So long, status quo: How 6 Colorado companies drive diversity in tech

by April Bohnert
March 8, 2018

It’s one thing to talk about diversity in the workplace, but it’s a whole other thing to take concrete action to support those initiatives. More companies today are finding ways to “walk the walk,” yet many more are stuck wondering how or where to begin.

We talked to six local companies about the steps they’re taking to build more diverse and inclusive environments for employees and the advice they have for other companies that want to do the same.
 

CA Technologies diversity initiatives Colorado
Photo courtesy of CA Technologies.


CA Technologies develops software tools and IT management solutions that span everything from project management to cybersecurity.

 

What diversity initiatives are you currently working on as a company?

“For the past two years, CA has put into place two measurements for talent acquisition. Our team goal is to provide two-plus female candidates for teams to interview and a gender diverse interview panel for every filled requisition,” said Beth Finger, senior recruiter for the Americas.

“About 18 months ago, after an unconscious bias workshop in our Boulder office, a group of software engineers formed a Diversity Working Group to continue the conversation on bias, diversity and inclusion, specifically related to recruiting and retaining developer talent for our business unit,” Finger said.  

 

What advice do you have for other companies that want to improve the diversity of their organizations but don't know where to start?

“Start small in one area,” Finger said. “Bring in an expert on unconscious bias to present to your employees. This can be expensive, but this is what started the conversation in our Boulder office and lit a fire in people. Invite a guest speaker to come in on a relevant topic. We also had an amazing webex on interview suggestions when speaking with candidates who require special accommodations for cognitive disabilities in the workplace. Send out a survey to ask what employees are thinking and looking for on the topic of diversity. Offer to host a diverse group's meet-up at your office — and have employees volunteer to assist or attend. Provide employees with information on diverse volunteer opportunities in the area. Try one thing. If you don't try, you won’t know!”
 

 

Webroot diversity initiatives Colorado
Photo courtesy of Webroot,

Webroot prides themselves on their cybersecurity intelligence platform, which serves everyone from the individual consumer to the enterprise-level security vendor.

 

What diversity initiatives are you currently working on as a company?

“We actively engage with CU, DU, Colorado School of Mines and UCSD to conduct interview and resume workshops with groups such as the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society,” said Melanie Williams, vice president of human resources at Webroot. “Our focus with these groups is to provide real-world training.”

"We have a Women of Webroot (WoW) employee group that provides a platform and safe space to dialogue about current issues and potential solutions. We also host events, such as networking sessions, to build up this supportive community.”

 

How long have these initiatives been in place? What impact have they had on your organization so far?

“Our focus on diverse university and recruiting events has been in place for more than five years,” Williams said. “We’ve seen a direct impact in the volume of applications from students at these organizations, and have received feedback from participants of our resume and interview workshops that they’ve felt more confident when applying and interviewing for jobs. Additionally, Women of Webroot has been active for more than three years. Through this group and its events, we have built a strong support network across all functions of the business.”

 

What advice do you have for other companies that want to improve the diversity of their organizations but don't know where to start?

“I would encourage organizations to start somewhere — put a stake in the ground. No matter how little you may think it is, that action can ripple into something greater than you imagine,” she said. “I think it’s also important to talk about it at every level of your organization. Keep it top of mind for teams hiring, executives and people managers to make sure everyone understands its importance for the business.”
 

 

Carbon Black diversity initiatives Colorado
Photo courtesy of Carbon Black.

 

Carbon Black provides cloud-based endpoint security for businesses, replacing traditional antivirus programs and using real-time data analytics to predict and prevent cyber attacks.

 

What diversity initiatives are you currently working on as a company?

“Over the past year, we’ve put a big investment in women,” said Marisa Ianelli, senior director of global talent acquisition and talent brand. “We launched ‘The Cigar Room’ which is a community of Carbon Black women who are interested in building relationships, mentoring, learning, teaching and working to enhance the inclusivity of women in the workplace.”

“We’ve offered Lunch-n-Learns, sponsored external events for our employees to attend, and supported nonprofit organizations who help the female and LGBTQ community,” she said. “We employ a fantastic population of women and know that teams and organizations are more successful when they are diverse. We decided to start with women in the workplace because we had individuals at the company who were passionate about the cause and wanted to participate in growing and shaping the initiative. After seeing how this initiative resonated with our workforce, we plan to replicate it for other diverse groups.”

 

How long have these initiatives been in place? What impact have they had on your organization so far?

“Our Cigar Room launched in January 2017. We receive fantastic feedback from the individuals who participate in these events and know the 40-plus women we sent to the Mass Conference for Women in December were thrilled with the experience,” Ianelli said. “Showing our support and passion for offering women more networking and learning opportunities for both work-related knowledge and self-betterment has gone a long way in retaining talent.”

“In addition to our women’s initiatives, we now have CB Rainbow, which is a community of Carbon Black employees who identify as LGBTQ and/or are interested in supporting and growing the community. We’re looking forward to growing it as we did with the Cigar Room.”

 

What advice do you have for other companies that want to improve the diversity of their organizations but don't know where to start?

“Start small,” she said. “This year we’re doing even more to invest in women, but also other groups. We plan to offer greater training internally, such as unconscious bias, and more external events and sponsorships. If we had started out with the lofty expectations that we have for this year, we would not have realized the amount of work that goes into a reputable diversity and inclusion initiative. We learned by doing, and now we’re ready to take on more.”
 

 

Zayo Group diversity initiatives Colorado
Photo courtesy of Zayo Group.

 

Zayo provides bandwidth and connectivity services over its massive communications infrastructure, enabling big businesses to scale their networks and adapt to changing demand.

 

What diversity initiatives are you currently working on as a company?

“We focus on two key areas to drive diversity: cultivating a pipeline of diverse talent in the community and creating an inclusive culture,” said Pat Nichols, corporate communications specialist. “These specific areas help us attract and retain top talent. We have strong relationships with local universities and community organizations in Colorado, creating outcome-based programs for diversity and development.”

“Zayo also works hard to create an inclusive culture that reflects our entrepreneurial roots.  Everyone has a voice on their work teams, in frequent leadership roundtables and on our Chatter communications platform. We drive profit and loss responsibility down to the segment level, which encourages every employee to contribute, learn and grow.”

 

How long have these initiatives been in place? What impact have they had on your organization so far?

“These initiatives have been in place for more than two years in Colorado. Although we recognize that we still have much work to do, we’re encouraged by our progress,” Nichols said. “Our Boulder office has achieved gender parity and women represent about 40 percent of our base of Colorado employees.”

 

What advice do you have for other companies that want to improve the diversity of their organizations but don't know where to start?

“Diversity begins with a commitment from the top and a focus on how diversity and inclusion can advance business objectives and support your culture,” she said. “It’s also important to understand your baseline metrics in terms of your employee base and their perspectives and issues. Once this foundational work is completed, organizations can develop the right initiatives to achieve their specific objectives.”
 

 

SpotX diversity initiatives Colorado
Photo courtesy of SpotX.

 

SpotX delivers a video advertising platform for online publishers, media owners and advertisers that enables them to buy, sell and analyze digital ads.

 

What diversity initiatives are you currently working on as a company?

“We are official Pacesetters for the National Center for Women and Information Technology and are jointly committed to supporting women in technical roles,” said Maureen Schilling, senior director of recruiting for SpotX. “In addition, we’ve launched internal inclusivity action teams dedicated to fostering a community of diverse interests and backgrounds at SpotX.

“We launched these efforts because there are so many exciting opportunities available in the world of technology, but many people have very one-dimensional ideas of what it means to work in tech, or what types of people can,” she continued. “At SpotX, our goal is to take a broader view, so we’re focused on making technology and careers in our field accessible to everyone.”

 

How long have these initiatives been in place? What impact have they had on your organization so far?

“We’ve been affiliated with NCWIT since 2012 and launched our inclusivity action teams in 2016,” said Schilling. “We’ve been thrilled at the level of interest we’ve seen among members of our team. In addition to furthering our company objectives, these programs have provided a platform for SpotXers to share information about the inclusive organizations and initiatives they’re involved with outside the office. They’ve helped us to nurture an internal community of people who share these values.”

 

What advice do you have for other companies that want to improve the diversity of their organizations but don't know where to start?

“If you’re not sure where to start — ask,” she said. “In the greater Denver community, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by forward-thinking organizations that are very public in their support of diversity and inclusivity. Find a company whose efforts you admire and reach out to ask how you can get involved. Chances are, they’ll be excited to hear that you share their commitment and happy to give you some pointers.”

 

 

Granicus diversity initiatives Colorado
Photo courtesy of Granicus.

 

Granicus develops cloud solutions specifically for government agencies, helping them to better engage with citizens, improve transparency and manage items like meetings, agendas and data security.

 

What diversity initiatives are you currently working on as a company?

“We care deeply about reaching out to under-represented groups, so we allocate resources specifically to sponsor and/or attend events centered around diversity in technology,” said recruiter Sean Spooner. “We have developed an employee experience that is inclusive of all gender expressions and backgrounds, taking care to utilize software that allows us to check for gendered language in our job descriptions and to ensure our websites are accessible to a wide range of abilities.”

“Internally we encourage productive discussion and action around diversity, having Slack channels dedicated to LGBTQA and diversity topics,” HR manager Jaidyn Martin added. “Our management teams work hard to break down any silos to foster communication and collaboration on all levels. We encourage our employees to openly celebrate who they are and use our social committees as an avenue for partnership and support.”

 

How long have these initiatives been in place? What impact have they had on your organization so far?

“Our current efforts have been alive in some form since our company’s inception,” Martin said. “We are continually trying new things and testing the things we’ve already tried to make sure they are relevant and working. The impact we see the most is that our employees feel heard and relevant within the company culture. This type of environment is what gets candidates excited and what keeps employees engaged. There’s more work to do, but we’re pleased with the results we’ve seen so far.”

 

What advice do you have for other companies that want to improve the diversity of their organizations but don't know where to start?

“It’s not something you can achieve overnight — and not something any of us has mastered,” Spooner said. “We started by talking about it, sharing ideas, doing research, then we created action steps for how to move towards our goal of having a workforce that reflects the agencies and cities we work in.”

“We understand that these sorts of initiatives are living, breathing things — but the most important advice would be to just do something; be thoughtful and sincere, but do something,” Martin continued. “Inaction is not an option. Beyond that, listen to your employees’ needs and be willing to flex with them.”

 

 

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