Below is an article originally written by Daniel Lopez, Competitive Intelligence Analyst at PowerToFly Partner Symantec, and published on January 14, 2019. Go to Symantec's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Daniel L. shares his experiences of being a new immigrant in the United States and how his longing for cultural familiarity morphed into a curiosity for the unknown.
We fear what we do not understand. To compensate, we seek familiarity, which helps us feel accepted and secure. I am no exception to this rule.
I immigrated from Colombia to the United States in my early teens. I didn't speak the language nor did I understand the cultural differences. For example, I wasn't used to moving from classroom to classroom at school with so many different teachers, so my first week was a disaster to say the least. I was also used to playing pick up soccer every afternoon but I couldn't find anyone around to play with. I regularly felt overwhelmed and isolated.
These are just a few of the many transitional challenges I faced as a new immigrant. And, as a result, the people I chose to surround myself with in high school and college were people just like me. They felt familiar, gave me safety, and – without a doubt – comfort. Assimilating to the US was much easier in a community of people living through the same immigrant experience as I was.
The longing I had felt as a new immigrant for cultural familiarity, safety, and comfort had morphed into a curiosity for the unknown.
By the time I graduated from the University of South Florida in 2007, things changed. I was living in a self-insulated bubble, and in order to pursue my own personal development, that bubble needed to be burst. The longing I had felt as a new immigrant for cultural familiarity, safety, and comfort had morphed into a curiosity for the unknown.
This curiosity led me to Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, outside of Detroit, the heart of one of the largest populations of Arab Americans in the United States. For the second time in my life, I was a minority. Again, I immersed myself in a totally new language, culture, and a completely different religion. It was strange and awesome all at the same time. Strange because there were no Colombian restaurants around; and awesome because I joined a very competitive soccer league made up of mostly Middle Eastern players. These are just a few examples.
My time in Dearborn fed my hunger for curiosity that I first felt after graduation. I was continually encouraged to intentionally explore new places, meet new people, experience different cultures, understand other religions, and search for new ideas. To say I loved it would be an understatement. I still joke with my wife about needing a weekly hummus injection to satisfy my cravings for Mediterranean food – which is harder to fulfill now that I live in Tampa, FL.
I was continually encouraged to intentionally explore new places, meet new people, experience different cultures, understand other religions, and search for new ideas.
Fast-forward five years and now I find myself as part of Symantec's Competitive Intelligence (CI) team under the Enterprise Security Group (ESG). Of all the teams I've worked with, I've come to appreciate this team the most. The CI team embodies the diversity I've sought since I lived in Dearborn. The ten team members run the gamut across ethnic backgrounds, personalities, and even hobbies outside of work. For example:
- We represent a total of nine nationalities: Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, Germany, Israel, Japan, Spain, and the USA
- We have all kinds of personalities, such as: reserved intellectuals, outspoken analytical minds, and those who "tell it like it is"
- We participate in a variety of hobbies, like mountain climbing, classical music, mountain biking, hunting, running, soccer, and car racing
So why does all this matter? It matters because our individual differences strengthen us as a team. Our variety gives us dynamism and balance, while also inspiring us to look for things we have in common. Our heterogeneity facilitates incredible, meticulous strategic thinking, and forces us to push our boundaries – both personally and professionally. Our diverse backgrounds are the foundation for our diverse thinking. Put all of this together and we have got an invaluable team of individuals making a superior, positive impact on our organization and within the greater world of IT security. I'm honored to be a part of it.
Our diverse backgrounds are the foundation for our diverse thinking.
The Symantec Competitive Intelligence (CI) team has taught me that strength in unity is rooted in differences, and that, without a doubt, diversity makes us more creative, innovative, and empathetic toward ourselves and others – including our customers.
With that in mind, my challenge for you is to be more curious. Instead of sticking only to what you know and what's in your comfort zone, how can you be courageous and be intentionally interested in other people, ideas, perspectives, and communities? I challenge you to put yourself in situations that feel foreign so that you may learn and grow from others. Together, let's challenge the status quo and disrupt the dominant, homogeneous, stereotypically-male IT narrative. Like me, I suspect you'll find it liberating and refreshing.
Ultimately, I've found that even when we look, sound, or act differently on a surface level, underneath all of that we're much more alike than most of us dare to imagine. When you do dare to imagine and put forth a little effort, you will see it as well.
Let's stop being afraid of our differences, and instead recognize the strength and power within them.
Below is an article originally written by Cass Averill, Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at PowerToFly Partner Symantec, and published on November 5, 2018. Go to Symantec's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Cass Averill, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Manager, reflects on the 2018 Out & Equal Workplace Summit and why this year's theme of belonging meant so much to him.
I've been fortunate enough to attend the Out & Equal Workplace Equality Summit for the last five years. While each summit is distinct, there are two common threads each year:
- I always come home with more cutting-edge tips, tools, and best practices for improving our internal corporate culture; and
- The reason I go to the summit and do this work is very personal to me.
As some of you may know, I am a transgender man who transitioned in the spring of 2009 after two and a half years working as a female employee at Symantec. I was the first Symantec employee to transition on the job, and I can still remember how nervous and scared I was then. I had no idea how people would react or how the process would unfold. Thankfully, the response was, and continues to be, nothing but positive. Symantec's willingness to be open and accepting of who I am has created an environment where I feel comfortable to bring my authentic self to work, and can go forth and affect change across the entire organization. This, then, is the lens through which I go to the Out & Equal Summit.
The last four years of attending the summit I took what I learned back to Symantec and helped implement policies, procedures, and guidelines that help us address inequities for our global LGBTQ+ employees. All of this change was achieved not because I was a manager or because I had great personal influence in the company, but rather through working with our PRIDE Employee Resource Group (ERG). Even though I was a lower-level employee at the time, as an ERG member I was able to drive change that affected the entire organization.
This year I attended the conference from wholly new perspective as a Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). I met and networked with many other DEI leads from organizations around the globe who are doing the difficult work of changing their internal culture from one of bias and inequities to a culture of inclusiveness. I learned that we all struggle with our cultural and historical contexts around this topic regardless of geographic location. The good news is that when we share our stories – as well as our processes and procedures – together we can create lasting change. A change that shifts the tide in our internal corporate culture, and extends beyond into our lives and communities outside of work.
A driving theme at the conference this year was sharing a sense of belonging. The message of "You Belong Here" was weaved all throughout the conference and even existed as a larger-than-life sign above the main stage. For a community of people who have been told over and over again that we are not welcome or don't belong, seeing this message in so many places – and said by so many people – had an incredible impact. Despite all the self-critical internal dialogue that can still happen inside my head, seeing this message everywhere reminded me that I do belong here, that my story is worth sharing, that my thoughts and ideas are valuable precisely because they are different, and that my sexual orientation and/or gender identity do not define what kind of employee I am.
The message I bring home from this conference for you all is this: Don't let anyone stop you from reaching for equity and inclusion. No matter your seniority with the company, your tenure, your job title, or position – everyonedeserves to be included here at Symantec. We value all of our beautiful, inspiring, and thought-provoking differences. We understand that it is exactly these differences that not only make our products great, but also make Symantec a great place to work.
As someone who has been told my whole life that I'm "different," I want to reach out to everyone else here that has been told that for any reason and say: "You belong here! I value you, and I want to work together in all our differences to make Symantec your second home – a place where you are excited to come and where you feel appreciated, seen, valued, and heard."
With teams all over the globe, Symantec is focusing on creating an inclusive culture that is as diverse as its customers.
Below is an article originally written by Jared Karol, the Purpose & Leadership Development Coach at PowerToFly Partner Symantec, and published on November 7, 2018. Go to Symantec's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
How do you build a diverse and inclusive company culture in an organization that is 36 years old, has more than 13,000 employees, and is located in 35 countries all around the world?
At the Tech Inclusion conference in San Francisco on October 16, 2018, four members of Symantec's leadership team – CEO Greg Clark, CHRO Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, CIO Sheila Jordan, and EVP Samir Kapuria – sat down with Wayne Sutton, Co-Founder of Change Catalyst, for a panel discussion on Cyber Security and Culture to address that question. They discussed both the progress Symantec has made and challenges they still face in creating a culture where every employee feels like they belong.
With welcome candor and transparency, Greg stated right away that he was disappointed in the diversity metrics at the company. "Our numbers are just not good enough," he said, before going on to say that improving those numbers has been a major focus area for him and the company since he became CEO two and a half years ago.
This is of course commendable. And, improving the numbers means little if you don't create a culture where everyone feels included, an idea Amy shared: "The whole notion around inclusion lends itself to a diverse workplace. How do you ensure people have a voice and are not left in the margins? How do you bring people into the conversation?"
In other words, if you focus on helping the people who are already working at the company feel included, you create a place where people from underrepresented backgrounds want to come and work. The more Symantec becomes known as a place where candidates from diverse backgrounds will be welcomed and appreciated, the more candidates from diverse backgrounds will apply.
The whole notion around inclusion lends itself to a diverse workplace. How do you ensure people have a voice and are not left in the margins? How do you bring people into the conversation?
The idea that Symantec is a huge company with a global reach is central to this line of thinking. "We are a virtual global team with thirteen sites around the world," says Sheila, who is also the executive sponsor for SWAN (Symantec Women's Action Network). "We have to create an inclusive environment across the globe."
Samir points out that cyber criminals don't discriminate. "They attack people from all kinds of backgrounds," he says. "The victims of these attacks are diverse, so our solutions need to be inclusive of all walks of life." After all, he reminds us, Symantec is a technology company that creates products for people around the world. The people who are coding those products need to be reflective of the people who are using them.
Despite the challenges – or maybe because of them? – it was clear that the Symantec executive team is committed to their vision of creating a more diverse and inclusive global company. One example of this commitment is the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Pledge that Greg signed in 2017.
There was also a level of awareness on the stage that was great to see. As executive leaders in a huge global company, all four speakers on the stage are cognizant of their responsibility to make sure that all voices are heard in the company. This includes calling out behaviors that are not contributing to an inclusive and safe workplace culture. "Everyone is suffering from [a lack of diversity and inclusion]," says Amy. "We are working on building awareness and intentionally seeking out all voices. We're talking to teams and involving them in the conversation and around solutions."
Symantec is a technology company that creates products for people around the world. The people who are coding those products need to be reflective of the people who are using them.
The vision is that as the executive team continues to model the behaviors that promote inclusivity and belonging, servant leadership will become the norm. This leadership style is aimed at inspiring and empowering every employee to take responsibility for contributing to the kind of company culture that everyone wants in the first place.
Ultimately, it's about being part of something greater than yourself. Just as Symantec's products positively impact customers all over the world, Symantec's culture can make a huge impact on the lives of its employees all over the world too. "It's going to take a few years to change," admits Greg. "But we're really working on culture. It matters to us. And, it will make us a much stronger company."