Square has something few Silicon Valley startups have: women executives

Obsession
Future of Finance
Obsession
Future of Finance

Here’s one thing that hasn’t been overly remarked upon about payments startup Square’s plan to go public.

Of the five executives listed in Square’s pre-IPO SEC filings, three are women. Sarah Friar, formerly of Goldman Sachs, is the company’s CFO. Francoise Brougher, a former Googler, is listed as business lead. And Alyssa Henry, who was last a VP of Amazon Web Services, is Square’s Seller Lead, where she manages Square’s products for sellers.

It may not seem like much on the surface, but when compared to the tech sector as a whole, Square stands out. The Verge pointed out that only 18% of tech leadership positions are filled by women. Facebook leads the pack with 23% of its leadership posts held by women, while Square CEO Jack Dorsey’s other company, Twitter, follows closely behind with 22%. Apple only reaches 18%. In executive positions, the ratio shrinks: Apple only has one woman (ex-Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts), along with two women on its board. Google’s leadership page isn’t much better. Granted, in small companies with few executive positions, it’s hard to draw meaningful comparisons. But it’s still worth noting that Square’s three female executives account for 60% of the company’s leadership ranks.

The company has taken other steps to boost diversity. Square hosts immersion events called Code Camp for high school and college students that focuses on attracting diverse students.

In a conversation with Fortune back in July 2014, Dorsey opened up about the emphasis Square puts on diversity. “We want to hire for a balanced perspective throughout… It’s not necessarily the most easy thing to do but it’s important to us.”

One diversity expert who spoke with Quartz praised Square’s efforts: “It’s great to see,” said Joelle Emerson, founder of Paradigm, a diversity consultancy that works with tech companies in Silicon Valley. Aside from the potential financial payoffs of promoting diversity, she said, “having people from underrepresented backgrounds in leadership can send a powerful message to others in the organization that this is a place where people from all backgrounds can succeed.”

 

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