‘Diversity Is When Everyone Is Invited to the Party. Belonging Is When Everyone Feels Safe Dancing.’

August 25, 2020
CircleCI
CircleCI

Companies touting their inclusive environments often say they want employees to bring their “whole selves” to work. But without concrete policies ensuring their holistic safety, employees may not feel comfortable doing so. 

In order for employees to feel truly accepted, companies must show they can see how the unique intersections of employees’ multiple identities outside the office show up inside the office, too. 

Global payment facilitator Flywire does this by hosting allyship trainings for all of its employees, regardless of their background, so they can see their own privileges. The company’s women’s affinity group also partnered with a nonprofit to encourage employees who are parents to read children’s books that provoke thinking about racial privilege and bias among their own kids.

Meanwhile, the continuous integration and delivery SaaS platform CircleCI sees the diversity of its employees and customers as an asset to its business goals. The company actively seeks to bring differing viewpoints into its decision-making, starting with an equitable hiring process with carefully chosen questions and interview panelists that reflect CircleCI’s diversity. 

CircleCI has also taken the critical step of expanding its DEI task force to include the “equally important” value of belonging. 

Chief Revenue Officer Jane Kim told Built In Boston that CircleCI is proud to be “the first in the CI/CD space” to offer fully-compensated paid leave for employees recovering from transition-related medical procedures, as a show of support for the company’s transgender colleagues.

“I think DEI can capture your head, but belonging captures your heart,” Kim said.

Jane Kim
Chief Revenue Officer

The Boston office of CircleCI currently employs 15 people, with another 275 other employees spread out between physical offices in London, Tokyo, Toronto, Denver and the headquarters in San Francisco. Many employees work remotely in other cities as well.

With so many employees distributed across five continents, it can be hard to foster inclusivity and belonging, but CircleCI cements its values via actions like the aforementioned healthcare policy for transgender employees.

“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 at CircleCI,” Chief Revenue Officer Jane Kim said.

 

Supporting diversity and inclusion starts with recruiting but carries over into every part of an employee’s day-to-day life. How does your company think about supporting D&I throughout the employee lifecycle? 

CircleCI keeps diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging top of mind in everything we do, starting with our hiring process. We have structured interview questions for every job opening to ensure we are fair in how we interview candidates and assess their answers, and make sure our interview panels reflect our diverse employee base. We want to level the playing field for all candidates, no matter their background. 

We also have two employee resource groups (ERGs), CircleSHEi and Queersphere, that serve as safe spaces for those who identify as women or part of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. These groups meet regularly to discuss their individual needs, and what the company can do to better meet their needs. We also empower anyone in the company to start an ERG of their own. 

To ensure CircleCI is creating a long-term and sustainable impact within our industry, we’ve also formed a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) task force, which includes team members across the organization working together with diverse representation from all levels of the CircleCI team. This task force leads strategy, implementation and measurement of our long-term DEI goals.

 

What has been the most impactful action your company has taken to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment for ALL employees, and why?

CircleCI encourages everyone to bring their whole selves to work. Inclusivity, demonstrating trust and respect, and making sure everyone has the tools and support they need are all key tenets of our culture. 

For example, CircleCI recently rolled out a new healthcare policy for our transgender employees. In a first for companies in the CI/CD space, CircleCI is proud to offer fully-compensated paid leave for employees recovering from transition-related medical procedures. This policy is an extremely important addition to CircleCI’s 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 at CircleCI. This is certainly a milestone we are proud of, and one of many examples of CircleCI’s dedication to the well-being of all employees.

 

What role do your employees play in leading and/or supporting DEI efforts? And what have you done to ensure even the most marginalized voices on your team are represented, heard, valued and respected?

At CircleCI, we seek to build a community that is diverse in background, identity and perspective, where everyone is treated fairly and given equal opportunities, across all levels of the company. As part of this, we recently expanded our DEI task force to include an equally important value: belonging. I think DEI can capture your head, but belonging captures your heart.

CircleCI's DEIB analogy:

  • Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party.
  • Equity means everyone gets to contribute to the playlist.
  • Inclusion means everyone has the opportunity to dance.
  • Belonging is when everyone feels safe dancing, and not at risk of embarrassment or rejection.

We’ve conducted focused discussion groups with 35 volunteers across all departments and regions to gather insights on what DEIB should mean at CircleCI, what we’re doing well and what we can improve, and what we want to see from the company in the next 6-12 months. 

 

Jess Motyl-Szary
Manager, Global Solutions Consulting

Founded by an international college student in 2011 originally as a way to make global tuition payments more transparent and safe, Flywire now employs 475 employees around the world and ensures that large international transactions for organizations — from education institutions to hospitals and software companies — are delivered quickly and seamlessly. 

The Boston-based fintech company understands the importance of inclusivity and intersectionality for people from varying communities. Among other initiatives, Flywire hosts a monthly allyship training program which teaches employees “the importance of seeing your privilege even when you may lack it in some areas,” Global Solutions Consulting Manager Jess Motyl-Szary said.

The training and education doesn’t stop with Flywire’s employees. The Women of Flywire affinity group has partnered with the nonprofit Brown Kids Read to encourage employees who are parents to help their children read books featuring people of color and think about racial privilege and bias.

 

How does your company approach intersectionality in the workplace, and how does that help shape your broader DEI initiatives?

Flywire has both an overall diversity, equity and inclusion committee called FlyMates First, as well as affinity groups for women and the LGBTQIAA+ community. 

FlyMates First focuses on intersectionality through initiatives such as an ally training program on the importance of seeing your privilege even when you may lack it in some areas. The committee also hosts open forums where we discuss timely issues about discrimination, like Black Lives Matter and discrimination against Asians during COVID-19.

Women of Flywire and Flywire Pride, our affinity groups, also include the intersections within their communities. Women of Flywire has partnered with Brown Kids Read to encourage employees who are parents to help their children think about racial privilege and bias. Our Flywire Pride group hosted a virtual gathering to attend Global Pride together, which provided insights into the international LGBTQIAA+ community.

 

What has been the most impactful action your company has taken to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment for ALL employees, and why? 

Our most impactful action has been hosting a monthly allyship training. This training teaches FlyMates the basics of being an ally and pushes them to find ways they can improve, along with how the company can be more inclusive of marginalized people. 

 

What role do your employees play in leading and/or supporting DEI efforts? 

The FlyMates First Committee is an employee-run, international committee of FlyMates who are passionate about advancing DEI at Flywire. The committee identifies educational needs and areas where the business can improve, and then collaborates with stakeholders from various departments to advance these specific initiatives. One way we ensure employees from marginalized communities are represented and heard is by inviting them to our series of open forums on pertinent topics like women’s equality. 

 

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