What DEI and Intersectionality Look Like at These 9 Colorado Companies

Written by Alton Zenon III
Published on Aug. 17, 2020
What DEI and Intersectionality Look Like at These 9 Colorado Companies
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It’s one thing for a company to acknowledge the intersecting identities of its employees. It’s another for a business to dedicate time and resources to not only support that intersectionality, but foster even more of it. 

Nine Colorado tech companies shared with Built In how they’re putting action behind their diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) pledges. We learned about team members being offered paid leave while recovering from a transition-related medical procedure and how a strategic collaboration between LGBTQ+ and Black employee resource groups was productized. There was even a stipend given to working parents so they can order takeout food. 

But regardless of the varied actions each company adopted, they agreed on one thing. One of the best ways they can continue to support the many layers of intersecting identities in their employees is to ask them directly what they need, then get to work.

Jane Kim
Chief Revenue Officer • CircleCI

How CircleCI approaches intersectionality: We create structured interviewing questions for every role to ensure we are equitable in how we interview candidates. This practice helps us assess answers fairly and ensure our interview panels are reflective of our diverse employee base. To establish a long-term and sustainable impact within our industry, we also formed a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) task force that leads strategy, implementation and measurement of our long-term goals.

We also have two employee resource groups (ERGs), CircleSHEi and Queersphere, which are safe spaces for those who identify as women or part of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. These groups meet regularly to talk about the individual needs of members and what the company can do to better meet their needs. 

We are proud that our transgender colleagues comprise a sizeable portion of our team.

How CircleCI created an equitable work environment: CircleCI recently rolled out a new healthcare policy for our transgender employees. We now offer fully-compensated paid leave for employees recovering from transition-related medical procedures. 

This policy is an important addition to our benefits package. We are proud that our transgender colleagues comprise a sizable portion of our team, and want to ensure they have the tools and support they need to thrive.

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: We held discussion groups with dozens of volunteers across all departments and locations to gather thoughts on what DEIB should mean at CircleCI. These discussions highlighted what we’re doing well, where we can improve and what we would like to see from the company in the next six to 12 months. This led  our DEI taskforce to recently include “belonging” as a value.

Jessica Lake Lokes
HR Programs Manager • Xactly Corp

How Xactly Corp approaches intersectionality: XactlyIN affinity groups are voluntary, employee-led collectives that aim to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace. Each group approaches intersectionality by seeking opportunities to interact with other affinity groups for both casual and r strategic reasons. For example, the LGBTQ+ and Black affinity group partnered during Pride Month to brand our beverage coolers with pride-branded logos and send proceeds to The Trevor Project.

We are leveraging a combination of affinity groups to outline a more robust recruitment strategy to increase the pipeline of candidates from underrepresented groups. This effort also reinforces and ensures the collectives have cohesion and support one another.

Executives play a key role in encouraging progress within affinity groups.

How Xactly Corp created an equitable work environment: Xactly dedicates an entire week every year to celebrating our core values — customer focus, accountability, respect and excellence, called C.A.R.E Week. The celebration serves as a global, company-wide initiative for our community to support local nonprofits. 

The week begins with community-driven activities, including an innovation workshop and a nonprofit fair. The final day of C.A.R.E. Week is the Global Day of Giving. Employees around the world volunteer or donate to a set of nonprofits important to the company. The XactlyOne Foundation was created early in the company’s history and has given over $300,000 and 1,000 volunteer hours to organizations in need.

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: Executives play a key role in encouraging progress within affinity groups by moving roadblocks and providing mentoring, while members play a key role in developing mission statements, articulating and communicating short-term and annual goals and managing events. 

Employees also contributed to panels on diversity during the 2019 Denver StartUp Week and our recent “Gender Differences in the Workplace” discussion. Recruiters and managers play a key role in mentorship programs and campus recruitment efforts within underserved communities. 

Heather MacBride
People & Talent • Pie Insurance

How Pie Insurance approaches intersectionality: Remote work has encouraged us to embrace the “whole person” as our work and home lives become a bit more blurred. People don’t leave their race, gender, or role as parent or caregiver at the door when they come to work. Our leaders and our team of culture ambassadors are continually looking for opportunities to celebrate our teams and their commonalities, as well as what makes us all unique. In June, despite being remote, we celebrated Pride, Juneteenth and Father’s Day. We marked these occasions with educational opportunities and provided a platform for team members to share their lived experiences.

We added something we think all new parents need — a stipend to use on takeout.”

How Pie Insurance created an equitable work environment: We recently revisited our leave policies and enacted comprehensive coverage including: generous PTO, sick leave, caregiver leave, bereavement and 16 weeks of paid parental leave for all team members. We added something we think all new parents need — a stipend to use on takeout — because caring for a new baby is hard enough. Now parents can worry less about what’s for dinner. Pie wants to ensure all of our team members, regardless of their background or family status, have the ability to care for themselves and their families. 

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: Employees recently organized teams for the Denver Virtual Pride 5K and created a Black Lives Matter channel on Slack. They assembled a panel of team members who are also working parents to share their experiences, hardships and advice. We also conduct stay-interviews and use tools like Officevibe to collect regular feedback and ensure everyone has a place to have their voice heard. 


Jennifer Fraser
Global Director of Inclusion and Diversity • FIS

How FIS approaches intersectionality: We understand that none of our more than 55,000 employees are singularly diverse. We each bring multiple dimensions of diversity to the organization. These nuanced differences uniquely inform the way each of us interprets and negotiates the world and approaches problems. And most importantly, this richness of diversity enables us to innovate and deliver the best products and solutions for our clients.

None of our more than 55,000 employees are singularly diverse.”

How FIS created an equitable work environment: We made data the star of our inclusivity strategy. Without both quantitative and qualitative data, it’s difficult to assess how inclusive or equitable a work environment is. Data helps companies know where they’re successful, where there are gaps in experiences or where there are opportunities to refine efforts. 

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: We believe that inclusion and diversity is the responsibility of everyone at FIS. Embedded in our values is an effort to create an open and trusting environment where all voices are heard and employees feel safe to speak up. We amplify voices through forums like our inclusion networks, advisory councils and focus groups. Individual voices are heard — with anonymity if desired — through our internal social media, engagement surveys and an ethics hotline, among other sources. Our inclusion and diversity strategies are refined as a result of our colleagues’ voices.


Katie Bywater
Director of People Operations • Wunder

How Wunder approaches intersectionality: Wunder leads social equity initiatives and regular DEI trainings to foster inclusivity and equity for all identities. Most recently, we held a racial equity and justice training and organized company participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. We support team members participating in community engagement initiatives they’re passionate about to ensure everyone’s voice is represented and we have a positive local impact.

Our team members’ community involvement is supported by budget and time allocation."


How Wunder created an equitable work environment: Our commitment to DEI is  fundamental to our culture. This is evident in our company policies, one-on-one support from senior leadership, how we conduct business and our team initiatives. We regularly host DEI trainings and support resource groups to foster inclusive conversations. Additionally, we intentionally recruit candidates with unique backgrounds through many diverse sources. And we regularly revisit our interview processes to ensure equity in our hiring practices. 

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: Team members are encouraged to engage with causes they care about and plan events for the wider team to participle in. Our team members’ community involvement is supported by budget and time allocation for trainings and events. Our leadership also regularly collects feedback on Wunder’s culture and how we could improve to ensure all voices are heard.


Hannah East
Senior Salesforce System Architect • Fivetran

How Fivetran approaches intersectionality: As a lesbian woman, I searched for a company that welcomed those parts of my identity. From the first interview with Fivetran, I have felt heard, included and appreciated. They ensure that everyone has a seat at the table and that ideas can be freely shared. Each department has DEI goals so that we maintain and grow a diverse team. 

Each department has DEI goals so that we maintain and grow a diverse team.”


How Fivetran created an equitable work environment: At Fivetran, we acknowledge, welcome and praise diversity.  We aren’t doing it to maintain a standard, but because we wholeheartedly believe diversity makes a company successful.

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: My manager makes sure that within every meeting, every person in our team shares their thoughts. She aims to have one of the most diverse teams within the company and works to ensure we all feel like a family. She allows us to be creative in our problem solving, ensures that our thoughts are heard and stands behind us without a shadow of a doubt. 


Corissa Keuler
Senior Director, Global Recruiting • Magnite

How SpotX approaches intersectionality: SpotX’s approach to intersectionality in the workplace includes three pillars: recruitment, inclusivity and community. Our mission and practices center around attracting and supporting a diverse employee-base, as well as creating an ideal environment for all of our employees to thrive. 

To foster communication and inclusive conversations at SpotX, we created internal Slack channels that encourage transparency and peer support. These include channels for parents, womxn, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. We also hold company-wide Ask Me Anything sessions focused solely on DEI. These sessions are meant to open lines of communication between our founders, executive team and employees so we can become an increasingly inclusive organization. 

Shift from a ‘culture fit’ to a ‘culture add’ mentality.”

How SpotX created an equitable work environment: In January, we offered unconscious bias and psychological safety trainings for all 480 of our employees. Even though it was optional, nearly half of our organization participated. 

We received feedback that certain tactics were particularly impactful, such as allowing for silences in between topics to ensure everyone has space to contribute,  and managers should seek out quieter team members and encourage them to contribute to group discussion. When hiring, managers should also value perspectives to ensure we shift from a “culture fit” to a “culture add” mentality when growing our teams. 

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: Our DEI committee currently consists of 30 employees at all levels of the organization who support our efforts to create a more inclusive workplace. Regularly surveying employees allows us to stay informed and reflect on the immediate needs of the organization. Our annual SpotX Voices Survey of employees recently asked DEI questions like whether they feel their opinions are valued, whether they feel they can be their authentic selves at work and whether SpotX offers a work environment based on inclusivity. We intend to shape current HR and DEI initiatives around the feedback from this survey. 


Payal Patel
Solution Engineering Manager • Freshworks

How Freshworks approaches intersectionality: Our leaders committed to the #PledgeForEquality campaign to ensure that by the end of 2020, women constitute at least one-third of the workforce at Freshworks. We created Freshworks Women 360, whose mission is to inspire, empower and cultivate a diverse group of women within our organization. That group will provide a community for women to reflect on their own goals and status as they strive for upward mobility in their organization. 

Our recruiters are also focused on engaging with women in tech who are looking to return to the workforce. In August, the North American office will kick off an inclusion advisory board to drive initiatives, track progress and bring accountability to our leaders, team members and the company as a whole. 

We launched a mentorship program to drive women leaders.”

How Freshworks created an equitable work environment: This year we launched a mentorship program to drive women leaders within Freshworks. The program is a way for Freshworks Women 360 members — and our male allies — to offer other employees the guidance and encouragement they need to navigate professional challenges. It will help foster meaningful relationships to help Freshworks women with career coaching, skills support and professional advice. 

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: As president and co-founder of Freshworks Women 360, my passion is working to ensure the most marginalized voices on my team are represented and valued, and that women in tech see equality. I was given overwhelming support from leadership to start this woman-focused group.

Along with the launch of our mentorship program, we are creating a spotlight series of webinars to discuss today’s issues or educate participants on personal growth topics. We will engage women within the business and invite executives from other organizations to learn from other leaders. 


Scott Lasica
Chief Sales Officer • Stream

How Stream created an equitable work environment: We recently opened a Head of People role, where one of the responsibilities will be a focus on DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging). This person will lead hiring, and will have a direct impact on DEIB. We are also de-emphasizing the requirements for 4-year degrees, which we feel is a common form of bias in large companies. 

Don’t pressure those from marginalized groups to ‘represent’ those populations.”

Ways employees support internal DEI efforts: We encourage employees to speak when they want to, by holding space for them during our discussions and otherwise. We don’t pressure those from marginalized groups to “represent” those populations. Instead, we foster an environment where they can sit back and listen. Or they speak up as they desire, acting as a team member with a specific point of view, not a tokenized representative. 


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