Rolodex: Denver Entrepreneurs to Know
Katica Roy and Using Software to Bridge the Gender Gap
By Jessica Fialkovich | @jfialkovich
The Gender Gap is a topic we have talked about multiple times on the Broadview (including this scorecard for our public officials), but how do we tactically make progress towards equality in leadership positions? The Denver firm, Pipeline, is tackling that challenge with software that helps companies “increase financial performance through closing the gender equity gap.” I caught up with co-founder and CEO, Katica Roy to learn more about the company and the impact she is planning to make.
Can you give me an overview about Pipeline and what it provides for corporations?
Pipeline is a Denver-based startup that increases financial performance for companies through closing the gender equity gap at both the individual and corporate levels. We developed a proprietary software as a system (SAAS) platform that uses artificial intelligence to assess, address, and action against gender bias in the company. We focus on five domains: hiring, pay, performance, potential and promotion by integrating with the companies already established human capital system. Before our clients make a decision about one of these, such as hiring or how much to pay, we can give a recommendation as to which candidates internally fulfill that role and what the projected economic value is to the team.
What was the inspiration / drive for you to start the company?
I was the youngest of six, five of us girls, and watched my older sisters and even their children struggle with a lack of economic equality. Women could not get a credit card until 1974 or a business loan until 1988 without a male co-signer. This was the historical context in which I was raised. I also personally fought twice to be paid equitably during my corporate career and fought for other women--and men--for the same. I saw a leaking pipeline everywhere and I also saw companies struggle to close the gap from what they wanted to do in terms of gender equity vs what was actually happening. (Check out this awesome video explanation about the leaky pipeline that Katica put together.)
What is the most important thing you believe companies can do to improve the focus on gender equity in their organizations?
I believe there are two. First they have to realize that gender equity is not just the right thing to do, it is the economically smart thing. Numerous studies from organizations like IMF and McKinsey say that gender equity is good business. Having a leaky pipeline is not good for business. We need women to stay in the workplace in order for our companies to be successful, especially in a place like Colorado. With 2.3% unemployment we need women to fill important roles. Right now 42.1% of all millennial women have bachelor’s degrees compared to 33.2% of men, if women are leaving the workforce it is a problem.
Second the narrative of women in the workforce has to change. We need to value the differences that women bring to organizations, and fix the system or culture not the woman. For example, the term aggressive has a very different meaning in the workplace in regards to man vs woman. We need to understand those types of biases and what they cost.
What is your hope for the future for the company and the impact it will provide?
My personal mission is to end the gender equity gap once and for all. I want Pipeline to be a very strong partner globally to cut the time to gender equality in half. The World Economic Forum estimates that will happen globally in 170 years, in North America in 158 years, even the pay gap in Colorado is 40 years away. I want both men and women to participate in the conversation of what it looks like when we close the gap and collectively envision how that is better for men, women and society.
Tell me more about your social mission, how do you envision your 1% give-back will impact your employees, stakeholders and the world?
We committed to the 1-1-1 model spearheaded by Salesforce.com in which we give 1% of product licenses, 1% of our time, and 1% of founding equity (money) to charity. It is important to us to have a positive impact in the world beyond the workplace. Currently 36.5% of single moms live in poverty in Colorado. This promise allows us to support local organizations like the Women’s Foundation of Colorado which helps women get to self-sufficiency. We also envision providing funding or time to other organizations like Girl Rising and Edge of Seven which support education in a number of countries where education is not free and girls are often left out because of the faulty belief that boys are the better ‘economic bet.’ Educating girls can end poverty in one generation.
How can the women of Denver support you and Pipeline as you grow?
Bring Pipeline into your organization or refer them to another that values their solution. Ideally, Pipeline works with organizations that typically have either already made a pledge or public statement around gender equity. They are committed to it or bought into the idea that equity is important. Don’t know any companies like that? You can also help by taking this survey which helps Pipeline hear various voices, opinions and ideas.