Procede Software — What’s New — News — Procede Software’s Leadership Team is over 50% Female. Here’s Why that Matters. Procede Software’s Leadership Team is over 50% Female. Here’s Why that Matters. Studies indicate that a commitment to diversity and inclusion can deliver a competitive edge. The McKinsey study, Delivering through Diversity, for example, found corporations that embrace ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity on their executive teams were more likely to experience above-average profitability and out-perform less diverse organizations. At Procede Software, we firmly believe that our commitment to diversity and inclusion has been a key factor in our success. Over the years, we’ve developed policies and practices to support hiring a more diverse workforce and encourage career growth once hired. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’re pleased to see those efforts come to fruition, particularly in terms of gender parity—our leadership team is now 58% female, and some of the women that comprise it were among our earliest hires. To wrap up Women’s History Month, we sat down with our own history makers—the women on our leadership team—to learn what it means to them to be part of this groundbreaking group, how they have benefitted from mentorship, how they mentor others, and what advice they have for other women seeking careers in technology. We spoke with: Deanna Cocco, Chief Customer Officer, 18 Years of Service Alina Caceres, Senior Vice President, Strategic Operations, 15 Years of Service Sharon Covitt, Vice President of Implementation Services, 17 Years of Service* Lindsay Kramer, Director of Education and Training Services, 8 Years of Service Nabyl Alvarez, Director of Human Resources, 9 Years of Service Jennifer York, Director of Marketing Communications, 15 Years of Service Grace Sawyer, Senior Business Operations Manager, 18 Years of Service What does it mean to you to be a part of such a diverse group? How do you support each other? Lindsay: Different people have different strengths, backgrounds, and things to offer, so we can rely on each other as both mentors and peers. I feel appreciated and comfortable, which translates to learning and growing, both things that the business, our customers, and I all benefit from. Nabyl: Being part of a diverse culture to me means I get to experience different viewpoints—I’m always learning and growing from my teammates, both professionally and personally. Grace: Being a part of a diverse workgroup means I know that my opinions are valued and not overlooked. I am honored to be a part of an organization that values diversity. Alina: It means that I learn something new every single day. We support each other by finding common ground, finding things to laugh about, finding ways to solve difficult problems together, challenging each other, and sharing personal experiences. How do Procede Software and its customers benefit from the diversity of its leadership team? Grace: A diverse group means there is a greater range of creativity and talents among the leadership team, which allows us to approach situations with different perspectives and better serve not only our customers but also our employees. Deanna: Each one of our customers has a different set of challenges. A diversity of perspectives means a diversity of ideas for meeting those challenges. We can take advantage of that creativity to innovate and move things forward faster than we otherwise might be able to. Nabyl: Our different perspectives and experiences inspire our creativity and drive us to new levels for growth. What practices does Procede have to ensure a diverse team and support it? Deanna: Promote from within: We’re committed to promoting from within whenever possible. If someone comes from a company where diversity wasn’t valued, they can be at a disadvantage professionally, perhaps under-titled, because of that experience. At Procede, someone who has previously been unrecognized can move from an entry-level position into leadership based on the merits of their work here—not on their previous title. Grace: Focus on skillset: I have been with Procede for more than 18 years, and even when I first started in 2003, the company has always focused on hiring the right skills for the right position regardless of gender. This is apparent still today with more than 50% of the leadership team made up of female employees. Deanna: Make sure interview/hiring panels are diverse: Our focus is on finding the best candidate for the role and the right culture and values fit. To do that, we make sure our interview panels and hiring teams reflect the diversity already within the company. It makes it easier to identify strong candidates who might have been overlooked by a less diverse hiring team. Alina: Use technology to connect: We have an IM tool that we use to foster small, safe, supportive communities and connections across the company. There are groups for women in leadership, all women employees, as well as groups open to all employees regardless of gender. We use these groups to connect around both work-related and personal, shared interests. Work can be daunting and heavy sometimes. These groups are like rays of light—they give us nonwork-related ways to connect when we can’t be together over lunch or coffee. How do you help other women within the company grow into leadership roles? Alina: The first step is talking to other women and learning about what is important to them and how they want to grow and evolve. From there, it’s about finding ways I can help them achieve the goals they are reaching for. Nabyl: As a newer member of the leadership team, I feel like the other women here at Procede encouraged my growth through mentorship, support for my ideas, and feedback on them. I have been able to build relationships with them both on a professional and on a personal level, and both have attributed to my confidence level as a human resources leader. What advice do you have for women who are interested in technology careers? Lindsay: In college, I applied for a work-study position at a help desk. The supervisor, another woman, hired me despite my lack of technology experience. She said, “I can teach you the technology, but not customer service,” which is what my background was in. I learned on the job, and by the time I was a senior, I was training new hires. There’s no reason to be intimidated—technology skills can be learned by anyone. Everyone has skills to bring to the table. Be authentic, strive for what you want, and look for other people who support you, both women and men. Deanna: I knew early on that I wanted to work in technology, so I studied computer science. When I entered the workforce, I soon realized it was not for me. Technology is so much more than just development—you can implement software, train people to use it, work in product development, project management, marketing, or human resources. There is a huge array of people who can say they have a career in technology! Spend time focusing on what you want to do and what you’re good at and find a role within a technology company that fits your skillset. Grace: Keep an open mind: if you’re looking for a career in technology, but the types of roles you typically associate with the technology industry don’t feel like a fit, keep in mind that there are different types of roles within the tech industry: administration, accounting, human resources. There’s no need to limit yourself. Look for roles tied to your skills: at Procede, many women have grown beyond the position they were initially hired for. Why are female role models important? Jennifer: When I started at Procede 15 years ago, there were already several female leaders in place, and they served as role models for me. I saw how hardworking and determined they were, and I knew that through similar effort, I could aspire to the same level of achievement. Now, it’s nice to be a part of a similar trend—helping other women achieve their goals. Lindsay: Coming into Procede and seeing so many women in leadership roles was inspiring. It made me feel like the sky was the limit! It was super helpful to me on my own journey. What could other companies learn about diversity from Procede? Jennifer: Be proactive: It’s important to be proactive about diversity, as well as everything else related to workforce dynamics: we’re constantly re-evaluating our processes and practices, evolving our benefits, and looking for ways we can better support all of our employees. It’s important to us to be progressive and proactive about building a healthy team. Alina: Be intentional: At each pivotal point in our growth, we’ve taken the opportunity to reflect as a leadership team and determine if we have internal team members to support and lead over the next horizon. If things don’t work as planned, we make room for them to grow in a different direction. We want people to have a career at Procede, so we take the steps necessary to help them get there. Lindsay: Be flexible: Procede is growing rapidly, and like all companies experiencing rapid growth, we face challenges and learning opportunities every day. Because we’re so open to doing things differently, we’re constantly learning and evolving. It’s the only way we can grow and be successful! *Sharon is currently on family leave and was not available to participate in this interview. She is proud to be a part of the Procede Software leadership team, and we are proud and grateful to have benefited from her leadership, experience, and insight for more than 17 years.