How to Build a Workplace That Supports a Diverse Team

by Madeline Hester
January 14, 2020
wistia
wistia

When it comes to having a diverse workforce, the benefits are many. According to a 2018 study by Harvard Business Review, companies with higher-than-average diversity had a 19 percent higher innovation revenue, meaning they could market a greater range of products to consumers. Considering a wide range of backgrounds naturally lends itself to a wider berth of ideas, the statistics aren’t too surprising.

For companies looking to diversify their workforce, restructuring the hiring process is a significant first step. From there, businesses must make an effort to create a work culture that supports diverse voices and open discussion. For CEO Chris Savage at Wistia, that includes monthly events organized by employee resource groups to encourage empathy and inclusivity. Savage said, “It’s really important for us to have an environment where people feel comfortable being themselves at work.”

And in some cases, that means an environment where people feel comfortable leaving work as well. Last September, Wistia announced it was extending parental leave to 16 weeks for all new parents, eliminating the need to distinguish between primary and secondary caregivers. 

Wistia’s video platform helps businesses build brand identity with binge-worthy video content. Their mission includes building more useful, inclusive and impactful products and experiences — values that are reflected in their company culture.  Savage shared what Wistia does to promote diversity and inclusivity in the office. From employee resource groups to a lactation pod for new mothers, here’s what he had to say.

 

wistia
wistia

Diversity is important, but it’s only the first step. What actions does your team and/or leaders take to ensure all your employees have the support they need to thrive?

We have monthly events coordinated and run by our employee resource groups designed to help encourage empathy and inclusivity. It’s really important for us to have an environment where people feel comfortable being themselves at work. We are constantly working to educate our team and mitigate bias from recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, feedback mechanisms, promotions and recognition to ensure people have an equal chance to work and develop their careers. 

Our policies are designed to be inclusive to everyone. We have 16 paid weeks off for mothers and fathers, 3 percent of 401(k) matching regardless of contributions, and flexible and remote working arrangements to support people’s lives outside of work. 

We have an inclusive operating system. Everyone understands how and when goals and budgets are set. We encourage sharing and learning across the business to democratize knowledge, and we audit compensation and feedback to make sure that everyone is compensated fairly and equitably across all demographics.

Adding more diversity to the team is a moot point if people don’t feel comfortable being themselves.”

 

Of these actions, what has been most impactful in creating a workplace that supports diversity?

There is no shortcut to creating a diverse and inclusive environment. That said, focusing on creating an inclusive environment as a baseline has been incredibly important as a foundation. Adding more diversity to the team is a moot point if people don’t feel comfortable being themselves and don’t feel the same opportunity to thrive.

There is no shortcut to creating a diverse and inclusive environment.”

 

What physical aspects of your office are designed to support a diverse team? 

 Our team provides us feedback on how we can be more inclusive in our new and future spaces. Last year, we purchased a Mamava pod for new mothers to create a better overall experience. As we’re building out our new office, we’re trying to keep in mind accessibility for those with mobility challenges, so we’ve located most of our community spaces on the first floor. 

Our current office is fairly open and loud, so we’re incorporating feedback on how to make the acoustics better overall. We’ve also broken up the office into different types of spaces to accommodate different work styles. We know some people will gravitate to couches and shared spaces in the open areas, but we’ve also tried to create more quiet nooks and huddle rooms for those who prefer quieter places with fewer visual and auditory distractions. 

Lastly, our team thought it was important to have gender-neutral, single-occupancy bathrooms in our new space so nobody needs to feel anxious about the restrooms.

 

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