Gender Equality At The C-Level: Is It Possible?

Susan Finch, Sales Lead Management Association

Bonnie Crater, President & CEO, Full Circle Insights

Inspired by Patty Murray, formerly of Intel, Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights, recently wrote an article about taking a play from the NFL. Combine these thoughts with those of Patty Murray about gender equality at the executive level, especially the C level, we have some work to do.

Some thoughts from Patty that Bonnie & Susan discussed.

How do you feel about these:

  • Ambition – and how it’s expressed – often looks very different in women.
  • Isolation affects women’s advancement more than we think.
  • Intentional, tailored development and flexibility is critical.
  • Women don’t want to be singled out as technical females.
  • How do these resonate with you? Do you agree, disagree?
  • What is your company doing to address the imbalance in this area? Is it enough?

Originally broadcast on Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA) podcast. 

Podcast Transcript


Susan Finch:                 It’s time for the SLA radio show with your host today, me, Susan Finch. So glad you’re here. I’m Susan Finch here for SLMA radio from and our radio station, which is I am here today with Bonnie Crater. If you watched our show, I think it was a couple of weeks ago, she was on.

Susan Finch:                 She’s the CEO of Full Circle CRM, but we’re going to have a major discussion on gender equality in the C space. So Bonnie, let’s dive right in.

Bonnie Crater:              Sounds great. Thanks Susan.

Susan Finch:                 Let’s give him … What prompted your passion for this? I have a feeling as a woman that’s owns a company, this has been a slow burn for you that’s been building and building. But what was the moment of crescendo for you that you said, “This is ridiculous, we need more women in this area.”

Bonnie Crater:              Well, it actually started this past year after I raised my series A. We Got a loan from Silicon Valley Bank. Thank you very much, Silicon Valley Bank. I was invited to a Silicon Valley Bank event. I was excited, it was going to be at Oracle’s, my former employer, the new co-CEO was presenting, it was going to be great.

Bonnie Crater:              I arrive at the very fancy Oracle customer visit center and there’s 100 CEOs in the room, and I look around and there’s myself and one other woman who’s a CEO and 98 guys. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy.” I didn’t really … It was an epiphany for me. I actually didn’t realize … I heard the statistics, but I didn’t really realize that it was really true that there were so few women CEOs. I thought, “Oh my God, this is sort of nutty. How could this possibly be?”

Bonnie Crater:              Then I started doing some reading. I learned about a study, the Babson College study, what they were saying is that in 1999 there were … 10% of all of the venture capital partners were women. But by 2012, only 6% were women. And I thought, “This direction, it’s not going in the right direction.” And then I, coming back to the Silicon Valley bank event, I also read that 2.7% of companies had women CEOs that were getting funding from venture capitalists.

Bonnie Crater:              So I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is kind of a crazy situation.” I actually didn’t really think about it, I didn’t really grok it, I didn’t really internalize the fact that it was unusual for me to be a woman and being a CEO.

Susan Finch:                 Well, that’s, that brings up a really good point though, Bonnie, because we hear about gender equality and we need more women, but the women I’ve interviewed in the past on this show, like Juliana Lucasack who’s a producer and director for movies, and some of the others they didn’t even … They never thought about, it’s just that, I’m going to do this. Not I the woman am going to do this, I’m going to do this.

Bonnie Crater:              Right.

Susan Finch:                 Do you think that’s part of the thinking that’s getting in people’s way?

Bonnie Crater:              I’m not really sure about that, but I do know that a lot … It’s not an uncommon experience of what I had, of all of a sudden realizing that you’re the only woman in the room. So that prompted me … I kind of got to bee in my bonnet because I did talk to a lot of men when I was raising money and I talked to very few women.

Bonnie Crater:              I thought, “There’s got to be something that we can do about this.” And I have a friend, her name is Patty Murray, and she just retired from running Intel’s HR department. She was a senior vice president there, so she was an executive there. And she, in her last years there, she studied this problem. She studied the problem of why weren’t more women rising to the top ranks at Intel?

Bonnie Crater:              So she hired a consulting firm and the first study she did, they came back with the standard answers. Oh, women are too aggressive or women are not aggressive enough, or … It’s all very confusing. So they, so she asked those guys to depart, she fired them, and then she hired a second group and they came up with similar answers.

Bonnie Crater:              So she decided to take the lead from the NFL. And the NFL had a big problem 10, 15 years ago. And the problem was that the 70% of all of the players in the NFL were African American, but very few of the coaches were African American. So what they decided to do was to implement this rule called the Rooney rule, which was named after Mr. Rooney, who was associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Rooney rule basically said they required the teams in the NFL to interview at least one African American for every coaching and general manager position.

Bonnie Crater:              What happened was the number of coaches in the NFL went from 6% to a high of 22%. So it had a real effect on increasing the number of African American coaches. And if you’ve watched … If you’re a football fan, if you’ve watched NFL football, it used to be very rare that you saw an African American coach and now it’s not … It’s pretty … It’s common. It’s not considered unusual to have an African American coach.

Bonnie Crater:              So it really had a big effect. So when Patty was introducing this concept to Intel, she was talking to the Intel executives, telling them about the Rooney rule and how that has a very positive effect. And she thought that that it would be a great idea for Intel to try this inside. And so they nicknamed the program the Murray mandate.

Bonnie Crater:              That was kind of, I guess, an internal joke inside Intel. But the Murray Murray mandate rule basically said for any senior position that we have open at Intel, we’re going to interview two women so that women get consideration. Because it turns out that in the NFL it wasn’t that the skillset was lacking in the African American coaches, it was just the access to the job. Once there was access to the job, African Americans were being considered, they performed equally as well as the white men.

Bonnie Crater:              In fact, three years after they implemented that Rooney rule, there was a Superbowl that had two African American coaches that faced off each other. Today at Intel, I don’t know what the stats are at Intel, I can’t tell you, but I did notice that on their executive team there is a woman president, and that’s the first time I’ve noticed that ever in the history of Intel. So that’s really cool.

Susan Finch:                 Okay. So we’ve translated that with minorities and I get that. Being taken advantage growing up and my family did have the, “Hey, we’re half Hispanic.” We took advantage wherever we could on that, and I got lots of scholarships that I turned down just because they were too far away. But as far as women getting the interviews, I mean that’s … You’re bringing up a good point. It isn’t just a matter of yes, we’ll interview more.

Susan Finch:                 So getting them in the door first, as far as that much, I’m understanding that, that a lot of companies don’t even look any further because they’re asking their friends, they’re asking their peers, they’re asking other people already in the position, who would they recommend? Well, if they’re men that are in that position, they hang out with their buddies, and they’re going to recommend that unless you push them.

Susan Finch:                 I think that becomes that comfort zone, as you saw, especially with VCs and some of the other financial related industries, even more, I think, than tech. It has that appearance still, that good old boy network.

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah, I like to think of it as tribal. There’s all those books on tribal this and tribal that. And when a VC is investing in a company, it’s not like they just give them money and then walk away. They are investing in a company and there’s a relationship. They’re investing in a relationship, in the CEO. It’s only natural that people will want to develop relationships with people that are similar to them.

Bonnie Crater:              So because there’s so many more men than women in the venture capital world, it’s only natural that that would happen, that very few women would get funding. And so it seems very natural that this phenomena would happen, not just in large Silicon Valley firms, but also in venture capital firms as well. And that’s why the Murray mandate is such a cool idea because it doesn’t require … It’s not a quota, right? It doesn’t require a venture capitalist to hire a woman. But what it does do is it asks a venture capitalist or a CEO or a chairman of the board to, if they have an open position, that they would consider a woman candidate.

Bonnie Crater:              So it just creates a opportunity for women to get exposure to those positions and be considered. And if the Rooney rule holds up, it actually works. Once the individuals are considered, they become candidates, and they have a higher chance of being hired.

Susan Finch:                 Well, what’s the percentage of women versus men in the world? It’s pretty doggone even. So to just, you say, “We’re just going to consider.” Let’s do more than consider. Let’s not just say, “We’re going to interview one or two.” Let’s up it percentage-wise, let’s do half and half. Why not? You might have to dig further to look for these candidates. Why aren’t people stepping up to take it that extra step further when there’s that high of a percentage of women in the world?

Bonnie Crater:              Well, it’s just easier. It’s easier to hire people. It’s easier to work with people that are similar to yourself. It takes extra effort to actually find candidates that have some sort of diversity, that are different from yourself. And so that’s why the Murray mandate is such a great idea because it basically puts a rule in place that says, “Hey, let’s make sure that we’re considering other genders.”

Susan Finch:                 Right. And I appreciate that and I get that. But for the companies that are saying, “Okay, I’m going to step up and do this.” Why would they stop at just saying, “I’m just going to consider.” Why not let’s even this out a little bit more? And yes, it’s going to take us longer to find more candidates because we’re not getting them from word of mouth like we used to. We need to look into other resources and check with other people that we know to look for another candidate that might not be a man anymore. Might be a woman.

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah, and there’s companies out there that are better doing this. In fact, I had a communication with Phil Fernandez. He’s CEO of of a company called Marketo.

Susan Finch:                 Yes.

Bonnie Crater:              And if you’re in sales lead management, you probably know Phil.

Susan Finch:                 Anything.

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah. You probably know Phil, because he runs Marketo, which is a very popular marketing automation system, and Phil communicated with Jim Openmeyer and myself that he thinks the Murray mandate doesn’t end the Rooney rule. Those kinds of rules don’t go far enough. He’s trying to get half of his executive staff to be men, and half of them to be women.

Susan Finch:                 Awesome.

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah, that’s great.

Susan Finch:                 Can you imagine though the tone and the input that that would change and bring? That’s really exciting. When you think of the new ideas that would come from that type of mix to keep companies from getting stale, from staying behind, when you start to kind of stir it up a little bit more.

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah, and once you have those leaders in position, it gets role models for young people to say, “Hey, it is possible for me to grow to a senior level position.” It’s not going to be so unusual for a woman to have a senior position at a company, and to be CEO, and be on the board. Right now it’s unusual, and so we need to create a change where it’s not unusual Good on Phil, right.

Susan Finch:                 Yeah.

Bonnie Crater:              Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for stepping up and saying, “Hey, this is not enough. We’re going to do more.” That’s great.

Susan Finch:                 I think that’s great. And some people, though, have to start with baby steps. If you don’t have anything in place now, starting with anything is going to help.

Bonnie Crater:              That’s right.

Susan Finch:                 But be ready to ramp it up because we’re going to be challenging you to do it and bring it all forward. We’re going to take a quick station identification break. I’m Susan Finch. I am the host today on SLMA radio.

Susan Finch:                 I’m here with my guest today, Bonnie crater, a full circle CRM, and we are talking about what’s affectionately known as the Murray mandate, and it’s a pretty serious mandate actually. It’s challenging gender equality at the C space level for executives in all companies, large, small, tech, financial, we don’t care. It’s time to even it out.

Susan Finch:                 So Bonnie, here we are back. There were a few things that were expressed and I believe it was by Patty, she made some really interesting statements that I was hoping to get your feedback on, on isolation affects women’s advancement more than we think. What does that mean to you?

Bonnie Crater:              This is what I think she means. Isolation is common at the highest levels, because oftentimes women in these positions are the only woman in the room, and it’s very difficult to develop a well rounded and relationship with this group of guys when they are part of one tribe and you are part of another tribe. And so, again, for me, it goes back to the, the tribal nature of these relationships, which is … And the guys, when they’re together, oftentimes they don’t know that they’re behaving in this tribal way and not being inclusive of maybe the only woman in the room.

Susan Finch:                 Don’t you mean sophomoric? No, just joking. Maria Pergaleno, I remember she was on a Leadspace radio show a while ago and she was even talking about the transition from being at one level position, and everything’s going great and she’s used to working with her team, and doing all these things. And when she went to the next level, it became very lonely. It wasn’t just lonely because she was a woman, but suddenly you don’t have that same team around you either.

Susan Finch:                 I think, for women especially, we are used to gathering up our village, gathering up our friends, the people we can count on, our sisters, whatever it is, our family. In departments, my experience has been that it becomes your basically your work family. And when you’re ripped from it and move up to the next level, sometimes that’s scary for a lot of people to adjust to, and I think to a degree men adjust to that better. That’s just my experience. Maybe I’m off on that.

Bonnie Crater:              You may very well be right. I do think that that lots of people want to create environments in which they are comfortable to work in. And so that’s, I think, the primary reason why we have some of these discrepancies where women are feeling, feeling isolated.

Susan Finch:                 Right. There was another thing that, and I really, I resonate with this one, especially, ambition and how it’s expressed often looks very different in women.

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah. A lot of women are big on saying, “I’m sorry.” Yeah, I’m sorry that I said I’m sorry. I’m really sorry that I said I’m sorry. Anyway, a lot of, a lot of people, and women in particular, are big on saying, “I’m sorry.” And, and the reason that they, I believe, that they do that is to really not call too much attention to themselves and to be perceived as ambitious.

Bonnie Crater:              This is unfortunate. Everybody should have the right to be ambitious. I think it’s in the … Isn’t that in the declaration of independence?

Susan Finch:                 Yes. You mean before women could vote? Yeah.

Bonnie Crater:              To have the right to pursue happiness. And so everyone should have the right to be ambitious, and not should be right for men only.

Susan Finch:                 Part of it, I don’t know if … For me, I’m in a tech environment, I’m perceived as a geek, you know, as a web person, as a geek, as a code nerd and I get lumped in with the stereotypical greasy haired, tape on the glasses rim, pimply face people. And that’s just what happens. When people meet me it’s like, “Oh wow, that’s what you do.”

Susan Finch:                 I think sometimes we’ve labeled ourselves, women have labeled themselves, allowed yourselves to be labeled. And I don’t think it’s the the men, I think the men just get in bad habits, but they take our lead on what we permit them to label us as. It’s like you were just saying with the apologies, when you get in those bad habits, how are you ever going to assert yourself with confidence to say, “I’m going for that job, I’m going for that position and I’m going to do everything I can because I am the best candidate.”

Susan Finch:                 How are we going to get them to break … it isn’t just having the opportunity. It comes at the other end as well that if they’re not going to step up and demand, not just, “Can I please?” If they aren’t going to demand it, why would anybody listen to them?

Bonnie Crater:              So there’s some recent statistics from some studies that were done at Duke University, which look at job descriptions. This is kind of interesting. So the job descriptions that we produce today often have requirements for the job, right? And you might have six or seven different job requirements.

Bonnie Crater:              It turns out that when a woman is looking at those six or seven requirements, they feel like they need to have all seven requirements in order to apply for the job. But when a man looks at the job requirements, one or two are sufficient and they’re applying for the job.

Bonnie Crater:              So this is something that is just sort of inherent in the way women respond to even a simple thing like a job description. So it turns out if you have too many requirements for the job, you’ll have fewer women applying for the job. So if you write your … The way we all write our job descriptions, when we put six or seven requirements on it, that’s sort of the standard. But if you are writing a job description that you want to have a lot more women applying for, have fewer requirements.

Susan Finch:                 Never thought of that. I would have never thought of that. But I understand it. And speaking from my daughter, she’s 13, and she was considering going out for the little local city cheer squad and she says, “Oh, I didn’t want to try out because they said I had to do back flips and hand springs and this and that.” She goes, “I can’t do that. But I’ve seen those girls and they don’t do that.” She goes, “I’m really good at these other things.”

Susan Finch:                 I said, “Do you want to be in it or not?” She said, “No, but I know I could.” So it was an interesting transformation, even at that age, to watch her thinking she wasn’t good enough because she did not meet all the requirements, and she trying to be honest, and the rule follower, and I don’t want to waste their time if I can’t do those things.

Bonnie Crater:              Right.

Susan Finch:                 And that’s a self-worth thing.

Bonnie Crater:              Right. So as a hiring managers, though, that we can actually take a concrete step, we can agree to the Murray mandate, and just [inaudible 00:20:49] to interview more women candidates, and we can also write our job descriptions where we’re describing what the job is in order to get more women candidates. You just put fewer requirements in, and you’ll get more women candidates.

Susan Finch:                 It could be as simple as just formatting with more descriptive paragraph, but then fewer bullets. Because I think it’s the bullets everybody focuses on to see, because they can check it off their list. I have that, have that. Yeah.

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah. I have that. Right. Yeah, exactly.

Susan Finch:                 Well I think we … I think we’ve given people something to think about from both ends. Women, you need to demand more and have a little more self-confidence, because chances are you are qualified for a lot more than you think you are. And companies, we’ve got to open up our opportunities and not just go with the easy fish in the barrel for your candidates. It’s time to expand, to challenge yourselves and to make it be a policy. Is that … I mean, those are pretty good baby steps, don’t you think?

Bonnie Crater:              Oh, I would think so and I have a challenge. I have a challenge for CEOs, I have a challenge for the venture capital general partners out there. Sign up and take the Murray mandate pledge. When you have an open senior position in your firm or in your company, consider two women for that position, and you’ll make a big difference in the world and for your company.

Susan Finch:                 And can we find that pledge on your site?

Bonnie Crater:              Yeah, we have a site that’s going up shortly. It will be at

Susan Finch:                 Okay. folks. We will put that in the show description and we will put that right here. See it? It’s right there. You can go right there and go ahead and take the pledge. So I want to thank you, Bonnie, for coming back and for getting so involved with the sales lead management association. You are a true asset, you are a role model. And inspiration to show women and girls and people in general that we can do better.

Bonnie Crater:              Well, anything is possible. Just remember that.

Susan Finch:                 All right, so if you want to find Bonnie, you can find her at Look for in the usual places such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google plus. And for me, you can find me at


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