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."