[E-Book]Promoting DEI in the Workplace


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) covers a variety of topics and tactics related to the fair treatment of all people. In the workplace, this means creating a space where all employees feel safe and welcome.

More and more businesses are starting to implement DEI programs, but there’s no real standard, given the broadness of the topic. Some programs are designed to support underrepresented social groups, some to compile employee resources, and others to signify a progressive company culture. Because of this variation, it can be hard to decide which strategies will work best for your business.

Learn our tips and strategy for promoting DEI in the workplace, in our full E-Book, here.

Celebrating Womanhood: GCommerce Traditions


Womanhood is an incredibly diverse experience, with each culture and each family having a unique approach to the journey. From quinceañeras and bat mitzvahs to Sweet 16 parties and menstruation celebrations, people from across the globe celebrate womanhood in all kinds of ways. 

And GCommerce is no exception! Each member of our team comes from a different background and has a unique experience with the concept of womanhood. Here are some of the GCommerce team’s cultural and family traditions for celebrating womanhood.

Alex Scharpf

In our family, we don’t really celebrate “womanhood” any differently than “adulthood” more broadly. However, we do have some minor traditions for “motherhood.” 

The entire extended family always comes together for Mother’s Day, and we make sure to write the name of every mother on a cake. (Though when your family is as big as mine is, it’s definitely a challenge!)

Once you’ve had your first child, you also get upgraded perks at family events. Your Christmas check is larger, you get to sit on the chairs that don’t fold up on you, and you get first dibs on holiday meals. None of these perks apply to the fathers in our family, so it’s really interesting that we specifically celebrate the moms.

Jael Dugdale

I come from a non-traditional family, so we don’t necessarily have a “tradition” to celebrate womanhood. However, what I am doing is passing on my experiences and the spirit of exploration and resilience to my daughter. As she begins to chart her own path, I'll be there for her through the twists and turns of life, cheering her on and empowering her to go after her dreams.

Jaylene Van Lin

Womanhood is a journey passed from my grandmother, through my mother, to me – a story of strength and growth. It starts with my grandmother being raised in the confines of a traditional household. She went on to enter a controlling and abusive marriage, a narrative that dictated her entire life.

But my grandmother always held onto hope for her daughter. She made sure my mother knew her worth, laying the foundation for a different life. While my mother still takes on many domestic duties that she feels obligated to do, her experience of womanhood is a world apart from my grandmother's. Sure, she still cooks my dad dinner every…single…night…but overall, she's treated with respect.

Maybe you know where the story is going now. Yes, my mother also wanted a better life for her daughter – me. Now, as I embrace my independence, I celebrate womanhood each day. I'm grateful for the sacrifices of the women before me, which have given me the freedom to define womanhood my own way. 

Kaylin Long

In my experience growing up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there hasn’t been any explicit celebration to acknowledge womanhood. But at certain age milestones, people in the religious community would begin to apply different gender roles to you.

At 12 years old, we become a “young woman” and begin attending a class at church that is only with other girls. At 16 years old, we are then encouraged to go on group dates (without steady dating). At 18 years old, “young women” become full-fledged women and move on to a different class, still segregated by gender, called “relief society.” At 18, we’re also expected to begin courting someone seriously with the intention of getting married. Once you’ve gotten married, you’re expected to begin having children and are expected to have as many as you and your spouse can physically support.

Kenyon Cotton

As a father of two daughters, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. In our household, I don’t like assigning gender roles to hobbies and interests. Our main focus is simply trying to build character and resilience, and instill moral values. 

The result is two girls who are fully enabled to explore all facets of the human experience: sports, both organized and extreme; science, mostly in the form of bugs, animals, mud, and exploration; glamour and fashion; being a leader, a follower, or somewhere in between; being a hero and a protector and knowing how to ask for help when they need it. Both transcendence and immanence. 

As I see it, one of our most important jobs as parents is to ensure that they understand that the full spectrum of possibilities is available to them as they work on figuring out how to find fulfillment and happiness, and how to provide value to the world. 

Lisa McGivney

We don’t have any family traditions that I can recall, but I’m excited to start a new one this year! I’ll be going skiing with my daughter for International Women’s Day.

Sharing Traditions

Every woman is unique, so individual traditions of womanhood are equally special. Talk to your coworkers and friends, and see what their own experiences have been. You might learn something new!

2023 DEI Impact Report


In 2022 GCommerce produced a company survey to gather team member insights on its current Cultural Pillars. While the primary goal was to evaluate which pillars needed to be updated in a post-pandemic world, GCommerce also found that many team members requested more education and discussion around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

And that is how the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Study Group was formed.

Now, over a year after establishing the study group, the company presents a recap of the work that has been done and the outcomes it has generated.

View our 2023 DEI Study Group Impact report here.

DEI Origins at GCommerce


GCommerce has charted its own path of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  Equity was always a central building block of the famed company culture (recipient of Best Place to Work in 2019 by Outside Magazine).  However, a fateful series of conversations in 2022 started us down a path of deliberate intention and focus.  In the process, the company has become more introspective and more articulate about our beliefs.  We’ve developed a process that ensures Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are as much an aspiration as a practice, a process that insists we continue to make progress in pursuit of that goal never achieved.  

It started with a conversation.  The Founder of GCommerce, Scott van Hartesvelt, had just read the seminal and controversial Harvard Business Review (HBR) study titled “Why Diversity Programs Fail.”  In it, the authors make a compelling case that the ways in which corporate America has addressed DEI have not only failed to produce positive results they have actually reinforced negative behaviors.  He shared some of the findings with two colleagues, Alex Scharpf and Lindley Cotton, who were both better educated on the subject.  The ensuing discussion made it clear that there were both moral and business imperatives to be thoughtful about DEI and that GCommerce was well-positioned to break the mold highlighted in the HBR article.  A larger group of employees from across the company was quickly empaneled to jumpstart the initiative.

GCommerce DEI Charter

After lots of deliberation, a formal charter took shape with 4 key components.  The charter became the organizing document for both the company itself as well as the company’s “DEI Study Group”, a group of volunteers from across all departments interested in helping GCommerce further the DEI mission through new programming and education.


To ensure our compass is always pointed towards equity, we established four guiding principles:

  1. Leadership from GCommerce is required.  We chose to be thoughtful and progressive to achieve our moral and business goals.
  2. Forced participation and assimilation with DEI initiatives create animosity instead of growth and understanding.  Therefore, we aimed to avoid this whenever possible, instead favoring more integrated efforts.
  3. Recruiting, education, job training, and mentoring are the tops of the spear when it comes to making meaningful progress.  As such, they would help organize and instruct our overall DEI initiatives.
  4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion do not create just a moral imperative but also a business one.  Companies that embrace diversity and equity perform measurably better in all facets of their business.


Per the Harvard Business Review study, people with varying perspectives on DEI topics often feel alienated by the tenor of discussions, further entrenching their beliefs and robbing others of hearing their perspectives.  To combat this, Alex Scharpf authored our “Golden Rules” to maintain civil, effective conversations within the company moving forward.

  1. All Perspectives Deserve Respect - Inclusivity is not a set of hard-and-fast rules but rather an ongoing discussion.  Very few things are “right” and “wrong” in every single context, and everyone deserves a chance to be heard.
  2. No One Knows Everything - Everyone comes from different backgrounds, with a different level of exposure to various issues.  There’s no shame in not knowing something - inclusion is a constant state of learning and we’re all learning together. 
  3. Everyone Makes Mistakes - Inclusion is a continuous process, and it takes time for a person to adapt to changes.  No one is perfect, and mistakes are just that - mistakes.  Use them as an educational opportunity, but don’t dwell on them.


The goals of the DEI Study Group, as established at its onset, guide the group to this day:

  1. Bring awareness and education internally for GCommerce, while providing a safe space for conversation.
  2. Widen individual knowledge and understanding of DEI.
  3. Make GCommerce an inclusive company that others will be drawn to.
  4. Support and encourage other colleagues to be their true selves.
  5. Assist clients with better representation in marketing.
  6. Become a model for other companies to eventually emulate.


Finally, the charter articulated a formal DEI mission statement.

GCommerce is dedicated to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion as both a moral and business imperative.

Our team members are the company’s most valuable asset.  The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities, and talent that our employees invest in their work represents a significant part of not only our culture but our reputation and the company’s achievement.  To that end, we not only embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion, we seek it out to strengthen our company.

We embrace and encourage our employees’ differences in age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, religion, sexual orientation, and other identity characteristics that make our employees unique.

DEI Study Group - Executing GCommerce’s DEI Charter

GCommerce is invested in making our DEI practices present and vibrant in the ongoing operations of the business.  The group is open to participation from all corners of the company, with meetings held every other week and frequently attended by executives, managers, and team members from every department.  The group’s work primarily focuses on the four areas of Recruiting, Education, Training, and Mentorship but remains largely self-determined while working in the spirit of the company mission and pillars.

Highlights - Two Years In

We are proud of the work the company has accomplished over the last two years.  We are equally proud of the system: the process that we’ve established to ensure the work continues in perpetuity.  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are no longer just things we promote but rather who we are and what we aspire to be.  

Highlights from the first two years include:

  • Invested over $200,00 in service hours to the development and management of our DEI initiative.
  • Researched and delivered eight robust all-company education sessions.
  • Provided resources for self-education on DEI topics.
  • Created spaces for company-wide discussions to take place.
  • Updated and improved recruiting and hiring practices, including consideration for better representation, social and neurodiversity sensitivity in interviews, and recruiting methodology.
  • Evaluated daily accessibility at GCommerce, from website navigation and branding to internal meeting policies and ADA options.
  • Conducted frequent sentiment surveys of the entire company for directional guidance.
  • Reviewed and modified client marketing recommendations to encourage better representation in the marketing we deploy.
  • Developed public-facing content related to DEI, to extend our education outside of the company.

What’s Next

GCommerce is not, nor will it ever be a finished product.  It’s a company of individuals, each of whom contributes to the GCommerce story in their own way during their time with the company.   Our consistency lies in our mission and our vision.  

Looking at the immediate future, we are excited to be rolling out a more formal mentorship program, giving team members from across the company exposure to those with whom they may not normally engage.  We are thinking hard about how to be more intentional with our recruiting practices because the most succinct way to ensure diversity and representation is by living these core values as a company.  We are doubling down on engagement and education for team members, especially those who have recently joined the organization and weren’t there for the genesis of this grand project.  We are learning. We are growing.  Most importantly, we are listening with humility. 

Navigating “Transgender" In The Workplace


Transgender. How does that word make you feel? Uncomfortable? Anxious? Cautious?

It's normal to be a little intimidated by the subject. Information on transgender people isn't always widely available, and it's not easy to navigate the topic when you're unsure of what's respectful. Couple that with the added stress of workplace professionalism, and it's even more difficult to comfortably interact with your trans coworkers. 

So how do we make it easier? 

When I was hired by GCommerce Solutions, nobody knew I was transgender. I eventually decided to socially transition within the company, using a different first name and more prominently displaying my preferred pronouns and gender. I was spoiled with an incredible leadership team who helped me through the process, as well as a team of coworkers that made the transition as stress-free as possible. However, I've had plenty of terrible transition experiences as well. And while we don't like to acknowledge it, negative experiences are just as important as positive ones in understanding proper respect.

The information below offers advice for supporting trans coworkers, drawing from both personal experience and conversations I've had with other trans people. This article won't touch on everything, but listening to the trans perspective provides a great entry point if you're struggling to comfortably interact with a trans coworker. 

The Basics Of Language

Part of becoming comfortable with "transgender" includes familiarizing yourself with the language under that umbrella. Words can be incredibly powerful, and using the right ones can make all the difference. Here are a few common, foundational terms to remember.


"Transgender" (often shortened to "trans") refers to a person who feels in line with a different gender than the doctors and/or parents labeled them at birth. 

Transgender identity is all about self-perception - the way someone feels socially, mentally, and physically. You are the only one who can determine your own gender, and respecting a trans person's self-perception is the first step in supporting them.


Until somewhat recently, these terms were nearly interchangeable with transgender/trans. However, there are some subtle implications that make them a bit outdated and often disrespectful. The details are too complex to get into here, but I encourage you to research the words if you're interested. In any case, stick to "transgender" and "trans" to safely ensure a level of respect.


"Cis" is the exact opposite of "trans." If you're cisgender, your self-perception matches what you were labeled by doctors/parents at birth. 

Many people refer to cisgender as "normal," but that's a word to avoid. The opposite of normal is "abnormal" or "weird," which would paint transgender people in a negative light. The same is true for "average" and "common." These words still give off the impression that trans people are an anomaly, which has negative connotations and gives off the wrong impression.


This is a type of transgender where a person doesn't see themselves as wholly female nor wholly male. They can be neither, a bit of both, or something else entirely. 

Interactions with non-binary people can be a bit more complex, but most of the tips in this article still apply. As long as you follow the underlying principles of respect, the advice is easily transferable to non-binary, trans people. 

How To Support Trans Coworkers

Below are some basic things you can do to support trans coworkers, regardless of your relationship with them. Manager, team member, or just an occasional passerby, these tips can help break down the intimidation of "transgender" in the workplace.

Educate Yourself

Do some research on transgender people to better understand your trans coworker's identity and struggles. You don't have to discuss what you learn, but the new knowledge will help you empathize with your coworker and reduce the chances of shoving your foot in your mouth, making interactions with them much less daunting. 

Ask About Their Preferences

While it's important not to smother your trans coworker, it can be helpful to ask questions about their preferences. Do they dislike any specific language? Is there a set of pronouns they prefer to use? Is there anything else you should keep in mind? Use your best judgment to determine an appropriate time to ask, and only bring up questions with a practical application. Though these questions are ultimately designed for your trans coworker's comfort, too many at once can be overwhelming. 

Put Their Identity First

As discussed, gender is all about self-perception. Regardless of someone's appearance, anatomy, or history, it is best to treat them in a way that reflects how they see themselves. 

Not every trans person fits the standard way we think about a "man" or a "woman," so this can feel a bit weird at first. But try to remember how stressful the wrong label can be, even in your own life. The discomfort when your college roommate insists you're a "party animal," even years later. The awkwardness of opening a gift based on interests you gave up as a teenager. The absolute embarrassment when a stranger assumes your sibling is a significant other. No one likes to be misread or mislabeled, so it's important to respect a trans person's self-perception.

Display Your Pronouns

You may see a trans coworker adding something like (he/him/his) or (she/her) after their name. This indicates their preferred pronouns, which is one way your trans coworker can inform others about their identity. 

As a trans person, adding pronouns to your name can be a bit embarrassing. It often sticks out like a sore thumb and can draw unwanted attention. If you, a cisgender person, add pronouns to your name as well, it makes the addition seem more normal and takes focus away from your trans coworker. It also acts as a small act of solidarity, showing your support without explicitly stating it. 

Correct Other Coworkers

If someone makes a mistake when your trans coworker isn't around, gently correct them with the proper language. A trans coworker takes some getting used to, and you're all learning together. You can do your part by helping those around you form respectful habits.

Make An Effort

Nobody is perfect, but it's vital you make a solid effort to respect your trans coworker's preferences. It may feel inconvenient, annoying, or even frustrating at times, but you can't give up just because things get difficult. Persistence will not go unnoticed. 

Tips For Leadership

If you're in a position to influence company or department policies and processes, use it to your advantage. Many of the issues that trans people face in the workplace come from bureaucracy, so this is your chance to move some of those roadblocks. 

Ask Questions About Comfort

Understanding your trans coworker's situation can make it easier to provide the right support. If a trans coworker comes to you for help, make sure to clarify exactly what this will entail within the company. Is this a public announcement, or just between you two? Is it just for your team, or the entire company? Would the trans person like to announce it, or would they be more comfortable with that info coming from leadership? If you ever need to get in touch with an emergency contact, how should you refer to your trans coworker?

Help With Bureaucratic Changes

If your trans coworker decides to transition in the middle of their employment, offer support with any public information that needs changing. For example, update their email and any company accounts with their preferred name. Let them know where a legal name may be necessary, such as their paycheck or other human resources documents. Ask if they need any other accommodations for their transition, and provide assistance wherever possible. 

Apply Gendered Policies Correctly

If your company has gender-specific policies, hold your trans coworkers to the standards of their preferred gender, regardless of their legal sex. 

For example, let's talk about a trans coworker who is legally considered female but prefers to be treated with male standards and language. In this case, your coworker is a man and should be treated accordingly. If female employees are required to wear skirts, then you should NOT punish this coworker for wearing pants. And if your company requires neckties for male employees, then this coworker SHOULD be punished for refusing to wear one. 

Enforce Punishment For Ill Will

Most companies have a policy against discrimination or hateful comments, but they're not always enforced. If you find out that other employees are intentionally disrespecting your trans coworker, do not let the behavior go unnoticed. Enforce your policies as a show of goodwill towards your trans coworker.

Choose The Right Insurance Partner

Many insurance plans do not adequately cover trans-related medical expenses like prescriptions, surgeries, or transition-related endocrinologist visits. Not every trans person will choose to use these services, but that choice shouldn't be made by their insurance provider. Trans care is expensive, so do your due diligence and try working with a provider who will cover these expenses when needed. 

Provide Resources

If your coworker seems to be struggling at your company, provide them direction on resources that could make their work experience easier. Whether this means providing mental health benefits, making it easy to report negative experiences with other employees, or offering time off to recharge, helping them access helpful resources is a great way to support your trans coworkers.

What Not To Do

If you want to keep from disrespecting your trans coworkers, then these are things to avoid.

Asking Invasive Questions

It's understandable to be curious about a transgender person, but that doesn't mean you get to invade their privacy. Questions about anatomy, sex life, and medical history are completely inappropriate for the workplace, and a transgender coworker is not an excuse to break your professionalism. It would be best if you never asked a transgender coworker something you wouldn't ask a cisgender one. 

Praising Them For Their Gender

Words like "brave" and "inspiring" may seem positive, but they have a tendency to backfire. This kind of praise often singles out your trans coworker, putting them on an unearned pedestal and making it harder for them to be taken seriously. It can also come off as patronizing or as an empty gesture to make yourself feel good. To truly support your trans coworkers, skip the platitudes and go for a more grounded approach.

Making Assumptions

Every trans person is different, so you can't assume their preferences or how they want to be treated. Listen to what they say and how they act, and parrot any language they use for themselves. Please don't speak on their behalf unless you're 100% certain what their preferences are. And if you're not sure what their preferences are, ask! Trans people are just as unique as cisgender people, so you have to treat your trans coworkers with the same care you would any other.

Dwelling On Mistakes 

If you accidentally use the wrong language or otherwise make a mistake around your trans coworker, don't blow it out of proportion. Falling over yourself to correct a mistake draws unnecessary attention to the error, amplifying any discomfort and making the situation worse. Instead of dwelling on your mistakes, just quickly apologize, correct yourself, and move on as if it never happened. Slip-ups happen, but any reasonable person will forgive an honest mistake. 

Expecting Them To Educate You

While many trans people are happy to share information about transgender issues and struggles, it's not their job to do so. Asking about individual preferences can be a great way to show support, but expecting your trans coworker to teach about trans people, in general, can come off as rude. If they want to share, they will. If not, it's your job to educate yourself.

Giving Them Special Treatment

If there's just one thing you should remember from this article, it's this. Trans people are just people and want to be treated as such.

You interact with men and women every day, and it's no different with trans men, trans women, or non-binary people. If you truly want to support your trans coworkers, simply hold them to the same standards of respect that you would any other coworker. Do your best to abide by their preferences, don't single them out for no reason, and overall, just treat them like a human being.


While interacting with trans coworkers can be a bit intimidating at first, it's not that scary in practice. Most of the discomfort surrounding "transgender" comes from a lack of information, which is easily solved with proper research and genuine conversation. Get to know your trans coworker as a person, and the rest will follow. Yes, hearing "transgender" in the workplace is uncomfortable. But the only way to get out of that discomfort is to walk right through. 

If you're interested in learning more, check out the "Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion" section of our digital marketing blog. Or better yet, come join our team! Our "DEI Study Group" holds frequent education sessions, and the whole company is learning about coworker support together.

Celebrating Women in Leadership at GCommerce


March is International Women’s Month, with International Women’s Day being celebrated on March 8th. With a company makeup where 51% identify as female and are led by numerous women, March is an important month for us. To celebrate the occasion, we collaborated with four female leaders in the company to learn from their experiences and perspectives on what being a female leader is all about.

Lindley Cotton, President

What are the benefits of having women in leadership?

Is there a downside? 🙂

For a long time, women have had to walk the very fine line of showing confidence, but still being deferential to the men in the room. Women have had to put up with so much and navigate the most impossible situations - sexism, objectification, imposter syndrome, working mom guilt - and frankly, it’s only made us more badass. Women’s voices and leadership are so incredibly critical to an organization’s success. From seeing a business challenge through a different lens to being highly empathetic leaders, women should have more seats at the table. 

Representation is another benefit. We need more women at the top. Not only so women can do what they do best, but also to encourage young women to pursue their dreams and aspirations. Women just starting out in their careers want to see someone like them in C-suite positions. It’s inspiring and it’s a catalyst for innovation.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

You don’t have to know everything. Try to approach every situation with curiosity and an open mind. Many women struggle with imposter syndrome (myself included) and you just have to remember that being a leader isn’t about being all-knowing. You should be actively seeking out opportunities to grow and learn every day, which will help you become a more emphatic and well-rounded leader in the future. 

Also, seek out mentors. I’ve had several over the years all of which helped me grow different skill sets. A lot of times you naturally find mentors but don’t be afraid to speak up and ask someone to help coach you if you know they have expertise in an area that you’re looking to grow. 

Have you ever felt imposter syndrome and how do you overcome it?

Oh yes. Between becoming president of a company at 35 years old and being a female who is following in the footsteps of some really brilliant, talented men, I have felt imposter syndrome many times. “Can I do what they did?” and “Is my best good enough?” are questions I’ve asked myself over and over the last few years. What I always eventually come back to is that I don’t have to do what anyone else did previously. I simply have to lead in a way that is authentic to me. I play into my own strengths and chip away at my weaknesses.

And I won’t always get it right, but that’s okay because being a leader isn’t about always making the right decisions. To me, leadership is about putting the best people around you and activating all of their talents in order to reach your goals. You can’t do it alone and so when I start to doubt myself I lean into my team and remember that, together, we’ve got this.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a woman in leadership?

Promoting the growth of others around me. I’ve been so fortunate to have a community of mentors and friends that pushed me, coached me, and helped me get to where I am today that I cherish the moments when I get to pay that forward. Being in a leadership role isn’t a walk in the park - there can be some really dark, challenging days. And then you’ll have a 1-1 with a team member and you’ll see all of their passion and hunger for growth and it reignites your own passion. You realize “I get to help this individual reach their goals and achieve their dreams.” Holy cow, what an honor. Every day I have the opportunity to positively impact someone’s career and it really is a privilege. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a team member hit their stride. 

Lisa McGivney, Director of Marketing

How did you get started in your career to land where you are today?

I graduated from the University of Miami in May of 2007 and entered the job search during a really tough time at the start of a major recession. It took me a while to find my first entry-level role. Fortunately, another amazing female ally in my life, my best friend Marissa Palmer, had just moved to Park City, Utah from Miami and reached out to me regarding a marketing specialist role at an agency she was working for, which was GCommerce. Our Founder Scott van Hartesvelt interviewed me over the phone, offered me the role and I loaded all of my stuff in my car and drove across the country from Miami to Utah in the dead of winter. A quick shout out to Scott (and all hiring managers) who give a chance to people just starting out/with no experience. 

How do you balance your career, personal life, and passions? 

I think this is one of the hardest things to do well. As a mom of two young girls with a demanding leadership role, it’s easy to put yourself last. It’s also easy to feel guilty no matter which part you’re prioritizing at the time. Luckily I work at a company that has always championed a work/life balance, encouraging taking time off and traveling (we work in travel, so I think we all share that passion). I also have a great partner at home that encourages/pushes me to prioritize getting out on the slopes and finding time for myself. Setting boundaries and not letting work take over time set aside for your personal life and passions is really important. 

Have you ever felt imposter syndrome and how do you overcome it?

Yes! I would say imposter syndrome is something I continue to battle and I don’t think it will ever go away completely. Over the years I think I’ve tried to overcompensate or overcome it by pushing myself to always be learning, and pushing myself to be the best at what I do. Even then, it doesn’t solve those feelings. As I’ve progressed in my career, at every level I still feel doubt in myself. Luckily I’ve had people in my personal and professional life that continue to lift me up and have believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Over the years I’ve come to realize that everyone out there is just “winging it” and it’s okay not to know everything - no one does and just because you don’t know something (yet) doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be where you are today.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

The advice I would give to the next generation of female leaders is to be yourself and to protect the boundaries that you feel are important. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and advocate for others. This has taken me the longest to learn and become comfortable with. I would also say, if you’re in the right place and working for the right people then they will respect your boundaries, celebrate your successes, and lift you up to your highest potential. I was lucky enough to find that right out of college, at GCommerce. If you haven’t found that place yet, don’t settle - keep searching. The right company/culture fit is really important and you shouldn’t have to put up with a place that doesn’t value you.

Erin Fischer, Marketing Manager

Did you have a female mentor at some point in your career? How important do you think female mentorship is?

I’ve had several female mentors over the years, and they’ve all impacted and shaped my life in different ways. My first mentor was Amy McNeill. She hired me as her summer intern when I was in college and completely took me under her wing from day one. Because of her, I had a solid foundation in marketing after that summer, a job throughout my senior year, and a permanent role when I graduated. She championed me both at our old company and new, as she was the one who later pulled me into GCommerce after we went our separate ways for a couple of years. Amy had me join important meetings, sit in on calls to learn the ropes, and always gave me a seat at the table. She definitely became a person I felt safe coming to with anything and I’m really grateful that my first professional experience out of college, and for many years after, was with someone who gave me every opportunity to grow and prove myself.

Two other female mentors in my life were here at GCommerce as well, Lindley Cotton and Lisa McGivney. Lindley was my first boss at GCommerce, and the first woman I’d personally worked with to be in such a high leadership position. That kind of thing really stands out to someone who came from two previous “boy’s club” companies. Later during some company transitions I came to report to Lisa when she took over the marketing department. The first thing I admired about her was how incredibly smart she is. It always blows me away how much knowledge she possesses and how willing she is to share it and help others succeed. Throughout our relationship over the years, she’s driven me to become a more thoughtful leader and has been an incredible person to work with and look up to.

Female mentorship might seem small, but often it gives other women the start that their career needs. I owe everything to the women who have built me up in my life and it’s my hope that I can now pay it forward and help champion other women.

Have you ever felt imposter syndrome and how do you overcome it?

Only every day! In fact, I dare you to find any woman in any professional setting that doesn’t experience imposter syndrome. It’s a tough thing to go through periods of doubt in your career. The thoughts of “Am I good enough?” “Did I really earn this?” “Am I even qualified to make these decisions?” can be incredibly daunting and it seems that the thoughts only get stronger as one progresses in their career. 

However, I think it’s important to remember that we wouldn’t be where we are today if we weren’t qualified. We as women work hard(er) to get where we are in life, both professionally and personally. When these doubts start to creep up I always remind myself that I earned my spot. I’ve worked to get here and will continue to do the work to move forward. Sometimes it’s easier said than done of course, in which case you take it one day at a time. No one will ever be perfect, and sometimes we get it wrong. In fact, how can we grow if we don’t get it wrong from time to time? Imposter syndrome will always be there, but building up your own self-confidence is the best weapon we have available. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve personally faced as a woman in leadership? How did you overcome it?

Everyone faces challenges in their professional careers, but as women, we also face a unique set of challenges and obstacles that still sadly exist, even in 2023. It’s unfortunate to say that over the years (even before I was in leadership) I’ve had to experience multiple bouts of patronizing, overt sexism, and an array of uncomfortable and even humiliating situations. Yet I’m still here, and if it’s taught me anything it’s that there is still so much work to be done. These situations can make you feel so small and unworthy and oftentimes had me doubt if I was even on the right path. But each time my skin got thicker and my resolve stronger. I don’t want the future generations to endure these types of challenges, so I’ll continue to stand up for myself and others and understand that this work is still relevant and important.

Of course, I’d be remiss to not mention that despite some lackluster experiences, the majority of men I’ve gotten to work with professionally have been nothing but supportive and uplifting in every way a colleague should be. I’ve had male mentors champion me in the same way my female ones have, whether it was standing up for me in times of need or simply having my back. The world is not a hopeless place and I choose to believe in humanity.

What are the benefits of having women in leadership?

I think through all of our stories listed above it appears very clearly how important it is to have women in leadership. Women truly build each other up and create common ground for the challenges we can face in the workplace. They can oftentimes provide a different perspective rooted in the balancing act and understand the different facets of issues people face daily.

But more than that, I think the biggest benefit to having women in leadership from my personal experiences is the hope it brings. Seeing women in leadership roles will automatically inspire the next generations and show that it’s possible. Representation matters, and not just for gender, but for all minorities. As I said earlier, the smallest things can sometimes have the biggest impacts.

Cathryn Sandoval, Senior Customer Success Manager + Operations Supervisor

How did you get started in your career to land where you are today?

In the Spring of 2014, me and 3 of my best girlfriends packed our bags and headed from Flagstaff, Arizona to Park City, Utah. We had just graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management and were eager to start working. We all landed our first “big girl jobs” at the iconic Forbes 5-Star Montage Hotel in Deer Valley. We were terrified to leave what had become home at NAU, but rallied together and we haven’t looked back since! I truly would not have made it through my first winter (or any winter at this point) without these resilient ladies by my side. 

As you can imagine, hotel operations is a rewarding, yet grueling career. This led me to find GCommerce, a company where I could still work with hotels, and fulfill my passion for hospitality and travel while sustaining a healthy work-life balance. I had zero digital marketing experience and I will be forever grateful to Amy McNeil and Lindley Cotton for taking a chance on me and fostering growth in my marketing career. 

Did you have a female mentor at some point in your career? 

It was at Montage where I had the pleasure of meeting and working with my first female mentor, Jennifer Maloney. Jennifer created a welcoming work environment where her empathy and resilience taught me to develop a thick skin, a killer work ethic, and confidence, which was so important as I was just starting my career. 

Jennifer taught me so many lessons, but most importantly, because of her, I learned to speak up for myself and what is right, push for a seat at the table, and advocate for others. 

I am now extremely lucky to say that I am surrounded by incredibly smart and hard-working females every day, not only at GCommerce, but with the clients, I work with, too. Shoutout to the badass ladies of Boston Harbor Hotel, Balboa Bay Resort & The Hermitage Hotel who have completely female-led marketing teams! 

What has been the most rewarding part of being a woman in leadership?

Although I am still settling into my new role as Operations Supervisor, I am excited for the opportunity to make a positive impact on my team and the entire organization. I look forward to mentoring and empowering the incredibly talented women on my teams and continuing to break through gender barriers. 

As you can see the women of GCommerce work extremely hard to not only support each other and every team member but also the future generations that will come next. Thank you to Lindley, Lisa, Erin, and Cathryn for providing such insightful commentary and helping to navigate the future of women in business.