Culture at Braze
Braze Femmentor Leaders Talk Vulnerability, Breaking the Status Quo, and Being Bold for Women’s History Month
At Braze, we value our employees and their individual experiences beyond their specific roles. We have a number of employee resource groups (ERGs) that are voluntary, employee-led cohorts based on shared characteristics or backgrounds. Femmentor, our women-led ERG, is a space where all employees (regardless of gender) can raise their voices about important issues and collectively organize ways to foster connection across our wider organization.
In honor of Women’s History Month, our team sat down with the four leaders of Femmentor— Cara Motowidlo, Enterprise Account Executive; Florence Faber, Account Executive; Jackie Franklin, Senior Strategic Business Consultant; and Kate Ryles, Partnerships Associate, Tech Alliances—to discuss what being a part of the ERG means to them.
Providing a Space for Vulnerability and Mentorship
Being a Femmentor leader at Braze is all about establishing a community where employees can elevate the value of their female coworkers, while simultaneously opening doors to inspire female leaders and experts from all industries. The mentorship program within Femmentor has added tremendous value for its members by creating a space to have challenging conversations that expand one’s personal and professional skill set.
“In particular, I'm impassioned about allowing people to feel supported and safe as they vocalize topics they care about,” Motowidlo told us. “I believe growth happens amid honest, hard conversations, and 2021 has presented no shortage of those moments. As a Femmentor leader, I've had the privilege of having both intimate and larger forum discussions with coworkers who have dared to be vulnerable and talk about what matters to them. Because of that, we're now able to understand how Femmentor can truly pursue initiatives that support our wider employee base.”
“I was lucky to find the mentors that I have, and having the opportunity to continue to build the mentorship program has been so important to me,” said Ryles. “In joining the leadership team, I hope to help create a space where others will walk away with the same sense of confidence that I have felt, and I am excited to have the opportunity to play a leadership role in this work.”
When asked about the women who have shaped their perception of the world, the Femmentor leads don’t need to look very far to find greatness; from relatives to friends, to leaders and passersby, women have paved the path for all of us to walk.
“One of my biggest role models was my grandmother, Ute Duerr,” Faber told us. “She was not your typical sweet granny who you go to for sweets and treats. With age, I recognized this tough love made me more confident and paved the way for my professional life. Some quotes of hers I’d like to share; ‘You don’t need to behave like a man to be successful’ or ‘you can wear skirts and your hair down.’”
“I look up to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Franklin said. “She says what everyone wishes they could and is so true to herself. She is not afraid to stand up for those that don't have a voice and be the loudest in the room. She never has let her gender or age stand in the way of telling anyone the truth. She inspires me every day to ask for what I need, to be conscious of those around me, and reminds me that the decisions I make can create a better world to live in.”
On Being a Woman in Tech
The underlying challenge of being a woman in the workplace remains across industries. In the still male-dominated tech space, many women find themselves feeling like they need to work twice as hard to be seen as equal to their male counterparts. Our Femmentor leaders offer up some advice they wish they heard in the early days of their careers.
“Being the only female in a room of male leaders at different junctures in my career was at times intimidating,” Motowidlo said. “I would encourage women to give their male co-workers the benefit of the doubt. We oftentimes do lend a different perspective than our male peers, and many times that creates a much broader, more universal view to decision-making than it would have otherwise. As I've learned now, I'd say to my younger self and other females growing in tech that your voice is beyond important because it has to represent so many, and that belief starts with you.”
“Starting a career in tech was something that was always scary for me because when I was younger, I didn’t know or see many women in the tech industry and therefore I never envisioned myself working in tech,” Ryles told us. “The best advice I have been given is not to ask for permission in relation to my ideas or who I am. Even when I felt like I knew the right thing to do or say, I was too scared to just do it. When I got the advice it was okay to be intimidated and that I did not need to ask for permission about everything, it changed my perspective.”
Breaking the Status Quo
Women are born into a male-centric society where they are often expected to look a certain way and conditioned to aspire to reach gender-specific standards and goals. Yet, this narrative can be changed when women and their allies rally behind them.
“Changing the world starts with teaching young girls that they have a voice and that their worth isn't determined by their beauty or body or the men by their side,” Franklin told us. “Social media, the entertainment industry, and everything else around them is telling them otherwise, and it is up to us to change that story before it begins.”
“It is hard to change traditions, things that we have learned and that are ingrained in us,” Faber said. “Yet change is possible if people are empowered and supportive. So it is on us women to change the perception of ourselves to whatever we want it to be. We can paint our own picture and if we encounter resistance, we need to change course until we find people that know our worth.
Words to Live By
Faber: "The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before" — Albert Einstein
Motowidlo: "Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women." — Maya Angelou
Ryles: "The art of life is not controlling what happens to us, but using what happens to us.” — Gloria Steinem
Franklin: “Be bad, be bold, be brave.”
These four women (and all women at Braze) are an inspiration to us, and we are so fortunate to have them on our teams. If you’d like to join these women on their journey at Braze, we have good news— we’re hiring! Check out our open roles to apply at braze.com/careers.
Erin is the Communications Coordinator on the Comms team based out of Braze HQ in New York. When she's not working, you can find her studying to become a certified personal trainer or listening to true crime podcasts.