With 20+ years in wireless and cable, Elder knows her way around turning around a business. She came into WOW! in December of 2017 and quickly set to work, refreshing the brand, improving customer experience and rolling out new products—including two new mesh WiFi solutions. Since she joined, WOW! has racked up its best high-speed data RGU performance in years, record-low customer churn and a record employee net promoter score (eNPS), improving from 12.9 to 33. Not only is she one of a very few number of female CEOs on the distribution side, Elder is the only female CEO of a public company in Colorado. “WOW! prides itself on creating a culture that empowers our employees, including women, to succeed and prosper. Today, approximately 35% of our senior leaders are women,” Elder says. “That’s better than many companies can claim but it’s not as high as I’d like it to be. I believe this number will grow as we continue to put programs in place to encourage the advancement of women.”
What specifically does your company do to support and elevate the women who work there?
WOW!’s focus on inclusion ensures we continue to bring diverse thought into our organization and create more opportunities for women across the company. In my position as CEO, I shine a light on how women in our organization have been successful by recognizing their achievements through WOW! all-company meetings and our intranet. It’s important to showcase achievements by employees at every level to support and empower employees. By creating a more inclusive workplace, we create a more diverse employee base from which leaders grow and develop.
In the last year, we have taken a holistic look at WOW!’s approach to employee compensation and have made market-based wage adjustments and improved our 401k offering. This is good for all employees and helps us compete for the best talent, many of whom are women. Furthermore, WOW! was named a 2018 National Best and Brightest Company to Work For, recognizing the company’s leadership in exceptional human resources practices and for having high standards for employee relations and business practices.
WOW! prides itself on creating a culture that empowers our employees, including women, to succeed and prosper. Today, approximately 35% of our senior leaders are women. That’s better than many companies can claim but it’s not as high as I’d like it to be. I believe this number will grow as we continue to put programs in place to encourage the advancement of women.
How can the do a better job of recruiting women and ensuring they have a path to senior positions?
I’m still amazed that in 2019 some extraordinary effort needs to be made to more equitably include a group of people who make up fully half industry the population. But I understand that is our reality. Companies need to throw open the doors to all available opportunities and seek women from diverse backgrounds to lead mission-critical portions of the business. This may mean they need to look for board members in communities, industries and segments of business where they haven’t typically searched. To be clear, there are plenty of qualified women, we just need to recommend them and make sure they are candidates for key roles. Companies serious about grooming the generation of leaders should have inclusive programs in place to support and mentor those leaders, such as the robust succession and development plans we have in place at WOW! for senior roles. We make sure our high potential leaders have exposure to senior executives and the board so that decision-makers know them when opportunities arise vs. meeting them for the first time in an interview.
I am grateful for the strides the cable industry has made to encourage women to pursue careers in cable and to support women in leadership. The Cablefax Most Powerful Women list is encouraging. There’s a good group of executive and senior vice presidents across the industry.
Additionally, this year 80% of WOW!’s graduates of the Cable Center’s Intrapreneurship Academy were women. We then invited each graduate to make presentations about their projects to the WOW! Executive Team. These types of programs are very helpful in encouraging and elevating women as industry leaders. However, we can still do better at putting talented women in the C-Suite and on boards.
Participating in and supporting groups whose missions focus on elevating women in business is very important to me. Boardbound by the Women’s Leadership Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Ladies Who Launch and are only a few such organizations that WOW! and I support. I recently spoke at a Ladies Who Launch event in Denver which brought women from all walks of life together to explore how they can start their own businesses and provide support for new entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
Stay as optimistic and courageous as you are.
I believed I could be on Student Council, start a business and pursue whatever dream I wanted when I was 13. Luckily, my parents and teachers encouraged me to do just that. I’ve never felt constrained by what limits others may have tried to impose on my career.
I think I’m still a lot like that 13-year-old and I feel very fortunate. I also feel a big responsibility to mentor other women and pave a path for them, especially if they didn’t have the support I did.