The first thing needed to be a male ally? An open mind and open ears.
That’s according to Mark Goldin, Chief Technology Officer of Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc., a cloud-based learning, talent management and talent experience software provider. As a longtime champion of gender equality, Goldin has made a point of listening to and learning from women as an active part of his advocacy.
“First and foremost, I make it a point to educate myself and keep an open mind, because gender diversity and increasing opportunities for women in tech are important to me,” Goldin, who sponsors Cornerstone’s Women In Tech employee resource group, said. “Awareness is the first step in order to achieve a more gender-balanced workforce.”
He’s also quick to correct any reference to diversity and inclusion at Cornerstone as being part of an “initiative” or “program.” Instead, he sees diversity as part of the company’s baked-in foundation, and not simply a feature or accessory.
“I don’t refer to D&I as an initiative or a program because that implies it’s something that could be measured against other competing priorities for resources and budget,” he shared. “In the department I lead, I believe in putting D&I first, which then makes everything else we do more effective… Cornerstone as an organization is truly committed to integrating D&I into everything we do.”
This focus manifests as everything from company-wide bias and inclusivity trainings to professional development opportunities on the individual level, as found in the ERG that Goldin sponsors. And the pay-off has been clear. In their reviews on Fairygodboss, women at Cornerstone frequently mention the number of growth and development opportunities they’ve had access to, as well as the mentorship and role modeling they see from female leaders and male allies alike.
To that end, Goldin recently shared with Fairygodboss what about his allyship approach has helped the most, why Cornerstone is a particularly supportive place for female talent and the most memorable piece of career advice he’s received.
How long have you been with your company? What about it made you first want to join?
I’ve been with Cornerstone for nine years. I was drawn to the pure software-as-a-service nature of the company as well as the enthusiasm and vision of the CEO.
What are your main job responsibilities, and what about your role most excites you?
I direct and lead our client-facing technology functions – everything to do with building, maintaining, hosting and securing our applications. I love the opportunity to work with the latest cutting-edge technology, solve problems for our very large, global clients, and work with many smart people from diverse backgrounds.
While we’ve made progress toward achieving a more gender-balanced workforce, there remains a lot of work to be done. What kinds of actions do you incorporate into your day-to-day routine at work (or beyond) to serve as a male ally?
First and foremost, I make it a point to educate myself and keep an open mind because gender diversity and increasing opportunities for women in tech are important to me. Awareness is the first step in order to achieve a more gender-balanced workforce.
I don’t refer to D&I as an initiative or a program because that implies it’s something that could be measured against other competing priorities for resources and budget. In the department I lead, I believe in putting D&I first, which then makes everything else we do more effective.
Cornerstone as an organization is truly committed to integrating D&I into everything we do. We recognize that leaders cast long shadows and have outsized influence, so when forming teams for new projects, our leaders are intentional about making sure we have diverse representation. There is plenty of research indicating diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams and that increasing the number of women on a team increases collective intelligence, and we’ve seen this in practice at Cornerstone.
For example, we host a Hackathon event every year for two reasons. The first is to encourage our employees to come up with new, fresh ideas that we can potentially incorporate into our products. The second reason is to rally our employees and incite a sense of camaraderie and positive culture around their work. For this year’s Hackathon, we made it a priority to involve the entire company, not just our tech team. It was important to us to have diverse representation across all departments and teams – from tech and finance to sales and marketing – because often the best ideas come from a collection of diverse groups.
What kinds of longer-term initiatives are you participating in to advance gender equality at your workplace?
Employee resource groups and mentoring programs are important starting points, but we are going further. We recognize that gender diversity is not women’s problem to solve. Employee-led groups are a necessary component to gender diversity programming, but it’s essential to have top-down executive support and participation. This is why I sponsor our Women in Tech group at Cornerstone, and why other members of our executive leadership team are invested in these ERGs, as well.
As a learning company at our core, Cornerstone is committed to continuous training and education for all employees. Our entire technology team of more than 700+ employees has already gone through an initial bias training, and we are planning for more in-depth trainings next year to continue our education on inclusive leadership and ally training. Through this dedication to continuous learning, we are able to coach and mentor women, as well as provide career paths, training and opportunities for them. We also train the majority male team to practice inclusive behaviors.
Additionally, Cornerstone does annual salary reviews to ensure pay parity and do our part to help close the wage gap. It’s important for organizations to constantly re-evaluate pay at every level due to recurring team changes.
Why do you believe your company is a particularly supportive place for women employees?
Cornerstone is a talent management and talent experience company, centered around the belief that continuous learning and skill development give people long-term career success and satisfaction. It’s the software we make for our clients, but it’s also fundamental to how we live and work. At Cornerstone, everyone has access to training, development and career plans.
Our learning-based benefits, like Development Day, which provides opportunities for employees to learn new skills and teach new skills to their peers, are one of the reasons we’re consistently ranked as a top place to work.
Additionally, women make up 20% of our board, including the board chair. Women also have seats at every level of leadership, from the executive team down to team leads, and we’re continuously looking to increase opportunities for women to advance. While my role is promoting D&I in our technology team, this is really driven from the very top of the company. Our CEO is insistent that we make room for women at all levels and continue to grow the percentage of female leadership in the company at large.
What’s your #1 tip for men who want to be allies to women at work but aren’t sure of what to do or where to start?
Read, listen and act with humility and courage. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from taking action.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
Demonstrating a caring attitude to all stakeholders, including clients, partners, employees.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Don’t leave a job 95% of the way there — take it all the way to 100%.
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