Inclusive innovation: How 5 NYC tech companies build teams — and products — as diverse as their users

by April Bohnert
July 26, 2019

Diversity and inclusivity have become increasingly prominent topics of conversation in the tech world (and beyond) — and rightfully so. But for businesses that operate on a global scale, with offices all over the world, those concepts take on a very different importance. 

Building products for a global market, whose users encompass a broad range of backgrounds, requires a global perspective that can only be attained by building a diverse, collaborative team that’s not only passionate about the product but also empathetic to the needs of diverse users.

To learn more about how a company’s global presence impacts its culture, team and products, we talked to five local tech companies — with offices here in NYC and all around the world. 
 

Knotel global companies diversity and inclusivity NYC tech
Photo via Knotel.

Leveraging its Agile HQ platform and on-demand services, Knotel designs, builds and operates flexible custom workspaces for established and growing brands. Senior Director of Global Markets Kwame (William) Spearman said hiring a team with a wide range of skills and backgrounds and empowering them to connect and even work in Knotel’s offices around the globe helps create a strong, unified culture.

 

Tell us a bit about your company's presence around the globe. How does this influence the culture of your company or how you work?

We have our New York City HQ, with offices in San Francisco, London, Paris and Berlin, and additional offices opening up around the world. With our global presence, we make an effort to keep all employees as updated as possible, through initiatives such as weekly live-streamed lunch-and-learns, global town halls where department leads give updates and shout-outs to team members and a mental health week with activities spread across the globe.

This makes the Knotel culture incredibly inclusive, and we encourage cross-functional and cross-time zone work. We also localize our market strategy and look to our on-the-ground experts to drive the Knotel offices. Additionally, we support HQ employees who want to be temporarily relocated to regional offices to help us scale and ensure our company culture can be felt by all employees. To better integrate our employees, we’ve hired new talent, flown them to HQ for a three-day onboarding process and hosted annual retreats with expenses covered! By working globally, our culture continues to grow as diverse as our people.

 

By working globally, our culture continues to grow as diverse as our people.”

How does your company ensure that your products and services are inclusive to users with a broad range of backgrounds and abilities, and how do those considerations shape the team you’re building?

The unique thing about Knotel is that, although we are fundamentally a real estate company, what we provide is far beyond that. As the world's leading flexible workspace provider, we have different divisions that all work together to help us build tailored workspaces for our customers.

Here at Knotel, we have something for everyone. Our employees range from different industries and with varying areas of expertise. Our leaders like to say "we're a real estate company made up of non-real estate folks." Our teams include product, workshops, design, growth, finance, legal and people operations, and we are consistently hiring for each department. All Knotel employees take a personality test during the recruitment process to ensure they are a fit with company values.

 

Revolut global companies diversity and inclusivity NYC tech
Photo via Revolut.

Revolut provides a digital banking alternative for retail and business users around the world. A company spokesperson explained how building a global product requires a diverse team that’s passionate about the company’s mission. 

 

Tell us a bit about your company's presence around the globe. How does this influence the culture of your company or how you work?

Revolut’s mission is to build the world’s first truly global bank. In order to become a global organization, you must work with a global team. Here at Revolut, we are proud to represent more than 50 nationalities in nine major offices around the world. This diversity not only exposes each of our team members to new perspectives and cultures but allows us to create systems and structures that are influenced by varying backgrounds and physical locations, helping us diversify the way we think, interact and develop our brand and products.

 

Our first priority is finding people with a global mindset who can help bring our vision to life and, ultimately, build the best product for our customers.” 

How does your company ensure that your products and services are inclusive to users with a broad range of backgrounds and abilities, and how do those considerations shape the team you’re building?

As a global organization on a quest to break down financial borders, we believe economic freedom should not be seen as a privilege but instead a right you can exercise anywhere in the world. At Revolut, we design and build our products with our users’ everyday needs in mind. That means giving them the freedom to decide how and where they use their money. In order to do that, we take a very localized approach to ensure we consider different features and functionalities that are important to our users in their specific locations, while still giving them the ability to be as free and mobile as they wish.

We believe in the importance of building Revolut from the inside out. When we’re looking for an ideal candidate, we don’t just look for someone who checks the boxes. Our first priority is finding people with a global mindset who can help bring our vision to life and, ultimately, build the best product for our customers. Our second goal is looking for people who are as passionate about Revolut as they are about life and the world around them. This approach ensures our team shares the same values and vision as we work together to build our future.

 

Dailymotion global companies diversity and inclusivity NYC tech
Photo via Dailymotion.

Dailymotion’s global video streaming platform connects more than 250 million entertainment-seekers worldwide to the news and entertainment content that matters most to them. Senior HR Manager Justin Lozano explained that, despite the challenges of operating across time zones, his team has been successful because of its commitment to diversity, collaboration and customer experience. 

 

Tell us a bit about your company's presence around the globe. How does this influence the culture of your company or how you work?

Dailymotion is one of the largest video platforms in the world. With over 300 employees — and offices in Paris, New York and Singapore — we are always looking to make the experience of work better and more meaningful for Dailymotioners, wherever they may be. Innovating (and operating!) is increasingly complex when Dailymotioners work across multiple countries.

Nevertheless, we work together to make sure we not only adapt to each location’s uniqueness but that we continue to raise the bar in our internal practices, advance our work technology and do what’s right for Dailymotioners all over the globe. For example, last year we started broadcasting a monthly video newsletter to share updates across multiple teams and celebrate company and employee achievements throughout our organization.

 

We believe that entertaining diverse audiences requires a global perspective.” 

How does your company ensure that your products and services are inclusive to users with a broad range of backgrounds and abilities, and how do those considerations shape the team you’re building?

The audience we are trying to reach is incredibly diverse, which is why we work to adapt our product and content to reflect the diverse audience we serve. We believe that entertaining diverse audiences requires a global perspective. We’re dedicated to surfacing premium, relevant content from partners around the world. Our multiyear partnership with the NBA G League is one example. This strategic partnership will have Dailymotion’s advanced technology used as the NBA G League’s primary video player to host and stream on-demand video content on all its owned and operated properties, including the distribution of content from more than 1,300 games that reach an audience of 250 million sports fans worldwide.  

Our success here falls on how frequently we talk to our customers, partners and external clients, so we can get a front-row seat to their challenges, common questions and burning pains. Wherever possible, we try to see things from someone else's perspective, seek to understand their challenges and then adapt accordingly. We constantly aim to build teams that will adapt to our customers’ needs and are passionate about our product and strategy.

 

Onna global companies diversity and inclusivity NYC tech
Photo via Onna.

Onna helps teams to create a central access point to all of their favorite applications — like Slack, Gmail and Dropbox — thus, breaking down information silos and making data more easily accessible. CEO Salim Elkhou said his diverse team is a true reflection of the customers Onna serves — all united behind a singular mission. 

 

Tell us a bit about your company's presence around the globe. How does this influence the culture of your company or how you work? 

The Onna team is a global team in the truest sense. With offices in New York, Barcelona, France and North Carolina, and over 10 languages spoken between us all, we’re about as diverse as it gets. A narrow scope of perspective is simply not in our vocabulary. We push each other to think in new ways, which helps us break new ground with our product. As a result, we have a wonderfully open-minded culture where no challenge is too big and no question is too small. 

 

We have a wonderfully open-minded culture where no challenge is too big and no question is too small.” 

How does your company ensure that your products and services are inclusive to users with a broad range of backgrounds and abilities, and how do those considerations shape the team you’re building? 

The challenge of finding information is a universal problem, so it only makes sense to have a universal team. While we all have diverse backgrounds and perspectives, we are unified by the same mission. It’s incredible to see people from totally different walks of life come together and feel a real sense of importance and urgency behind our work. It’s exciting — it means we’re on to something. 

 

EquiLend global companies diversity and inclusivity NYC tech
Image via EquiLend.

EquiLend offers a range of products and services that help the securities finance industry improve efficiency and automation. HR Associate Chris Reilly and Global Head of Products Paul Lynch explained how maintaining a global presence — and perspective — helps them draw from a larger talent pool and find the best people for the job. 

 

Tell us a bit about your company's presence around the globe. How does this influence the culture of your company or how you work?

Reilly: We are a truly global organization with offices in seven cities spanning six countries — the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, Ireland, Canada and Japan. Although the cultures of our host countries may differ, our on-the-ground teams are united through shared corporate values. So whether you walk into our office in New York, London or Tokyo, it looks, feels and serves our clients in exactly the same way. We value our diverse perspectives, which is why it is important to keep in touch with colleagues regardless of location. Our state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities mean that you are only ever one click away from feeling like you are sitting next to people on the other side of the world.

 

In order to build products to support our global client base, we have developed an inclusive global mindset that is central to our culture.”

How does your company ensure that your products and services are inclusive to users with a broad range of backgrounds and abilities, and how do those considerations shape the team you’re building? 

Lynch: We build products for the global securities finance marketplace, keeping in mind the unique needs of our clients in all of the markets that we serve. In order to build products to support our global client base, we have developed an inclusive global mindset that is central to our culture. We hire people from throughout the world with many different talents and backgrounds. We shape our team by hiring the best individuals from the widest talent pools we can find.

 

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