How to Build a Workplace That Supports a Diverse Team

by Madeline Hester
January 10, 2020

When it comes to having a diverse workforce, the benefits are manifold. According to a 2018 study by Harvard Business Review, companies with higher-than-average diversity had a 19 percent higher innovation revenue, meaning they could market a greater range of products to consumers. Considering a wide range of backgrounds naturally lends itself to a wider berth of ideas, the statistics aren't too surprising.

For companies looking to diversify their workforce, restructuring the hiring process is a significant first step. From there, businesses must make an effort to create a work culture that supports diverse voices and open discussion. For Marie Delage at Yext, that includes initiating employee resource groups and offering dedicated workspaces for minorities. Delage said, “These groups acknowledge that inclusion and diversity are fundamental to building a strong company, workplace culture and community.”

By building inclusive workspaces, executives show they care about their employees and are listening to their needs. We asked four managers what their company does to promote diversity in the office. From employee resource groups to dedicated prayer rooms, here’s what they had to say.

 

lukka
lukka

When it comes to finances, it’s easy to get overwhelmed — an understatement when applied to cryptocurrency. That’s why a company like Lukka, which specializes in making crypto accounting accessible, needs a diverse team to predict customer questions. Product Manager of Reference Data Zain Ahmed said Lukka provides mentorships to underrepresented colleagues to ensure that everyone on the team has their voice heard.

 

Diversity is important, but it's only the first step. What actions does your team take to ensure all employees have the support they need to thrive?

Our goal at Lukka is to ensure that the diversity we practice does not restrict individuals and does not reward and promote conformity. Here, we acknowledge our differences. The issue that most organizations face is not diversity itself, but the assumption that everyone should think and act the same way. 

We also provide mentors. Our newer, underrepresented colleagues are paired with individuals who have either been at Lukka or have worked in the industry for a long time. These mentors provide support and promote participation and growth. We promote an open culture where anyone can talk to anyone, provide input, share ideas and ask for help.

We continue to design spaces that promote inclusivity.”

 

Of these actions, which has been most impactful in creating a workplace that supports diversity?

Encouraging our colleagues to be excited and proud to bring their own perspective to solving problems. We are the pioneers in this industry and we are solving problems the industry has not faced before. There is no precedent to fall back on. 

We want our colleagues to bring fresh ideas from their diverse backgrounds and apply those here. It is our external and internal cognitive diversity that makes us a leader in this industry.

 

What physical aspects of your office are designed to support a diverse team? 

As a practicing Muslim, I've been provided a private space where I can practice my daily prayers. It's a great way to be able to create a work-life balance while still at work. Being able to practice my daily prayers helps me stay focused on work when I need to and not have to worry about where I need to be in order to pray on time. 

We continue to design other spaces that promote inclusivity, including our mother's room. We also provide vegan and kosher options at all work-sponsored meals.

 

native
native

Matt McNabb, CEO of Native, is a big believer that diverse experiences create broader insights. That’s why the company provides vacation stipends for the company’s small team.

 

What actions does your team take to ensure all employees have the support they need to thrive?

Being a small and ridiculously ambitious company, we work in over 45 countries around the world and in 18 different languages. To do that, our team needs to be as diverse as the world in which we work. 

We think about diversity not only from the perspective of demographics, but also from the lived experience and exposure team members have. This impacts how they solve problems, understand priorities and cleverly work to execute as we scale across time zones, cultures and experiences. People on our team have done everything from launch satellites into space to have supper with the Taliban. 

 

Of these actions, which has been most impactful in creating a workplace that supports diversity?

It's not just about where we come from, it's also about how we're constantly investing in the uncomfortable immersion needed for growth. To enhance constant exposure to new ways of thinking and living, Native provides vacation stipends for all employees to explore cultures and places in the developing world they’ve never been to.

Native provides vacation stipends for all employees to explore cultures and places in the developing world.”

 

What physical aspects of your office are designed to support a diverse team? 

In addition to who we hire and the exposure we try to give them, Native also has offices scattered all around the world (including in Bogotá, London and soon, Singapore) and members of the team are encouraged to work from those new places intermittently. We're all about living what we do and who we are.

 

yext
yext

Talent Sourcer of Recruiting Programs Marie Delage explained how employee resource groups are the building blocks of diversity and inclusion at Yext.

 

What actions does your team take to ensure all employees have the support they need to thrive? 

Yext has an open door practice that stems from all levels of leadership. This practice grants employees of all backgrounds and experiences the ability to share feedback and be included in building programs and initiatives alongside leaders. Yext is also intentional about our diversity recruiting efforts by partnering with organizations such as Jopwell and Mogul, along with our fantastic employee-led resource groups. 

Intersect, which is the umbrella term for our employee resource group program, is comprised of five pillars: “embrace, empower, equip, expand and express.” Together, these groups acknowledge that inclusion and diversity are fundamental to building a strong company, workplace culture and community.

Yext has an open door practice that stems from all levels of leadership.”

 

Of these actions, which has been most impactful in creating a workplace that supports diversity?

The ERGs take a grassroots approach to improving the overall experience for the employees at Yext. Participating in the ERGs, which are all employee-led, provides unique leadership opportunities for our employees, along with the chance to build relationships with co-workers and allies outside of their everyday functions. The ERGs at Yext have impacted parental leave policies, participated in volunteer activities in the LGBTQ community and supported local minority-owned and operated businesses.

 

What physical aspects of your office are designed to support a diverse team?

The “EMBRACE our People of Color” employee resource group began the EMBRACE workspace as a time for concentrated work and idea-sharing for the black employees at Yext. This workspace has evolved into forming the first black employee network at Yext. 

We’re also looking forward to our new office building in NYC, which will be fully ADA-compliant along with the addition of our wellness rooms, which can be used for meditation, nursing, prayer and more.

 

braze
braze

People Business Partner Kristin Tarczynski said, “Our D&I initiative, Braze for All (BFA), creates a safe space for employees to participate and feel welcomed.” As well, having leaders who actively participate in conversations with employees from different teams strengthens Braze’s customer engagement platform. 

 

What actions does your team take to ensure all employees have the support they need to thrive?

At Braze, we believe that diversity and inclusion is truly a company-wide initiative that requires support and involvement from everyone including the people team, our leadership and all of our employees worldwide. 

Our D&I initiative, Braze for All (BFA), creates a safe space for employees to participate and feel welcomed. Some of our BFA initiatives include a quarterly speaker series which highlights perspectives on D&I through featured thought leaders, and our “Femmentor” program, which empowers the women of Braze and their allies through peer and group mentorship. 

At Braze, we believe that diversity and inclusion is truly a company-wide initiative.”

 

Of these actions, which has been most impactful in creating a workplace that supports diversity?

Being part of an organization where leaders  actively participate in the conversations with employees is special. Providing safe spaces for these conversations to happen and for employees to be self-starters has helped shape the supportive workplace we have today.

 

What physical aspects of your office are designed to support a diverse team? 

We have a parent’s room where parents are able to nurse, pump or take a quiet moment to themselves. We also have a dedicated wellness room that is available to all employees and I’ve seen it frequently used for prayer and the occasional nap. I personally love to use our library space toward the back of the office for quieter, focused work or for one-on-one meetings with my teammates. 

We also have phone booths located throughout the office. As someone who works frequently with our global team, these booths help ensure I’m able to have quality conversations with my colleagues around the world.

 

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