Given all the discussions that have made their way into the tech community around immigration, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a value that is really important to us here at Originate — diversity. While I do not believe it is my place to share political opinions (which I will explain later), the value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is not about politics. It’s an important core value that all people, including politicians, need to understand as they make decisions.
Those who have worked with me know that I will go to great lengths to protect the culture of the company. While our culture includes many really important values, there is one I will never compromise on:
Create an inclusive environment that fosters a unique collection of diverse people.
We have an ambitious mission that involves solving hard new problems every day. Solving hard new problems takes extraordinary creativity. Extraordinary creativity comes from bringing together amazing people from all backgrounds, beliefs, religions, homes, nationalities, races, genders, orientations, and political views in an inclusive, open, and safe environment. It’s that simple.
I could make this entire article about why diversity makes successful companies, but instead I’ll point you to this great presentation from our own Presley Pizzo.
We are proud of our diversity and constantly work to create even more. This means fostering and supporting an inclusive working environment that celebrates differing opinions and perspectives. We don’t tolerate discrimination and we combat it by being people first and listening to each other. This creates a safe and empathetic space for all people.
“I know this candidate passed all the interviews, but they are a purple anteater from an unknown country with a strange religion and an ambiguous gender, and use Windows…” Awesome! It sounds like they will add a great new point of view to the team. It’s our job as leaders to create an environment where everyone feels welcome, included, and comfortable being themselves and expressing their thoughts.
And this is precisely why I don’t share my political opinions. If I started expressing my personal political views as a CEO, that starts to create a non-inclusive environment for those that don’t agree with me. There are always at least two opposing opinions around every real fact (and even more opinions around not-real facts!) A company is far more powerful when everyone seeks to understand those differing opinions, regardless of whether they agree. I want to work in an organization where you can believe anything you want, and feel safe doing so. This is what being inclusive is all about.
So what should we do as business leaders? Since a company is a unique collection of diverse people, I believe it’s the leadership’s job to 100% support the individual beliefs of every employee/group within the company, even if there are conflicting views. We do this by providing unlimited paid time off so people can recognize the holidays, causes, protests, or other things they believe in. We sponsor external events that individuals in the company are passionate about supporting. We give everyone 20% time so people can work on their own passion projects. We encourage and host employee organized forums, meetups, and even meditations around their causes. And most importantly, we maintain a culture that enables all of this.
So get out there (especially you Originators!), come together around the causes you are passionate about, and make positive changes in the world. I may not always share your opinion, but you’ll always have my support!