. But that all came kind of gradually as we were able to add more people. But you kind of you kind of pick your battles to begin with.And then as far as, you know, how you actually got people to pay for it, you know, you really had to show them you found that like one week person who was willing to give you a shot because they didn’t want to necessarily want us there. They didn’t feel like they needed us. So, I mean, it was one person who hired us. And the rest of the company is kind of like, what? Why do we need these guys? So you found that one person that you could connect with that maybe was having a problem with sales or something. And they said, OK, if you can come in and do something, come in and do it and you go in and you build an integrated campaign for them, which they’d never seen before. They had no idea how something like that would work. And you start showing some results and then the guy sitting next to them, the lady sitting next to them would go, oh, well, wait a minute, what did they do for you? Maybe they could do some of that for me. So it took us a lot longer to be accepted by the company and to prove what we could do than I had ever expected it would. But we really had to chip away at kind of what was the thinking of the company.

Martine Paris [00:06:32] So you find your champion and then build the use case study around them and show metrics, 30 percent growth, user acquisition comes from marketing. And then you just kind of take a path. You’re two hundred and thirty employees later.

Deirdre Bigley [00:06:49] I’m pretty pleased that you.

Martine Paris [00:06:51] And your massive marketing organization the past decade right?

Deirdre Bigley [00:06:54] We were global then either, you know, to is a global number now.

Martine Paris [00:06:57] Tell them the story of how you have been establishing presence in marketplaces that Bloomberg is not a known brand. I’m talking about China. We were talking about Mexico. That sounds like a really important service that you provide to the business units.

Deirdre Bigley [00:07:12] Yeah, I mean, one of the things that, you know, as I said, we always say, you know, our KPIs would go where they’re not right. So going where they’re not means like, you know, Bloomberg has, you know, a hundred salespeople covering, you know, Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch. That’s not where they need our help. Where they need our help is where they’re not. So it could be an emerging market where they don’t really know who we are. And we have a brand issue and we have like a sales issue. So that’s and there’s probably not a lot of salespeople there. So we have huge opportunity in those. If it’s a you know, if Bloomberg is getting into a new asset class or new roles, I mean, that’s actually where we can play. We also, you know, look at the sales pipeline and we don’t play in things that are going to close within 90 days. We go out and we like, you know, dumpster diving, like just go out and just start marketing to people that, you know, sells is probably not working at all. And those are the ones that when I go back to the management committee of Bloomberg, those are the ones that they’re the most interested in. When I can say that, you know, marketing contributed to the sale of X amount because these are people you had no idea existed or these are people that were in our pipeline. But we’re not being currently worked by sales. Those are the ones where they like their heads come up and they’re like, oh, all right, so this is really neat new stuff to us, right?

Martine Paris [00:08:33] So marketing is providing major business development opportunities for the company. And then so we like to think so. Yeah, right. In terms of identifying large enterprise clients that weren’t even on the radar doing this long lead pitching, I guess in addition to building prospects, databases, also creating decks for them and that that level of support. But you’re doing all of this without an agency. Is is that correct?

Deirdre Bigley [00:08:59] Yeah, yeah. You know, I came from IBM and we had had you know, I had Ogilvy and IBM were like synonymous with each other. So when I got to Bloomberg, the first thing was like, we need an agency. So we hired an agency and six months into it and it was six months into my job, too. It was very obvious that this was not how Bloomberg was going to be. Bloomberg was not going to do the big brand campaign. It is not Mike Bloomberg. It’s not our brand to do that. We are always going to work kind of from the bottom up. We don’t we do do a lot of awareness campaigns in emerging markets, but for the most part, it was not going to be about that. And, you know, for those of us here who have worked with agencies that, you know, they want to do the big brand campaign, they want to, you know, that’s how they make big money. So for us, it was like, no, we’re not going to be doing that kind of stuff. We’re going to be doing like the down and dirty stuff, like content that’s got to get out the door, like, really, really fast. We need designers sitting next to engineers sitting next to, you know, content people, and they’ve got to pull together and get it out the door really fast. That kind of speed that Bloomberg works and that we had to be able to work in, it just wasn’t something that was going to work with a large agency. So we we went back to the management committee and we said, you know, we had spent X amount of dollars with this agency. We’ll give you back a million dollars the company, if you let us keep the rest and build our own agency. And they agreed to do that. And that agency is is now because it still has to be paid for, for the most part by the businesses. You know, it’s of the two hundred thirty it’s one hundred people. That’s a that’s you know, globally, it’s one hundred people. Just this year, though, when you talk about, like, having to move things around and where the opportunity is, you know, we’ve taken, you know, 20 people out of New York and we’ve hired twenty people in Asia because that’s where huge growth is coming from for us. So you got to be able to kind of move them around.

Martine Paris [00:11:02] That’s fantastic. Well, in talking about your business units, one that you keep going back to is the foundation. Yeah. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of the stuff that Michael Bloomberg does and correct me if this is wrong, the like. So, for instance, when the United States pulls out of the Paris accord, Bloomberg wrote a check for the amount of the United States. Yes. That he paid are unbelievable. He paid our Jews to the Paris Accords, make sure that we still have a planet in 2050. So tell us about, like, the line between what Michael Bloomberg is doing and the foundation and then how how your organization supports the messaging of that.

Deirdre Bigley [00:11:43] Yeah. So it yeah, it’s you know, Mike is the foundation. Right. So he you know, this past year, he gave away over a hundred million dollars to 800 million, almost a billion dollars, almost a billion dollars and for all sorts of causes so.

Martine Paris [00:12:01] I’m really happy I watch Bloomberg.

Deirdre Bigley [00:12:04] Well, I mean, and that’s part of being an employee at Bloomberg. It and it’s part of the brand. Right? It’s about giving back. Mike is huge, obviously, about giving back. So it’s something that is in our DNA. It’s something that we are really encouraged to do. But the other thing from a marketing perspective is to make sure that, like every employee understands, you know, why he’s giving, what he’s giving and and the importance of being a Bloomberg employee, because you’re working for a company that all of the profits of the company go to the foundatin.

Martine Paris [00:12:35] all of the profits, I don’t think.

Deirdre Bigley [00:12:37] Profits.

Martine Paris [00:12:38] I didn’t know that. Yeah.

Deirdre Bigley [00:12:39] Go to the foundation. So that’s what fuels the foundation. And, you know, and you’re working for a company that is about, you know, climate, that is about oceans and, you know, you know, education and gun control. And, you know, and if you believe in those things, then you have a pride in working for a company like that.

Martine Paris [00:13:01] So if all of the proceeds, the profits go to these amazing charitable organizations, when you’re messaging your product to enterprise clients, is that a factor in your in your marketing messaging that that when they do business with you, they are helping to save the planet?

Deirdre Bigley [00:13:22] What we have found is that that’s not necessarily the best. Message to use for clients? I think it’s great in the sense that we try to we try to pull all those things together and, you know, it’s not something we’re ashamed to talk about. But, you know, you’re also charging these people a lot of money and then a lot of their money is going to the foundation. So, you know, I think you have to kind of use it in, you know, properly because you don’t want to make it sound like Mike is, you know, making all this money off of you and you’re giving it away. So, yeah. So we use it to kind of like help our causes. There’s a lot of clients that are into a lot of the same causes as Mike. So we bring them in. You know what Mike is doing? Events and things like that are happening.

Martine Paris [00:14:06] Wow. Fantastic. And so let’s just talk very quickly about diversity and then we might have time for some questions from the audience. And Bloomberg is incredibly diverse. I know when I watch it, I notice I notice that there’s more women than men for anchors on the shows and that they’re not just racially diverse, but they’re also diverse across ages and they’re diverse across sizes. And it looks like something that Bloomberg takes very seriously. I wanted to ask you is, as a senior executive within this very large corporation, you know, what has your experience of diversity been? And then how do you execute diversity through your your very you are the size of startup 230 people. That’s a lot of series. These startups are two hundred thirty people. So tell us a little bit about the perspective of diversity at Bloomberg and then how you message that.

Deirdre Bigley [00:14:57] Yeah, um, I think, you know, just bringing up news. I mean, it has been a concerted effort among our news organization. There’s a great article out last week that this wonderful reporter had done a study on the number of women female photojournalists that had bylines or credits with the major newspapers. And the average was 17 percent of all of those credited photojournalists were women. Bloomberg is at 48 percent of Ford photojournalists. So that doesn’t happen by accident. That has to be like a concerted like idea that is done at the very highest, you know, ranks of Bloomberg News to make sure Bloomberg also, as you said, makes sure that our on air talent is equal, but are a big push lately, is making sure that the quotable people, the people in our news who are being quoted, we’re getting more women to be quoted because, you know, when you’re in especially in financial news, it’s a lot of men. So that’s taken a really long time. We actually have a program where we, you know, go into companies and we teach these women how to be, you know, the the spokesperson for their company.

Martine Paris [00:16:14] So you media train their Assamese. They’re called you media train.

Deirdre Bigley [00:16:18] Yes, we do.

Martine Paris [00:16:19] Wow.

Deirdre Bigley [00:16:20] Yeah. Just so we can go back to them and get quotes so there’s more women that have a voice in the news.

Martine Paris [00:16:28] That’s fantastic, yeah, because it is very noticeable and it’s not just for us, it’s for Asian when I watch Bloomberg all day long. So, you know, it’s after hours, too. And then, of course, San Francisco time.

Deirdre Bigley [00:16:38] I think it was interesting to about my organization is that, you know, I actually really look at pay equality and gender equality within my organization. And I learned this like. Heartfelt lesson last year that was pretty painful, you know, no one can ask anybody what they make right when you’re switching jobs anymore, right. So, you know, people come in and they have to tell you what they want. And you’re not allowed to say what would you make your last job? You’re not allowed to do that anymore. So what I found when I was looking at all the compensation of all my employees, like I had this all of a sudden staggering, like inequity with women. And I was like, wait a minute, how is this possible that we have inequity with women? Like, we work so hard at this to make sure that this doesn’t happen? And what it turns out is that women were coming in and asking for less.

Martine Paris [00:17:28] So because we don’t have perspective, because we haven’t paid substantially less. Most companies don’t have transparency. So if you have a history, that’s why that’s why employers can’t ask for salary history anymore, because it was it was, you know, built in discrimination, discrimination.

Deirdre Bigley [00:17:43] But women weren’t understanding their worth.

Martine Paris [00:17:45] It’s really hard to check your value. I mean, I guess there’s Glassdoor, but if you’re making what you’re making, I work for an organization. When they they had asked me, how much do you want? And I told them and then they wound up giving me a lot more. It was like 50 percent more than what I had asked for. And I said, sure, yes, of course I accept. Why why are you I have to ask you, why are you why did you give me so much more than I asked for? And they said it’s even legal to pay you what you were asking for. So, you know, we have pay transparency and we have levels. And this is your level and that’s what you know.

Deirdre Bigley [00:18:14] Well, that’s what we wound up doing. We wound up putting in bans so that, you know, if you come in and you’re at this level, we will pay you between those two things, whether you ask for it or not, just because you’re never going to get equality when you know the women are not coming in. And like, I hope like women start really recognizing what they’re worth because it was astonishing to me.

Martine Paris [00:18:38] Yeah. Pay parity and just a non discriminatory practices are unconscious, conscious effort. Now, while ago there were quotas and we don’t have quotas anymore. But there was a time in America’s history where there were quotas, where they were women were universities were forced to push 50 percent through and make sure they were women and then large companies had to push 50 percent through this. Bloomberg have stated metrics of hiring practices like were you told you need like 50 percent hit these numbers, or is it just a conscientious effort on the part of all employees to strive for equality?

Deirdre Bigley [00:19:16] I mean, my organization Sixty six percent women that I’m marketing and that tends to be more of a female dominated, you know, career path. So for me, it’s super important. Right. All of the women’s issues, equality issues it is. But even from a Bloomberg perspective, you know, are there quotas? No, no. And we’re a privately held company, so we wouldn’t report them anyway. But it’s very difficult when, you know, Bloomberg doesn’t outsource any of their engineering. I know that’s insane that we have thousands of engineers that sit on Lexington Avenue, you know, every day. But we do. And, you know, and again, those tend to be there’s a lot of men like, you know, the whole STEM thing hasn’t quite like. You know, gotten through all the the ranks, so, you know, it’s still very male dominated. So I think engineering probably throws Bloomberg off in their weighting of of men and women. But it’s you know, it. But then you go to other departments and it’s really female.

Martine Paris [00:20:17] You know, I have my own I am a tech reporter and I do report on Silicon Valley. And I have my own theory about the STEM pipeline. You know, there are a lot of millennial female engineers, but the problem is that such they found like blind coding test that the women are just great harsher. When they when it’s blind, the women are graded higher. But when it’s not being degraded, graded harsher. And what happens is a lot of them come out of school and they go into engineering jobs and then they’re not supported, they’re not mentored, they’re not coach. They’re graded harsher and they don’t see well. So they drop out, you know. Does Bloomberg have internally what you can share with us mentoring programs to make sure that the women are asserting for themselves? I mean, obviously to New York, women know how to assert themselves here. But I’m just saying, you know, is there like a specific training program to help them that.

Deirdre Bigley [00:21:05] There’s definitely groups that come together and, you know, led by more senior female engineers and. Yeah, and they come together and they give them training. And yeah, I mean, Bloomberg is is very big on on training. And it’s it’s important. It’s important even my own department that has so many women. But, you know, what I found is that, you know, a lot of the women I was working with, like were great presenters. They were not you know, they didn’t have great voices when they were with these senior people at Bloomberg. So we had to start training like that was a big part of the initial stages, its men and women. Now it’s like, you know, just let’s hone it, you know, get good at it.

Martine Paris [00:21:50] I guess this is why Bloomberg is considered one of the best employers in the world. I mean, it’s such a thrill to have you here. I, I wonder if anybody in the audience has questions I don’t want to dominate the whole time period. Yes, please. Yeah.

Audience [00:22:08] You mentioned your effort in Mexico into Asia. Could you please talk more about. Working on the markets, you don’t know in the languages you don’t speak, especially in the first orderly stages when you don’t have a well-established theme.

Deirdre Bigley [00:22:26] Yeah, um, you you do rely on local people. So, you know, we have a major push right now in China. Um, you know, the markets are going to open up very soon in China, which means that, you know, you’re going to be able to trade in China and China. You know, we’ll be able to trade with the rest of the world. That will happen eventually pretty soon. So it’s a huge opportunity for us, you know, but, you know, my team certainly doesn’t understand the Asian culture being in New York. And that’s why we had to we had to, like, push to actually eliminate work in New York and get a really solid team in China. And it’s like for people, it’s like I’m like that’s what we’re talking about. But it was also a brand campaign. And we had to make sure we actually did hire an agency to check us on the brand campaign to make sure that we were actually doing it appropriately. So, yeah. So I think that you if you don’t have people on the ground that are marketers in that country that truly understand it, it’s really, really difficult. So we built up China this year. We’re building up India right now, you know, so those are the two biggest for me right now as like getting getting those, you know. Correct. But if you don’t have people there, you can’t you can’t fake it. Thank you.

Martine Paris [00:23:48] So, Deirdre, it looks like we’re out of time and I just wanted to let you close with, is there anything you’d like to share with the people in the audience on lessons learned and best practices in terms of growing an organization where one has some previously existed?

Deirdre Bigley [00:24:05] Yeah, I think the only thing I’d say is that, you know, if you can’t measure it, then nothing’s going to happen. And I think if you if you if you know, that has been my bread and butter is being able to go and sit in front of Mike in the management committee and explain exactly what I what I do. I mean, I could show him pieces of content. I could show on websites. I could show him pretty creative, you know, pictures. But it’s not till I show him the data that they actually care. So I think that that’s insanely important if you’re trying to build something up, is to be able to completely express, you know, what you’re contributing to the company.

Martine Paris [00:24:46] Well, thank you so much for joining us.

Deirdre Bigley [00:24:48] Thank you.




Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation

Vanessa Liu @ SAP, SaLisa Berrien @ COI Energy Services, and Ryan Leslie @ Disruptive Multimedia, Inc dba SuperPhone

Startup Grad School Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

Vanessa Liu [00:00:03] Hi, everyone, welcome to this panel at Ascent conference where we are going to be diving in on corporate innovation and inclusive entrepreneurship. My name is Vanessa Liu. I am the vice president of SAP Io Foundries in North America, which is part of the early stage venture arm of SAP, the large German technology company. I’m really thrilled to have with us today two great founders that we’ve worked with at SAP. But before I introduce them, let me just give you a little bit of context on corporate innovation and how we do it at SAP. So being the early stage venture arm for SAP, we look for enterprise startups that are anywhere between seed all the way up to series stages to work with. We have a fund where we make investments in companies typically at the seed stage, and then we have foundries which are our network of nine accelerators globally around the world where we run two programs a year that are no non-equity, no investment programs that are focused on bringing in startup innovations and where we integrate them into the SAP ecosystem to deliver that to our customers. So I’m really thrilled to have two founders that we’ve been working with. The first one is to Lisa Burien, who is the founder and CEO of SeeWhy Energy Services. And the second one is Ryan Leslie, the founder and CEO of Super Phone. So I’m going to have them just do quick intros and we’ll just dove right into it. We’ll have about twenty three minutes.

SaLisa Berrien [00:01:34] Thank you, Vanessa. I’m super delighted to be here and always I’m delighted to do anything with you. Vanessa, you’re my favorite person. So Zeolite Energy. We developed and deployed the first digital energy platform that successfully brings together utilities and businesses to detect, eliminate and monetize energy waste and buildings in order to drive efficiency and to optimize electric grid. So essentially what we do is we pay businesses to become more energy efficient.

Ryan Leslie [00:02:06] Yeah, and super phone on my side is really just a paradigm shift, if you will think of everything that you have on email that you do on email folders, filters, segmentation, automation. And wouldn’t that be awesome to have on text, whether that be with your customers, with your clients, with your partners, investors, whoever it may be. So we basically built an intelligence layer that gives you all the functionalities of email, but in your text inbox.

Vanessa Liu [00:02:37] So both are just sobbing, really critical of this problem, so I wanted to unpack that a little bit so we can understand more about what it is that you do. And and then we can talk about how working with a company like an S&P has really benefited your business. Maybe I’ll turn first to Lisa. How did you come to launch SeeWhy Energy Services? Like what gave you that idea to work with companies in that way? I mean, I think right now, at a time when consumers are really demanding cleaner and more responsible energy sources, what is seewhy energy doing to deliver what customers are asking for? What kind of innovation is happening right now that will only make renewable adoption a no brainer for utilities and their customers and consumers? I mean, obviously, the fires have in California been in everybody’s minds and climate change in general.

SaLisa Berrien [00:03:30] That’s right. Yeah. I mean, to keep it very simple, croi energy, we developed this platform that just meets customers where they’re at. I mean, as you know, with all of us, we all have our own way of operating. And we want people to delight us. We want people to meet our needs. And so what we found that was missing in the energy ecosystem was this platform that met customers exactly where they were at and helping them to help solve the climate crisis that we’re in so we all can play a part in. A lot of people don’t think that they can actually make any, like, efforts into doing that because they think they have to buy like renewables or they have to do a battery or something like that. But it’s really simple. All you have to do is like running the energy and you’re building more efficiently. And we provide those real time insights and alerts and also control. So you’re able to do that. And so if you’re a business that has a large energy team that just needs a complement to say, hey, here are some insights and you can act upon them, or if you’re a smaller team and you need an extension to that team, that gives you a full service energy management assistant, that will drive down those goals that you have and make sure that you are achieving your carbon reduction goals, make sure you’re achieving your energy efficiency goals and what have you. And then it goes it’s a technical hardware enabled software solution. And then we’re using machine learning and artificial intelligence to do that. And our partners. I know I don’t know how deep you want me to go into it, but our partners like Google, we’re working with them right now to implement machine learning in a way that we are touching on the customer and meeting them where they want and delighting them how they want to be delighted. So we believe in give to customers the it’s the platinum rule, give customers what they want versus what we want to have for ourselves.

Vanessa Liu [00:05:30] So you just be very customer centric in your approach and just say, like, this is we’re arming you with the tools that you need so that you can meet basically like the targets that you have when it comes to energy consumption.

SaLisa Berrien [00:05:44] That’s right. And a lot of times customers don’t know what they don’t know. And that’s what a lot of businesses say to me when I come to them. They’re like, oh, I didn’t even know I was wasted energy because they don’t know. Like, if you have a peak demand and it spikes for only fifteen minutes in your building, you’re paying for that for the whole month. So we’re helping you eradicate that before it even happens. And then we’ll turn that waste into a source for you to monetize it now make money. So instead of you spiking when you didn’t really need to, now you can manage that demand and sell it back to the electric grid or sell it to another business that might need excess capacity. So we’re we’re turning in a stranded cost into a revenue generating opportunity for you.

Vanessa Liu [00:06:25] I mean, this is why I love B2B businesses, because it’s like real big problems that you can solve for. And then it just comes with such large significant impact. And and maybe I’ll turn to you, Ryan. Your business is in a completely different space. You are bridging the disconnect between brands and consumers on a very intimate level. Could you tell us your journey? How what made you found super phone? What were the problems that you were seeing? How are you and your team looking to close this gap and to help customers? Primarily lots of retailers get in better touch with their consumers.

Ryan Leslie [00:07:05] Yeah, of course. So, you know, for me, really came from a music background that had a huge following that I had amassed through working with tons of customers and with the customers. We’re talking about big recording artists who have come to me for music. So whether it was Kanye West, Chris Brown, I was making love to records and also had written and produced an album for Kasey. And so across my social channels had all of these passive connections, if you will, and did. Really have any information on all of these people, and so once I move to actually giving my phone number to everyone, I had a pretty insane album cycle. So I went from, you know, not knowing who my fans and followers were to actually having a direct one on one text relationship with all of them. And I had the most successful album cycle of my career, because when you had that one to one conversation with someone, your chances of actual conversion are through the roof. You have a 50 percent chance of winning when it’s one to one. And so really, I became fascinated with this concept of scaling this for anyone. And during during the pandemic, when retailers were shutting down, we had the ability to provision seventeen hundred super phone accounts for one retailer so that salespeople could do the exact same thing that I was doing, which was actually connecting with their audience, with their supporters, with their consumers, their customers directly one on one. And we saw texting between sales associates and customers grow by 60 X during the last three or four months. And once the conversation got to a point where an associate would actually offer a link where they could buy something, there was a seventy five percent conversion to sales. And so I think really the the disconnect is kind of two or three fold. Number one is that kind of the top of everyone’s funnel is this hey, we’re going to do some advertising and hopefully, hopefully people are going to put their information in for an offer. Usually that information is an email capture. And, you know, over the years, we’ve seen that email correspondence and email marketing, even though it’s better than just that customer acquisition over social, it’s still has a very, very low conversion rate because it’s just so saturated. So when you can move from social to email to text, you have a very, very powerful relationship that you’re building with your customers. And so for sales associates, especially retail sales associates, it’s really proved to be phenomenal. And I’ve been able to take that experiment that I did on my album cycle and scale it to, you know, literally thousands of of customers and sales associates that are using super phone today.

Vanessa Liu [00:10:00] Yeah. And I think, like, just for the audience. So, I mean, Ryan is being very humble. He’s a Grammy nominated artist. He’s using this technique. And I think it just goes to show, like, how you can take the learnings right. From one industry, look at the analogies and other ones use that to solve like what is the essential problem at hand? We’re talking about a communications channel that needs to be more optimized. Right. And you can use that to really drive ad conversions. Well, I think the both of you just thinking about each of your businesses, you are now knocking on the doors of large corporations to try to get them to work together with you. Each of you just talk a little bit about what does that sales cycle look like? I mean, it’s very different from consumer businesses, as we know. But like, what does that look like? Maybe solution, maybe just a couple a couple of points from your side. How do you find the sales cycle? How long is it typically how do you get customers and. Right. For you to do the same?

SaLisa Berrien [00:11:04] Yes, so we have a two sided marketplace. So the utilities use our platform so they can have visibility on like how reliable resources are. So we sell directly to utilities. But what we found is that the sales cycle for utilities is pretty long. It’s typically 18 to 24 months with our our process. We were able to get it down to 12 months after that and saying, yes, that’s six months, but that’s still long for a startup. So for us, it was really important for us to find a strategic partner that had relationships with utilities. And so not to really be here shouting out SAP, but I must. So that’s why I decided to be a part of the sap, Daryle Foundry, because I knew that we needed to scale in a way with utilities, that we didn’t have the manpower to do that. So we just recently went on the app center. So we’re going to market with the SAP sales team. And literally we’ve talked to like seven different utilities for the EMEA, which I would have never been outside of the United States without that SAP relationship, and three in the United States and then also enterprise customers. So if you didn’t know, SAP has like 80 percent of the largest utilities run on SAP and seventy three percent of Fortune. Five hundred turned on SAP. So for that, it’s like, well, this is huge. It for me, that was a strategic partnership that I knew we needed to do in order to scale. Business, and then we have direct sales that we’re selling, we close to utilities, so we’re selling behind the utilities, those are the sales cycles for their industrial commercial customers. It’s typically from one day close up to 30 days. So you go from 12 months to one day and then you have like 30 days. And then with our strategic accounts, it’s typically 30 to 60 days that we’re looking at like for some of your enterprise customers.

Vanessa Liu [00:13:09] So so I just for everybody I know, I didn’t dare to say anything. And I think I think like this whole notion of working with corporates. And how do you do that? Like Ryan for for you, like you’re also a graduate of the S&P or found your program. And so could you talk? You’re also on at Center Sappi, etc.. And so SportsCenter is basically where we profile our partners, these third party partners that we work with that are now part of the SAP ecosystem. So can you talk about, like, why you chose to work with a corporate like SAP? What does that bring to your business? I mean, you you’ve always been very thoughtful and you’re such a planner when it comes to your business. And like, what makes that such a critical part of your strategy?

Ryan Leslie [00:13:57] Yeah, for sure. I mean, really, I look at Super Phone, we’re a startup. And so being a startup, we’ve got to be very, very conscious about our our capital deployment. And so for me, I made a conscious strategic decision that we would be focused on innovation and product. And so the majority and bulk of our team, given the limited capital resources that, you know, a lot of minority businesses actually have, I had to be very, very strategic about how we deploy that capital. And so I wanted to really be focused on building a best in class product. So best in class reliability, stability, scalability. And partnering with SAP was really a no brainer for us, because not only could we take this innovation edge that we had and really be able to integrate at a at a breakneck speed. Right. We could then. Work and partner with S&P to actually build on where we felt we could use the most help, and that is with the account executives and the relationships. And so, look, you know, we have no we have no, you know, false idea of how long the enterprise sales cycle takes. And for us to actually hire a sales team and account executives, you know, that’s that’s a pretty large capital outlay for the human resources to do that. So to be able to have a partnership where, you know, a company like SAP is deeply in tune with the challenges that we face as underrepresented and underrepresented founder in a business that’s looking to disrupt on the enterprise level the ability to partner with the sap and be woven into that account. Executive conversation with with the enterprises that you guys serve was really important for us. And it is a major, major take away and will be a major part of our strategy, our business strategy moving forward.

SaLisa Berrien [00:16:02] Yeah. And Vanessa, if I could just add in there to to Ryan’s point, I remember when I first started thinking about the app center before I was on there, the account execs, I met with them super excited about the solution. And then once I went on the app center, I mean, when I tell you, like, my phone started ringing and these are sales people that really are trying to deliver value to their customer. So SAP is using like companies like us to to further innovate and provide additional solutions to their customers. So I got to tell you that the sales execs have been phenomenal and they’re opening up doors and opportunities that I probably would have never got to just because of being, like you said, Ryan small and, you know, and underrepresented a company. But they really elevated our exposure.

Vanessa Liu [00:16:52] So, you know, I think that the both of you touch on a very important point, like our customers are asking us this all the time. What innovations are you seeing out there? We know that you can’t build everything. So who would you recommend that you work with? And so we feel like there is like a responsibility for us to surpass the innovations that are there and to say, hey, we could be honest brokers, you should work with these companies. And and it’s a very customer driven type of an approach in terms of what we have. And and that’s how that world works. And we’re always saying, like, we want to make technology better, but better for whom. And actually the both of you are touching upon the point of underrepresented founders. That’s a very core part just for it, for folks who are watching very core part of what it is that we do at Sapelo, at least 40 percent of the founders that we work with are underrepresented. And this is and this is like a very deliberate commitment. It’s because we know that the best technologies out there are being created by all different types of entrepreneurs. And so when we say we’re going to make technology better, we have to make sure we’re representative. And so for us, this is a critical part of our strategy. It’s just better business. And I would love the two of you to share about why do you think diversity is so important to advancing corporate innovation? You’ve seen it from our side. But just in talking to our customers, like what is what are for them? This is that I think it’s it’s almost like being able to to the thing I see all the time, customers are saying, well, I wouldn’t have had access to these entrepreneurs. We don’t look at this as a charity. This is just better business. And that’s the feeling that we get.

SaLisa Berrien [00:18:33] Yeah, yeah, so diversity, I just even just looking at my team as I built my team a lot of time, we think about our unconscious bias. And when I look at my team, it’s quite diverse from a cultural perspective, from thoughts like core competence and everything. And what I found from my team being as diverse as it is, it helps me drive forward with better quality solutions because they come to the table with their own personal experiences. And so when I have someone from Argentina, a Hispanic person, you know what’s important to them? And their priority may not be the same. That might be from one of my Caucasian colleagues. And so we get to see all the diversity. Then you bring that into a package and deliver it. So when working with, like Sappi and then being able to bring that same diversity to their customer base, now their customers getting really a well rounded solution that in many cases it kind of like minimizes the bias built into it because you have like these different pieces that are added that’s incorporating like different perspectives. So for us of diversity, I truly believe that your company has to reflect the customers you serve. And if it doesn’t, you’re going to miss the mark on being able to be sticky with your customers. And so why in my own personal career, I’ve been successful and then with my company is because we make sure that we’re narrowly focused on our customers. And when you’re narrowly focused on them, you’re going to make sure that you’re reflecting what’s important to them. And that’s what we do on one thing, what we do with the gifting. So we have a gifting portion on our platform where we gift energy to underserved communities that’s most negatively impacted by climate change, like that’s something that utilities are trying to solve. And we just knew personally that was important for us to do. And so now all the businesses that come on our platform, they have an opportunity to contribute to that as well.

Ryan Leslie [00:20:46] I couldn’t agree more. I think that, you know, when you have the perspectives of diverse perspectives, you just have a multifaceted approach to solving the challenges that we all as humanity are facing. And so when you think about when you think about a business in general, it’s about providing value to as many people as possible. And so if that value proposition is focused too much in one specific sort of archetype of person. Right. I agree so much with you. Solicit that that you end up missing the mark in terms of being as valuable as you possibly could be and serving across the spectrum. And when you serve across the spectrum, you never know some sometimes how that feedback loop will inform your business as well and help you to create a product that becomes even more valuable, more scalable and more impactful to the bottom line, which all of us have to be conscious of in business.

Vanessa Liu [00:21:48] Yeah, absolutely. And so here for me, just like in closing, I would love to just to get your thoughts, each of your thoughts on what would be the top three things that you would say to future entrepreneurs who are looking to build also an enterprise tech business. Like what are the three things that are the three things that you would have said to yourselves that you should do going in to be wildly successful?

SaLisa Berrien [00:22:18] Yeah, I know, Ryan, you keep let me go first. I think it’s because I’m a lady, so I’ll take it again. So Zeolite stands for Circle of Influence. And so for me, I believe it’s your network who’s around you. So you got to have the right people, the right organizations around you. So if you look at all of the brands that I’m associated with, Sappi, Morgan Stanley, nicer to, you know, it goes on masse challenge everything. Like all these different logos are key logos, Google. I mean, like, you know, we’re partnered with Google now. And so, like, that’s important. If you’re really looking at drawing a scalable enterprise business, it’s like, who do you have around you? Because those people are going to challenge you and they’re going to really push you forward. So that would be your network. Number two, I always tell Founders’, like, you got to believe in yourself more than you ever did before, because at this juncture, you’re going to get a lot of no’s and people are not even going to believe in your idea. They’re going to think it’s like out there and extreme. And then you’ll find that like, no, you’re thinking about something no one else thought about. And that’s why they think it’s extreme. And so just believe in yourself more than you ever did before and always just think about ways of paying it forward.

Ryan Leslie [00:23:32] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I mean, we we have a thesis as super fun. Our our company motto is that success happens at the speed of communication. So it’s about getting the right idea to the right person with the right resources at the right time. And also when you’re serving your customers that same sort of thesis and mantra. And so in looking back at my journey to this point, it really has been colored and shaped by the relationships that I’ve built. And so companies are not just logo’s companies or people. And when you have the ability to connect on a personal level and build that intimacy, there’s a power and intimacy and people will make irrational decisions when they have an emotional connection. And so sometimes that irrational decision is why should they work with a new company that doesn’t have other enterprise customers? Well, it’s because you’ve made an emotional connection with someone, and that’s really the power of intimacy. And so in my journey, it’s super fun. I had to learn how to take passive connections from social and build them into depth. So instead of a scale of hundreds of thousands of little interactions, build depth and build intimacy so that I could I could build that truly emotional connection because all businesses are made up of people.

Vanessa Liu [00:24:54] So great. Well, thank you both so much, Salisa and Ryan. And it’s I just hope that everybody who is watching today just realize, like some of the secrets that the two of them have have embarked on so that they can be successful enterprise tech, startup entrepreneurs. And so thank you for your time.

Ryan Leslie [00:25:15] Yeah, for sure.

SaLisa Berrien [00:25:16] Thank you

Ryan Leslie [00:25:16] And for anyone that’s watching, I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. So I have a YORO. It’s text Ryan Dotcom, you can leave your number there. You can see super fun at work. You’ll get a text from my cell number and I practice what I preach. If you’re interested in building, you’re interested in learning, you want to connect. You have an idea for super fun, whatever it is. Let’s start today. Text running dotcom. Leave me your number and I’ll text you. I bet.

SaLisa Berrien [00:25:46] Sounds good, COI Energy Services dot com, check us out for sure.

Vanessa Liu [00:25:51] Thank you. And and and SAP dot IO.

Ryan Leslie [00:25:53] Yeah

Vanessa Liu [00:25:55] Bye everyone.

SaLisa Berrien [00:25:55] Bye-bye



Hiring And Employment Branding For Startups Putting Together a Diverse Workforce

Keith Cline @ VentureFizz, Kellie Wagner @ Collective, and Jiun Kimm @ Samsung Next

Startup Grad School Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

Kellie Wagner [00:00:01] And it’s true.

Jiun Kim [00:00:02] yeah

Keith Cline [00:00:04] It’s 11, 30, so let’s get started. All right, well, thanks, everybody, for joining us today. Hope everyone’s safe and healthy, of course, and that you’ve all been enjoying the different panels and discussions from the U.S. conference. So all is going well. Today’s topic that we’re going to be talking about is putting together a diverse workforce for startups. So I’m super honored to be moderating this panel because it’s a very important and meaningful topic, especially with all the challenges that we’re dealing with around diversity, equity and inclusion. So I’m Keith Klein. I’m the founder of Entropies, which is a recruitment website and employment branding platform for companies in the tech industry. So I’m joined by two experts in this field. So we’ve got Kelly Wagner and Jim Kim. So instead of me introducing the two of you, I thought each of you would just take a few moments to introduce yourselves. I’ll start, Kelly.

Kellie Wagner [00:01:00] Sure. Hi, everyone, my name is Kellie Wagner. I’m the founder and CEO of a diversity equity and inclusion company called Collective. We partner with high growth startups, scale ups across a variety of industries, definitely a concentration on tech and consumer brands to help them really build a holistic diversity and inclusion strategy and bring that to life through implementation trainings and process development, et cetera. So I’m really excited to be here with you all having this super important conversation.

Keith Cline [00:01:41] Jiun, how about you.

Jiun Kim [00:01:42] Hi, everyone. I’m Jiun. My name is Jiun Kim, I’m the head of diversity and inclusion at Samsung next. And a little bit about next, we are the innovation group building a global ecosystem for transformative software and services. We do that by supporting builders and founders through investments, partnerships, acquisitions and with our product arm. And so we are committed to a diverse and inclusive, not just team, but tech ecosystem overall. And so you are really excited to be here as well.

Keith Cline [00:02:13] All right, let’s dig deep, because we just have twenty five minutes, so we have a lot to cover this a very important topic. So DI diversity equity inclusion, D and I diversity and inclusion? So it’s different acronym. So we don’t really care what acronym is being used. But let’s just talk about what does it mean, just as a holistic point of view and what does it what does it matter for companies? We want to start.

Kellie Wagner [00:02:36] Yeah, I mean, it’s so funny. This is an ongoing conversation in this space. Whatever you want to call the space itself is there’s all these different acronyms DEI, D and I, DEIB and really the various meanings, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, starting to see people integrate words like justice at the root of it. It’s about how are we fostering workplaces and ecosystems that value different perspectives, backgrounds, identities, and not only having those identities and backgrounds represented, but making sure from an inclusion standpoint that people within these spaces feel seen, understood, valued. And then from an equity standpoint, that we’re not just assuming that everyone has the same needs or have the same starting places, but really are making sure that we are providing people with the resources and support they need to feel empowered and thrive so that they can do the best work that they are there to do. And that may look different for different people.

Keith Cline [00:03:51] And so you have kind of like a broad overview of a portfolio of companies like what does it all mean for companies?

Jiun Kim [00:03:59] Yeah, yeah, I mean, definitely one hundred percent, everything that Kelly said, and I know we were talking about this before where we were saying, like, we don’t care what people call it as long as we’re doing the work. And I think ultimately, really, this work is about people and it’s about outcomes. And to Kelly’s point about equity, the end results always have to be to be creating the systems and structures that ensure every single person at your company has the same access to opportunity. And so often I say like diversity and inclusion is a journey, but equity and even justice is the destination. And really, if I’m going to be frank, I think it is just as work to what Kelly said. Again, this is a word being used more and more. And I think it is only when companies are treating people justly and fairly that we can reap the full benefits of the work because otherwise you’re not going to have anyone who wants to come to your company and do the work with you. And I think it often ruffles people’s feathers sometimes to hear that word being used. We are in the business of profit and maximization. But to me, it’s not an either or. I think it’s a both. And which means we can be motivated by the business case, which absolutely shows diversity and inclusion leads to stronger results, greater outcomes, higher profit. And we can be motivated to treat people justly and fairly. And I think we literally can’t reap the benefits of this work fully. If we don’t look at it through both lenses, I think we’ll all operate more effectively and courageously in the work if we value it for what it is. And so I think ultimately, as a business leader, having that orientation is incredibly important.

Keith Cline [00:05:36] Yeah, and I mean, it’s it goes without saying this has been a very challenging year around this topic. And if there is a silver lining, I think it’s raised awareness across, you know, lots of industries, not just the tech industry, but since that’s where our audience is largely focused in the tech industry. You know, you look at steps maybe Google took back in 2014 when they published their first diversity and inclusion report. What do you think it means for companies that like the tech industry as a whole? Like what do you think this means as far as take an action? Like what? Why is now a moment that there’s different change occurring?

Jiun Kim [00:06:20] Let’s go for a concert. Yeah, so I think, you know, when we say this moment to be clear, we’re talking about the moment that has has resulted that the murder of George Ford, which took place at the end of May. Obviously, there were a number of injustices that happened. And we know that historically these are injustices that have impacted the black community. They just want to kind of clarify what we mean by the moment. And I think in the same way, this moment for us as individuals, it’s about our introspection of who we want to be in society. I think it’s the same for tech companies. So tech companies looking internally to understand that tackling the moment is not about brand or reputation, but about doing the hard work of making a long term commitment to diversity and inclusion. And I think that’s something that’s been really exciting for me as a leader in this space, to see a lot of people kind of doubling down on that commitment. I think specifically here, pursuing authentically and I work right now means a willingness to sacrifice, make hard changes, potentially messing up, potentially being called out and having the hard conversations that as a business leader you probably never imagined you would be having with your employees. And so when you talk about challenges, I think some of the challenges related to what I was saying before is just pushing ourselves to understand that doing the work well means accepting the power of the work in both the business case and its opportunity to bring just access to everybody. And I also think as a leader, when we’re willing to do the more challenging work of ensuring that DNI is not just about representation and optics, but when we do the work of understanding that it is about leveraging our teams and ideas to be more creative, innovative, forward thinking, all of those things, we’re just going to go farther than we have before. So I think it’s a moment that’s been sparked by something so terrible. But but also there’s a sense of optimism, I feel for all that we can do moving forward because we’re finally having these, like, honest conversations about about what it means.

Kellie Wagner [00:08:37] I would also just add that I think this is a moment we hit, we hear the word thrown around a lot and people saying like we want to be great allies as organizations. We want to be a culture of allies. And I think something that this moment is really surfacing for me, particularly as you saw some of the backlash, the company space that made these very grand public statements about Black Lives Matter and then found themselves in situations where they didn’t have the positive response that they thought they were going to get is that, you know, there is going to be that that pushback back and sometimes you are going to get called out. And the question is, do you double down on the work in those moments? I think it’s very easy when you are a company and you’re trying to do the right thing and you’re getting lots of praise and recognition and positive reinforcement, it’s easy to feel like galvanized to do this work. And I think what tech companies are having to face and address right now is there are going to be call ups. You are going to get it wrong. And how do you keep how do you use that to spark motivation, to keep working and to keep learning from your mistakes and doing better and where it’s it’s an ecosystem of iteration and learning. And I think we need to really bring that same mindset into the space and work and not be discouraged by the moments when we are faced with employees, many black and Latin X employees and indigenous employees who have been kind of underrepresented and under empowered in the workplace when they’re saying, I’m burnt out, I actually don’t trust you. I don’t trust that the work that you’re going to do is actually going to happen. How do you keep doing that work anyways and showing instead of telling and understanding where those feelings are coming from? Because I think there is a sense of honesty, unfiltered honesty. We’ve gotten this permission to say, you know what, this has been a bad experience for me and I don’t trust you. And how do we continue to show up for those populations anyways rather than saying, oh, they’re ungrateful, why don’t they care that we’re trying to do this? So I think that is that is a challenge that we’re going to have to push through. But when we can and we do, I think on the other end of that is the trust that we’re looking for and the connection and the empowerment.

Keith Cline [00:11:16] The diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s on the radar for all the companies we’re dealing with, I mean, we’re dealing with over two hundred sixty companies in the tech industry and it’s on the forefront. It’s like the leading part of discussions now, which is amazing if you’re a founder just starting out. Right. And this is something that’s important to you as it should be. How do you get started? Like what are the tactical tips that you would give to founders on starting out and trying to build a strong workforce that is diverse? Do you want to start cause you’re looking at especially the whole portfolio and of course, Kelly’s working with lots of companies from a know capacity, but you want to start.

Jiun Kim [00:11:55] Yeah, sure. So I’m really excited about this question because we actually recently launched a DNI Resources for Startup Guide. It’s a free open source guide available for any startup or company. So if you go to Sansing next dot com about page, you can find it on there now. So encourage anyone to download share. There’s an email address where you can reach me. I’d love to talk about it, get feedback. And the reason we did this case. Exactly to your point, so many companies are talking about it. As a CBC that has our own set of portfolio companies, we believe it’s our responsibility to share some of the things that we’re doing and and to make the areas in which we’re working with these porticos have DNI be a central part of it. And so this guide establishes the work around three, what we see as key areas to serve as a jumping off point so as to establishing foundational elements. So determining your wife, setting up your structures for accountability. There’s a section, of course, on recruiting and hiring, which is incredibly important. So doing that with diversity, equity, inclusion in mind and then building a genuine, inclusive company culture. And so what we’ve done in each of these sections is created or not created what we created our own in-house resources, which we’re kind of sharing with others to make their own. And then in the section, we also have a place where we talk about consultants and vendors in the space that we love. So we’ve linked Kelly’s company, the Collective, on theirs to everyone. Be sure to check that out. But yeah, we’re really excited about it. And and think, you know, there’s there’s so much that companies in early stages can do. And so we’re excited to be a support in helping them do that work.

Keith Cline [00:13:42] What do you think, Kellie?

Kellie Wagner [00:13:44] Yeah, I mean, I would echo so much of what he said, which is there are resources out there. I think what I really saw in the face of Kohat even was this willingness for so many companies and consultancies to put out free resources to guide companies as budgets were being cut, as people were really trying to figure out what do we do, how do we adapt? Because Coolpad also serviced a lot of the challenges that were unique to this moment. And so we put out a pandemic proof tool kit. You can also find online. There are amazing resources like project include a place that I send people that is free, that has a lot of really tactical, tangible advice. And I would say it does go back to one of the things that DMZ around creating that foundation. So one really getting clear on your why I think in this moment it is a thing that a lot of companies skip over in their desire to just get down to action, which is I get it. And people want really tangible tactical things to do. And what I find is that without laying the groundwork of accountability and determining your North Star, it’s really easy for this work to take a backseat when other things become a priority. So until you’ve clarified, how is this actually going to help our business outcomes and how is this going to help our culture and make sure that everyone in our organization is primed to do their best work? It’s very easy to treat this as kind of a side project when you start to have to really get down to what do we prioritize as an organization. And the second thing I would say is really getting used to talking about it as a collective, where are really values led organization. And so we talk about values all the time. I bring it up constantly in terms of behaviors that we should be engaging in with our clients, with each other. I sometimes feel like I’m a broken record, but it creates so much clarity that our values are really, really important. And I would say Similarily would be introducing it into conversations with candidates, not just candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, but can all candidates. Right. So that they understand that by signing up to be a part of your organization, this is something that matters to you. And this. These are behaviors that are expected to be part of the culture. In turn, you’re setting yourself up to be able to better serve the underrepresented talent that you want to bring in because you’re making sure that this is this is really woven into your DNA and people are comfortable having some of those uncomfortable conversations.

Keith Cline [00:16:36] And it’s OK. I get.

Jiun Kim [00:16:41] I just wanted to echo Kelly’s point about bringing it up during the Canada experience. I think we’re finding more and more and have been for quite a while that people, no matter what their background, their racial identity, what role they’re applying for, are going to ask companies hard questions like what are you doing about DNA? What does it mean to you? I’ve definitely been on the interviewer side where I’m getting all of those questions. So to Kelly’s point, like, you have to be able to understand your why everybody at your company needs to be able to articulate your lie as well, because it’s built into the culture, because they see how it connects to the work. I think that is an incredibly important point.

Keith Cline [00:17:20] And I think it’s you know, it starts from the early days of the company, especially from the founders. So I think of a podcast episode I did with David Cancel, co-founder and CEO of Dreft, which some of the leadership team from Drift have been speaking at this conference. And from the early days, I think within the first time you’ve been the first five employees he hired a talent acquisition. A recruiter to focus on building out a diverse pipeline from day one, and that was a mandate that he made. So it was just from the early part of the company, which, you know, once you start building that into your culture, day one, obviously it can have very strong benefits long term. Now, for a company that is kind of already been building and there are maybe one hundred people, or maybe they’re beyond that and they’re now looking at their numbers and percentages, they’re like way behind the eight ball, what advice would you give the companies that at that stage you want to start?

Kellie Wagner [00:18:18] Sure, yeah. I mean, I think that certainly it’s easier. The earlier you start, but it’s never too late. I would say that at that point, really going back and taking a critical look at your systems and processes, I think a lot of times organizations that are at that point get into this mentality of we just have to start hiring more diverse candidates. And what I would say is the actual better step to take first is to figure out how you’ve got to where you’ve got to in the first place. Right. So why are you in an organization at this point of one hundred plus or even thousands of people? That is very homogenous. So looking at your performance review process, looking at your recruiting process, understanding where bias is showing up and acting as a barrier is actually more important. Right. Because otherwise what we see is that what we call the the leaky bucket is that you’re going to spend a ton of money going to conferences like Grace Hopper, having booths, trying to convince people from different underrepresented backgrounds to come. And I think, you know, you can put a compelling offer out there for some people if you throw enough money and they will take that risk, but they will stay. And so that impact is going to be really short term. And when we think about people saying, we’ll decide, is it how can we be efficient? That’s a really inefficient way to to spend your money and invest in this work.

Keith Cline [00:20:00] What do you think, Jiun?

Jiun Kim [00:20:01] Yeah, I would definitely agree with all that. It’s not to it’s harder, but not too late, has Kelly said. And so there are a couple of things that I think about as well. So as we said before, determining your vision for that DNA culture you want to build and doing that by having a listening tour to understand, particularly from your most marginalized groups of employees, like what is a culture of belonging mean to them? How do you build that into your game plan and every part of the structures? And I think there’s often times where people mask inclusion and, you know, it’s whatever it’s what everybody wants. Like, we have to listen to everybody, of course. But but this work in terms of equity is ensuring that we are especially listening to those who are most marginalized. So particularly those groups where you may only have three or four employees, it is the most important to listen to what they feel like they need, creating measures of accountability. So setting up those systems to track data for your progress, both on the demographic information side and also qualitative data so people can share in free form and their experiences with. And I and then I would say the last thing that’s really important is ensuring there’s Buy-In in both the top and the bottom. I’ve been in organizations where it’s just employee base or it’s just leaders like it has to come from both. There has to be a meeting of the middle aligned around a strong culture and particularly from the top most leaders, their ability to articulate why the work is important to them individually, why it’s important to the business and a willingness to make what is a long term commitment in this work. Something I had talked to a lot of leaders about is that DNA is a bit different in the sense that those those quick business results you want to see quarter by quarter, it’s going to look different. We’re going to look at data differently. The outcomes are going to come at a different pace. That doesn’t mean it’s less important. And we just have to get comfortable with what the difference is there. And so I think I would just add those points as well.

Keith Cline [00:22:08] Well, do you think that should become part of almost like the you know, when there’s a board meeting, there’s like, OK, how are we doing with sales? Are we doing with funding for the next race? There’s all these key metrics that are discussed in a board meeting. Should this be part of it? Like you’re like Google has their diversity and inclusion report. So how are we doing as it relates to that?

Kellie Wagner [00:22:26] Absolutely

Jiun Kim [00:22:28] Yeah, I. I. Go ahead, Kellie you can go.

Kellie Wagner [00:22:32] I was just going to say, and this goes back to a lot of what John is talking about in terms of accountability metrics, if you are not building it into your regular reporting, if you’re not building it into the ways that employees are, their performance is assessed into bonus structures, et cetera. And then you are not sending the message that this is actually as important. Right. Because anything important to the company gets measured and people get assessed on their performance around it. So you have to treat this the same way. And that does mean reporting out on it in the in the way that you would report any other function in the company. I think that that’s really important. And I also just wanted to add in in terms of kind of high impact things that companies can do that are really trying to turn that ship around. It’s also think about where you’re you are kind of infusing diversity to a lot of organizations will really focused heavily on internship programs or entry level employees. And you have then now brought in diversity. But a lot of those folks then don’t work in positions of power or in positions to make decisions that can impact the business and impact future hiring. I heard once that one of the best places that you can focus having more diverse talent is on your talent acquisition team, on your team, because they’re the ones who in many cases that are thinking about those recruitment structures, are thinking about those people processes and can bring that lens right to the table. Similarly with managers, how are they empowering? And that doesn’t mean to put the weight on those folks to do all of the work. But it’s just thinking about how are you bringing in different types of people and then giving them actual power to to be a part of changing the culture.

Keith Cline [00:24:28] That’s great advice. And I’m just looking at the clock. Looks like we have one minute. So, Jim, if you want to just add some closing thoughts there, just expand on what Kelly shared.

Jiun Kim [00:24:38] Yeah, sure, and we’re just going to say before and absolutely and it’s part of our organization wide performance indicators, so how we’re measuring DNA and tracking towards it is on the same level of importance as what our Ventures team is doing, our product team is doing. And we were doing that before my arrival. And so when I got here and saw that, I was like, OK, like, you don’t really care about this. I’m glad I’m here to totally echo that as well.

Keith Cline [00:25:06] Well, I think this is going to power off from what I was told, so, Kellie and Jiun, thanks so much for taking the time to share all your thoughts and the great advice. And, of course, check out those resources that they mentioned on Samsung Naksan collector’s website, because they’re very, very useful. So thanks again for your time.

Kellie Wagner [00:25:22] Thank you.

Jiun Kim [00:25:22] Thanks, everyone.



Sales management best practices in an enlightened era of diversity, equity and inclusion

Matt Cameron, CEO & Founder @ SaaSy Sales Leadership
Sales & Marketing Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:01] Hi everybody, it’s great to see so many people have come to turn up to listen to one of my the topics on most passionate about that is diversity, equity and inclusion.

[00:00:11] And we’re talking about it in the context of sales, leadership, sales management. Quick introduction for those of you don’t know me. I am the the leader of Sassy Sales Leadership, which is a company that specializes in working with the go to market teams, took me in venture capital backed or publicly listed companies. As you’ll see from the slide. I’ve moved around a lot. The accent you’re hearing is a little combination of New Zealand and Australia and a result of having moved around so much. I didn’t have a perspective on the value of an inclusion.

[00:00:42] So I expect that the majority, of course, they are listening in because you understand the benefits and the moral imperative of having a diverse workplace workforce that reflects the communities in which we live.

[00:00:58] It might be, however, that you had leaders in your organization to say, look, in our community, the vast majority share the same beliefs, looks the same lives in a predictably similar manner. So our team should be the same.

[00:01:12] And so I understand that commercially focused imperative. So what I’ve done is given a lot of thought in terms of the implications for the business and observing what’s happening in the broader business universe. So for those of you of leaders who might not be as on board with this or colleagues a bit more skeptical than what the hard dollar reasons to care about are going to give you several pieces of armor as we go through the conversation to that. But to begin with, I’d like to lay some into introductory groundwork and they learn how to apply it in the sales context.

[00:01:46] So let’s start with diversity. By definition, I want to point out you can’t be considered a diverse person on one human. Or one human being, each of us. So what is true is that we seek to create diverse teams through bringing people together with different perspectives. And this is where it gets pretty interesting.

[00:02:11] I’ll start by saying it isn’t as simple as male and female, gay or straight, religious or agnostic, white or a person of color. We’re all a blend of several things.

[00:02:20] And in fact, it was in 2014 that a woman by the name of Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, which gives me a really great visual of the rich tapestry that makes up each one of us. We’re not just one of these elements, but rather a combination of several bit identity experiencer traits. And this is why I think the term intersectionality is helpful from my own perspective. Some connection to those being born in New Zealand in the early 70s, before I was living and lived in four different countries, attended six different schools. And to be fair, at almost every one of them, I had the wrong answer. Or maybe it was the wrong cultural expectations that didn’t meet the context I found myself in. And having now spent over 20 years outside of New Zealand working at Stoddart’s multinationals and running global teams, or developed a great appreciation for the important contributions that different perspectives bring and how leaders, we need to be sensitive to the fact that we view the world through our perspective lens, and that’s different from the person that we’re interacting with. And we’re going to have a little bit more on what this means for you and a Day-To-Day level in a few minutes.

[00:03:33] However, we have to start with diversity, one of the biggest barriers to diversity in our candidate pool is one of our favorite hiring practices, the good old employee referral bonus program. And I’m guessing a lot of you, you can you can give me a lot something if this is a lot of you have an employee referral program, which is great for getting people in the door. But the problem is it should seem obvious that you get homogeneity.

[00:03:58] I remember when I was at Yammer, some of you remember you got acquired by Microsoft. The initial hires came from UCLA because that’s where they were at the time. So how do we get beyond our networks? The great news is there are some fantastic new communities that are providing access to underrepresented candidates who bring different perspectives that can dramatically accelerate our success by joining more dots in the universe for us. Give you some examples.

[00:04:29] Well, entry level first is the academy has a stellar reputation for sourcing, developing and mentoring early career sales people who actually stay in the role longer and perform better than all the averages based San Francisco. But they drawerful underrepresented areas and uncover the hidden treasure of highly motivated, loyal and inspired candidates that are looking to make it into the universe. I come from all over the place, so if you want to get started, then how better than growing your own diverse team or talent pool from entry level and then bringing them up another great new community?

[00:05:06] It’s very exciting for me is violence. Violence started in L.A. and he can find well qualified black professionals in all roles. And they’ve got the backing of our premier venture firm up front benches. And I’ll come in then to.

[00:05:22] Another one is, why is women in cells everywhere? So for those of you who recognize the gender imbalance in your team, why is the division of Rikyu, which is a recruitment firm focused on connecting female talent with opportunity? Lastly, Out in Tech has a great community and related job board for the LGBT, LGBTQ plus community because looking for progressive organizations, so you’ve got the right context to provide a welcoming environment where talent of all affinities can shine and really contribute. That’s a very short list. I’ll give you one example of different affinity groups, but I hope it’ll help you realize there are options and perhaps plan. Starting with these, you’ll be inspired to look more broadly through your immediate networks that you have access to. I promise you some hot dog stuff. What is the hard dollar reason to ensure diversity in your team? In my peer group of people who frequently conduct win loss reviews with their prospects. What are you more interested in? An increasingly prevalent theme is that sales pursuit teams are losing all parties on the grounds of cultural fit.

[00:06:35] And if you dig deeper, it turns out that’s often as simple as the Zune meeting, looking like a 1950s monochrome TV set that has the brightness turned up to Max contrast to zero. Human nature is that people like people like them. So if we don’t mirror the customer communities we’re seeking to serve, then we’re making the job twice as hard. If you think about the last few group presentations that you did. Was it a group of men that showed up like an IBM team straight out of onboarding in the 60s? For those of you who responded to our piece? I’m sure you’ll be starting to see this. There are questions now coming out relating to diversity metrics in your company and is key criteria to winning a bid, especially if you sell to the Fortune 500 or the government. So this is an example of where our ecosystem is exerting pressure for positive change and one that no one can ignore. So let’s move on to the second later, and the equity is one thing for us to find or to a source of diverse candidates. What we need now to figure out, though, is how to both attract them and ensure they can do the best work when they get there. So let’s start with equity, which should actually be easy for all of us to understand. I mean, simply stated, opportunities must be given and recognition must be afforded fairly. And in my personal values, this fairness and equity ranks number one, probably due to the examples being picked last for the soccer team, because I had a weird accent and maybe a bowl haircut at school I used to have here could just be that I will never finish this critical step. Another obvious area is pay equity, and I’m sure some of you are thinking, well, who the heck doesn’t pay equity is the obvious or how about this? Five years ago at Salesforce, I say Salesforce. Salesforce is renowned for the DNI programs. How could it be true that they didn’t have pay equity? Well, it turns out they did a survey in twenty fifteen. What they found was there’s a gender pay gap that amounted to three million bucks a year. And to his credit, the CEO immediately thinks that’s a fact that the pay as required. So Salesforce can let that happen. And I’m sure a lot of us are vulnerable.

[00:08:57] And one of the ways this is happening is you’re employer. So here’s a specific tactical tip. I would hope that none of you are asking people what they’ve built in the past, the legal in North America, but a practice I would definitely like rubbed out, as well as asking what people’s earnings expectations are, because certain groups of people, both the heads down, are going to ask for what they really believe or match the contribution. They’re going to make some of this help the candidate, what the pay range is, and ask them if that’s in the range that they would consider. Well, he didn’t nickel and dime and negotiate with him to get the best people right. So it sounds leaders attract them and don’t try and sort of negotiate at the time of entry is not helpful for anyone. What we want is great talent.

[00:09:44] It’s going to hit. Now, the less obvious area around equity is who gets developed and who is a sales leader and can be insidious as to who gets time on your calendar and who does. So there are certain cultures where it’s seen as self promoting or unprofessional to be getting in a manager’s face with development or input, whereas for other cultures it’s seen as showing initiative and drive. And if you don’t pay attention to how you’re spending time with who has formal coaching plans, who doesn’t? Very quickly, you find that you’re missing an untapped potential in your take. So I want you to reflect the modern. If you think about the people who report to you, who gets the most one on one outside of reform, one of us gets to go to the development events, the conferences, or perhaps sit in a project team to develop new ideas if you’re going to get maximum value from your team and retain all of your talent. And we need to ensure everyone has the same opportunities. Remember this. Just because someone doesn’t ask for an opportunity doesn’t mean they won’t be the best person for the job.

[00:10:49] Study after study shows that men in particular are happy to apply for promotions or roles, whether or not they check all the qualification criteria where a statistically relevant number of women actually won’t apply for one hundred, ten percent of the requirements.

[00:11:05] So don’t lose out on that talent. And that brings us to inclusion.

[00:11:12] Inclusion means that people can truly turn up to work as the best self, bringing as much of themselves as they think contributes to a good outcome. Many say bring your whole self, but actually that isn’t always helpful. As much as we may aspire to, that probably has some aspects of our life. We just aren’t ready to share some practical terms. In real life.

[00:11:33] An inclusive workplace invites the whole self, but it isn’t mandatory to retain and nurture top talent. It’s critical to have an honest look at the end to end employee experience with an eye toward creating conditions that promote inclusion on a daily basis in designing ways to measure the impact. Now, right now, as we’re engaging, of course, this work from home in most places, and that has different implications, depending on your life situation with your caring for elders, children, what not this we’re thinking about. Inclusion is so important.

[00:12:09] This is what matters if you look at this graph, we invest a lot in getting our people up to speed and it really takes some time before we get real our way out of them, particularly for mid-market and enterprise risk. And the highest Y is where we can farm from the talent we have within our ranks and keep them for long periods of time. As sales leaders, we know that in order to be successful over the long term, we need to become proficient at developing and retaining our next generation of leadership so that high performing IP or newly minted sales manager doesn’t get given the opportunities that are ready for relative to their peers because of their affinity group or the way in which they need to operate.

[00:12:48] We’re going to lose engagement and a lot of off to a company where they do feel, heard and respected. So this affects onboarding, team building, culture, performance reviews, succession planning, mentoring, everything. So our sales organizations need to scale up diverse and inclusive behaviors. For example, in very practical meetings, who’s invited?

[00:13:13] Maybe the role of who gets to speak and how often are you leaving anybody whose input would be valuable? Does everyone have an opportunity to have their input here?

[00:13:21] And as a result, I feel that they’re both respected and have the ability to have impact. Are you running meetings with certain people don’t contribute either in leading a topic or having the perspective solicited? Remember what I said before? Some people have put their hands up because culturally that’s not what I do. So we need to solicit that input. I was actually speaking with an organization recently where there’s a forecast and pipeline review with 40 people, 40 on the call. But only senior leadership says anything in front line managers. Just listen. That’s not a recipe for engagement. So you should be asking yourself, have I created conditions where every person can contribute in the unique and meaningful way and feel safe and secure about doing that if you haven’t? Do you have the courage to fix it now again and promise that don’t share some hard dollar specifics? I want to do that for you. How about winning more deals? If you’re selling up a midmarket or enterprise, then I hope you’re having a test and improve review session right where you get the reps together and one of them presents the deal. We help test and improve their strategy to that opportunity. A good example of how inclusion gives better outcomes is when thinking about deals. And I remember working with one company that was selling to John Deere microphone not based in Illinois. The team were running a standard playbook out of New York when one of the stars they happened to be able to do a review was from the Midwest, interjected and said is really, really important to have face to face relationship and trust building meetings with folks from the Midwest is how we do business. Now, if this company didn’t have diverse representation in the team, then it wouldn’t have had this and perhaps would have been perceived as the pushy salespeople from the Big Apple and just care and not about people, we definitely doesn’t work in the Midwest.

[00:15:19] So with this kind of inclusion comes engagement and engagement delivers discretionary effort, and that comes from being welcomed, valued, respected and heard. A key thing here is that people are welcome because of the difference, not in spite of them.

[00:15:35] We’re not here to tolerate people. We have to recognize the value and the contribution that the different makes for ourselves. And for example, for those of you who are seeking to sell into the C suite of enterprise large enterprises, you find you’re trying to engage with an older demographic, having older, typically having older demographics. And your team is going to support these efforts. So rather than being accepting of the over forty five like me, you might recognize them as a secret weapon. No, not currently looking for a job, but just in case, connect to me only now inflation is back. The conclusion is very much a continuum from the far left, where little Matt is not allowed to have a voice and therefore none of his values being tapped all the way through to full inclusion with a feeling of respect and value means that I can make a meaningful contribution to the team.

[00:16:33] The leadership quality of inclusiveness feels more important now than ever in an exercise we do in the leadership program that I lead is to introduce people to the idea of examining their own values so they can be conscious of their perspective when leaving the team.

[00:16:48] Values are made up of belief systems and experiences, and the challenge with not examining your own values is without realizing it. We’re constantly defending our perspective, which might be subconscious. So, for example, some of you might be familiar with the exercise of asking why five times to get to the root of the problem? And with this exercise, I could realize that my need for everyone to be at the office back home, we’re doing it and I am for stand up rather than dialing in actually stems from a belief system I have used to have that people take advantage of a situation where they can therefore cannot be trusted. Therefore, I need to manage my people closely with some people if given the opportunity. And it sounds pretty funny to work from home environment, but not so long ago, I’m sure a lot of managers felt this way. As a side note, actually, a lot of managers on hold right now are encouraging employees to work less because the days are getting longer during work from home. Productivity is through the roof and that’s a real risk. So it’s important to know what your values are and share them with your team, which on assessment and task forces, we take the time to do internal reflection values, discuss the implications of those values. Here’s some questions for you. If you take your value, what can your people expect from you? How are you going to behave? Secondly, what do you expect from your people? Because that might be different. And then ask yourself which affinity group within your team might feel excluded by that value. So, for example, if you value long hours, equals hard work equals good employee, then what about people who have children they need to care for straight after work or elderly folks? They have hobbies, community. And the quote I have on the screen here about treatment is a reaction to the commonly held belief that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. But give it a second thought, and it’s easy to realize that this is not universally ideal for people with different experiences, belief systems and perspectives. For them, a better approach is understand how they want to be treated and do that right. Sir, farmers say that grit means that as a person with no young kids in the house or work longer hours and do whatever is needed to fill the gaps for past. But what about my team members who have to under five year olds running around, jumping in and out of, do you expect them to work the night shift when the kids go to bed, or are you going to make exceptions and acknowledge them in a temporary context? You’ll accept your high performance may experience a small dip in productivity until things shift. We need to switch some language on here because the next question is one of fairness and equity. If we accept a dip from some people in the team based on the one on others, a less obvious and yet very common practice is that single members, people without partners in our team, are expected to pick up the slack for those who have family commitments. And this isn’t fair. So why are we single out C.N. or single Sam for working through the weekend to help out with Cuba or to help solve some new material? So we have to be conscious of it. What’s.

[00:19:52] Look, this is a journey and they’re already full phases, phase one is not knowing where you find yourself at this stage if you think diversity is compliance related or someone else’s job and not yours. Right. But once you become convinced of the importance of inclusion in your sales leadership role, you in the awareness phase two and in the step you educate yourself. Listen to things like this, reading books on how best to move forward. And I hope this is a catalyst for further inspection. And then beyond that, you get active. At this point, you take meaningful action in support of others, like ensuring that everyone, when your team is able to contribute equally and eventually you might reach advocacy. And in this stage, you’re proactively and consistently confronting discrimination and working to prevent it on a systemic level. As you move along the spectrum, your actions become more public, more high risk and perhaps operate at an organizational level. So this is very much a journey. And at a personal level, I’m actively seeking to be an advocate through being outspoken in my views, taking overt acts like using my pronouns when I introduce myself, and also helping people learn by empathetically letting them know when the actions or words might be excluding this one right.

[00:21:04] For you to get started, might be able to lobby to pick up a book online. Jennifer Brown, who was well-known in the community how to be an inclusive leader as your role in creating cultures of belonging where everybody can fry.

[00:21:18] This is where I’m going to chat. I really appreciate everybody turning up today and I last asked all of you relates to leadership. We’re committed to supporting underrepresented groups and SAS. And as you can see here, we have a scholarship initiative. So if you go to our website, if you know or you identify as somebody who is underrepresented in technology, we give free trainings or trainings range from twelve hundred to a few thousand dollars and we give these free. And that’s a North Star. We measure us based on the number of scholarship students we get through our program and invite you to share that widely so we can help more groups join our community and we can get the value that can be delivered by having a diverse set of people in our teens graduating.

[00:22:07] I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.



The F Word – Future. Female. Funding.

“The F Word – Future. Female. Funding.”
Main Stage Panel at Ascent Conference 2019
Amy Sorrells, Director of Global Communications @ Oracle for Startups
Kris Beck, CEO @ Proformex
Erika Jolly Brooks, CMO @ Springbot
Jennifer Keiser Neundorfer