How Qualtrics’s Courtney Cowley is enabling equity for women in technology

Photo of Qualtrics' Courtney Cowley, BizOps Recruiter, with quote saying, "Women in technology can seem like an anomaly. Is it because women don't often graduate in STEM? Because they do not have the same opportunities? Equity is taking away those barriers and providing opportunities."

Courtney Cowley jokes that she tripped and slipped into recruitment.

“Recruiters always say that no one planned to get into this space,” she laughs. “For me, I was looking for a position where I could be proud of my work.”

Call it a trip, slip, or fate, landing in recruitment might be the best accident to happen to Courtney. Now at Qualtrics, the technology platform behind X-data™, she’s connecting women to technology opportunities — moving the needle on gender equity with each hire.

“Whether I am able to help find someone a role at Qualtrics, give advice on a resume, or even just provide confidence through the search, I feel like I am doing what I can,” she says.

We sat down with Courtney to hear more about her journey into recruitment along with how her work is furthering gender equity in technology.

A drive for equity

Growing up, Courtney was surrounded by strong women.

“My mother is such a powerhouse. I always saw her juggling tasks with such grace,” she confirms. As she got older, Courtney started to notice that women had fewer opportunities than men, which didn't align with what she'd always observed in her own home. She decided to dive into why that gap exists as a global women’s studies major in college.

“Learning about gaps is interesting, frustrating, and exciting — but that’s where the juice comes in. What can I do about this gap? That right there is where my drive comes from,” she says.

Finding Qualtrics

After college, Courtney was drawn to the idea of empowering women in their careers. She wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it, but she wanted to help create more equitable experiences for people no matter their background, race, gender, or interests.

Qualtrics is headquartered in Courtney’s hometown of Salt Lake City, so she was familiar with the company but hadn’t considered them as an employer. She mentions how women, including herself, often find it hard to visualize themselves in tech companies because of their predominantly male workforces.

“Qualtrics really turned the lightbulb on in my head when I dove into TACOS,” Courtney says, reminiscing on her initial steps in Qualtrics’s recruitment process. “Understanding the values of Transparency, All-in, Customer Obsessed, One Team, and Scrappy really helped solidify my excitement. Closing gaps in experiences and improving day-to-day moments is so important, but seeing that our company has the drive behind it through these values is what confirmed my interest.”

A canoe and life jackets for all

When we ask Courtney what equity for women in technology looks like to her, she paints us a picture.

“You have the same four people, each of varying ages and body types, ready to go canoeing. In one image the focus is equality. Everyone has the same life jacket. It’s huge on the small child but doesn’t fit the large adult. How does that help? The second image focuses on equity. Everyone has a life jacket that fits best for them,” Courtney shares.

In recruitment, this means that companies should consider candidates’ varying backgrounds, advantages, and disadvantages — and then create the right “life jacket” for each candidate.

“What I do is close the gap by creating opportunities for those that weren’t born with it,” Courtney says. “Women in technology can seem like an anomaly. Is it because women don’t often graduate in STEM? Because they do not have the same opportunities? Equity is taking away those barriers and providing opportunities for women in technology.”

Creating opportunities at Qualtrics

To promote gender equity in technology, Courtney focuses on selling Qualtrics to potential candidates, not the other way around.

“Why would diverse candidates choose Qualtrics? Not only are we focused on being a generational company, but we focus on closing gaps for our customers and our employees. Working for Qualtrics means you not only have a space to share your voice, but you’re actively encouraged to share your insight,” says Courtney.

She also highlights Qualtrics’s QGroups, including Women’s Leadership Development (WLD), Q Pride, QSalute, Q&Able, and MosaiQ, where professionals can find support and allyship. WLD elevates and gives a voice to women specifically, with belonging and inclusivity as primary focuses within the group.

“Combining a growing company and inclusion efforts, Qualtrics is a place where women have a chance to drive impact individually, in any space,” Courtney says. “Candidates, regardless of gender, will choose to be with an organization where their voice is heard and valued.”

Courtney admits that recruiting diverse candidates can be challenging, but she continually comes back to why she advocates for equity in the workplace. “I think of my angel nieces. What can I do to make the world a bit better for them when they decide where they want to work?”

No matter your “why,” Courtney reminds us that small steps make a big impact in the long run. “Do not get discouraged,” she says. “Equity is a fight worth fighting, and though hard at times, it’s always worth it.”

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