I’m a Chief People Officer but first and foremost, I’m a very single mother to an amazing bi-racial teenage son so I have always had a clear personal mandate; to build companies that cater to my needs as an employee and companies he could work for that would make me happy and proud. It definitely helps to have this strong internal compass to drive for inclusion.
At Board of Innovation, we tripled in size from the start of the pandemic to now, we are already considerably more diverse (now majority female). We got much larger and more diverse largely because the shift to remote first drove company-wide conversations about the quality of work that weren’t related to outdated notions of presenteeism or proximity bias (who you hang out with).
We have established quotas and recruitment processes to drive diversity but, more importantly, we are laser-focused on inclusion, what it really means for us and the people who work here.
All our internal processes are optimized for a remote first way of working. We didn’t create complicated administrative systems or beef up our back office but instead invested in creating career paths, coaching and performance management that are location agnostic.
We have built an innovation tool stack to work in timezones not geographies, supporting asynchronous collaboration and optimizing for remote in every meeting – even when some of us are in the same office (it’s weird but it works) This all drives more objective conversations around career progression that are focused on capability, strategic alignment and motivation rather than proximity, presence and cultural bias.
Our approach to inclusion is based firmly in learning and understanding. We leverage our tech stack to support team building and informal collaboration. We organize regular sessions – called #thisisme, in which colleagues can share more about who they are and what drives them. Recent ones have been from colleagues in Ukraine – including about what it’s like to live and innovate in wartime and the Philippines, and the context of rural underdevelopment.
Our shift to a majority-female organization has led to insights and innovations that almost certainly would not have been generated or prioritized otherwise. For instance, we’ve supported leading personal care manufacturers in the development of products designed specifically for women. We also worked with Nestle to introduce BeBloom, a chocolate bar designed with natural ingredients to relieve menstrual symptoms; easing cramps and promoting relaxation.
We’re not quite there yet but every day we get closer to being a company we would all want our children to work for.