Workday: Women in Tech

Workday is an important player in the enterprise SaaS market, with consistently high customer satisfaction scores and recognition for being a great place to work. Workday also holds the distinction of have four female C-level executives. On this episode we speak with all four these execs, discussing their roles and how they collaborate. It's an exciting and special show!


Jun 30, 2017

Workday is an important player in the enterprise SaaS market, with consistently high customer satisfaction scores and recognition for being a great place to work. Workday also holds the distinction of have four female C-level executives. On this episode we speak with all four these execs, discussing their roles and how they collaborate. It's an exciting and special show!

Christine Cefalo is Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Workday. She oversees the global marketing organization, with responsibility for building the brand and creating customer demand in markets around the world.

Diana McKenzie is chief information officer (CIO) at Workday. She oversees the company’s security and global information technology (IT) organization, with responsibility for the internal deployment of Workday products as well as other innovative technologies and programs that create a competitive advantage for the company and serve as best practices to IT organizations globally.

Robynne Sisco, is the Chief Financial Officer at Workday and is responsible for all aspects of the company’s finance organization,including accounting, tax, treasury, and financial planning and analysis.

Ashley Goldsmith is chief people officer at Workday and has global responsibility for human resources, internal communications, global impact, workplace facilities, and the Workday Foundation.


Michael Krigsman: Welcome to Episode #241 of CxOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman, industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. I want to thank Livestream for underwriting this episode, and if you go to, they will give you a discount on their plans.

We have such an amazing and interesting show, today. We’re speaking about women in technology. And, we’re talking with four C-level female executives from Workday. And, I’m so thrilled and so thankful for these four women for being here. And so, we are speaking with Ashley Goldsmith, who is the Chief People Officer at Workday, Diana McKenzie, who is the Chief Information Officer, Christine Cefalo, who is the Chief Marketing Officer, and Robynne Sisco, who is the Chief Financial Officer. And, I’ll just ask each one of them to briefly introduce themselves and describe your role and very briefly, how did you get there? And let’s start with you, Ashley. Welcome to CxOTalk!

Ashley Goldsmith: Thank you! So, my job, some people would call “human resources,” but at Workday, we characterize it as people purpose and places, which means I have responsibility for the traditional HR things like compensations, employee development, but also areas like employee communications, philanthropy, and our workplace facilities. And so, my focus is all about the employee experience, making sure that we are creating a great experience so that we innovate and provide perfect customer service.

How I got here …

Michael Krigsman: …

Ashley Goldsmith: Oh, sorry. I gotta keep going though! The way I got here: I fell in love with Workday long before I got here, actually. At least a few years. At my prior company, we were going through a selection process. It was time for us to choose a new Human Capital Management system. And, through that process, Workday was one of the contenders, so of course, you get to know a little bit about it. And I was not totally blown away by the technology, which was incredibly impressive, but I got to know the people. And I was so impressed! [They were] so humble and so smart. So, a few years later, when I got a call about Workday, I knew it was just something I had to pursue.

Michael Krigsman: Fantastic! So, from customer to Chief People Officer.

And, sitting next to Ashley is Christine Cefalo, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at Workday and Christine, you and I have known each other for quite some years now! Welcome to CxOTalk!

Christine Cefalo: Thank you! Thank you for having us! It’s been a great relationship, Michael! So again, really appreciate you having us here today. I’m Christine, as you said. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer. My job is to generate awareness and build demand for Workday’s products all around the world. And, just as important, of course, is to hire and develop great talent to bring our marketing organization into the future.

The way I know you, Michael, is I actually started in communications. I’ve been in enterprise software for about fifteen years. And most of that time I spent in Public Relations and Analyst Relations. As most marketers know, over time, marketing and communications have sort of merged and become an even larger and more measurable part of the business. And so, over the past two years, I’ve been overseeing the whole marketing and communications organizations.

Michael Krigsman: Fantastic! Well, thank you, again, for joining us. And, Robynne Sisco, the Chief Financial Officer of Workday. Welcome to CxOTalk!

Robynne Sisco: Thank you! Thrilled to be here! My path to Workday is somewhat similar to Ashley. I was a customer of Workday’s and just really enamored by the Workday technology, and so ended up coming here five years ago as Chief Accounting Officer. And I was fortunate enough to be appointed CFO approximately a year ago. I’m responsible for all of the financial functions of Workday, which includes running all of our financial systems within the Workday software as well.

And, I really came to Workday with a fairly long history of financial and accounting background and had been in technology, mostly in the Bay Area, for the good part of my thirty-year career. And I'm thrilled to have been here for five years.

Michael KrigsmanWelcome to CxOTalk!

And finally, Diana McKenzie is the Chief Information Officer at Workday. Welcome, Diana!

Diana McKenzie: Thank you, Michael! It’s a pleasure to be here! I have responsibility for all of the core IT systems at Workday. We also have a team that we call “WOW,” which stands for “Workday on Workday.” And their mission is to help Workday be our first and best customer of our products, and I have responsibility for that team as well. And lastly, I have responsibility for the security that we provide to our company around corporate security as well as for our platform.

I came to Workday also as a customer, although, I had exposure to Workday and I watched Workday's trajectory over the years and would find myself in an envious position when I found myself with other CIOs that told me they were going to Workday. So, it's pretty exciting when I had the opportunity to do that with my past company, where I was the CIO for five years. Thirty years in life sciences. And when the opportunity to come work for one of the best software companies in the world arose, I said "yes."

Michael Krigsman: Fantastic! Well, this is a very unusual show because, of course, we've had many C-level executives on this show, including Aneel Bhusri, your CEO, but this is the first time that we have had four C-Level execs. And so, I think we should talk about collaboration. You're all here, and obviously, working together, and so, describe maybe the nature of the collaboration and how you think about your roles intersecting each other. Who would like to jump in?

Robynne Sisco: So, why don’t I start with that one? Even though, as you’ve heard, we run very different and distinct functions within Workday, the one common thread that ties us all together is people. And everything that we all do impacts the employee population here at Workday and all of our people. And so, due to that common thread, we have to really be in lockstep on any decision that we make and that really drives a lot of the collaboration between our teams.

So, one example of that would be if Ashley wants to roll out a new employee program or take a look at changes to our compensations structure, she and I would work very closely together around what’s that going to look like? What’s that going to cost Workday? Can we afford to do it? What’s the timing of that? What are some tradeoffs that we maybe need to look at in order to meet our financial commitments in a year but still be able to embrace some of the programs that she wants to roll out?

Ashley Goldsmith: Exactly! And when it's using that example, not only is it a great partnership with Robynne but when you're making changes to something like a benefit or compensation program, also the partnership with Diana's team is critical because you do need to pick the system changes to support what you're doing. And then also with Christine's organization, because you're doing these great things, you want to be communicating them both really well internally but also probably externally with what could be future candidates and employees.

Christine Cefalo: Yeah, and I ... You know, Michael, even though we all spend a lot of time with our teams so Ashley, obviously with People and Purpose, etc. You know, and ... Well, I look at us as representatives of our organization who are joining together to drive the business forward. And so, of course, there are natural intersections. I obviously work a lot with Diana. I have a marketing technology team, and I work a lot with both Ashley and Robynne, particularly in marketing. I would say, you know, who you are on the inside is who you are on the outside. And at Workday, our core values are extremely important. And so, I partner very closely with Ashley on that part of the business.

The other thing that I really wanted to take a moment is, Michael, you know who the key stakeholders for Workday solutions are. And, I’m sitting right here with my internal clients. The CFO, the CHRO, and the CIO. They work very closely with marketing to tell our story of being first and best on our own Workday applications, but also, to help marketing understand how we can take customer stories, how we can explain how to drive more value back into our customers.

Michael Krigsman: This is a … This particular issue of collaboration, many organizations find challenging. And so, how do you ensure what are the steps that you take, or how do you ensure that you have close communication, and at the same time, what are the boundaries? How do you establish boundaries?

Ashley Goldsmith: You know, it gets less around establishing boundaries, and more around ensuring that we have a line of priorities. And, you know, we often have priorities that are completely aligned or are set from the get-go. And there are other things that come up where there may be times where our priorities need to be aligned.

And, I think one of the things that help us stay on-course really easily here at Workday is, because we do have strong core values, and we just take it right back to what's best for the employee and the customer. And, asking ourselves that question, it makes it typically very easy to see what the clear answer is and how we prioritize, and therefore how we make sure we're collaborating on the right things moving forward for the business.

Diana McKenzie: And, I would build on that, right? I believe that in the relationship that we have, there are clearly activities that exist within each of our respective functional areas that we work together individually on. But at the same time, when we think about what's happening as every company becomes a software company or a digital company, there's this element of information explosion that's occurred. And, the benefit there with what's happening in the technology space is we're now in a position to take those boundaries down between each of us. And we're spending a lot more time working together to understand what are the important decisions we need to be making as a company, and how do we tap into the rich wealth of data that we have as an asset and use that in a much more creative fashion to help us move the company forward? And we do that all very all working very closely together.

Robynne Sisco: And I see that as one area that’s really changed over the course of my career. If I think back even eight, ten years ago, my conversations with somebody in Ashley’s role would have been all around the data and is it right? Who’s got the best data? Is it HR, because they’re responsible for the recruiting, onboarding, and offboarding process? Or is it finance because we run payroll and we know who’s being paid? And I can recall sitting in a room with other CHROs having debates about whose data is right? And in the end, you don’t end up trusting it and you don’t have the basis for which to make really solid, good decisions about your business.

And so, we’ve just taken those conversations completely out of the picture and today, I’ll sit in a room with Ashley. We’ll pull up the Workday HR system and we’ll look at live headcount data, and we can really talk about what’s it telling us, and what do we need to do differently as a company to address whatever the data’s telling us? And the debates over whether the data’s accurate or not are really gone.

Ashley Goldsmith: And it does change the nature, particularly, I think Robynne, of our jobs and our team's jobs, because what we soul d have done eight or ten years ago would have been a lot of data dissemination. Our teams would have been gathering, generating a lot of data and then disseminating it to the right people who needed to know it. And now, with technology, that data is already in their hands. It's on their phone and it's at their fingertips. And so now, instead of data being the topic, instead, we are talking about what are the things we need to do as a result of what we're seeing in that information. And I think it is a powerful shift.

Michael Krigsman: And we have a question from Twitter, from Alan Bergson. And I want to remind everybody that this is a great opportunity to ask questions and use the hashtag #cxotalk. So, Alan Bergson is asking about how do you collaborate and what kind of tools do you use? Are there specific collaboration tools, he wants to know.

Christine Cefalo: Well naturally, we use Workday. I mean, in all seriousness, I think what you heard, you know, from the prior question is that we actually all do business planning together. So, it really does keep us on the same page. We, you know … It’s really important to prioritization. I don’t know, Diana, if you want to talk more about collaboration tools outside of Workday…

Diana McKenzie: Yeah, I would … We have a very face-to-face-oriented culture here. And that doesn't mean we have to be in the same room with one another, it does mean that we are very rich on video conferencing. And so, we use tools that make it possible to connect with one another regardless of whether we're in the same building or in the same state or in the same country, for that matter. It's also a very open culture of communication. So, there isn't a place anywhere in the company where if you want to reach out and talk to someone and get some information, there isn't an opportunity to reach out to that person and make it happen.

Like a lot of other companies, we struggle with the number of these tools that have continued to proliferate that are out there, and we are working to tackle that, and that can always be a great conversation to have at some other point about how we’re going about doing that.

Michael Krigsman: You mentioned … Somebody mentioned earlier when there was some discussion about the customer, about using the customer and employees as the reference point. Can you elaborate more on how you think about customers and employees, and why that's so important?

Christine Cefalo: …

Ashley Goldsmith: Yeah. Employees are our number one core value and, our founder said this from the beginning, which is happy customers equal … Excuse me … Happy employees equal happy customers. And we believe that to our core, which is why we believe employees are our number one value and customers are number two. And what we all do is think about how we're creating an experience for our employees where they feel appreciated, valued; where there is a sense of belonging no matter who they are, where they came from .... And they feel like what they do matters because every single person at Workday, what they do does matter. And if we can create that environment where we know they will do their best work, we know that they will innovate, and we know that they will provide exceptional service. And so, that's why this notion of really putting employees at the forefront, for us, matters so much.

Christine Cefalo: Yeah, and I think, you know, the core values just keep us really centered. You know, when I think about, “Am I on the right track?”, I always go back to those core values to make sure that we’re really focused in the right places, Michael, and making sure that we’re putting our investments in the right place. You know, from a customer standpoint, I have the opportunity, of course, to tell great customer stories every day, but all of our jobs is to always enhance and deliver the best customer experience possible.

Robynne Sisco: I think one of the things that make this a little unique on that front is that we've talked a little about this before. We are using all of our products, and so every employee at Workday uses Workday, whether it be from an HR perspective, or I want to change my payroll tax deductions or submit an expense report. And so, every employee has a connection to the customer in terms of the product, right? And I think that makes it very unique in that any interaction between employees and customers have this commonality where we really understand what our customers are saying when they're using our products because we're living that lifestyle as well.

Ashley Goldsmith: Yeah, that’s right.

Diana McKenzie: And I would just add one more, and that is we’re all very customer-facing in our roles, so we have responsibility for running our own areas of the business, but we also have responsibility for interacting with customers, and that gives us a tremendous opportunity to take the feedback that we hear from them and bring that back in, and use it to influence the direction of our product in addition to the experience that we have internally.

Christine Cefalo: And Michael, I just want to highlight one more core value. We’re very core value-focused here at Workday. And I think Dave and Aneel did a great job when they founded the company setting out those core values and making sure that employees are always extremely focused on them. But, I would also just highlight integrity. We have six values, but as we talk about customers and employees, I always feel like integrity is important, as Robynne said. We all have very customer-facing roles, and of course, employee-facing roles as well. And I think that that’s a value that we can always check against and make sure that we are always on the same page and delivering the right experience which is authentic back to our customers.

Michael Krigsman: So these core values have a practical import for you? They’re not just abstract.

Christine Cefalo: And even … So […] our core values, we all are. But from a marketing execution standpoint, we are always looking back at our core value, "fun." You know, is this marketing, are we delivering a fun experience? Hopefully, you've experienced that in some of your interactions with Workday. Hopefully, somebody's seen an advertisement and laughed. We're constantly checking back … I can't express how important the values are.

Robynne Sisco: I think the values actually really drive our priorities, too. So when we… If we get to a point where we need to decide between two things that may be conflicting or mutually exclusive, the conversation really quickly turns back to what’s the right thing for our employees? What’s the right thing for our customers? What’s the path of greater integrity if there’s a difference there? And really, they help us even with day-to-day decision-making as well.

Ashley Goldsmith: And it’s the first company I’ve been in where they are so much more than a poster on a  wall or something that you hear about in orientation. I mean, they really are fundamental and core to who were are, and they are present every decision we make.

Christine Cefalo: A few years ago, I participated in a dinner for a bunch of young women who are on a college tour in the Bay Area, and the really common question that I received from these soon-to-be college graduates was, “I have so many options. How do I know if the company I’m looking at is right for me?” And my advice back was, ask them what their core values are and if you get a consistent answer throughout your interactions with the business, then you know those core values are real. And if those core values align with who you are, then it’s probably a great decision.

Ashley Goldsmith: That’s good advice!

Robynne Sisco: That’s a great answer!

Michael Krigsman: We have another question from Twitter. You’re all leading organizations and so, of course, staff development is key to what you do. And Angie Reese on Twitter is asking, “How do you empower your staff to raise the bar?”

Christine Cefalo: Ashley’s team does an amazing, amazing job with talent development at Workday, and so, I would love to, you know, give you huge props for that. Every people manager at Workday has gone through special training that was developed over the last year, and I can’t say enough great things about that. In addition, we actually, on the marketing team, did 360’s for all of our managers, and we aggregated the results. And, based on the areas that we saw, in aggregate, that our managers needed to improve on, Ashley’s amazing Purpose team went out and developed custom training that they delivered to the marketing organization and then created learning modules that are now available, I believe, through Workday learning that can now be shared with others at the company.

So, I can’t say enough. I think Ashley’s team does an amazing job. I’m sure you guys have lots of examples.

Diana McKenzie: I couldn’t agree more. Just in the last year, we’ve run close to one thousand of our managers at Workday through a two-day experience where the members of the senior management team were the ones that actually delivered their curriculum. And the curriculum was very specific to the core values conversation we were just having, which is how do you, as a leader, be a great leader, but also be a great manager? And it means you have to understand who your people are. You have to understand what motivates them. You have to understand where they want to take their careers. You have to spend time with them. You have to actually want to be a manager. And for us to allocate that amount of time to that number of people to focus specifically on what does it take to be a good manager, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another company do that. And, the response throughout the organization has been very supportive of that because I think our Workmate population feels like they’ve got a management team that really cares about them deeply and what we need to do in order for them to feel like they’re maximizing their potential here.

Robynne Sisco: We also have a culture and a history of allowing people to really move around in different areas of the company. And I think that's something that's a little unique. Managers don't try to trap their employees in their teams, they really allow them to go out and explore other areas of the company, which ends up being a really great thing for Workday because they then develop as employees. They get to learn other parts of the company, and so that has been something that has really been built over time. And now when employees come in that are new, and they see this mobility that's open to them, right? It's a very new experience for them, and we've got a lot of great examples of people either moving overseas to take new opportunities or moving within different teams.

I’ve lost people in accounting to our product teams, to our customer support teams, and so, it’s really fun to see this … The career opportunities here which are really vastly different from what a lot of these employees have experienced in their past companies.

Ashley Goldsmith: And I do think the underpinning of all that still goes back to our values, because if you do have a belief that what your employees do really matters, then every single person, no matter if they’re an intern or an executive, that what they do really matters, then empowerment is part of that. You have to allow someone some empowerment in order to contribute. And so, all of these things that we’ve talked about are the supporting mechanisms to help that flourish inside a growing company.

Michael Krigsman: So it sounds like these values do serve as practical reference points when you’re making decisions and having to choose between A, B, and C.

We have another question from Twitter. And, folks on Twitter, again, I want to remind you that we’re speaking with four C-level execs from Workday who all happen to be women. And, you can ask your questions directly using the hashtag #cxotalk.

And we have another really interesting question from Arsalan Khan, and he’s saying, “Frontline employees have the best opportunity to learn and innovate by learning from customers. And how do you encourage that frontline employee behavior to happen?” To learn from customers?

Ashley Goldsmith: I guess I'll throw out that I think this kind of gets back to what we're saying before. That everybody has the opportunity to make a difference. Everybody has the opportunity to share. I think if you look across our organizations; again particularly Diana, and Robynne's, and mine; and then you go into product and then you go into development, you have people who are so intimately involved with the product. And all of us are out in the communities, right? We're with our peers, that's a natural part of being in the workforce. So we are always with customers or potential customers, and so there's always a source of good information back. And I think being in a company like ours that is low-hierarchy, as Diana said, anybody can reach out to anyone and share an idea. We have a lot of forums to do that from just the easy pick up the phone or send a note. But others…

So I think that it’s just part of who we are to allow people to share their feedback, share an idea, no matter how big or how small, and then you’d be surprised how many things just get jumped on that are a random idea that’s tossed out that suddenly seems like something really good that we pursue.

Robynne Sisco: We also actively solicit employee feedback.

Christine Cefalo: Of course.

Robynne Sisco: Yeah, through various channels. Ashley’s team often runs that, whether it be your short surveys or an email inbox to generate ideas around a specific topic, and then we action those. And so, we’ve got a history of showing our employees that, “Hey, if you have an idea and it’s something that’s going to be good for Workday, we’re going to action it.

Diana McKenzie: This notion of first and best is something that everyone in the company owns. It's not limited just to the people that work in our respective organizations or that work in the product organization. We have employees who think about that every day, and it's a great way to put themselves in the position of a customer or even when they're out talking to customers. It happens often. I get stories all the time of employees who find themselves in a conversation with a customer because they've worn a Workday hat or a Workday t-shirt. And before they know it, they're having a discussion about their product and oftentimes, that's a great, very positive conversation and if there's ever a time where it's a conversation about, "Boy, it would be great if you guys could do X, Y, or Z," the opportunity for them to bring that feedback back into the system is wide open.

Ashley Goldsmith: Yeah, I actually got an email from someone just this week. An employee, someone who I haven't met, who was out the prior weekend with some friends that were customers, and they came up with some interesting ideas for the product and so, he said, "I just want to pass them along to you." And they're actually really good ideas! So, I also have shared them onward. I think there are a couple things there that we could pursue so, yeah, they come from lots of spaces.

Michael Krigsman: Let's jump again to another question from Twitter. I'm glad there's a very active Twitter conversation. And, Gus Bekdash asks … He says, "Managers in technology complain about not having enough qualified women." He hires by ability and has never had that problem. And so, you’re all female executives. And so, how do we spread the word and how do we encourage women in technology, which is Gus’ question?

Robynne Sisco: I think that it's a difficult question to answer, obviously. And you know, I've been in finance, and mostly here in Silicon Valley, for the last thirty years and you know, I've seen a pretty good shift over time. But, I do think that it comes down to the culture of the company and whether or not that culture is one of hiring and promoting the right people for the job, regardless of gender or diversity and background or anything else. And once you have shown that you are that type of company, then you're going to start attracting more women, right? And so I think that we're in our roles here because we were the best people for the job, not because we're women but because we were the most qualified. Yet, people looking from the outside in can look at Workday and say, "Well, I know that I can have a successful career there as a woman because Workday has proven that they promote on ability and don't have a gender bias, and other types of biases."

So, it can be difficult. I’ve certainly, over my career, have worked for companies where I did not feel like I had the opportunities that I wanted. And, that’s a hard battle to fight. One person trying to change a company culture and so, I do think sometimes it’s really important to realize that maybe, you need to leave your company to really find the opportunities that you’re looking for. And, you know, that was certainly the path that I ended up having to take a few times in my career.

Ashley Goldsmith: On the shifting that concept of advice for women … I mean, it is true. In certain particular functions within any organization, there are some that there are fewer qualified women than men. No doubt about it. So, that … Yes. The pool may be smaller, but to that person, to Gus' question, I don't think that means we can't still have a lot more women in the workforce. And in terms of advice to women, there's data that's shown, the power of your network. The people that have a broad network and deep network across their organization or across their industry have far greater success. They will move up more quickly, they will ultimately be more successful in their career.

And I think when you find yourself in the minority in the organization, whatever reason that is that you’re in the minority, whether female or otherwise, you could find yourself with a much smaller network just sort of naturally happening. And I think that we can take it upon ourselves to proactively build that network by forming relationships, reaching out, and just being much, much more intentional with our network. And not just up. I think it’s a natural assumption to think I need to get to know the people above me so that they will be sponsoring me. Yes, there’ certainly no harm in that. But, peers. Even that newest intern; you never know who will play an important role in your professional life over time. So I think network expansion is something really important.

Diana McKenzie: And I would add that we can all help each other as well. I find, in a number of forums that I attend, I'm one of two or three women in a group, maybe of thirty, forty CIOs. And, one of the things that we've all started to do more is to proactively seek out other women that we know that would be great for that forum, and work hard to extend the invitation so that there is more diversity around the table. And when there's more diversity around the table, the conversation changes and the opportunity for inclusion becomes greater. So, I think there's an element of that that we can take on as well.

Michael Krigsman: And certainly, inside IT, which is a technology function, there are far fewer women than in other areas of the company – of companies in general. So, at Workday, how did you end up having four female C-level executives? Was this by design? Did it just happen naturally? Organically? How did this happen?

Ashley Goldsmith: So, Workday's cultural values really set the stage for us to have a very diverse group of executives. So, we didn't set out with a goal that we're going to have a certain percentage of women on our executive team. But, it is a priority for us to have a sense of belonging for every single person. We're a company that emphasizes contribution wildly over a person's gender, or their race, or any other characteristic. And so when you have that fundamental, then it makes it much more likely that you are going to select whoever is the right person for the job, and then the case, it so happens that we do have a lot of women in the executive team.

But it's not just there. I mean, if you look across Workday, we have great diversity in women throughout. If you look even in places that are traditionally male  product management, engineering, and development, we have really great female leaders and employees throughout those organizations. So, it is something that I do think if you get some diversity at the top, that will be very attractive to others who will say, "Yes, if I work there, I could see myself there because I know that people like me can get ahead."

Diana McKenzie: So, if I could just build on that: when I came to Workday for the first set of conversations, the very first person I met was Ashley. And I was so taken wither her. And, I had the opportunity then to get connected with Robynne, and she was so energetic and positive about the company and about the values of the company. I knew that the company was ranked very well in the Fortune-100 from a diversity perspective. And once I joined, I was attractive for that reason. I didn’t get a chance to have met Christine, but I would have loved to have done that before I showed up.

Christine Cefalo: I was with you, Michael, at Workday Rising!

Diana McKenzie: [Laughter] That’s right! She was! You know, but what I tell people now and it’s the honest truth is when the senior management team takes a break, there is a line in the women’s restroom. And I just don’t know how many other senior leadership teams have that vignette to go along with them.

Christine Cefalo: Yes, so I think, Michael, it’s worth noting that though there are four of us here, the senior management team is quite a bit broader than just the faces you see on, for example. And, there are a number of amazing women. The next time we sit down and talk to you, we’d love to bring them along and have that broader conversation as well.

Michael Krigsman: Sure! And I know some of those folks, folks like Lianne and others. And my colleague Elizabeth Shaw, who’s tweeting at the moment, just tweeted a comment from Robynne where she says, “These women aren’t in CXO positions because they’re women, but because they deserve it,” which gets back to that merit-based approach you were talking about earlier.

Michael Krigsman: What about inside IT? I'm just curious about any advice that you might have, Diana, because IT, in particular, is such a male-dominated field. We've had a number of female CIOs on this show, and they're all uniformly great. But, they're relatively few! You're relatively a rare breed!

Diana McKenzie: Yeah, I know. This is definitely a focus area for me and for any other person who's in a role like mine. I think that the statistics show that there's quite a few number of women that are choosing to major in the field of science and technology, and they emerge from the university and join the ranks. And there's a point where they make a decision for whatever reason not to continue. And, I think there's an opportunity there to catch some of the women at that stage of their career and make sure they are getting access to the best mentors and the best sponsors and making the right decisions.

One of the things that we’re doing actually next month is we’ve, within my organization specifically, have sponsored a book review of the book called the confidence code. And, it’s a very good read, research-based read, on how women sometimes don’t think about putting themselves forward for that next position because they have a fear that they may not bring everything to it. They may not have all the experience that they need to take on that position. And it’s how do we help each other build the confidence that we need to take that leap to say "yes" when you're asked to do something that you think you may not be completely prepared for, because that's, in essence, the way you're going to stretch and grow the most. And if you fail, you'll learn from it and you'll pick yourselves up and you'll keep moving.

So, I think there’s some element of helping women to think differently about how they can push themselves further in this career that will help us to build the ranks and the pool of future leaders and CIOs.

Michael Krigsman: So, I’m sure for all of you, the advice has to do both with advice to women as well as to their organization, or their company. And so, what other advice do you have? Maybe, the other three of you … can Share your thoughts on what women can do or what companies can do.

Robynne Sisco: Yeah, I think one of the things that I've noticed over my career is that we tend (if we're looking at promoting somebody, maybe into a role we just got promoted out of), we tend to look for people that are going to do the job the same way that we did the job because that's our comfort level. And I think that the awareness of that bias is really important for leaders and managers to think about because maybe the best person for the job is someone who's actually going to do things completely different from how you did them. Right? And, that diversity of thought can be really, really important.

And so, just ask everybody to really think about, "How am I looking at the candidates for a job whether it be an external hire or an internal promotion? Do I have an unconscious bias to try and find somebody who's like me? And would the company benefit from somebody who's maybe quite different?" And just kind of open your mind for opportunities for people. And maybe, it's somebody who's never done that role before. I mean, certainly, all of us at one point, had to break through the ranks of the CXO job and that's not an easy thing to do. But somewhere along the line, someone gave us the opportunity to do a role that we had never done before. And so, I think if we can just get managers and leaders out there to think a little differently about that and that the best person for the role may not be somebody who has already done the role before.

Christine Cefalo: And, as I was preparing for this conversation, Michael, I was actually thinking what advice would I share, and maybe this is a result of Ashley and I working so closely together, but I actually thought the exact same thing, which is, “Ask, ask, ask." Speak up! You know, have confidence, like you're amazing! Find a mentor, find a sponsor. I look at those as slightly different. Sometimes, it's the same. But I've had great mentors and great sponsors. I'm guessing we all have, and I think those are just all things that you can do. And they're very hard too, I think. To speak up sometimes is hard. To be confident is hard. But I think just to remember that and have that confidence.

Ashley Goldsmith: And, just a piece of advice, tilting it more towards the organization, I think most companies do want to have good diversity in their organization but don't necessarily know exactly how to get there. And it's certainly something that we all face. And, I think one of the most important things is just having good data. And it does come back to data being so important because it goes beyond just knowing what your percentages are and hoping that you can raise those, but being really intentional with your data and …

So, for instance, with collaboration, with the four of us, we talked about what questions do we need to answer about diversity in Workday. And then, how do we have that data ready for us? And so, we have diversity dashboards that really speak to what are the common questions. And, it’s what can get into the heart of where you might be losing your diversity. So, it’s what are your promotion rates? Where does attrition vary within your organization? How does pay parity look? Where are you losing people in the attraction funnel? Are you getting enough people at the top and they’re falling out during the interview phase?

So, if you know where you have an issue, you really can target your efforts, and I think that’s where you can look at whether you need to look at blocking bias that may inadvertently exist somewhere, or look at better attraction programs. Once you have the data, then it becomes a lot easier to be intentional.

Michael Krigsman: We have only a few minutes left. And, I wonder whether you can share your thoughts on what is the value or the benefit, and maybe this is obvious, but maybe not, what are the values and benefits of developing a diverse organization? And, at the same time, what are some of the challenges or the stumbling blocks that you’ve seen organizations face? And I’ll ask you to keep your answers relatively short because we only have a few minutes left.

Robynne Sisco: So, I think that one of the benefits are when you get different points of view and perspectives, and people with different backgrounds in a room together, you're going to end up with the best answer you can possibly generate, right? You won't have groupthink. You'll have diverse perspectives on a problem and then, apply your core values like "What's right for Workday? What's right for the customer? What's right for the employees?" Then you can come to the best solution to a problem that likely nobody would have come to that same conclusion by themselves. And I think that diversity of thought, that diversity of experience, and the diversity of background really helps bring all the different perspectives together and you end up with some of the best decisions and best creativity, which is important particularly in a technology company.

Diana McKenzie: I would build on that. We look at our customers and our customers are all very diverse. And, by being able to reflect that diversity at the leadership table here and within our organization, it just helps us be better connected to them. And to make sure we’re truly listening to their needs and their wants, and reflecting those in our products as we develop in our communications as we reach out to them about what our products are capable of doing.

Ashley Goldsmith: And I think it’s really just a fact. I mean, the demographics, if you just take the US, the demographics of the US are shifting wildly. So quickly. And we will be a country where the minority is the majority in just a matter of years. So, companies that don’t get this right are going to really struggle to have the talent that they need because diversity is part of who we are.

Michael Krigsman: And it looks like Christine Cefalo, you are going to get the last word because we’re just about out of time!

Christine Cefalo: All right! Well, I was just going to say I have nothing to add because of these … I'm so proud to be a part of this team and they said it perfectly! So, I have nothing to add. Thank you, Michael!

Michael Krigsman: Well, we are out of time! This has been one very, very fast forty-five minutes. I would like to thank everybody for watching and really, I’m very grateful to Workday and to these four amazing women. Ashley Goldsmith, who is the Chief People Officer at Workday; Diana McKenzie, who is the Chief Information Officer at Workday; Christine Cefalo, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at Workday; and Robyn Sisco, who is the Chief Financial Officer at Workday. And I said before we started broadcasting, there are a lot of chiefs and no Indians here, today! Thank you so much! [Laughter]

And everybody, thank you for watching, and thank you to Livestream for being such a great partner to CxOTalk! Go to and be sure to like us on Facebook and subscribe on YouTube. And, we'll see you next time, next week. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day. Bye-bye!

Published Date: Jun 30, 2017

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 443