At its inception, Outreach’s CEO Manny Medina explains, the team was made of four male developers and the focus was very technical and product-centric. They were looking to build something great and solve a really difficult problem, all while moving faster than any other company or team.
“It took me a long time as the team grew to realize that it’s not the product that makes the company successful — it’s the people. The culture that we’ve built is what translated into a great product,” says Andrew Kinzer, Chief Product Officer at Outreach. “It’s hard to find people with true passion, true grit. Who are willing to just break through walls to solve hard problems.” As he’s saying these words in the “About Us” video on the company’s website, the frame pans to a woman sitting in a meeting, the team seemingly in a tough problem-solving situation, she seems to be suggesting a solution.
“We go out of our way to find different points of view that challenge our own because we find strength in diversity and inclusion.”
Today, from the outside looking in, Outreach certainly lives its values of diversity and inclusion — from the company’s website featuring equal representation, to CEO Manny Medina’s unbelievably supportive International Women’s Day post on LinkedIn. But Medina isn’t all talk — today over 20% of their leadership team is female — including COO, Anna Baird, VP of Finance and Legal, Sayle Hutchison, and VP Product, Sarah Phillips — in addition to a board member, Sarah Imbach.
Outreach now operates out of three offices across 12 states, and the company has recently obtained unicorn status, pushing their valuation over $1 billion. While the initial team was male-dominated, clearly Medina knew that to take his company to the limits of innovation, it was integral to bring in some female leadership.
One of the things that has made the company successful, opines Outreach CTO Gordon Hempton, is that they’ve built a product that wasn’t necessarily easy to build, but it gave customers the features that they need. Outreach not only does this for their clients, but for themselves as a company. Recruiting and building a team with a solid representation of female leadership isn’t an easy thing to do — but it’s what was needed to be done for the company to outperform the competition and reach their lofty ambitions.
What types of initiatives is Outreach taking to improve diversity and inclusion? We sat down with Sayle Hutchison, VP of Finance and Legal, to discuss one of her favorite new D&I initiatives: Gals and SALs (Sales Account Leads).
In addition to the company’s generous parental leave policies and amazing training and development opportunities, there’s one more reason why it’s a good time to be a woman working at Outreach. The Outreach Women’s Network (colloquially known as OWN — the other OWN) was formed in 2017 as the company’s first employee resource group. Last year, they focused on helping women in the community succeed professionally, but this year the group has taken on a new form. “OWN was initially looking more externally — helping women flourish within their careers and put together resumes — but it didn’t provide what we were looking for internally,” said VP of Finance and Legal (and OWN member) Sayle Hutchison. “The first year of OWN was about what we can contribute to the world. In 2019, we’re focusing on creating an internal community of support — how do we as women have these crucial conversations, hold ourselves accountable, navigate our inner critics? This year we’re not trying to show it, we’re trying to be it.”
Thus, with an idea from Cari Olson, a Strategic Account Development Associate, and Mandie Manning, Outreach’s Recruiting Lead, Gals and SALs was born. “It started as an opportunity to network with all the women of Sales, Contracts, Data Quality, and HR — in other words, all of the humans who make chasing SALs possible,” said Brooke Bachesta, SDR Manager at Outreach and a member of the Gals and SALs leadership team. The goal of the new initiative was clear: to provide an opportunity for the women of the SDR team, a traditionally male-dominated position, to get together and celebrate success, support each other, and foster career growth. At one of the most recent events, a “Paint and Sip” casual meetup in Seattle, featured Emily Randazzo, CRO of MobyMax, who’s built an army of sales directors that’s made up of 70% women. Her goal is to change the way “women in the workplace” are talked about, and foster a culture that allows women to be their authentic selves. “Female CEOs that are out there today at Fortune 1000 companies, I don’t relate to any of them. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school, I wear sweatpants at home. It’s hard for me to find someone (not that I don’t admire all those women who have worked so hard and taken the standard corporate path through GE or Pepsi or whatever) but that’s not me, I’m not Sheryl Sandberg,” said Emily. “I’m so proud to work for a company that supports initiatives like this — that provides a space to cultivate diversity and inclusion,” Bachesta says, and Sayle Hutchison agrees wholeheartedly. “These events have created a lot of hope within the organization about people’s ability to succeed. It’s been so powerful to see women coming together, and it’s been so empowering to help and inspire other women. As Brooke Bachesta says, “If you can see it, you can be it.”
While the events have been a huge success, Sayle is quick to remind that the buck doesn’t stop here. “While events like Gals and SALs, or Women in Tech, or any smattering of diversity and inclusion-oriented initiatives are important, we can’t just stop at events. Real change comes in the form of intentional choices. It comes when we hire women into challenging roles to elevate their careers, not just to fill a job posting. It comes through continued support from an executive level for diversity initiatives. It comes from women paying it forward and bringing their teammates along for the journey.” Special thanks to Sayle Hutchison for lending her time to talk about her favorite initiatives: OWN is organized and led by Rachael Siegel, Emilee Smalley and Jen Pusztai. Gals and SALs was created by Cari Olson and Mandie Manning. Brooke Bachesta and Olson help organize and lead the events, with help from Rachael Seigel, Julianne Thompson, Navjot Kaur, and the rest of the women of OWN.
Interested in hosting an OWN event or other resources to help women in sales? Check out these awesome organizations: National Association of Women Sales Professionals #GirlsClub Women Sales Pros