If you were a fly on the wall in an Executive Leadership Team (ELT) meeting at Alludo, first of all, you’d be swatted or escorted outside. We take security seriously around here. But you’d also witness something interesting:
The ELT at Alludo is made up of 43% women. And, of course, we have a female CEO. This should be typical—especially given that women represent more than half of the population and more than half of the current workforce[i]—but it’s not.
Globally, women hold 31% of senior management positions. That statistic masks another gap, because according to Catalyst, women are significantly more likely to be at the helm of HR than they are to be in other top roles such as CEO or Chief Legal Officer.[ii] Only 23% of managing director and CEO roles worldwide are held by women, and that number is less than 10% among the Fortune 500.
Perhaps it’s worth noting, then, that Alludo’s CEO and Chief Legal Officer are both women, and the head of HR—we call it Chief People Officer—is a man.
CEO Christa Quarles is frequently asked about women in leadership, especially since she’s at the helm of a company in the male-dominated technology space. For Christa, representation is not a “nice to have,” but rather an essential. “You need to see it to be it,” she says. “When women are represented, more women participate. Of course, that’s an inherent Catch-22: in order to have more women represented in the first place, you have to have more women participate.”
That means someone has to show up first. At Alludo, that someone was Christa herself. After she joined, people followed. Many of them were women. They joined because she’s someone they wanted to work for, with a vision and purpose and leadership style worth following. After all, choosing a role based on the person you’re working for and their sense of purpose is often more important than choosing a role based on the company itself.
When I was researching Alludo prior to joining the company as the Chief Marketing Officer, it was clear to me that Christa walks the talk when it comes to pursuing diversity in the C-suite. In addition to a little less than half of the Alludo executives being women, I knew that Christa had built a diverse team in her previous CEO role. In my mind, Christa demonstrates very tangible support for woman in executive positions.
Becca Chambers, Alludo’s SVP of Global Brand and Communications says, “I understand the power of representation. I came from the cybersecurity industry, where there are only a handful of female CEOs in the entire industry. I had never been able to envision myself comfortably seated at the table, so to speak. Christa is the kind of person who pulls the chair out to offer you the seat at the table, and I knew it from the first time I met her.”
Christa has spoken at length about the power of diversity in the ELT. She’s serious about elevating women, and it’s not just because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also smart business. As she says, “Diversity and inclusion aren’t just nice to have—they’re fundamental.” The stats back her up: A McKinsey report found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
And the importance of gender diversity and representation in our organization goes well beyond just the ELT. At the end of 2022, we launched our first Employee Resource Group (ERG): the Alludo Women’s Empowerment (AWE) group. As the executive sponsor of the group, we meet monthly to raise awareness of women’s rights and support female representation in all areas of our organization. More than 26% of our global female employees are members of this active group.
This ability to show up fully, with innovative ideas that challenge the status quo and draw on your whole bank of experiences and skills, is a clear business asset. After all, a leadership team characterized by homogeneous identity and ways of thinking won’t get very far. In business, particularly in tech, inertia is fatal.
With that in mind, it’s important to note that Christa’s power of a CEO isn’t only in her identity as a woman, nor does she have the same perspective and skill set as other women CEOs. And that’s kind of the point. As she’d tell you, there’s no one way to be a woman CEO, and there’s no one way that leadership should look overall. Diversity and inclusion are exponential. Again, the more you see it, the more there’s an opportunity to add to it.
Let’s keep adding.