EQUALITY IMPACT AWARD WINNER: Whitney Hillyer
Historically and notoriously unequal, the tech industry has already come a long way in terms of promoting diversity and inclusion. Much of this success has been due to the amazing women and female-identifying people that break glass ceilings everyday.
In honor of these women and in celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26, BounceX launched The Equality Impact Awards, awarded to an honorary group of women in the tech, publishing and retail industries, each of whom has broken barriers, changed their companies for the better and fought for equality and gender parity.
Today, we honor one of our 2018 winners, Whitney Hillyer, Chief Customer Officer at BounceX. Whitney answered 5 questions about the state of equality in the industry. Take a look!
WHAT STRATEGIES DO YOU USE TO FIGHT FOR EQUALITY IN YOUR FIELD?
I place a really strong emphasis on mentoring and coaching new managers – especially female managers. This is the first step in getting more women into executive roles and but its also where many women tend to get stuck. They often suffer from Imposter Syndrome which can lead them to lack confidence in their abilities and become stagnant in their growth without the right help and mentorship.
I also really try to lead by example and be as available as possible to all employees who want to discuss their career-paths. It’s something I think about and work towards every single day. I know people look up to me and I take that responsibility seriously.
Lastly, I try to stay really positive and pick the right battles when it comes to gender equality. It’s easy to get bogged down in the statistics or look around the room everyday and feel disheartened. I focus on making sure that every month I/we are moving the needle in some small way.
WHAT WAS YOUR DREAM JOB WHEN YOU WERE IN COLLEGE, AND HOW HAS THAT EVOLVED?
I wanted to be the Press Secretary to the President. I was a political science and sociology major – but mostly I just watched a lot of The West Wing. Speaking of female empowerment, it doesn’t get much stronger than CJ Craig 🙂
I did spend two years working on political campaigns before I made the transition into tech, but realized the lifestyle wasn’t right for me. In some ways, startups are a lot like political campaigns actually. They are both incredibly fast-paced, with many pivots, scrappy, and allow you to wear a lot of different hats.
Tech wasn’t a natural next step – but luckily I had some amazing people who put their faith in me and gave me a chance to prove myself.
WHAT IS THE WORST DECISION YOU’VE EVER MADE? WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
This is a really hard question and I’m not sure I have a good answer. If I had to pick something, I’d say that I didn’t have enough fun in college (probably a lot of little decisions rather than one big decision). I was very focused on academics and because of that, missed out on some of the college experiences many people had. All the hard work has definitely paid off, but sometimes I look back and regret not spending more time building better relationships. Once I was out of academia, I realized that relationships matter much more than any grade I made.
WHAT RITUALS OR HABITS DO YOU HAVE FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO HAVE A KICK A$$ DAY?
I listen to Defying Gravity from Wicked. It really pumps me up.
WHAT DOES FEMALE EMPOWERMENT MEAN TO YOU?
Building women up, giving them an equal voice and seat at the table, and always being available for mentorship and guidance. It means supporting each other, mentoring each other, and helping each other grow. It also means allowing each woman to chose what is right for her without judgement.