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Diversity and Inclusion: Why Women in Leadership Matters to Qualtrics

This is part of a periodic series that highlights Qualtrics' investment in diversity, inclusion, and leadership. To learn more about working for Qualtrics, visit our career site.

“So many women I talk to tell me that they gravitate toward careers and professions that they know they’re going to be great in.” Not my words, but this is from one of the best TED talks I’ve ever heard, Reshma Saujani’s Teach girls bravery, not perfection. You should watch it.

This is why I raised my hand to be Qualtrics’ Women’s Leadership Development (WLD) Executive Sponsor.

I had two mothers growing up. Both my biological mom and step-mother worked the majority of my childhood. To provide a living in California, the need for dual-income is common. I have been mentored by great female leaders – first Ryan who taught me how to run a juice shop, and then Andrea who mentored me at Focus Services, my first sales job.

Perhaps because of that series of role models, I took for granted that women are leaders. But in my 12 years at Qualtrics we haven’t discovered and promoted nearly enough women leaders. So I remember clearly when Cinta Nielsen – who leads our Research Service Project Management Team (and is one of Qualtrics’ best leaders) – showed me Saujani’s TED talk for the first time.

“Men will apply for a job if they meet only 60% of the qualifications. Women will apply only if they meet 100% of the qualifications,” Saujani says. Her point is that women too often wait for the perfect next step rather than acting bravely and taking career risks. Hearing the talk made me realize that we  – men and women – don’t do enough at Qualtrics to make brave next steps possible for our women leaders. We accept, often subconsciously, that women tend to raise their hand only when they feel they are a perfect match for a new project, a new role, or a leadership post.

That’s not good enough.

We can’t miss the leadership wave

Today there is a macro trend in achievement that we ignore at our peril. More women than men are graduating from college, with women in the U.S. earning 57% of all bachelor’s degrees and 60% of all master’s degrees. I’m a math guy, and I know that if Qualtrics doesn’t attract our share of those best and brightest, we will fall behind. We have to triple Qualtrics’ headcount in the next four years, and we won’t do it without demanding leadership from every member of the team, especially women.

Everyone who works with me will tell you that I practice radical candor. I challenge directly because it’s the fastest and the best route to performance, professional success, and personal improvement. But I care personally. Underlying every challenge is my own conviction that my colleagues will be better for it and that Qualtrics will be better as a result.

Melissa Nock, on the North American sales team, had been at Qualtrics for years and had performed well as an account executive. Her results and her manager feedback clearly indicated leadership potential. But when we discussed it, she said she didn’t think that sales management could support her aspirations of professional success and family balance.

Why? She didn’t have any examples, so the path for her wasn’t clear. At the end of 2017, we had no female sales leaders in North America software sales. There was nobody around to show her how it was done. So I challenged her to help me fix that, and she is today one of our best salespeople and sales leaders.

Today we have 10 women in management roles in the North American AE and Global Research Services sales organizations, and we’re committed to hiring even more. For prospecting, I’m devoting significant efforts to recruiting women. And for any management role, we are committed to interviewing at least one woman for every man that interviews, even if it means finding more to apply. We won’t lower our hiring bar, and we will always hire and promote the best candidate. But we will close the gap by making it obvious that we want women to take risks, and we will not succeed if they don’t.

I want to build a company where we’ve made it easy to be brave. I want to build a company that has a role model for every single person who wants to lead. I want to build a company where we seek out leaders well before they match 100% of the qualifications.

At Qualtrics, WLD is how we are doing that.

Qualtrics is growing, and if you're ready to find your "why" at a place like this, you can explore our open opportunities at any time by visiting our career page. Looking to discover more reasons "Why Qualtrics"? You can find the whole series here. Want to chat? You can get in touch by checking out Qualtrics Life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Dan Watkins is an alumnus of Brigham Young University and started his career at Site Lead. As the Vice President of Sales, Dan has been developing his career at Qualtrics for over 12 years.


Qualtrics Life

Qualtrics Life is nothing more or less than a collection of the stories, experiences, and voices of the people of Qualtrics.

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