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“Live Everyday.” with Bethany Allee of Cybera

I think it’s pretty clear that the primary factor behind the wage gap is gender discrimination. Most of the other factors are related to this root issue. Earlier this year, KPMG issued a report that cites “entrenched gender stereotypes” as having the most negative impact on the careers of women. That’s essentially what I’ve personally […]

I think it’s pretty clear that the primary factor behind the wage gap is gender discrimination. Most of the other factors are related to this root issue. Earlier this year, KPMG issued a report that cites “entrenched gender stereotypes” as having the most negative impact on the careers of women. That’s essentially what I’ve personally witnessed at various companies throughout my career.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bethany Allee. Bethany is Executive Vice President of Marketing for Cybera, and has over 20 years of experience in executive leadership roles, including President, Treasurer, and EVP Marketing. During that time, she has worked at iconic technology brands Broadcom and Brocade, as well as growth companies Cybera, NuView, and Powered. Known for her strategic vision during market transitions, Allee is a Retail BrainTrust contributing author, a member of the NACS Strategy Committee, and one CRN’s Women of the Channel. Allee serves on the board of directors for Dress for Success, WISE4 Women, and Sound & Vision Social Club. She enjoys writing, volunteering with equality-driven organizations, and doting on her children.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

For me, it all started by following my general interests versus deciding on some formal “what I want to do with my life” plan while at the University of Texas at Austin. I ended up in a course where we spent the semester developing a digital marketing strategy for British Airways. At that time, it was called “Website Marketing.” I ended up winning the competition, and British Airways flew me first-class to London as my prize — my very first trip across the pond!

Because of that competition, I gained a bit of local notoriety. Soon after, I got a call from a startup called CollegeStudent.com. They asked me to join their team as their “Marketing Intern.” What they really meant was, “Please work for free and start our Marketing team.” As a naïve kid with no other particular plan in mind, I was just fine with that. It turned out to be a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime learning experience filled with clear challenges and successes every day. A couple decades later, I’m still close with many members of that CollegeStudent team.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

As a woman who has hung out with mostly male Sales teams for more than 20 years, I’m not even sure where to start. Let’s just say that early in my career, I learned the value of double-checking the intended recipients of an email. While at an annual Sales Kickoff, a certain employee — who shall remain unnamed — hit “Reply All” to the entire distribution list of attendees and informed everyone that they were heavily inebriated and hanging out at Denny’s just in case anyone wanted to join them…at 3:30 AM, of course. I don’t know how many of the 2,600 onsite team members actually trekked over to Denny’s, but I do know this legendary mistake is still remembered in an organization that now has upwards of 20,000 employees. The lesson: ALWAYS double-check the “To” list on any emails before hitting “Send.” Related, the organization learned a valuable lesson about restricted distribution lists.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I grew up in Houston, Texas, and early in my career, I had the opportunity to manage a 24-city roadshow winding its way throughout the U.S. — including a stop in Houston. I was so excited to execute an event on my home turf that I (incorrectly) assumed I knew exactly where the event hotel was and that I had the correct hotel address on the invitation. Suffice to say, I did not. So, that was another key lesson: ALWAYS double-check the address. At that point in my career, I was starting to move up the ladder and this mistake put my ego in check in a major way — which was exactly what I needed at the time.

And, during the early part of my executive career, I was attending one of my first board dinners, where I was nursing a serious shoulder injury. At the beginning of dinner, the longest-standing and most influential member of our board asked me to pass a tray of chilled oysters on ice. I was pretty sure I could stabilize the weight of the platter with my one good arm. Physics and gravity thought otherwise. He ended up with a lap full of melting ice and slimy shellfish, and I ended up with an evening of awkward dinner conversation, embarrassment, and non-stop apologies. The lesson: Don’t be too proud to ask for help, or say no!

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

I think it’s pretty clear that the primary factor behind the wage gap is gender discrimination. Most of the other factors are related to this root issue. Earlier this year, KPMG issued a report that cites “entrenched gender stereotypes” as having the most negative impact on the careers of women. That’s essentially what I’ve personally witnessed at various companies throughout my career.

Even if the vast majority of people are well-intentioned about solving this issue, the deep-seeded issues in the system itself are a big hurdle to overcome — especially in the tech industry.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

At Cybera, we have predetermined compensation ranges for each job and level. To maximize the effectiveness of this HR tool within my team, I’m diligent about aligning annual reviews with consistent compensation and title advancements for any team members who exceed expectations and drive results — regardless of gender.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

First of all, we must increase pay transparency and make the compensation discussion less taboo. Doing so will increase the willingness and ability of women to negotiate more effectively. For instance, I once had a manager who left the organization only to later tell me I was “significantly undercompensated.” While I appreciated the gesture, she wasn’t willing to provide any guidance when I asked for details about exactly how undercompensated I was. A seed was planted, but it almost felt worse to know that I was underpaid, yet still didn’t have enough insight or information to negotiate as aggressively as I would have liked. Fortunately, there’s less of a stigma to negotiation these days. And web sites like Glassdoor and Salary.com are giving employees more information and tools to better negotiate.

As a society, I think we should openly communicate about compensation standards and encourage companies to use tools that encourage leveling. I remember an era when no one would ever ask about house values or what someone paid for a house. That seems so antiquated. Now, it’s just accepted as widely accessible knowledge and no one even thinks twice about it. So, there shouldn’t be anything sacred about employee compensation. Bringing it into the light would also help companies to reduce the future risk of compensation discrimination — conscious and unconscious.

To take this a step further, companies could report on gender pay gaps as part of the tax process. The fastest way to address the wage gap is to make it impact the bottom line, so let’s give employers some incentives to correct any gaps with tax credits.

The second-biggest pay gap driver is career interruption, according to the KPMG report I referred to earlier. Women are more likely to disrupt their career to care for young children and elderly relatives. Family leave equality gives families the opportunity to make decisions without the boundaries of traditional gender roles. I feel extremely lucky to have had time at home with my children after they were born. But for my particular situation, it would have made sense for my partner to take on more of that responsibility — and it definitely slowed down my career trajectory.

Another example is what occurred the year before I gave birth to my second child. I had been responsible for running the largest, most expensive, and most strategic marketing program in my company’s history. Not only did I crush my metrics, I was viewed as a strategic leader and brought into customer and partner meetings that gave me tremendous insight into the long-term strategy of the organization. It was the kind of experience and insight that’s critical for career advancement. The following year, I was set to deliver my son a month and a half before the same marketing program culminated. But instead of being seen as the strategic leader of the team, I was treated like an order-taker and I wasn’t invited to a single customer or partner meeting — even the ones that required no significant travel. That was extremely disappointing and a real eye-opener for me.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I know it might come across as cliché, but my movement would simply be the “Live Everyday” movement. I would encourage people to do something that brings them joy or to have an adventure every day — even something small or relatively simple. My mother’s life was cut short when she was murdered at a very young age — just 34. Going through that experience gave me a big dose of reality and perspective early in life. It also taught me that time is our most precious asset. You simply can’t waste it. It’s perfectly fine to have lazy days, but you really do need to try seizing life and getting the most of each day!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I really relate to something the celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels once said: “Unless you puke, faint, or die…keep going.” One of my best friends once told me that I’m not especially talented at anything (gee, thanks!), but that I try harder than anyone she’s ever met. It feels a bit like the old Avis television ads…I do try harder. My parents conditioned me to never give up under any circumstances, so I’m forever thankful to them for instilling that level of grit and gusto in me. And in case anyone reading this needs to hear some words of encouragement, “You can do it, so just keep going!” You know the old adage that just showing up is half the battle? Well, the other half is often persistence, perseverance, and effort. You’d be amazed at just how far resiliency can take you in life.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would absolutely love to go to happy hour with Sarah Ashley Longshore, known as the artist Ashley Longshore. She’s deeply passionate about the same type of volunteer organizations that I’m involved with, and she brings more positivity into the world than anyone I know. Here’s a quote of hers that I love: “I want to live in a world of laughter, color, sparkle, and shine. Life is too short to not spend most of the day with a smile.” She just gets it on so many levels. I definitely would love to drink a Manhattan — or three — with her.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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