How 8 Chicago Tech Companies Are Championing Women in the Workplace

From robust mentoring programs to strong parental leave policies, employees share how these companies are fighting for women’s equality.

Written by Dana Cassell
Published on Aug. 30, 2023
How 8 Chicago Tech Companies Are Championing Women in the Workplace
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Elizabeth Cady Stanton, pioneer of women’s suffrage, probably couldn’t have imagined what tech companies in the 21st century would look like, much less the particular challenges that women working in technology would face. Even so, her vision is still inspiring work toward gender equality.

Women make up nearly half of the American workforce, but their presence in global technology companies hovers around one-third of the total employees. Those numbers are increasing though, and some companies are making concerted efforts to hire, support and promote women into leadership. 

From robust mentoring programs to active employee resource groups, flexible work schedules and strong parental leave policies, Chicago tech companies are transforming the industry and working toward women’s equality. These companies are focusing on professional development, continuing education and networks of support, echoing what Elizabeth Cady Stanton once told a reporter:

 

Put it down in capital letters: SELF-DEVELOPMENT IS A HIGHER DUTY THAN SELF-SACRIFICE.”

 

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, marking the anniversary of the certification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 that granted women the right to vote, a great victory for Stanton and millions of American women. Built In sat down with women leaders from eight of these companies to hear about how their employers are offering women ample opportunity for self-development, working toward true gender equality.

 

 

Victoria Bateman
Sr Dir, Business Intelligence and Data Ops • Basis Technologies

Basis Technologies is a global automation software provider for enterprise marketers, the only digital media platform to bring programmatic, site-direct, advanced TV, search, and social together through a single interface.

 

What does your company do well to support, champion and empower women in the workplace? 

Supporting, championing and empowering women in the tech department is paramount at Basis Technologies. We create an inclusive environment where women can thrive and reach their full potential. 

Our employee resource groups, such as Women in Technology (WiT), foster career development. I’ve been a member of the WiT leadership team since 2020, working with an amazing group of women to build a strong community and showcase our knowledge and talent. 

The annual WiT mentorship program helps connect women in tech with experienced leaders and technical professionals at Basis. We also conduct regular diversity and inclusion training that contributes to fostering a culture of respect, empathy and collaboration. 

 

The annual WiT mentorship program helps connect women in tech with experienced leaders and technical professionals at Basis.

 

Our company continually strives to create an environment where diverse talent can thrive and make a significant impact.

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

Inclusive recruitment and hiring practices: HR and leadership ensure that our practices are fair and inclusive. We include proper representation of women on tech recruitment panels and strive to increase the representation of women at all levels of the organization. We actively work to eliminate biases in recruitment processes.

Recognition and celebration: Colleagues and leaders at Basis actively celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in the workplace. They acknowledge women's successes both big and small and publicly recognize their valuable contributions to the company's success.

Learning: Our leadership communicates openly and transparently about initiatives and progress related to diversity through our all-hands call, town halls and company survey results. They seek feedback from employees directly, through ERGs and company surveys and are committed to continuous improvement.

 

What would you share with fellow women in your field interested in your company?

As a woman in tech working at Basis Technologies, I feel comfortable being my true self. During my time here, I have always had opportunities to learn, grow, and work with a diverse group. 

I am empowered to build and lead data teams at Basis and feel fully supported by my leadership team to grow into a data leadership role. Our company genuinely embraces and supports women at all stages of their careers, making it an exceptional place for any woman aspiring to thrive in the data field.

 

 

Melissa Gray
Senior Vice President, Communications & Analyst Relations • Epsilon

Epsilon helps marketers from the world’s top brands personalize experiences for millions of people with cutting-edge technology, solutions and services.

 

What does your company do well to support, champion and empower women in the workplace? 

I am inspired by the people that make Epsilon great, and how we foster an environment of empowerment for all, including women. I value the variety of resources available to support our employees, wherever they are in their careers, lives or passions. From technical training to community service to wellness challenges, there’s so much to take advantage of. 

One part of Epsilon that stands out is the access to professional development at all levels, an important aspect of supporting women in the workplace. Epsilon has a series of programs from Early Careers to Manager and Executive Development that help build and expand skills for professional growth and leadership.

Being part of Publicis Groupe expands how we deepen our relationships and impact. Café Marcel connects employees with similar interests across Publicis via our AI platform (Marcel) and our ERGs help grow an inclusive work environment for women. 

We’re proud to partner with organizations focused on recruiting and supporting women at work, such as AnitaB.org, a community committed to advancing women and non-binary technologists and SheRises, a career reboot program for women in India.

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

At Epsilon, we are purposeful in everything we do. Women’s Equality Day represents a moment to reflect on how we can continue to be allies to women in the workplace.

As a woman at Epsilon, I’ve always felt that my voice is heard, my contributions matter and that biases don’t come into play. I’ve felt especially encouraged by how company leadership considers and recognizes women – from small gestures like acknowledging Mother’s Day to driving business impact by ensuring women have a seat at the decision-making table. 

The leadership team is committed to being purposeful with everyone’s time to assist each other in better balancing our lives. Our flexible environment fosters a sense of respect for each other’s time, including personal commitments and time away from work for important life moments. It also means that our people have the space they need to focus on critical and creative thinking and to be more productive at work. 

As a mom of three boys, this has meant being able to balance work, grow my career and lead a team while also not missing family commitments like soccer games or parent-teacher conferences.

 

What would you share with fellow women in your field interested in your company?

I encourage you to be accountable for your own career. Don’t let others define it for you. 

This includes taking advantage of available resources and training that will help enhance your skill set. It means being focused on doing your job well while balancing your commitments outside of the workplace. Setting boundaries can be challenging but necessary.

Be proactive with the opportunities available to you. New opportunities present themselves in many ways. Often, the most impact happens when you see a need and raise your hand to take it on. People recognize your willingness to push yourself and in return, you gain confidence and experience. 

As women, we don’t always promote the work that we are doing, but it’s important we advocate for ourselves and for those around us. I encourage you to recognize the work that your colleagues are doing and leave room to learn from others. 

 

As women, we don’t always promote the work that we are doing, but it’s important we advocate for ourselves and for those around us.

 

I believe that this is what can set the great leaders apart from the good ones. A good leader will promote the work they’re doing. A great leader will listen to and empower their team, understand and help remove barriers and celebrate accomplishments. 

 

 

Dana Faletto
Managed Transportation Account Manager • Echo Global Logistics

Echo is a Fortune 1000 provider of technology-enabled transportation and supply chain solutions. 

 

What does your company do well to support, champion and empower women in the workplace? 

I love being a part of Echo’s employee-run Women at Echo resource group. Echo Business Resource Groups (BRGs) provide dozens of opportunities for women across the company to step into leadership positions outside of their day to day. 

Women at Echo puts a large focus on development and networking. We know that when women support women, we improve as individuals. WAE recently created an educational series called “Owning Your Career." We developed this series to support women in taking the reins in developing their career at Echo. 

 

We know that when women support women, we improve as individuals.

 

The program consists of four workshops spaced throughout the year, focusing on setting SMART goals, building your brand, maximizing your network, and advocating for yourself. These workshops have been a huge success with live sessions attended by hundreds of employees from all walks of life.

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

We have so much participation in our BRG activities, even by those who are not officially “members.” If we ask someone from the C-suite to participate in an event, they do not hesitate. 

During Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, our company leaders were quick to share stories showcasing support of women in the company and in their lives. Women at Echo enjoy tremendous support from allies as well. When men are vocal about their support, it invites everyone else to feel the same way. 

In my department, I have been approached by leadership and asked how certain situations impact the women in the department. I was once asked for feedback on how pregnant employees might feel about a travel situation. This subject was approached with care and concern and offers a glimpse into how various populations are supported at Echo.

 

What would you share with fellow women in your field interested in your company?

First, to quote an amazing woman (my mom), you cannot undervalue the importance of being a hard worker. Everyone can give an excuse; you must be the person to look for the solution. Logistics can be tough but the best way to tackle an obstacle is to be ready to go through it.   

Second, have a core group of resources around you. Make connections in other departments that can help you when you hit those obstacles. Knowing you don’t have to face something head-on and alone is a huge confidence boost. 

Lastly, when you get through that obstacle let everyone know. Do not be afraid to promote yourself. Women are more likely to say “we” instead of “I,” which can diminish their impact. Let people know how amazing you are.

 

 

Emily Lincoln
Sales Training Manager • Tock

Tock is an all-in-one system for reservations, takeout, delivery, and events.

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

You know how the old saying goes, if you want to see what a company is made of, have a baby? I recently returned from maternity leave and have been beyond impressed with the support from company leadership leading up to, during and after my leave.

 

I recently returned from maternity leave and have been beyond impressed with the support from company leadership leading up to, during and after my leave.

 

Before my leave, I was promoted to a new role and felt like the timing was, for lack of a better word, awkward. Senior leadership, HR and my managers made sure that I felt completely confident in my new position and promised that upon my return, I’d be re-introduced gradually to the role. 

When I came back, my previous job was waiting for me, as was an incredible opportunity to apply for a new role that felt tailor-made to my strengths. My bosses encouraged me to apply and I got it.

My journey at Tock has been unique, no doubt. But what I think is crystal clear is Tock’s commitment to women’s advancement and career growth by providing opportunities, visibility and the necessary resources to succeed.

 

What would you share with fellow women in your field interested in your company?

Apply. And I hope we get to work together some day. We have a great team and a fantastic product.

 

 

Angie Graves
Director of Product • Rocket Travel

Rocket Travel works with the world’s largest companies to create branded experiences, helping travelers earn loyalty rewards by booking travel so they can travel more.

 

What does your company do well to support, champion and empower women in the workplace? 

For me, one of the most impactful women-centric development programs at Rocket has been my involvement in the Women In Leadership program. As a mid-level leader, I was nominated by senior leadership to participate in a 10 month global program consisting of ~20 women from around the world and in varying roles at Rocket Travel and our parent company Agoda. 

Through this program, I've been able to network, learn tactical and practical skills, solve problems and grow my leadership skills. The program consists of a combination of virtual and in-person workshops, with support from external consultants as well as a mentorship segment - creating a safe space to share challenges and celebrate successes.

As a working mom, I value Rocket's flexible work schedule. I am a full-time remote employee, but am able to balance my family needs and my work schedule with asynchronous/cross-globe collaboration. I also visit our Chicago and Bangkok offices for highly valuable in-person meetings.

No doubt, there are evening calls with my Asia-based colleagues, but I am empowered to flex my schedule as needed to ensure my work/life balance and maintain my family-first value.

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

Rocket takes an active role in ensuring women have visibility in the workplace. Over 40 percent of our workplace identifies as female and we have a number of women in leadership positions – it’s one of the primary reasons I was originally drawn to Rocket. 

 

Over 40 percent of our workplace identifies as female and we have a number of women in leadership positions – it’s one of the primary reasons I was originally drawn to Rocket.

 

We also have an amazing employee-led DEI resource group that coordinates activities, discussions and training sessions. A highlight last year was a panel discussion devoted to the challenges and opportunities facing women in business. 

It was an insightful discussion on how to create an environment that supports women, what is needed to equip those with a desire to lead and the best ways to strengthen coworkers and colleagues as allies.

I also appreciate that women are proactively represented at Rocket. I’m actively involved in the hiring process for a variety of roles here, and I’m proud that we create diverse and inclusive candidate pools, ensure women are part of the hiring process, recruit women for tech positions and utilize strategies such as transparent pay bands to champion an inclusive culture. 

 

How do you feel like your voice is heard in the workplace? 

Rocket has helped me grow as an individual and as a leader so much in the short 2.5 years I’ve been with the company. One phrase that is consistently repeated at Rocket is “feedback is a gift,” and the teams here really live and breathe that daily. 

Positive and constructive feedback is provided in every direction: across teams and departments, up, down and sideways. When mistakes are made (let’s face it - they DO happen), they are seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. 

There is an amazing network of women (aka Rockettes) to lean on and learn from, and we share challenges, big wins and cheer each other on. We discuss imposter syndrome, how to manage employee conflict and how to celebrate a female colleague who just killed it during a sales pitch.

At Rocket, I feel empowered to try something new and iterate as needed to continually improve. I’ve introduced a variety of new processes to the company just by simply identifying an area to improve, speaking up, having an informed opinion and jumping in to execute change. Healthy, respectful discussions are also a norm here – it challenges ways of thinking and opens minds to new ideas to maintain our inclusive culture.

 

 

Maggie Pinkawa
Project Manager  • IGNA | tasty

tastytrade operates a trading platform for stocks, options, futures and more along with a financial news network.

 

What does your company do well to support, champion and empower women in the workplace? 

IG North America and tastytrade have a penchant for disrupting business as usual for the better. In the finance world, that means amplifying the voices of women. We employ a higher percentage of women than other firms in the industry and we have a continuing commitment to grow the diversity of our team. 

Since we joined IG, there are networks to support every sort of employee. The network for women is the IG Inspire Network. Standing up IG Inspire here in Chicago for our team happened in a beautifully organic way, and we've already got social events, coaching seminars and communication approaches working. 

We’re making a safe and conversational space for the women of our teams while also having the formal support and structure of the larger IG and Inspire Network.

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

There is a culture of speaking openly about recruiting, empowering and elevating more women in every department. The recruiting efforts are laser-focused on this. Making sure that all of our colleagues know that their voices are valued is something we strive for all the time.

 

Finance and trading are fields of calculated risk, and it can pay off to know your stuff and speak your mind.

 

What would you share with fellow women in your field interested in your company?

I would encourage you to be bold. Finance and trading are fields of calculated risk, and it can pay off to know your stuff and speak your mind. Also, make space for your colleagues. The more we ask our women colleagues for their thoughts, give them their credit and speak their names when we hear opportunities, the better it will be. A rising tide floats all boats.

 

 

Brenda Shope
Text Analyst and Audit & Annotation Lead • ReviewTrackers

ReviewTrackers is a customer feedback software that helps businesses measure and transform the customer experience.

 

What does your company do well to support, champion and empower women in the workplace? 

InMoment starts by simply recognizing that women have not had an equal opportunity or experience in the workplace. Honestly, the act of acknowledging this is more than any other employer I’ve had has done. This is a sad fact and continues to be the truth for many women who work outside of their homes. 

Just having the Women of InMoment (WIN) group and supporting it has shown me that they are different and willing to contribute to changing the culture. I have appreciated the workshop and leadership events where women are presenters and facilitators. 

We’ve also joined webinars from Utah Women and Leadership, and we talk about topics and current issues I feel need to be addressed. The meetings and conversations also keep me aware of women who are not able to actualize some of the power and independence that I enjoy.

I have not been able to participate in any established one-on-one mentoring for my career development, but my team (including my manager) is made up of almost entirely women, and that is an amazing experience. 

 

My team (including my manager) is made up of almost entirely women, and that is an amazing experience. 

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

At InMoment, our company leadership shows they are allies by supporting our initiatives, hiring and promoting women for ELT and other leadership positions and encouraging us to take the time to participate in WIN events. They assign women as leads on meaningful and challenging work. They include time for family care and new parent leave in our benefits packages. 

 

How do you feel like your voice is heard in the workplace? 

I feel like my voice is heard quite well in this workplace. My colleagues are aware and respectful of each other. I do not feel like my gender is a negative factor for my team and division. 

The level of professionalism is quite high and I don’t believe that discrimination would be tolerated by my manager, teammates or even those in other areas of our division. I have found respect and a willingness to listen from both leadership and colleagues.

 

 

Donna Mains
Sr Dir, Technology Operations • Zoro

Zoro is an e-commerce website that has everything businesses and consumers need to make their business go.

 

What does your company do well to support, champion and empower women in the workplace? 

Zoro has a strong DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) program. Throughout the year, events take place to highlight and educate our team members on the challenges faced by various groups of people.  

One example is a panel I participated in on International Women’s Day, moderated by a member of Zoro’s Inclusion Council. The discussion focused on the challenges women face in the workplace. Like all our Inclusion Council events, it was well attended and helped people become more aware of how women's status in the workplace has changed over time.

 

How do your colleagues — and in particular company leadership — show that they are allies to women in the workplace?

A diverse team is essential to our strength as a company. Zoro leadership has worked to ensure diversity across the entire organization.  

I have been with Zoro for nine years and in that time, I have seen women grow their presence in leadership positions. This happened because of the Zoro leadership team's focus on building diversity at every level of the organization.

 

Speak your mind, and people will listen.

 

How do you feel like your voice is heard in the workplace? 

At Zoro, everyone is encouraged to demonstrate our values. Two essential values are “be honest” and “be transparent.” If you do those two things, people will listen.  

My advice to other women interested in Zoro would be to be open, honest, and transparent.  Speak your mind, and people will listen.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies

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