How a Pandemic-Born ERG Has Empowered Women at Navan

Two women describe how their involvement with the company’s Women in Sales and AM ERG has helped them grow, both personally and professionally.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on May. 30, 2023
How a Pandemic-Born ERG Has Empowered Women at Navan
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 The statistics about gender inequality in sales are startling. 

Men earn 26 percent more commission than women in the same role, says a study from sales compensation platform Spiff, despite the fact that women make up more than half of the college-educated workforce and often exceed their yearly sales targets.

The same study revealed that the sales occupation has the tenth highest wage gap between men and women, and that women make up only one-third of business-to-business sales roles.

Despite these obstacles and others, women in the sales space have one thing in common — they’re tough, determined and eager to help each other succeed. 

This is especially true at Navan, where women in sales and account management have united to form a space that they could call their own. 

It was late 2020 when Anna Romeka, regional director of enterprise expense sales, and Hillary Unis, director of mid-market sales worked together to found the company’s Women in Sales and AM ERG. The group was established as a way to foster connection and collaboration among women, offering them a chance to cheer each other on and seek support during a tumultuous time. 

“We wanted to break through the noise to make sure women felt empowered,” Romeka said. 

While the ERG offers a safe space for women to chat professionally, it also helps foster friendships. Porchia Jenkins, a mid-market sales development manager who was recently tasked with spearheading the group out of the San Francisco and Palo Alto offices, said she’s excited to kick off more events to help women build connections. 

Navan’s Women in Sales and AM ERG may have evolved over the years, but its core purpose remains the same: to unite women across the company’s sales and AM departments. Through bonding activities, learning opportunities and career development support, the group reflects the organization’s longstanding commitment to helping women find community. 

 

ABOUT NAVAN

Navan’s business travel and expense software is designed to help teams maximize efficiency, minimize costs and increase visibility and control. The company’s platform enables travelers to easily book and manage trips while allowing employers to track their expenses in real time. 

In addition to the Women in Sales and AM ERG, Navan offers several other ERGs dedicated to empowering its diverse employee base, including WhoRunTheWorld, Outbound, Twende and Jewish Belong.

 

Four Navan women employees standing on a hill overlooking an urban landscape at sunset
Navan

 

Spurring Inspiration

When the ERG was first formed during the pandemic, Romeka and other group members wanted to kick it off with an event that would inspire everyone. 

The event soon became an executive leadership speaker series. Each month, the group would host a woman leader to speak about how they had navigated their professional journey. While some of these leaders came from Navan, others were brought in from outside partners, such as Salesforce and Bain Capital. 

These discussions, which now occur on a quarterly basis, enable women to engage with leaders from across the industry. Romeka noted that the group also started a mentorship program, which enables women to regularly seek advice from one of the company’s women leaders. 

In addition to inspiration and mentorship from leaders, members of the Women in Sales and AM ERG also have opportunities to connect with one another locally through different events, such as company-sponsored happy hours and workout classes. The goal for these events is to get the conversation started, regardless of how women are coming together. 

 

Group photo of Navan employees in its Women in Sales and AM ERG
Navan

 

The Power of Conversation

Women at Navan know how powerful a conversation can be, especially when it comes to some of life’s biggest decisions. 

Romeka recalls a time when some of her colleagues openly discussed their decision to freeze their eggs. By sharing their personal experiences, they gave their peers confidence, reassurance and a safe space to ask questions. 

Discussions surrounding both motherhood and professional growth are common among women at Navan. Romeka said the greatest lessons she has learned about being a working mother came from one of her mentors, Susan Linder. Through her counsel, she has gained a greater understanding of how to set boundaries and achieve goals, both personally and professionally. 

The guest speaker series has also played a role in unlocking access to unforgettable mentors and has opened more doors for building connections that extend beyond the workplace, Romeka noted. 

Women take the lead at Navan in every sense, which is reflected in the significant number of women on the executive leadership team. For Jenkins, seeing many women leaders during the interview process helped solidify her decision to join the team. Now, the same women she saw at the beginning are helping her make an impact. 

“It’s super motivating, because you have someone to go to, whether it’s for a tough conversation or a chat about maternity leave,” Jenkins said. “Having a leader say that it’s OK to be dealing with these kinds of things in your life and not being penalized for it is very unique.”

 

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALLYSHIP

Romeka has been inspired by the number of men at Navan who have shown support for the Women in Sales and AM ERG. “It has been amazing to see how many men have reached out to me and want to learn how to work better with women cross-functionally,” she said. In fact, when one of the company’s new executive leaders recently joined the team, he asked to sponsor the ERG. 

Jenkins added that her male onboarding buddy has continuously expressed interest in advocating for women across the company. She believes this support is fostered by the company’s open, diverse culture.

 

Exceeding Expectations

Romeka believes she wouldn’t be where she is today without Navan’s Women in Sales and AM ERG. It has taken her out of her comfort zone and has helped her see her worth more clearly. 

She believes it has also enabled her to step out of her job description, which is why she wants her team to attract women with the determination to do more. 

“We’re always looking for people who are trying to break through the noise and go beyond what’s required,” Romeka said. 

This drive to exceed expectations is essential at Navan. And according to Jenkins, women who join the company can expect to embrace this mentality every day. 

“If you’re somebody who wants to do really well with a lot of other ambitious people and learn a lot every day, then this is the place for you,” she said. 

To feed this ambition, women across the company actively seek out — and overcome — challenges. New hires should expect to face obstacles while receiving the recognition they deserve. 

“You’ll be challenged, but you’ll also be appreciated,” Romeka said. “Your creativity and individuality will be cultivated.” 

You’ll be challenged, but you’ll also be appreciated. Your creativity and individuality will be cultivated.” 

 

While statistics may show that men have the upper hand in the sales realm, the women at Navan say otherwise, fostering each other’s unique gifts. Simply put, women across the company inspire each other to fulfill the greatest version of themselves. 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Navan.

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