Emma’s VP of HR talks women in tech on the Lean In podcast

December 7, 2018 Kaitlin Wernet

Emma’s very own Christine McPherson, VP of Human Resources, was recently interviewed on an episode of Tilted: A Lean In podcast. Host Rachel Thomas talked to Christine about the company’s “secret sauce,” her take on why Emma employs twice as many women as the average tech company, and two of our favorite women-led companies: Orange Theory and Thistle Farms.

On women in tech

While women make up roughly half of the overall US workforce, these statistics are much lower in the technology industry—a sector that has more than 7 million workers, 2.36 million of which are female.

And when CompTIAlooked at technology jobs in all sectors of the US economy, the gender gap was even more significant: Women hold just 22 percent (1.63 million) of the country’s 7.4 million technology occupations.

Emma’s statistics vary from this number, with a team that’s 43% women—nearly twice as many as the national average.

Rachel: I know Emma’s team employs nearly twice as many women as the average tech company, which I of course think is awesome. 

What does Emma do to ensure your hiring process is fair to women and underrepresented groups more generally? How do you get such good results? 

Christine: I wish I had an actual “This is the procedure that we follow,” or “This is the policy that I make all of our hiring managers follow,” and really that’s not the case. Luckily enough, that comes from the top-down—Our managers have really bought into [our commitment to hiring women and people from underrepresented groups], and we want to make sure that we see great people in all of our roles. 

We want to employ really smart people, and that includes hardworking, awesome women. We also have a handful of women that lead up a lot of our teams here, and these are initiatives that we’re always looking at and trying to grow and develop.

When I am working with recruiting agencies, I have no problem asking for a certain sample size or a certain applicant pool that we need. It definitely comes up in conversation, like “Hey I noticed this team is predominantly men.” I have no problem kind of putting the brakes on things and working with the hiring managers to make sure that we are getting that diversity. 
On retaining great employees

Rachel: Once they’re on board, what do you do to support [employee] growth and make sure they stay? 

Christine: Promotions are important, and making sure people are getting the correct training for their roles [is something] I truly believe in, and it definitely helps women stay on board longer. But, I would suggest that our benefits also definitely play a big role in this. Most importantly, we provide a really flexible work environment, and that’s for parents, as well as people of all different and various stages in their personal lives. 

It’s not unusual for moms and dads to leave for the 3:00 kid pickup, or to be a part of that carpool, or to attend school events at 9 am. I’m very proud that we’re able to provide that type of environment for all of our employees.

On maternity leave

Christine: We also see a pretty good amount of women that come back after maternity leave, which is awesome. We provide four months paid base salary for all moms, and they have the flexibility to take longer than that with a flex period upon their return as they get up and running again.

We want to make sure moms are really prepared to return to work, and when they do come back, we have a nursing room and we make sure that they have that flexibility and support to continue to do their job. 

We want moms to want to come back to work after having babies or adopting, and being able to provide that extra support is really important to us.

Orange Theory’s email marketing strategy

Rachel: A lot of amazing women-led businesses use Emma, which makes a lot of sense—you have a shared ethos—and one of those is the fitness franchise Orange Theory, founded by Ella Latham. 

How is Orange Theory working with you, and how are they finding success?

Christine: They have grown so quickly! Orange Theory started in 2010, and already have over 1,000 studios. Emma HQ, which is our new email platform for large franchise businesses, helps them scale communications with members and prospects across all the different locations. 
What they’re sending 

A lot of [Orange Theory’s] emails revolve around storytelling—Customer testimonials, transformation stories, and building a community. When you have an amazing brand story to tell, email is one of the best ways to get it out there. 

They’re also able to spread those stories across all of their locations with our new Emma HQ features. They can share creative assets, lock in branded templates, and then approve emails sent by each location from one central platform. It’s really cool how they’re able to scale with email using Emma HQ. 

In addition, Organge Theory has some pretty cool sends. They give you a summary of your performance after each workout, and it’s awesome how they’ve created these automated emails in Emma. They take the workout experience to a more interactive and engaging level. 

How local nonprofit Thistle Farms uses Emma

Rachel: Another incredible women-led organization that’s using Emma is Thistle Farms, a nonprofit organization that supports women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. 

Tell us a bit more about how Thistle Farms is working with Emma and how that’s hopefully changing the lives of some of these women. 

Christine: I love Thistle Farms. First of all, they’re located here in Nashville, which is awesome. They’re also an Emma 25 recipient—Emma 25 is a program we ran which gave Emma accounts free for life to deserving nonprofits. Thistle Farms uses Emma for fundraising, and to support their e-commerce store. They sell items produced by women in their program. 

They were featured as a part of our Marketing United conference last year. Attendees were asked to share photos of themselves on social media standing on welcome mats. These mats were made from life rafts that carried Syrian refugees. The event helped raise $10,000 to provide salaries for women involved in the project. Thistle Farms continues to use Emma to help spread their message of empowering women. 

Rachel: I imagine this has helped them fundraise at a larger scale than they’ve ever been able to do in the past. 

Christine: Absolutely. I think one of the best things about email is that you can get in touch with all of your recipients so quickly, and fundraising is a big part of that, and a big part of why nonprofits choose to use Emma. 

What makes Emma so great?

Rachel: What is your “secret sauce”—Why are you growing so much and doing so well? Is it the look and feel of templates, is it the customer service, is it just it’s easy to use? What makes Emma so great?

Christine: The biggest thing, and what we always hear from our customers, is the ease of use. We want to make it really easy for our customers to send emails and connect with their audiences, whether its around fundraising or a new product, whatever it may be, we want to make it easy for them to do that. 

It’s not unusual for customers like me and you to purchase different products or applications, and end up not using it or only a small part of it. At Emma, we’ve seen that with other softwares and we want to make sure we’re not like that. We want to make sure when people sign up with us, that they’re using the whole product, and that they feel like it is helping them to do their job, making sure they look great to their bosses and their team, and helping them meet their goals. 

I think our “secret sauce” is a few things—ease-of-use, clean design, helpful templates, all of the elements that make you think “Wow, a professional did this” when you receive an email, regardless of prior experience. 

Wrap up

Emma’s thrilled to join the conversation about employing women in tech, some of our favorite women-led companies and how they’re leading the way in email marketing, and why ease-of-use is our favorite email platform feature. If you’re interested in finding out more about email marketing solutions, give us a shout

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

About the Author

Kaitlin Wernet

Kaitlin Wernet is a content specialist on Emma's marketing team. When she's not restraining herself from using too many exclamation points or grabbing one more La Croix from the office kitchen, she can be found working on her first book or planning her next big travel adventure.

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