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Shannon Walker of WhistleBlower Security: “Women leaders are collaborative, curious, and problem solvers intuitively”

Women leaders are collaborative, curious, and problem solvers intuitively. I think this lends itself to a more empathetic approach to managing a business and people. As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Walker. Shannon Walker is the founder and President of WhistleBlower Security, […]

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Women leaders are collaborative, curious, and problem solvers intuitively. I think this lends itself to a more empathetic approach to managing a business and people.


As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Walker.

Shannon Walker is the founder and President of WhistleBlower Security, a global provider of ethics reporting hotlines and case management platforms. Shannon is a frequent speaker on ethics and compliance and an active volunteer in her local community.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I stumbled into this particular part of my career. I was working with a publicly traded company when Sarbanes-Oxley regulations were introduced. At the time, we had a contact centre and a great IT team. Our auditors spoke to us about the new whistleblowing requirements, and we thought, what an interesting idea. I spent about six months researching different approaches to the services, and we built out our first very elementary reporting platform a few months after that.

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

The most interesting thing that has happened to me since I began my career would be the engagement with the people and organizations that have put their trust in WhistleBlower and allowed us to partner with them and protect their stories. Many of the reports that come through our service are heartbreaking, emotional stories, and the reporters trust our team enough to share their stories and their fears with the knowledge that we will be there to protect them. Our entire team takes this commitment very seriously, and it is one of the values that we share.

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

I don’t know if this is funny, but we did originally work with some contractors to augment our team, and the system ended up being built in an antiquated code — and our decision was all about saving money. The lesson for me was to invest properly in our team, technology and the future.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would have to say my father. There were times when I thought this business was too competitive and the barriers to entry too high. He continued to encourage and support me throughout this journey.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Well, this may be a bit funny, but I think it is “The Little Engine That Could.” I always use that story as a metaphor for our business. We aren’t the biggest, we aren’t funded by private equity, but we are committed, we persevere, and we succeed.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“Don’t look back unless you intend to go that way.” It has been my defining quote since high school. I am also a firm believer in “it is what it is” — no matter what challenge gets thrown at you, you just need to continue to move forward. The past, the problem, whatever it is, will be gone in an instant, and there will be a new problem or challenge to face, so there is no point dwelling on what has already happened. Just pick up the pieces, value the lesson and move on.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

WBS has contributed to community non-profits and some client’s foundations to support single mothers, food security, and mothers in Africa. Personally, I have had the opportunity to volunteer for our local business community, library and community centre. Giving back is part of our ethos.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think there is a level of intimidation and lack of access — especially when it comes to funding. It is still a man’s world and hard to break into. I think we are particularly lucky, given the specific industry that we are in, to have access to resources, support, and expertise.

Can you share with our readers what you are doing to help empower women to become founders?

We recently became a B-Corp, and I think aligning with other like-minded organizations and individuals helps empower women and men alike. It is important to surround yourself with expertise and resources that can give you some momentum.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Women leaders are collaborative, curious, and problem solvers intuitively. I think this lends itself to a more empathetic approach to managing a business and people.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share 5 things that can be done or should be done to help empower more women to become founders? If you can, please share an example or story for each.

  1. Mentorship — Better access to mentors to empower and support women.
  2. Access to funding — More channels and avenues to learning the various types of funding available and help define what type of funding makes the most sense for the particular opportunity.
  3. Board Diversity — More diversified boards should help empower female founders.
  4. Networking — Identifying more opportunities for engagement and networking is key to empowerment.
  5. Support — Identifying more organizations that support female entrepreneurship — and encouraging larger organizations to support these incubators.

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

I think supporting ethics in business — having it be front and centre and a celebrated silo with an organization. Businesses can do so much better when they are run from values based on doing the right thing, both for their employees and for their clients.

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

Gwyneth Paltrow. I totally admire how she took her online newsletter and grew it into a multi-faceted business in fashion, food, products, and design. It is just an outstanding example of taking a passion, persevering, and allowing a business to evolve and flourish.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We are beginning a series of podcasts and webinars that will embrace conversations around diversity and inclusion; empathetic and value-based approaches to business. Readers can check out our blog at www.whistleblowersecurity.com for more information.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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