Let’s Talk About Men in Tech
Not all Workplaces are Created Equal: Profiling a Leader in Tech Who Understands The Value of Diversity of Thought.
|CTO and Co-Founder Drew Batshaw with Technical Support Team Lead Jedd Parker|
By: Kate Benediktsson, Head of Marketing and Experience at Waggl
There’s been a lot of talk recently about “toxic tech bros.” The ubiquitous phrase has been particularly commonplace in our neck of the woods, the San Francisco Bay Area.
Despite repeated convincing studies that have proven that organizations are most successful when they are committed to fostering diversity, there is a disturbing trend of discrimination and sexism that remains rampant. These cultures, built from the top down, do not serve their employees or their investors well. In a transforming industry, the only way to remain on top is to be agile, diverse, and inclusive.
In this era of toxic tech cultures, I’m proud to be part of an organization with a different kind of founding team that puts emphasis on diversity of thought. Drew was a main factor in why I chose to join the founding team of Waggl over another startup, and from the beginning of my journey with Waggl he has proven to be a visionary.
In the startup life, it’s not what you do, it’s who you do it with. The founding team should be the most important factor in your employment decision when you are choosing a winning professional path. I’m proud to bring a success story to the conversation revolving around Men in Tech in an era where so much negativity is shared.
Recently at Waggl we have been involved in a bit of a debate regarding our company messaging software. Many employees wanted to move over to Slack, but there wasn’t an urgent need to move to the new software so Drew didn’t view it as a priority. A few hours after a meeting in which he expressed his preference to remain with our previous software, he sent a company-wide email that included the following excerpt.
“Our culture is one where we actively debate ideas and when there is friction we work through it. It is not a culture where just because one person doesn’t like an idea they say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” I want to own up for having that attitude about Slack. I was not modeling the way I believe we ought work at Waggl. think it is pretty clear that the majority of the organization would like us to move to Slack, so let’s do it!”
Isn’t that kind of transparent humility refreshing? I thought so. In fact I thought we deserved to spend a bit more time exploring just what it is that makes Drew so unique and progressive as a leader. We sat down to talk more about his role at Waggl, and my first question for him was why he thought a toxic culture evolves within some organizations.
“I think the answer is that if you don’t do anything specific it naturally emerges from the traditional hierarchical organization. As organizations grow, it’s less likely you’ll have direct contact with people within the organization. Unless you deliberately set it up, the human element of an organization doesn’t naturally happen,” Drew said.
I asked Drew specifically about the minor conflict with Slack, and what guided his diversity of thought based decision-making and response to the team.
“I think to the first part which speaks to how to work as a team, is giving everyone a voice while still leading the conversation. Sometimes we just all agree. When there is conflict, what I find works really well is to step back and align on what it really is that we are after.”
|Drew, Jedd, and Kate Benediktsson|
Currently Waggl is preparing to scale on a pretty significant level. Every department within our organization is expanding and as we scale, even as a company that embraces remote employees, we are looking at adding a significant headcount in the coming months. Drew understands that this is both a challenge and an opportunity.
“Our challenge in scaling is that those day to day interactions aren’t going to be able to happen. I will have less contact with everyone, so how do we continue to bring those values into the day to day process?
I think it really helps that our product so clearly speaks to our particular values as a company. It’s so clear Waggl is about transparency. It’s about giving everyone a voice. It’s not a coincidence that we built a product that fits the values of the founders, and it definitely makes it really easy to reinforce those values in the day to day.”
I asked Drew what his advice for anyone on the founding team of a startup. He didn’t think long before reinforcing my vision of his humility and inclusive approach.
“If you aren’t already clear about what the most important values in your company are, get clear, and make sure that one of them is listening to your employees and making them feel important.”
This is a value Drew lives every day. I see him take time to connect with people in the office and remotely with an authenticity and curiosity to listen to them I’ve never seen in another CTO to this level. He truly values people. When he talks to people they feel the connection.
Let’s be clear, it takes courage to be able to allow everyone’s opinions to matter, even when they differ from your own. I’m proud to be on Drew’s team, and I want the world to know. This is one man in tech who is getting it right.