Below is an article originally written by Mistral Myers, Keyword contributor at PowerToFly Partner Google, and published on October 11, 2019. Go to Google's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Until I started working at Google in 2014, I had never been out at work.
Now, less than five years later, everything is different: I'm an active volunteer leader in Google's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group—a Googler-run, company-supported organization that works to provide an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, and partners closely with our Trans Employee Resource Group, which represents our transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary colleagues. As part of my role, I've had the chance to engage LGBTQ+ Googlers across our global offices, speak publicly about being LGBTQ+ in the workplace and have even been able to share my perspectives and experiences directly with Google leadership.
At this point, I can barely remember what it felt like to not be a visible, openly LGBTQ+ person at work. So it's hard to imagine that before joining Google, I felt I couldn't come out at the office at all.
As we celebrate National Coming Out Day and reflect on all of the progress we've made as a community, I am determined to remember this simple but crucial reality: Openness matters. Community matters. Being able to be out at work matters.
Googlers create signs supporting the LGBTQ+ community for the 2017 New York City Pride March.
Prior to joining Google, I'd spent time in a variety of industries, always under the careful, polite policy of evasion when it came to questions about my personal life. Perhaps I didn't need to be so secretive. I worked with wonderful, kind people, and though there were no explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ issues from my workplace, I'm sure most of my colleagues and managers wouldn't have taken issue with my identity.
Still, for many LGBTQ+ folks, the fear of prejudice can nag at you, and cause you to hesitate even around the most well-meaning of coworkers. Some assume that with the ushering in of marriage equality here in the U.S., other kinds of inequality have disappeared and the movement is complete. But as many LGBTQ+-identifying people will tell you, critical challenges still remain, and it takes a conscious and dedicated effort to counteract their effects.
Growing up in New Mexico, I got an early introduction to some of the challenges that LGBTQ+ people still so often face: harassment, discrimination, violence. The understanding that being LGBTQ+ was unsafe was imprinted on me almost immediately, and that fear left a lasting mark.
In each new city, from college to a job to graduate school to another job, I was reminded (often in not-so-subtle ways) that no matter what might change in the law or in popular culture, I should always be wary, always be careful.
So I never took the chance.
In so many important ways, restraining from bringing my full self to work hurt my ability to be a good employee. Constantly worrying about slipping up and revealing that I had a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend prevented me from feeling fully integrated. It became an obstacle to forming the kinds of professional relationships that help company culture feel cohesive and supportive.
Now, I realize how much I was missing. Today, I'm part of a workplace with visible LGBTQ+ leaders, explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ cultural moments and celebrations and broad encouragement to use what makes me different to create an environment of inclusion for my fellow Googlers. This journey has made me realize how much all workplaces can benefit from supporting their employees' differences, just as much as they celebrate their collective unity.
I'm proud. I hope you are, too.
Below is an article originally written by Guru cofounder and CEO Rick Nucci, and published by Technical.ly Philly on October 24, 2019. Go to Guru's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.The image above shows Guru's company values. We view them as our lifeblood.
When done well, company values guide us on how we truly want to operate both as a company and individually as we do our daily jobs. They should be a part of every decision made, which means they must have room to grow and change as a company matures. By treating your values as a set of living principles, you'll be in a position to build a sustainable, flexible and growth-oriented company culture.
When we decided to formalize our values at Guru, it was because we'd reached a point where we were about to start growing rapidly. Before that point, we were able to look around the room to reach a consensus, but we knew that going forward, we needed to identify our north stars around how we wanted to make decisions holistically. How did we want to interact with each other? How did we want to interact with our customers? Who were the kinds of people we wanted to bring on for the long journey?
Here are the five major things we realized as we worked toward a sustainable company culture:
1. Define values that symbolize your great team.
Protecting company culture is one of the most important jobs of a CEO, but no CEO exists in a vacuum. Observe the way your team interacts and identify patterns. Those patterns are clues to what your culture is, and some of them can be defined as company values.
Tap those people who have passionate opinions and views, but don't lose sight of values you feel are not negotiable. For me, those were "don't take yourself too seriously" (because those who do tend to debate out of a desire to be right instead of a desire to learn) and "embrace the journey" (because burnout cultures never endure).
It's also critical to revisit your values over time so that they can evolve as the company grows. Not only does that give you permission to not burden yourself with trying to find the perfect set of values the first time, but it allows you to recognize that A.) what works for a company of 30 people may not work for a company of 300 (or 3,000), and B.) you're probably going to get something wrong the first time out.
2. Values aren't perks.
I believe that trying to out-perk other companies to attract the best talent is a losing proposition. Perks get copied (in a way, they're just another feature set), but the identity of your company — how you define it, measure it and reinforce it over and over and over again — is something that can't be copied.
At Guru, we want to compete for the best talent based on values, not on which perks we offer — and I also know that that means we're going to lose some candidates. At the same time, that means that those candidates who do end up joining are driven by more than just a paycheck (or gourmet chefs, onsite dry cleaning and climbing gyms). They tend to be more mission-driven and more excited about the cause.
3. Be intentional about reinforcing them.
Once defined, celebrate employees who live out your company values. It's a way to show newer employees what behaviors help you live a value.
At every one of our monthly company town halls, we have a segment called "Values in Action" where we thank individuals who embody our values through their contributions. To integrate our values into our workdays, we designed custom Slack emojis for each value, making it easy for team members to recognize each other. Our standard employee review process also includes a score for each value, allowing peers and managers to rate and have a discussion with the employee about how they live them and where there might be opportunities for improvement.
When not a daily part of the conversation, it's too easy to forget values, which can lead to culture dissolving. By keeping these principles at the forefront of everything, you can naturally promote your company culture by showing instead of just telling.
4. Avoid the growth-at-all-costs culture killer.
If culture is one of the last great corporate differentiators, and your hiring process ignores it in favor of "rockstar software developers" (or simply hitting hiring targets for the sake of hitting hiring targets), you're going to lose your culture before you have a chance to even build it.
We use the scorecard process defined by Geoff Smart and Randy Street's book "Who," and our scorecard includes a culture interview component. After defining our values, we break them down into interview questions so we can test for compatibility. The result is an inspiring amount of team compatibility, with a strong ability to collaborate, figure out tough problems and execute effectively. Oh yeah, and they are more likely to be here because they feel connected to the company and the mission, not just equity.
5. New leaders should make culture a top priority.
If you're new to a company that has a strong existing culture, understanding and attempting to demonstrate it should be a top priority in your first six months. Again, this shouldn't solely be a top-down approach. You're going to be working with people who have been functioning — and hopefully thriving — under the current culture.
The better way to approach it is to look at it as you would an existing product with a strong brand. Talk to your coworkers and understand the way they think and operate and learn what they're experiencing and seeing. Look to codify the positives in what you observe and then explain why you've decided to incorporate those into your company values. This will ensure that everyone understands that it's coming out of listening and learning from those around you and that you're responding to what they care about.
Remember that culture trumps strategy. Defining, iterating, celebrating and hiring for your values will go a long way toward creating an enduring company.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn via the Forbes Technology Council.
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Below is an article originally written by Terri Shih, an Analyst at PowerToFly Partner Braintree, and published on March 7, 2018. Go to Braintree's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
For my first few months at Braintree, I struggled with meeting people outside of my team. As someone who enjoys building relationships with different people, this often made me feel alone.
I had a great team and enjoyed the work, but it was difficult to meet new people -- let alone get to know anyone I didn't work with directly. Most people ate lunch either at their desks or with their teams, and with a Chicago office of 500+ employees, you could easily walk across the floor and only recognize a handful of people. While I enjoyed socializing with people I already knew, the emotional energy required to meet new people was overwhelming because I'm naturally more of an introverted person. And since my role doesn't require much interaction with other teams, the thought of simply walking up and introducing myself to someone new seemed daunting.
As I started to work with others who are passionate about Diversity & Inclusion, I learned that many had, and continued to have, similar feelings even months into their job. We asked ourselves what would have made this transition easier for us, and that's how Let's Get Together was born.
The idea behind Let's Get Together is simple: build a structured program that helps people in the same office meet each other. To get it started, we created an opt-in survey asking people their name, contact information, and location. I then built a simple random generator script in Python during an Open Dev day, which created groups of ~5 people by office. Each month groups are emailed out, and the individuals in that group find a time and place that works for them.
Our office serves lunch so that's always an easy place to start, but people have gotten more creative, going out for ice cream or boba tea, organizing holiday gift exchanges, or taking walks when the weather is nice. We've found that giving people flexibility to pick a time and activity works best, as it helps people with scheduled lunches/breaks or non-9am-5pm hours participate. New hires are now alerted to this program during their first weeks so that they can sign up.
Our program has been active now for over a year. In that time we've had more than 200 people across three offices sign up. The feedback, which we collect monthly, has been overwhelmingly positive. Over a 4-month period from June through October 2017, ~90% of survey respondents said they would or have recommend Let's Get Together to a coworker, and ~80% of respondents met someone new. Of course there have been a few hiccups here and there, but through collecting regular feedback, we have been able to make improvements.
For anyone looking to implement this type of program, here are some learnings I've gathered:
Start simple. At first, I tried to write the most elegant script with every feature. Deciding what to prioritize for a future phase allowed us to get this program off the ground with very positive feedback.
Ask managers about their concerns. Managers of customer-facing teams expressed concern that team members with scheduled breaks/lunches may be left out. We therefore encourage people to consider activities beyond lunch and ask groups to be mindful of schedules when planning.
Get feedback, early and often. We didn't start collecting monthly feedback until 6+ months after the program started. I strongly believe that having people's input earlier could have helped to understand why some groups weren't meeting and what features we could add to improve this.
Send out regular reminders. We chose to send out new groups on a monthly basis since schedules are hard to coordinate. Based on survey feedback, we realized that if people didn't see their assignments right away they might not remember until the next month's email went out! This led us to send mid-month reminders to help improve participation.
Designate a group leader. Having someone to start communication and find a time that works for everyone is very helpful. Encourage partial groups to meet a couple of times if they can't find one time that works for everyone. We simplified this by designating the first person listed in each group to be the leader.
Create a calendar invite once the group has agreed on a time. It's much easier to remember and plan if it's in plain sight!
Choose a communication method. The one your company most frequently communicates with is probably best. Our groups are currently emailed out, but I quickly realized that chat is more integral to internal communication. In the future we're hoping to implement a chat feature that starts communication for groups each month and sends out reminders.
It's easy to fall back on advising someone to "try to meet new people." It's also easy to forget that that task can be daunting for some people. By implementing the Let's Get Together program, we've found that the simple act of providing people with a group of names they should try and meet each month has helped build connections and foster community -- these can be key components to any company's successful Diversity & Inclusion efforts.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some folks I'm about to get together with!***
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