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Celebrating Leaders Who Inspire Us

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Written by Nirav Tolia

This week, NBC’s Today Show is airing a series that profiles inspiring women in Silicon Valley.

I am thrilled that my co-founder and dear friend, Sarah Leary, will be featured tomorrow. While I am excited about the series, I can’t help but wonder why it is taking our industry so long to realize the value of women in leadership roles. The statistics around the lack of diversity in tech are sobering because we have so far to go. I’m glad that influential platforms like the Today Show are shining a light on the issue. It’s long overdue to celebrate the people who are blazing a trail not just for women, but for all of us.

I am proud that the management team we have built at Nextdoor is 45% female.
It has been obvious in every part of my life that women make tremendous leaders. My mother had barely started practicing medicine before leaving work to raise two young sons. But her career always mattered. After ten years, she recertified and went back to work. My mom’s successful career as a physician has always been a source of great pride to our family. I am similarly inspired by my wife, Megha. Over the last four years, Megha has taken maternity leave each time we’ve welcomed our three sons. She always returns to work with even more tenacity and focus and is the epitome of an ambitious, hardworking business leader.

In my business career, most of what I’ve learned about leadership comes from legendary CEO coach Bill Campbell. I was blessed to be mentored by the “Coach” as a young CEO and will never forget his advice. Bill is well known for his support of female leadership and is considered central in opening many doors that have helped women succeed. He was clear about the importance of proactively hiring women leaders, but the reason why was not necessarily tied to gender. Bill simply cares about building the best team possible, and it goes without saying that many of the best people are going to be women.

I am proud that the management team we have built at Nextdoor is 45% female. But we didn’t knowingly set out to hire women – we simply hired the best people for the job. From Sarah and our board member Leslie Kilgore, to the many other leaders across the company in product, marketing, and operations, I work alongside women who inspire me every day. Yet I look forward to the day when the word “female” can be taken out of the discussion because there is no gender gap and we recognize leaders of all kinds simply based on their accomplishments. Until then, let’s take the time to celebrate the women who inspire us. Hold them up as the role models they are…they certainly deserve it.

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