Due to the fact that most of us have been working from home since March, I wonder, is it now the best time to make sure we embrace equity, inclusion, and belonging?
Growing up in the chauvinistic country of Peru, I was very much surprised when I immigrated to Silicon Valley. California (especially San Francisco) claims to be one of the most modern and progressive places on earth. Nevertheless, the technology capital of the world has serious problems in terms of diversity, inclusion, and equity. There are more CEOs named John and David than the total number of female CEOs. Less than 3% of venture capital funded startups have been founded by Latinas. In Lima, I grew up with my family: my mother is an engineer. Today, one of my sisters is a medical doctor. My other sister is a businesswoman.
For years, many companies not only in the United States but also in other major economies have struggled to create a genuine workplace where employees can bring their entire selves to work. By entire selves, I not only talk about gender, race, and ethnicity. Those are merely the ABCs of diversity. Pursuing this further, I am writing about diversity of experience, diversity of thought…diversity of faith background.
Talking about spirituality, I want to give kudos to Salesforce. Not too long ago, Faithforce was founded by Sue Warnke at Salesforce. Faithforce is an interfaith employee resource group, where they focus on unity by serving the community such as the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. In unity, Salesforce employees from different faith backgrounds (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, etc.) come together for community service. When I first heard about this employee resource group I got super excited! What an amazing idea and initiative to encourage employees to bring their whole selves to work. If companies truly care about fostering a safe space for employees to express their views, identities, and traditions, why not create interfaith groups that “celebrate, support, and foster understanding of our global faith and spiritual diversity through inclusive and educational events”? (Salesforce.com website).
In his Twitter profile, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wrote: “I learned today that a member of our Ohana lost a family member in #SriLanka. Thank you to our Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, & Hindu Ohana who held a vigil for our whole Christian Ohana. May times of tragedy remind us all that light shines in the darkness (John 1:5) #Faithforce”
Going back to my original point, I believe that today we have to be intentional in making sure all of our employees have a voice at the table. Even during Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet, we have the opportunity today to promote a culture of belonging. A few weeks ago, I had a virtual board meeting. One of our team members has young children. We were talking about corporate values and principles when her little one interrupted us. Our chair took a moment to highlight the importance of creating a culture were we feel like a family, tribe, community, pueblo. This made us smile and recognize that we are all human. Rather than focusing on what divides us, it’s time to recognize and to focus on what unites us. Especially during this unprecedented era, it is time to be extra gracious to our colleagues, direct reports, and members.