With DEI, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

These five companies are managing diversity and inclusion in a global world.

Written by Avery Komlofske
Published on Feb. 08, 2023
With DEI, One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Brand Studio Logo

At global companies, having a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment is important — and comes with its own set of challenges. Employing people around the world inherently brings a variety of diverse perspectives, but it also means differences in how people think about DEI.

“It’s evident from the latest workplace insights that many organizations have a North American-centric DEI approach while employing a workforce that is spread across the globe,” said Adrienne Bradford, director of DEI and talent engagement at Integral Ad Science. “And employees are noticing.”

A March 2022 Harvard Business Review article, “Do Your Global Teams See DEI as an American Issue?” sheds light on this problem. Different countries and regions have different cultural baggage around gender, ethnicity, sexuality and more. A global organization needs to tailor its DEI efforts to the specific challenges each location faces.

There are a number of different yet effective approaches companies can take to scale DEI globally, and unsurprisingly, there is not one clear solution. Built In NYC sat down with employees from five companies that are committed to a global DEI mindset. Get insight into how Box, Integral Ad Science, Yotpo, HUMAN and Dashlane are striving toward a truly inclusive environment.

 

Latisha Ellison
Internal Communications Specialist • Box

 

Box is a content cloud platform serving organizations like AstraZeneca, JLL and Nationwide. To aid in its commitment to DEI, Box has a one-on-one mentorship program to help their employees build relationships.

 

Whats one meaningful way youre driving your companys DEI efforts forward this year? What impact do you hope this will have?

At Box, we are driving development of underrepresented groups through a mentorship program piloted with our Employee Resource Communities. ERCs are employee-led affinity groups that support a culture of belonging and elevate the needs and experiences of their members.

Box’s ERC Mentorship program is a six-month, one-to-one mentorship model that focuses on building relationships, career planning and work problem-solving for our ERC members. Research shows mentorship plays a role in helping employees develop in their careers, and we’ve heard directly from our ERC members that mentorship is beneficial in ways such as guidance on career progression, development for both the mentor and mentee, and meaningful exposure to different backgrounds and experiences.

The program is mentee-driven and mentor-guided, and mentees are paired with mentors who can help connect them with leaders across the business. To understand and navigate unconscious bias and be an active ally for unrepresented mentees, we require our mentors to take our two core learning courses: “Make Mom* Proud (*or whomever you value most)” — a key Box value — and “Overcoming Bias.”

 

Why did you decide to make this a priority in 2023?

Ensuring that Boxers have an exceptional and inclusive career experience is a priority for the company and within our DEI Strategy. Delivering programs such as the mentoring program — and expanding those programs to even more Boxers — is a meaningful action in bringing that priority to life while developing a workplace where Boxers can thrive and contribute their best work. 

Having leadership commitment and engagement is critical to ensuring the success of the program and those involved.”

 

What tools, resources, strategies, etc. are you leveraging to support these efforts, and why?

We have a solid group of mentors who range in level from more experienced individual contributors to managers to executive staff. Having leadership commitment and engagement is critical to ensuring the success of the program and those involved.

We use a platform that leverages AI to suggest mentors who have similar expertise areas to match a mentee’s desired development areas. From there, mentees set up introductory meetings with potential mentors before committing to a mentorship. We have a kickoff event before the mentorships begin to level set on program goals and expectations, and provide resources available for success. These resources include meeting agenda templates, discussion topic ideas, mentor best practices and tips, as well as links to articles, podcasts, videos and more on how to create a mutually beneficial mentorship. We also have separate Slack channels for mentors and mentees so they can build community and find support with other participants. In those channels, we plan to share prompts to encourage more discussion and connection between pairs. Once we evaluate the success of the newest cohort, we hope to be able to open the mentorship program up to all 2,000-plus Boxers, globally.

 

 

Adrienne Bradford
Director, DEI & Talent Engagement • Integral Ad Science

 

Integral Ad Science is a leader in global ad verification. Adrienne Bradford has a truly global focus in her DEI efforts, and lays out why that is so important.

 

Whats one meaningful way youre driving your companys DEI efforts forward this year? What impact do you hope this will have?

One of the areas I’m committed to focusing on this year is adopting a more seamless, global approach to DEI initiatives across all of our regions. As a global organization, it is imperative that we embed inclusion within our global diverse workforce. Foundational to this work is understanding that while bias, discrimination, racism and all of its corollaries are experienced everywhere, the expression of these challenges is contextual. Additionally, the very definition of diverse representation is also contextual. 

Ultimately, I want our DEI strategy to be long-term and substantive, and to push us toward a more fair and equitable workplace. By applying a global lens to our efforts, my goal is to create tailored solutions that recognize important cultural and historical differences. This will aid in crafting interventions that solve for regional expressions of bias and discrimination. It is time to shift the way we think about DEI strategies and their importance in the global workplace.

 

Why did you decide to make this a priority in 2023?

As a practicing organizational psychologist and behavioral scientist, I am critically engaged with the latest research on workforce trends and employee sentiment across industry segments and geographic locations. 

At IAS, we recognize that in order to have a truly inclusive DEI strategy that allows us to show up as one team, we must consistently acknowledge and prioritize the varied lived experiences of our teams across the 14 physical offices in 11 different countries we operate in. The absence of regional context and cultural nuance can decrease feelings of belonging and increase feelings of othering and exclusion for employees who don’t see applicable cultural considerations embedded into our diversity strategies.

While bias, discrimination, racism and all of its corollaries are experienced everywhere, the expression of these challenges is contextual.”

 

What tools, resources, strategies, etc. are you leveraging to support these efforts, and why?

Working to scale DEI globally is a complex business challenge that presents multi-level factors that can influence adoption. Because of this, engaging with local leadership and regional employees to understand immediate needs and areas of opportunity is an essential part of my overall strategy. I firmly believe that when it comes to DEI work, we should be cautious when crafting solutions for individuals without allowing their voices to guide the work. Allowing our local workforce to take part in informing how this work should unfold regionally helps us adopt a people-first approach to push this important work forward.

 

 

Danielle Colanto
Director of Global Talent Acquisition • Yotpo

 

Yotpo is an e-commerce marketing platform that works with brands like Rebecca Minkoff, MVMT, Bob’s Discount Furniture, and Steve Madden. The company has directed its DEI focus toward a structured interview process to ensure that the hiring process is as free from bias as possible.

 

Whats one meaningful way youre driving your companys DEI efforts forward this year? What impact do you hope this will have?

We have done a ton of work around making sure our interview process is structured and equitable — this means having diverse representation in interview panels and training teams to lead inclusive interviews. Everyone will experience the same interview process, which leads to an equitable and debiased experience. 

Last year, we included a line in all of our job descriptions that encourages applicants to apply even if they don’t match the qualifications 100 percent, and we found this resulted in a major increase in female applicants and hires.

To create an awesome experience this year, we’re creating assets to share with candidates so they know what to expect and how to best prepare for their interviews. We hear time and time again that candidates feel our team brings them along in the journey and that they’re always in the know of where they stand — creating these resources will take that a step further.

 

Why did you decide to make this a priority in 2023?

In short, it’s because we’ve proven that structured interviewing works. 

Last year, nearly 40 percent of our new hires in the U.S. came from underrepresented groups. We’re proud of that — and frankly, we had a lot of fun building a more diverse team. 

We’re hearing from our team more often now that they feel a deeper sense of belonging, and how proud they are to see greater representation in our US offices. Our team’s happiness is our most important outcome.

We’re proud of our structured interviewing — and frankly, we had a lot of fun building a more diverse team.”

 

How are you holding yourself and/or the leadership team accountable to this goal? 

The HR leadership team has OKRs associated with DEIB and building an inclusive culture. 

Last year, the HR team led a collaborative, cross-departmental program focused around gender inclusion. We’ve taken the insights from that program and put on several initiatives for this year to increase equity for gender and many other identities. In 2023, the HR metrics we publish will also include insights on how our internal teams self-identify alongside other metrics like attrition so we can ensure that a sense of belonging is felt by all.

 

 

HUMAN's team posing for a photo.
Source: HUMAN

 

Erik Bauer
Program Specialist, Organizational Development • HUMAN

 

HUMAN’s goal is to stop bot attacks and curb cybercrime. Being a remote and distributed workforce, HUMAN has put its efforts toward facilitating programs to create community and connectivity.

 

Whats one meaningful way youre driving your companys DEI efforts forward this year? What impact do you hope this will have?

As a result of our market-changing merger with PerimeterX and strategic acquisition of clean.io, HUMAN has grown into an exponentially larger global organization, with an even wider geographic spread and greater diversity of thought. We’re uniting brilliantly talented Humans from different backgrounds and cultures around the world under one shared mission: to safeguard the integrity of the internet. We understand that to become an extraordinary, high-performing company, we must fully embrace our organization’s diversity of thought and foster a company culture where all Humans feel a sense of belonging. 

One way we’re driving this forward is through the inclusive leadership training program we recently launched — beginning with our executive leadership team through team managers — to ensure every leader is equipped with the right soft skills and tools needed to equitably manage diverse teams and provide them fair support. We’re hoping our top-down approach will create role models across the organization that will ensure all Humans feel they’re a valued part of the story we’re creating together.

 

Why did you decide to make this a priority in 2023?

DEIB has always been a part of HUMAN’s DNA. We provide equity on entry from day one and aim to empower every Human to make an impact on our mission as their authentic self. This year, DEIB initiatives have become even more critical as we embrace our diversity of thought to combine the best practices from three legacy organizations into a joint strategy and foster an inclusive shared culture across the organization.

With many of our teams being more geographically dispersed and many of us working remotely, our primary focus this year is to strategically invest in programs that foster connectivity between our Humans. Humans feel a stronger sense of belonging when they have access to safe spaces where they can network, celebrate differences and build in-person relationships. This will lay the necessary foundation for DEIB as we enter the next stage of our business.

We’re hoping our top-down approach will create role models across the organization that will ensure all Humans feel they’re a valued part of the story we’re creating together.”

 

What tools, resources, strategies, etc. are you leveraging to support these efforts, and why?

We’re leveraging our most valuable asset to support our DEIB efforts: our Humans. 

To truly create a culture that embraces our diversity of thought, we must ensure everyone feels empowered to have a voice in our organization. We’ve put the processes in place to ensure every Human can share their honest feedback on all of our DEIB programs. We review employee engagement survey data, respond to anonymous inquiries and host employee focus group sessions continuously to ensure we’re inclusive of every Human's needs as we move forward. We also encourage employees to also participate in one of our employee resource groups — employee-led groups where Humans connect through shared identities, community engagement, hobbies or interests, and professional development. 

We’re working toward creating an exceptional DEIB program at HUMAN, but there is still a great opportunity for us to make a lasting impact as we enter the next chapter of our business. I’m looking forward to the future of DEIB we create together. I encourage anyone who is looking for meaningful work in an environment where they truly have a voice and can make an impact as their authentic self to consider joining HUMAN.

 

 

Grace Okoi
Talent Acquisition Specialist • Dashlane

 

Dashlane is a web and mobile app that simplifies password management. Its focus is on retaining employees after they’re on board through various equitable benefits and policies.

 

Whats one meaningful way youre driving your companys DEI efforts forward this year? What impact do you hope this will have?

Dashlane will invest more energy in recruiting and retaining people from under-represented backgrounds. We’ve all read a lot of things about diversity recruiting, so I want to talk about retention. 

We’ll advocate for more structural change, including equity in internal processes and systems, by reviewing those structures frequently. Doing this has already led us to launch an equal parental leave policy — allowing all Dashlaners, regardless of gender, to take the same amount of fully paid parental leave. As we strive to promote fairness and equity, this global initiative seeks to balance caring responsibilities between genders and reduce gender-based barriers to equal progression opportunities. We hope this contributes to fostering a culture of belonging where everyone can advocate for underrepresented groups and also reflect on how their personal diversity story shapes their views and experiences.

 

Why did you decide to make this a priority in 2023?

We believe making diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging a top priority is simply the right thing to do.

Making progress involves everyone — DEIB should not be siloed within the people team and is not the sole responsibility of underrepresented groups.”

 

What tools, resources, strategies, etc. are you leveraging to support these efforts, and why?

Using the tools at our disposal, we are finding creative ways to foster belonging and inclusion. 

For example, we believe that names are an integral part of our identity and should be pronounced correctly to show people that they’re seen, heard and valued. Thus, in our onboarding process in 2023, we’ll encourage everyone to record their name pronunciation and pronouns in Slack so they are addressed as they prefer to be addressed.

Also, organizing more DEIB educational events will help people get comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. During a mini-training where I talked about why DEIB matters and what we’re doing, I shared some personal stories to emphasize the importance of each person’s unique voice and story. This sparked more conversations around DEIB, a topic which generally puts people on edge. We also discussed how making progress involves everyone — DEIB should not be siloed within the people team and is not the sole responsibility of underrepresented groups. Our goal is to keep learning, asking questions and listening to each other to make a positive difference.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

Hiring Now
Own Company
Big Data • Cloud • Software