Our Women In Tech forum is an online community addressing equality in the workplace. As part of a series of interviews, Jessica Wilson, our DEI Program Manager, spoke to Nicole LaCross, our Sales Director Mid-Market US, about her experiences.
What led you to pursue a career in tech and what challenges have you overcome?
Growing up, I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so going into tech sales felt like a natural career path for me. After several years as a successful independent contributor, I accepted a position in management.
One of the initial challenges I faced was managing my peers in a predominantly male industry. I was able to overcome this by aligning myself with several female mentors who held leadership roles and were able to share their experiences and insights with me.
Having male allies who were supportive of my role was critical to my success as well.
Do you think diversity and inclusion has improved in tech over the last few years?
I believe there has been an increased spotlight on the importance of diversity and inclusion within tech with several organizations leaning into this.
However, we still have quite a ways to go when it comes to ensuring that we are keeping both diversity and inclusion on the forefront of our minds and continuing to provide all employees with a safe and encouraging workplace that allows them to be their true selves.
Do you think the rise of remote and hybrid working has helped improve inclusion?
Absolutely! I'm a firm believer in the importance of work-life balance, so providing individuals with the flexibility to work in a remote or hybrid environment allows us to hire talent outside of the cities where we have a physical presence, which opens up the talent pool tremendously.
As an example, many of my friends who are mothers have flourished with remote work, as it gives them more time with their children by eliminating commute times.
What's the best piece of advice you've received about working in tech?
A mentor of mine once told me, "always know your worth."
This advice has carried me throughout my career and is advice that I pass along to women who are starting out in the field as well. Know your worth, look for allies and mentors, and pour yourself into those relationships. Never settle.
Do you feel that the responsibilities of childcare are more even now than they were?
There's a fantastic quote by Amy Westervelt that speaks to this:
"We still ask women to work like they don't have kids and parent like they don't work. It's well past time to change all that."
As a leader, I'm always mindful of the fact that my team has a life outside of work and this often includes children, which means unexpected sick days, school plays, and teacher conferences.
Having the ability to be present at home with flexibility in mind should be the norm, not a luxury.
Racial diversity and LGBT+ rights are equal challenges to gender equality in tech. Do you see all diversity and inclusion as one struggle or as parallel issues with their own unique facets?
I believe that they each have their own unique facets and challenges; the challenges I face as a white cisgender female may be wildly different from my peers who identify otherwise.
I believe it's important that no matter how you identify, you feel heard and supported by the organization you work for. ERG's are a critical piece of this, which is why I worked to create the "US Women in Sales" group, which is designed to promote mentorship and allyship for women in sales here at LeanIX.
Groups such as this did not exist when I began my career, so as a leader, I believe it is my privilege and responsibility to support women starting out in their tech sales careers.
What is the biggest change you'd like to see in the tech industry to support women?
I'm a firm believer that, in order to succeed, it is critical to have a diverse leadership team in place to share different perspectives, insights, and backgrounds to ensure an organization is looking at ideas from all angles.
In order to do so, it's important that organizations continue to keep diversity top-of-mind for all initiatives, including the make-up of their leadership team as this will lead to better decision making.
If you'd like to join our Women In Tech forum, you can request access to the community on our site: