How diversity drives innovation at 4 Colorado tech companies

by April Bohnert
January 30, 2019

Diversity in the workplace has long been viewed through the social lens of equality and inclusion (and rightfully so), but there’s a tangible business case for driving diversity, too. Study after study after study proves that companies with diverse teams — teams that include individuals of different genders, ethnicities, ages, perspectives and more — are more successful, more innovative and more profitable than their more homogeneous counterparts. 

To see what this diversity-driven innovation looks like in action, we asked four local tech companies to share what they’re doing — and not just saying — to drive diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and how those efforts empower every member of the team to do their best work.

 

Four Winds Interactive diversity and inclusion Colorado tech
Photo via FWI.

Four Winds Interactive powers digital signage all over the world — airports, hotels, universities, corporate campuses and more — and offers a cloud-based visual communications software that connects people with the information and resources they need. Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Digital Experience Karyn Lu explained how and why diversity plays such a critical role in FWI’s global business and what her team is doing to create a truly inclusive and innovative culture.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work in terms of results or the products you deliver to your clients?  

At FWI, we are champions of one another and of diverse thought. Programs like Women of FWI, Voices of FWI and our speaker series all work to cultivate empathy among employees, which leads to more genuine collaboration. In addition, our clients come from nearly every industry and from every corner of the world. Our focus on “2D diversity” — a combination of inherent and acquired diversity — fostered within an inclusive culture where it’s safe to speak up means employees are more likely to challenge the status quo and deliver more empathy and innovation to our clients as well.

 

When our employees feel safe voicing their ideas or making mistakes, they are more likely to help push us forward as a company.” 

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

We rotate our chief diversity officer role and inclusion and diversity steering committee members annually, which ensures fresh perspectives are always being taken into account at FWI. Our inclusion and diversity statement is, “Our zeal for inclusion fuels our best work.” We wholeheartedly live by this and approach it as an ongoing conversation in which we are all evolving and learning together. To us, it’s not an initiative but rather a way of life and a part of our company’s DNA.

 

How does your company ensure that everyone is empowered to share their perspectives?

Most importantly, we value and uphold the importance of cultivating psychological safety at FWI. When our employees feel safe voicing their ideas or making mistakes, they are more likely to help push us forward as a company. Additionally, understanding that different people feel comfortable speaking up in different ways, we intentionally offer multiple channels and opportunities for everyone to share their perspectives or provide feedback to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

 

Webroot diversity and inclusion Colorado tech
Photo via Webroot.

Webroot’s cybersecurity software leverages the cloud and artificial intelligence to stop zero-day threats in real time and protect endpoints and networks from attacks. We caught up with VP of Human Resources Melanie Williams to learn how she keeps a diverse pipeline of talent flowing and how she ensures every voice at Webroot is heard.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work in terms of results or the products you deliver to your clients?

Innovation is what drives Webroot, and we know that diversity of gender, ethnicity, culture and background is what provides the diversity of thought and unique problem-solving to fuel that focus on innovation. Each year, we work to create a more diverse workforce that values perspectives from every team member.

 

Innovation is what drives Webroot, and we know that diversity of gender, ethnicity, culture and background is what provides the diversity of thought and unique problem-solving to fuel [...] innovation.”

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

To build our diverse workforce, we focus on creating a varied talent pipeline with universities in core locations. We actively engage with the University of Colorado, the University of Denver, Colorado School of Mines and UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering to conduct interviews 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. We are constantly assessing and adding new universities and groups within those organizations that we can support and provide with real-world experience and knowledge.

We also partner with UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering for a coding challenge each year that teaches students problem-solving and innovative thinking. They must work together in teams, use their coding skills to complete the race and think innovatively about the various solutions. The winners of the challenge are top of the list for Webroot internships.

 

How does your company ensure that everyone is empowered to share their perspectives?

Making sure the diverse perspectives of our workforce are heard is also important to Webroot. One way we focus on this area is through a company-wide program for Emergenetics testing. The profiles share both thinking and behavioral attributes of all employees so that others can better work with them and understand how they approach tasks. The training encourages team members to think about how everyone prefers to provide feedback. Some people are more likely to speak up at a meeting, while others prefer to share their thoughts via a written response after having time to consider. Knowing and supporting these differences helps all voices be heard.

 

BombBomb diversity and inclusion Colorado tech
Photo via BombBomb.

BombBomb uses the simple power of video to help businesses connect and engage with their customers in more personal and meaningful ways, enabling them to record, send and track video messages from a variety of devices and platforms. Amanda Obringer, product manager and chair of the diversity and inclusion team at BombBomb, shared how the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives make a tangible impact on its product — and the happiness of its team.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work in terms of results or the products you deliver to your clients?

We believe that a company with a diverse staff makes better products, provides better customer service and is a more enjoyable place to work. When we are considering a UX problem, we look for different perspectives on how to approach the situation and, by doing so, we are more likely to find the best solution for our users. Often these solutions come together from several different ideas and points of view. Additionally, many of our employees are also our users, so making sure that we have diversity in our employees helps us understand our customers better.

 

Our hope is that, by increasing their visibility and tapping into their experiences, we are providing encouragement, support and perspective to all our employees [...]”

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

In order to ensure that we keep this issue at the forefront of our company dialogue, in 2018 we established a diversity and inclusion team. Currently, our primary initiative is engaging the topic of women in leadership. So far, we have made a series of videos and held a panel discussion showcasing the women we have in leadership here at BombBomb, and we’re planning additional forums with female leaders both in and outside of the company.

Our hope is that, by increasing their visibility and tapping into their experiences, we are providing encouragement, support and perspective to all our employees, but most especially our women so more of them may pursue leadership here at BombBomb.

 

How does your company ensure that everyone is empowered to share their perspectives?

We informally foster a culture of communication by encouraging employees to share their ideas and perspectives at department meetings, weekly company lunches and in regular one-on-one conversations with management. Beyond that, we have put in place some more formal channels including our people team — of which the diversity and inclusion team is one branch — which is responsible for keeping and developing a healthy company culture, as well as being a forum for employee communication with management. Additionally, we conduct a yearly culture survey and an upward feedback survey, both of which are anonymous and give employees the opportunity to voice their concerns, feedback and ideas to management in a non-threatening way.

 

Xactly diversity and inclusion Colorado tech
Photo via Xactly

Xactly Corp’s sales performance management platform helps teams drive success and plan ahead, leveraging technology like machine learning to streamline processes and create alignment across the entire organization. HR Programs Manager Jessica Lake shared how Xactly’s core values go hand in hand with its diversity and inclusion efforts and foster better collaboration across all of its teams.

 

How does having a diverse team shape your work in terms of results or the products you deliver to your clients?

Xactly has a diverse, global presence, which brings innovation, unique perspectives and superb quality to our product platform. The success of Xactly calls for a diverse talent pool and enhances our C.A.R.E. values — customer focus, accountability, respect and excellence. Not only do we have video meeting technology to easily open communication across long distances, but we have quarterly all-hands and sales kick-off events where we collaborate with all employees.     

We have found that defining different pillars of diversity in the workplace allows us to have unique collaboration and innovative discussions around technology.

 

We have found that defining different pillars of diversity in the workplace allows us to have unique collaboration and innovative discussions around technology.”

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

We continue to partner with great organizations like NCWIT and diversity chapters in our local communities and utilize Vista's InternX job board. This month, we introduced the "sit with me" campaign to attract more women to technology and STEM fields. Understanding that tech companies and leadership are traditionally more male-dominated, we enjoy partnering with NCWIT to show our support to the number of women at Xactly and our leadership team.

One of our favorite celebrations is that of Diwali. We celebrate in all locations and bring in traditional food and activities. We really live by our core values, and these values tie closely to our diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

How does your company ensure that everyone is empowered to share their perspectives?

The success of Xactly calls for a diverse talent pool, and we empower all of our employees to take part in our XactlyOne community efforts and diversity mission. Our company has quarterly all-hands meetings where we meet globally and, from there, we have weekly department all-hands to ensure everyone has a platform to share ideas and highlight success.

 

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