Beyond Women’s History Month With Chelsea Pyrzenski of WalkMe
Ever wonder how a people-centric culture and digital adoption can revolutionize the way employees interact with technology? Join us as we chat with Chelsea Przesnki, Chief People Officer at WalkMe, about reducing friction in the last mile of execution, and enabling people to adapt to change faster and easier. Chelsea shares insights on strategically celebrating and recognizing the importance of working with communities, as well as how Walk Me’s technology streamlines task completion and fosters adaptability.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we delve into the evolution of its recognition in the workplace and the impact of the current political landscape. Learn how we can honor the achievements of women throughout history while pushing for greater gender equality and professional development. We also discuss the significance of allies in creating a safe and equitable workplace for all genders. Finally, we explore actionable steps towards greater equity, such as promoting pay equity and mentorship, all while fostering a culture of acceptance, inclusion, and flexibility for employees. Don’t miss this inspiring conversation with Chelsea Przesnki!
Listening Time: 22 minutes
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Beyond Women’s History Month With Chelsea Pyrzenski of WalkMe
William Tincup: [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Chelsea on from WalkMe, and our topic today is Beyond Women’s History Month, so I can’t wait to talk to Chelsea and learn from Herb. So Chelsea, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and WalkMe?
Chelsea Pyrzenski: Thank you so much for having me, William. Sure. My name is Chelsea Presensky and I am WalkMe’s Chief People Officer. And really what I’m focused [00:01:00] on right now is driving a people agenda that really influences a positive people centric culture that continues to really optimize the way that work is done, but also by investing in our team members as individuals.
And I have been with WalkMe, gosh, a little bit over a year now. And I am looking forward to sharing more about how WalkMe views the strategic importance of celebrating and recognizing women, while also giving them the support necessary for their growth and for their success. And as we think about WalkMe and what WalkMe does, so our goal as a business is to really change the way employees interact with technology.
And how are we enabling work to really flow through applications and systems in a seamless way. And when we think about today’s environment companies are running thousands of different applications and this has created what we’re calling software paralysis, where there’s a level of friction in the very last mile of execution, [00:02:00] which for me selfishly is our people, right?
Something I’m very focused on, but walk Me as well, needs to focus on how our technology is enabling individuals to get their job. Done in a quick and efficient and accurate way. And so WalkMe is the world’s leading digital adoption platform, which we call dap. And we founded the category just about 10 years ago.
And now digital adoption’s being recognized as really a vital for digital transformation by companies such as Gartner and Forrester. And so when you think about WalkMe, it really sits at the top of your software stack. So it’s giving you the information about who’s using what applicants or applications in what context and then where they’re getting stuck.
Where is that friction actually happening? And so this gives you the tools to create this frictionless experience to drive better software adoption, save money, which we all wanna hear about right now, reduce risk and boost productivity. And then what’s [00:03:00] more is that when we help you root out the friction before it comes a problem, you can adapt to change faster and easier.
So it’s a little bit about WalkMe
William Tincup: and I love it. So I studied user adoption from 2010 to 2015. I went around in the world talking about user adoption because I saw a lot of what the founders of WalkMe saw. As well as, okay, there’s some process problems. Obviously there’s a lot of applications, but it’s okay, how do you train people in application outside of the application, et cetera.
I love what y’all do. When I say that probably to every person I have on the show, but I really do. People can back check this. I really do love what y’all do. Let’s go back to women’s History Month for just a second. And what’s been your experience just through, through your career as you interact with Women’s History Month?
And we don’t need to go company to company, but just your general kinda like. Has it been a good experience? Has it been something that you’ve looked forward to, [00:04:00] or is it like, like I have such mixed emotions about this, so I’ll keep my opinion to myself for some, for a moment, but I wanna hear about your
Chelsea Pyrzenski: experience.
It’s such an interesting question because the, I would say it’s evolved over a company and over the different times. I would say that’s happening in our history. So I would say earlier on in my career at large, companies such as, at and t and Direct tv, we did have Women’s Month. I think it was well thought out, but it was at the very beginning ages of where DEIB and I was being introduced.
And it was being adopted. And so as we’ve continued to evolve year over year, I think what’s really fascinating right now is that maybe in. 2021, you may have asked yourself like, why are we doing International Women History Month? Like, why is this
William Tincup: right? Why is this a, why is this a thing?
Chelsea Pyrzenski: Yeah, we have a ton of really successful CEOs in the world that are females and, organizations are looking at D&I. In terms of their strategies to attract and retain talent. But when I stop and I pause and I think about what’s happening in the political landscape and women who [00:05:00] are still fighting today in 2023 for their own rights and reproductive rights, we’re absolutely having wins in some areas.
But gosh, doesn’t it feel like we’re going back many years in kind of the political stance of the
William Tincup: world? Yeah. Make one step forward, take two steps back. Yeah.
Chelsea Pyrzenski: Yeah. And so I think for us, women’s History Month is a time to really celebrate the contributions of women throughout history and recognize the ongoing struggle for gender equality and professional development.
But, my personal opinion is that we need to continue to revolutionize and elevate this time of year. And some organizations they just use this as check the box for women history. They get a speaker in, they maybe put something out on LinkedIn. But that’s not solving the problem, right?
It’s just checking the box and it feels. It doesn’t feel authentic. Yeah. And so I think this is a time for us to really evolve and cha and it’s not gonna change overnight, but really understanding what the women need and getting that at the forefront. And I would say, and this is pretty bold, but I would [00:06:00] say like now is the time that women should receive more from their employer.
They should expect it, they should demand it. And employ an employer should be giving giving their their women and their organization the opportunity to be successful and be heard.
William Tincup: You know what’s interesting is separating the history part. So if we don’t talk about history, then we are obviously we’re we could re we could repeat it, right?
That’s one of the worries is that we go backwards, we forget the women’s suffrage movement. We forget, all kinds of different things that, that have happened. So I, so it’s almost like the history part I think is great. For both women, but also for allies. So everybody I need to learn, right?
And during Black History Month, during Women’s History Month, et cetera, during Pride Month, like it’s a great opportunity to actually learn a bunch of stuff that I. Had no idea. And I have two history degrees like I didn’t learn that. I didn’t know that. Now I think the thing where we fail is having the history lesson, which is a wonderful [00:07:00] lesson, and we can add more to that, make it richer richer tapestry of history over, over time.
I think that’s I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna take that away. I wanted to actually make that more. Richer or richer, more richer is redundant. Just richer experience for people to understand, Hey, here’s where we’ve come. Great. But Right. The part I think a lot of companies fail out is okay, that’s history.
Now let’s present in future. So it’s like tying that together and going, okay, the history lesson, don’t wanna get rid of it. I want to make that better, but I think the presently, let’s deal with pay equity. Okay. Let’s take a look at it. Let’s actually, it’s gonna be a hard conversation for everybody.
Got it. Fair enough. Let’s have that discussion. And again, like you bitched at the very beginning, it’s growth, it’s success, it’s support, it’s promotions, it’s mentorship and allyship. It’s a bunch of other stuff that we can presently do. That would change our future.
Chelsea Pyrzenski: Yeah, and I think, holding space in these communities, these [00:08:00] individuals are I wouldn’t say volunteering their time and coming in, but how are we also expanding that outside of asking folks to participate?
Cuz not everyone participates in these e r G community groups or in these sessions where they get to hear stories from individuals across multiple different regions at WalkMe. But I think, obviously w we. We really need to think about allies in the sense of how are these individuals being treated in meetings?
So like for instance, oh, that’s nice if you’re, yeah, like even if you’re another female in a meeting, you should be an ally as well. Are they? Your female peers being able to speak up, are they being topped on the shoulders to be able to present at town halls? Are they being able to be seen and are they being able to have that safe space, be able to talk about what they’re doing within the organization and things of that nature?
So I think allies come in the sense of being males and females, and it doesn’t happen just in that community. It should be happening in our day-to-day operations. [00:09:00]
William Tincup: So what what I find fascinating. So I did this bitlab, oh, doesn’t matter when, but it was a podcast series with Greenhouse and it was all in di.
And it was, I got to ask three questions. What are we doing well? What are we not doing well? And what metrics do you measure? What do you care about looking at. And one of the gentlemen on the podcast is Donald Knight. He’s a c h r o at Greenhouse African American fellow. He says, tell me what the root word of allyship is.
And I, and of course I’m like, ally. He goes, no it’s all. And I took a step back and, okay. All right. And he’s right. It’s all conversations. It’s all the time. It’s all people. I. So those I instagramed it and it’s actually it’s a funny, it was a great learning moment for me because allyship is like, when you were talking about the ERGs, it’s one of the difficulties I have with ERGs [00:10:00] is that it’s people talking to people that already get it.
You know what I mean? Okay, I could go join the two p plus community but I probably won’t. I’ll probably join I love cigars, so I’ll probably join the cigar or scotch. I’ll probably join that sig. Because I love scotch and crs. Okay I’m not gonna learn anything about the other stuff that I should be learning, I guess is the point.
Do you think it should be compulsory is probably too hard of language, but how do we get people out of their, like me pair shaped, middle-aged white guy? How do you get, how do you get me out of being interested, knowing the things that I’m interested in, into learning how to be a great ally? And how to be a great sponsor and supporter of all, again, all people.
But we’re talking about women in this particular sense. How. How does that happen?
Chelsea Pyrzenski: I think it happens organically, but I think we could do [00:11:00] better and I think organizations can start to talk about D&I initiatives, talk about these stories, open up these safe spaces in town halls. Every single c h r o and chief people officer should be sitting with their c e O and saying, Hey, we’re, we have our quarterly town hall and we’re gonna spend 10 minutes talking about how to be an ally and how this is gonna help our culture and how we’re gonna deliver a as a business.
And I think it comes to the culture. Like we have to have leadership who believes in diversity of thought and in people. And we all have different lenses in the way that we operate. And so I really feel like we have to start. Breaking some of those boundaries and making it the norm.
William Tincup: Yeah. I love that.
And I love, it’s a lot of things that we already know, right? When the C-Suite gets behind something Yeah. Turns out it happens. Whatever it is. I, a hundred years ago we did Salesforce implementations and or I did as a consultant anyhow, I, and people would ask me what’s the difference between a successful implementation of Salesforce and not?
I [00:12:00] said, if the C-Suite uses it, If the C-suite is in it and they implement just, getting back to adoption. If they adopt it and they use it, everyone else will. And if they don’t, everyone else will. It’ll be ha haphazard. So let’s do the magic wand thing because I think it’d be important or a really fun exercise to think about, like what’s, and if not next year, like in your, in a perfect world, what would you love to do during Women’s History Month?
Chelsea Pyrzenski: Yeah, it’s such a good question. So I’m just gonna riff off the cuff here, but there’s a couple things that I think are important. I think it’s, you could talk the talk, you gotta walk the talk. And so I think what’s important is being able to have workforce analytics and really think about what does the bench look like?
What does the. North Star look like in terms of diversity and being able to be very transparent with your organization. A lot of times you might be able just to look at who’s on a Zoom call or who’s in a conference and not understand quite the landscape of diversity within an organization. But I think that’s one thing is like [00:13:00] how are we actually recruiting for it?
Currently today at WalkMe we have something called like the Rooney role. Very familiar to the N F L, but R. Our recruiters and their bonus is based off of how many applicants are bringing in and are diverse so that our hiring managers have a diverse pipeline and they’re not just looking at, let’s call it, your average white male, if you will.
And so this really helps us be able to track that from a data perspective and then really kinda look at the gaps and where we need to go in terms of our workforce. So I think that’s huge, but there’s a lot of things that go into play for women. When we think about. Flexible work schedules.
And what that’s come to place right now. Since Covid kind of accelerated us into remote work, but one thing we need to think about is with flexibility comes meetings very early when most mothers, let’s say are taking their kids to school or doing things like that. I think we have to be really thoughtful.
On meeting timelines. I think we have to utilize the data. I think we have to grow the E r G groups and make it something that’s more than just a community. But it’s spoken about across everything that we do. [00:14:00] And really it should be parallel, right? It, in terms of what our people strategy is.
It should be really this linear line across it about how every single thing we’re doing, we’re measuring it from a D&I lens as well. Cuz we could sit here and talk about promotions all day long. But who are we promoting? And how does that fit into our strategy? So those are some of the things also I would like to see more women have more opportunities.
So whether it’s like conferences or speaking engagements
William Tincup: or podcasts
Chelsea Pyrzenski: in podcast and talking about the topic, I love it. And it’s I’m a woman, so it’s easy for me to be like, okay, what would I want? But what I would really want to hear from is From my organization, which might be different if I work somewhere else, but what does the women of WalkMe want?
And where are we missing? And the only way we can do that is through quantitative or qualitative feedback and really sitting down saying why and what does this mean and how can we get there?
William Tincup: I love the pulled the e r g pulled through to all conversations. So you take ’em out of the silo.
Again, it’s important to have a safe space [00:15:00] there and people can talk and, do whatever they need to do but also, There’s learns in those ERGs, there’s actual real learning that happens in those er ERGs and it’s like the conversation we had a hundred years ago about knowledge management and where knowledge happens, it gets trapped in organizations.
It’s like those ERGs. Inside those ERGs is knowledge. Both historical and people are learning. People are learning then as well. How do we pull that knowledge from those ill ERGs and bring them back to the rest of the company? Maybe even broader than that, but the rest of the world.
Yeah. But like pulling that knowledge out of those ERGs. I love that idea.
Chelsea Pyrzenski: And companies have to build the psychological safety and trust. And it takes time and effort from the organization side. But that’s the North Star.
William Tincup: So I ran into this situation last week where one of my employees, female employee she, we, there’s kind of a.
It’s a [00:16:00] person who we had worked with, a contractor that we had worked with, that it had come out, that he had made a bunch of women feel uncomfortable. And one of my employees didn’t have any idea. And so she talked to us about it and it’s this was like three years ago and we’ve been working with this person for three years.
Yeah. And I’m like, Why didn’t you feel, why didn’t you feel, first of all, if you’d have told me I’d have probably done something violent, so Fair enough. But other than that, like why didn’t you feel like you could tell me this? And so why I tell that story is I think there’s an important thing that could be done during Women’s History Month where we create space for women to tell their stories.
Right, and just listen to, like all of us, everyone, just listen to the stories and create safe. No judgment, just listen to the stories because I think we’ll learn a lot about things that we just didn’t know that existed, didn’t know, didn’t like when Me Too [00:17:00] first after the second, third tweet, and it started to become a movement, which I fully love.
I was shocked initially. I was shocked that people were shocked. This is how clueless I was. Yeah. I was shocked. Y’all don’t understand how Hollywood works. Really? That’s crazy. And at Wall Street, Silicon Valley yeah, duh. Harvey Weinstein’s ugly, duh. So I was shocked. And I’ve learned a bunch since then, but initially I was shocked that people were shocked.
Chelsea Pyrzenski: Yeah it was like the tip of the iceberg. That’s interesting when you talk about like internal stories from folks because we just did a story slam gosh, was it last week with WalkMe and really got to understand. Some of these women and the experiences that they had in their career.
And not only does it help you, like we’ve been talking about, learn and unlearn things, but also like it draws us together and makes for a better, I would say, culture and for a better environment. Because now I know this individual that [00:18:00] I might be working with on a daily, basis is struggling with some of these cases or struggling with communication or struggling speaking up.
And it really helps us bring us together. And one of the taboo things I think about as a woman is that. Being vulnerable. Yeah. Or being emotional. Yeah. And God can’t be that. And I think going back to the magic wand is I would love to have the opportunity for women to just be authentic leadership.
And it’s not taboo. And in all fairness, it’s also probably taboo for men as well, right? Yeah. But I would love for us to have a play.
William Tincup: But you’re being generous, which I love Chelsea. It’s. It’s, it menus vulnerability as an excuse not to do it. Yeah. And I’ll put myself in that category cuz it’s hard to actually hear those stories, but if we don’t hear those stories, like some of the aspects of apartheid after Apartheid, they went through a truth and reconciliation where people just told their stories and you got to listen to all the horrific on all sides. Like not just one direction. Everybody had horrible stories, but [00:19:00] it was liberating because, okay. We’ve talked about it. We’ve got all the stories out. Like we understand all the hideous, horrific things that have happened.
Okay, now going forward, they can’t happen again. So I think that during Women’s History month this idea of, again, I. Richer history. I think, it’s really easy to tell some parts of the story, getting everybody involved and the story slam like you, you said, I want to know a little bit more about that.
But the idea that you enable and encourage and create space. If somebody doesn’t want to talk about something, that’s cool. There’s no, I have no, no interest in someone telling a story that they don’t wanna tell, but having this safety to be vulnerable and not be judged.
Chelsea Pyrzenski: Exactly. And that’s the goal.
And so with the Story Slam this year’s event was really centered around you can do hard things from Glennon, Doyle’s book. Untamed. Yeah. And so we had some really powerful stories about [00:20:00] overcoming adversity. And it was extremely powerful highlighting and hearing from women again at different levels within the business and different regions, and just really opening them up, opening themselves up was a moving format for us.
And so we also had a panel of female senior leaders who spoke about their career experiences and women within the tech industry and the challenges that they have overcome. And so it was a little bit of a different lens for us. Obviously the panel was a wider scope, but but. Slowly but surely we’re starting to really build those communities and having more participation and more understanding.
William Tincup: Last question is around pay equity. And I know it’s a little off topic from Women’s History Month, but not really. So because we’re, we’ve thought, and we’ve talked about it, that women’s history is more as, more than just a history lesson. How do you, what’s your take right now? Current state of pay equity, and how do we get to a point where we’re not talking about pay equity, meaning it’s just assumed that people are paid equitably.
Chelsea Pyrzenski: I know, and I literally don’t [00:21:00] understand why we’re still at this point right now.
William Tincup: Me too. We’re the age of internet. Seriously,
Chelsea Pyrzenski: really lost my mind. And I think having a total reward strategy that works for everybody regardless, and being able to have the capabilities really annualize.
Analyze the pay equity to identify gaps. But the one thing that we do from a recruiting standpoint is we price out the job and that is the price, regardless of who the candidate is. Smart. So that’s done on the front end. Smart. Obviously there’s room for negotiation and we do know that historically women do not negotiate as much as men do, but it shouldn’t be that game.
It shouldn’t be this cat mouse game where you’re trying to negotiate and you’re trying to sneak people in cheaper. Yeah, we’re paying for good talent. We’ve gone through a very interesting talent landscape with the war for talent, the great resignation. Now we’re going into this rec like it’s just very interesting and pay should just be, this is the pay for the job.
William Tincup: regardless it’s interesting because I a hundred percent agree it’s the skills, all of those skills that are accumulated into that [00:22:00] experience, potentiality, et cetera, it’s finite. Whether or not you live in Denver or Dallas or San Francisco or whatever, it’s this is what we’re buying. And I think people have historically looked at any number that’s below that.
Is a bonus. We’ve saved money. I’m like, no, you’ve just created an inequity. So Chelsea, I could talk to you all day, but I know you have work to do. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Yeah, thank you so much
Chelsea Pyrzenski: for having me.
William Tincup: Absolutely, and thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast.
Until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.