Q&A with Workday’s Carolyn Horne on Becoming a Top UK Workplace for Women

Workday was recently ranked number one on the 2018 Great Place to Work “Best Workplaces for Women UK” list, medium-sized business category, which recognises organisations that ensure women in their workforce are treated fairly when it comes to recognition, training, and advancement opportunities.

We spoke to Carolyn Horne, regional vice president of UK, Ireland, and South Africa at Workday, on how the company supports women in the workplace, Workday’s culture, and advice for other organisations.

What was your reaction when you learned that Workday had made the top spot on the Best Workplaces for Women UK list?

Carolyn Horne
Carolyn Horne

As you might imagine, I was thrilled that Workday had achieved first place—it recognises how hard we work to build an environment where women can thrive in their careers. As a company, we want the best thinking to drive the best results, regardless of whether that comes from a woman or a man.

After all, it’s no secret that a diverse workforce—and gender equity is a large, but not the only, part of diversity—can have a huge impact on the quality of decision-making, the creative process, and overall business outcomes.

Can you tell us about the kinds of roles women hold at Workday?

Half of our senior executives are women. This includes our co-president and chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief information officer, and chief people officer. In the UK, 27 percent of women are in senior-level roles, and women serve roles across every major function at Workday in the UK, including people, HR, sales, marketing and customer service. This representation extends more broadly to the entirety of our workforce, with women making up more than 35 percent of Workday in the UK today, up from 32 percent late last year.

How have you enhanced Workday’s benefits programmes to support the needs of working mothers?

As an organisation, Workday understands the importance of work/life balance, and we work with our employees and teams to ensure they have the right levels of flexibility to focus on both. This is particularly important for our employees who are working mothers.

Workday didn’t set out to be a great place to work for women—we set out to build a great culture based on strong core values.

We’ve expanded maternity and adoption leave coverage to provide 100 percent of base pay for the first six months of leave. We created privacy rooms, which are on-site suites that offer comfortable furniture, privacy, and respite for breastfeeding mothers.

We also launched access to Care.com, which is an online portal for employees to access back-up childcare for emergency needs. Employees can also find and interview candidates for permanent nannies and caregivers via the online portal.

How important are mentorship and enabling peer support programmes for women within Workday?

Absolutely pivotal, particularly given the number of women in our leadership team. We developed our mentorship programme, Workday LEAP, in 2017. We now have several hundred mid-level female employees signed up. They meet in small groups to discuss topics such as executive presence, team dynamics, power and influence, feedback, negotiation, communicating with confidence, and more.

We also started Women@Workday in 2018, a network focused on empowering our female talent through leveraging our culture, building connections, and supporting career progression. We’ve had a number of our own female executives share their knowledge and perspectives with the group.

What advice would you give to other companies who look at Workday and want to learn from our experience in providing leadership opportunities for women?

If you commit to it, own it. And owning it means investing in it. Workday didn’t set out to be a great place to work for women—we set out to build a great culture based on strong core values and devoted to customer service. A natural consequence of this is that yes, we are a great place to work for women. So, the advice is to lead with culture, but to also support the programs—like maternity and adoption leave, flexible working, and help with backup care—that help employees in very real ways.