The Women of Chattermill: Redefining Customer Experience, Together
By Arron Westbrook
In honour of International Women’s Day 2022, we asked some of the women of Chattermill to share what inspires them, why International Women’s Day is so important, and what’s it’s like as a woman in tech.
Break the bias. This is the key theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD). Though society is some way from completely breaking bias, and further still from completing the circle of women’s equality, we will, while we get there, continue to support and elevate women at Chattermill. Not just for IWD, but every day.
At Chattermill, we strive to remove barriers. We create an environment where women can unapologetically be themselves. And we seek to shatter the glass ceiling.
At last count, 34% of our company was made up of women holding roles as far-ranging as VP Marketing, Customer Experience Manager, Senior ML Operations Manager, Senior Data Scientist, and Head of People. Many are in senior positions.
But though there is still much more work to be done, we wanted to take time to celebrate the phenomenal women working together at Chattermill to redefine customer experience.
For this, we asked a few of them from across the company to share where they find inspiration, what IWD means to them, and to understand what we can all do to make CX and tech a more equitable place for women.
Here’s what they had to say.
A time to celebrate those who inspire us
Whoever we are, taking inspiration from the people around us to move forward together is critical to our own lives. The women of Chattermill embody this ethos. Here's what a few of those we spoke to said.
Anisha Kainth is Senior Customer Success Manager at Chattermill. For her, many inspirational women around the world have achieved many different things. But the woman that inspires her most is her mum.
“My mum is a strong independent woman. I’m most inspired not by a specific goal she’s achieved (although she’s achieved many) but an attitude she’s cultivated; to be positive, to be kind, to enjoy life, be happy, continue to grow and learn, help others to empower themselves, to empower herself, and to always forgive, no matter what life throws at you.”
For Senior ML Operations Manager, Mariana Lisboa, it’s people from across her life that inspire her. “It’s my manager. My female colleagues, every time they achieve something great, and every time they’re out there voicing their ideas. It’s Chattermill’s founders and talent team who’ve scaled the company while still maintaining our core values”, she says.
“It’s also the women – who constitute an estimated 17% of the Ukrainian forces – who’ve volunteered to fight for their country, peace and democracy. All these examples represent the strong willingness of people trying to make our lives and our world better. This is the core of what inspires me: leaving a mark for good, no matter the commitment and costs involved.”
The everyday inspires a pivotal member of Chattermill’s Data Science team, Patrycja Sliwiak. She notes two examples.
“My friend recently became a mom of two and at the same time is working on opening her own business while also finishing a master’s degree. This is hugely inspiring. I’m equally inspired by my colleagues when they give powerful presentations on their latest experiments. Seeing that spark in people's eyes is what draws my attention and consistently keeps me inspired.”
Senior Data Scientist, Georgia Harrison also gives her take on the women who inspire her in the male-dominated field of AI research:
“As someone who spends a lot of time researching and keeping up to date with advances in AI, I’m inspired when I see female researchers deliver breakthroughs in a male-dominated field – for example, Fei Fei Li. This shows to me the undeniable intelligence and determination of women researchers.”
Reflecting on the importance of International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is not just a day in the social calendar. It’s a time to take stock and celebrate the women in our lives. And for the women of Chattermill we spoke to, this day means a lot.
This year's theme is especially poignant for Customer Experience Manager, Billie Bradley.
“The theme of IWD this year is ‘break the bias.’ This struck a chord with me as a woman in tech. Tech is an industry pushing new and exciting boundaries, but when it comes to the makeup of the workforce (especially in leadership positions), we’re so far behind”, she says.
“Accenture published a study last year that said the gender gap in tech was worse in 2021 than it was in 1984, which makes for pretty grim reading. Lack of diversity in the industry is not only detrimental to the people who are excluded, but it also damages the industry itself and results in products that only serve a small percentage of the population (and the total addressable market). Today is a good reminder of how much work there is left to do.”
Senior ML Operations Manager, Mariana Lisboa, sees International Women’s Day as a day to take stock of the progress we’ve made.
“It’s easy to take for granted that we have: the freedom to vote, the freedom to work and the freedom of being our true selves. But even in 2022, many of us still can’t say this is true, and we can sometimes forget what it’s taken for us to live these privileges”, she says.
“And while it may take more time and more brave women to keep fighting for this equality, International Women’s Day represents a chance to reflect on what we’ve achieved so far and consider what we should continue to focus on so that more women can have the same opportunities and freedom that some of us unconsciously take for granted.”
IWD is also a fantastic opportunity to celebrate women – their power, their achievements, and their potential, according to People and Talent Manager, Callie MacKinnon.
“It’s also a time to reflect on how we as a society still need to improve in the perception and treatment of women. We’ve certainly come a long way since suffrage, but the disparity in the home and workplace and violence against women are still potent in 2022. You only need to look at the disproportionate effect the pandemic had on women to see evidence of this. Having the space for rhetoric and discussion of these topics that IWD creates a small but important step towards making things better.”
Creating a space to support and empower one another
It can be easy to see the workplace as a place of competition. But the women of Chattermill we spoke to appreciate the power of making progress together, and building a business that empowers all women.
Chattermill’s People and Talent Manager, Callie MacKinnon, a great person to speak on this given her role building the culture at Chattermill, describes her journey:
“When I joined Chattermill in 2019, I experienced challenges that many women face in the workplace, including imposter syndrome and difficulty speaking up. I in no way attribute this to Chattermill as a workplace. Rather, they’re symptoms of the society I grew up in and my self-perception”, she says.
“Over the past three years, Chattermill has been a great environment for me to test how I can communicate more directly, learn from incredible mentors, and in turn, grow exponentially in confidence. I feel lucky every day to be able to work with the incredible women at Chattermill and see them achieve their professional goals – I’m deeply motivated to do everything I can to make Chattermill the best possible environment for them to flourish.”
Senior Data Scientist, Georgia Harrison, who has worked at Chattermill for over four years, also has much to say on the positive culture at Chattermill for women.
“The culture at Chattermill is great because I’m surrounded by so many amazing female colleagues who are experts at what they do. I’m constantly learning from them, and we support and look out for each other”, she says. “As a data scientist, I feel lucky to be in a technical team that values its female colleagues, creates a space for our voices to be heard, and has plenty of opportunities to grow.”
Making CX and tech more equitable
The CX and tech industries aren’t known for being particularly equitable. In fact, the opposite might be true. And every business in this space needs to do more to improve this.
Customer Experience Manager, Billie Bradley offers some sage advice. “Make diversity a priority. It’s not good enough to continue to recruit in the same way you always have and then wonder why it's so hard to find diverse candidates”, she says.
“Companies need to make fundamental changes to the way they recruit – from how you write your job specs to the places you advertise roles. And it can’t stop there. Company culture needs to evolve to ensure that when new talent joins, they’re not only included but given every opportunity to thrive.”
Mory Mir, Chattermill’s CX Consultant, adds to this, stating: “To create more equity for women in CX and tech, we need to celebrate what makes us unique and collectively work towards creating greater equality of opportunity.”
Chattermill’s Data Scientist, Patrycja Sliwiak, also rightfully calls out moving away from a single definition of success. “Moving away from one definition of success and supporting unique ways of how people achieve their optimal state of well-being plays an important role as it builds a foundation of confidence”, she says. She also touches on the roles of leaders.
“High responsibility also lies in current leaders of both industries. They have the power to drive change by encouraging women they work with to take on challenges that they are ready for but maybe don’t have enough confidence in themselves to say publicly, ‘I will do it’. Such support can be really powerful.”
Finally, Georgia Harrison, a Senior Data Scientist in Chattermill’s technical team, touches on why women need to be involved in decision-making.
“I think it’s so important to have a woman in the room and be involved in the process. This different perspective will help catch things you might not have thought of. Also, it’s essential to create an open environment where everyone feels heard and respected.”
Finally, some closing advice from the women of Chattermill
It would be remiss of us to finish this piece without getting some closing advice from some of the women we’ve spoken to putting this together.
First, Senior Customer Success Manager, Anisha Kainth.
“My advice would be to learn as much as you can, learn from everyone around you, ask questions and get involved in new projects to open up new opportunities and experiences. Share your views, opinions and suggestions, value your voice and share it. Be confident in your skills and try to be the best you can be.”
Billie Bradley, Customer Experience Manager, adds to this, encouraging women to speak up. “It can be tempting to stay quiet in meetings, especially if everyone sounds very self-assured. But in the long run, it can lead to you feeling powerless at work and means your company is losing out on an important perspective. Remember, your opinions are just as valuable as the loudest person in the room.”
Senior Data Scientist, Georgia Harrison, goes on to encourage women to embrace their differences. “My advice, particularly for women in tech where we are often underrepresented, is to embrace your differences”, she says. “Your experience and skills may be very different to your male peers. But this should be seen as an advantage, and you should look to make the most of this. And finally, never doubt yourself or your experience!”
To conclude, a powerful closing note from Chattermill’s own People and Talent Manager, Callie MacKinnon: “Believe in yourself! There is no skill you can’t learn when you put your mind to it. Never underestimate the value of your soft skills and how sought after these are in the workplace. Never underestimate the value of yourself, full stop. Know that most people (no matter how senior) experience imposter syndrome. And don’t be afraid to speak up – what a shame it would be if your wonderful ideas weren’t shared at all!”