Today is Equal Pay Day, the date that symbolizes how far into the year women need to work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Women earn an average of 80 cents to every dollar a man earns and the wage gap is increased for many women of color, according to research from The American Association of University Women (AAUW). (Black women earn 63% of what white men were paid last year, Hispanic women earn 54%, white women earn 79% and Asian women earn 87%, according to AAUW.) Women will not reach pay equity with men until 2119, according to AAUW.
I spoke to Kinjil Mathur, the CMO of Squarespace, to discuss her career advice and how the company is bringing awareness to the issue of Equal Pay. "We’re extremely proud to be able to gather a group of our most inspiring woman-identifying customers like Gloria Steinem, Deun Ivory and Bridget Everett to not only shed light on their causes and the important work that they’re doing but to share their personal experiences around the issue of pay equity," Mathur told me, "We hope that by creating a unified platform for these incredible women to talk about this topic openly, we will raise awareness that can lead to change."
Elana Lyn Gross: How did you end up at Squarespace? What was your career path?
Kinjil Mathur: I’ve spent my career helping big brands build their influence. I started off at IBM, and then after 10 years in the luxury retail e-commerce space at Saks and Neiman Marcus, I came back to my tech roots and held the CMO position at Artspace and then Foursquare. Now at Squarespace, I have the incredible opportunity to empower millions of individuals to build their personal brand and make their mark on the world.
Squarespace is a company that helps build brands for the independent workforce, which makes up around 30% of the entire working population. Being part of a company that empowers entrepreneurs to find their voices and bring their own dreams to life felt like a natural progression of my career.
Gross: What is a workday as like? Please walk me through a day
Mathur: The beauty of my job is that no two days are the same. Though the one thing that is consistent: back-to-back meetings, all day every day. Marketing can often act as the glue that connects all different parts of the organization, ensuring we’re focused on solving the right problems our customers are facing and that we’re connecting with them in a real way through our solutions. Whether it’s collaborating with the design team to align on the creative vision for a marketing campaign, meeting with the product team to find out what’s next for Squarespace, or whiteboarding go-to-market strategies for new countries with my marketing team – each day is different, intense and thought-provoking. I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Gross: What are your responsibilities as the chief marketing officer at Squarespace?
Mathur: I think CMO at Squarespace doubles as Chief Motivational Officer since my main objective is to inspire the makers, thinkers and doers of the world to bring their creative business ideas to life with our platform. This is what makes me pop out of bed each morning. Objectively, I’m responsible for setting and delivering the company’s global growth targets.
Gross: Squarespace and Ladies Get Paid are hosting the event Tipping the Scales: Closing the Wage Gap and the Fight for Equal Pay. How is Squarespace working to affect social change?
Mathur: Squarespace is a company that empowers individuals to go out there and make their dreams come true. We live by this ethos, and we’re always thinking about ways we can use our voice to deliver that message to the people who need to hear it most. When we saw customers like the Women’s March and Time’s Up using Squarespace to affect real social change – simply put, we were inspired. It was their stories, and the stories of many other inspirational women on our platform, that sparked the idea to bring awareness to the issue of Equal Pay. By offering a symbolic discount of 20%, we’re shedding light on why pay equity is important and hope that it’s the incentive some woman-identifying entrepreneurs need to get started building their own business.
Gross: What can we expect from Squarespace's Instagram campaign about pay equity?
Mathur: We’re extremely proud to be able to gather a group of our most inspiring woman-identifying customers like Gloria Steinem, Deun Ivory and Bridget Everett to not only shed light on their causes and the important work that they’re doing but to share their personal experiences around the issue of pay equity. We hope that by creating a unified platform for these incredible women to talk about this topic openly, we will raise awareness that can lead to change.
Gross: Has your experience as a first-generation Indian American shaped your professional career or dedication to social change?
Mathur: I live by the immigrant mentality to “earn your job every day.”The work never stops because the hustle is real, and there are many less fortunate people that would die for what you have. That’s how my parents raised me, and so, with every step up in my career, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to be louder, work harder and deliver greater impact. Now more than ever, that extends beyond business impact and includes an additional sense of responsibility to also drive the business through meaningful social impact. It’s not an easy mandate to set with my team, but I feel lucky to have a roster of badass, solution-oriented, young men and women that enjoy solving tough problems with me every day.
Gross: You've said that Squarespace is "dedicated to empowering all individuals." How are you making that a touchpoint in your role as CMO?
Mathur: That mission is at the core of everything we do at Squarespace internally and externally. I try to embody this sentiment by empowering my own team. I want them to feel encouraged to bring big ideas to the table, voice their opinions in meetings and know that they can affect real change within our team and organization.
Gross: What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
Mathur: Putting yourself out there to seek networking and mentorship opportunities is often one of the most difficult things to do early in your career, but they’re both invaluable experiences. If you lay the groundwork for both early on by dedicating time, you’ll be well-served by a strong network later in life. When networking, the new people you meet allow you to identify new opportunities that might challenge or grow your career. In a mentor relationship, a mentor’s long-term knowledge helps grow self-awareness so that you’re looking for the right opportunities for you. Take the knowledge you gain from others, balance these different perspectives against each other, and always trust your gut.