Guest Post: How Tech Companies can Build a Culture of Diversity
In this guest post, i2Coalition Co-Founder and cPanel General Counsel David Snead and cPanel Documentation Manager Jennifer Doubrava explain how cPanel uses culture, community, and concern as three guideposts for their diversity strategy.
Since it was founded in 1997, cPanel has embraced the importance of inclusion and diversity in our business. Inclusion and diversity is not an end goal, though: it’s a path. While we continue on this path, we thought it might help provide some insight into the accomplishments and lessons we’ve learned along the way and how we can do better.
Our path includes culture, community, and concern.
Everyone at cPanel is encouraged to bring their genuine self to work every day. Being your authentic self can start small: dressing the way you want. There are no expectations around how you express yourself through what you wear. While this aspect of our culture may seem trivial, it leads to a broader understanding of ourselves and facilitates dialogue. A conversation about discomfort felt about a person’s manner of dressing may lead to a greater understanding of that individual and their life.
Facilitating a dialogue about individual circumstances is the job of everyone at the company, but it starts with managers. Managers are supported and trained to help teams navigate issues that may arise in a diverse culture. These are not pushed under the rug or simply made the province of the legal or HR departments. This dialogue is facilitated and encouraged. Doing so moves the company along the path of understanding what diversity and inclusion means, making the path clearer and easier to choose.
For years cPanel has supported the Internet infrastructure community by participating, promoting, and providing financial sponsorship to industry events. cPanel was the first company in the Internet infrastructure industry to include diversity networking in its conference programming. The company partnered with the I2Coalition to sponsor and strengthen diversity programming at industry events. Providing support and community reinforces our cultural commitment to diversity and inclusion.
And this embrace of diversity shouldn’t be limited to a diversity or “women in tech” panel. We need to make sure there are diverse voices present in programming whether it’s a technical or a business subject. At our 2019 WebPros Summit, we were commitmented to including speakers who reflect our company’s diversity. Our goal is that at future gatherings and conferences we lead, our programming will continue to reflect this commitment. Drawing attention to the many diverse voices in our industry helps show there are people with different backgrounds doing amazing things.
We also ask for feedback whenever possible. Our goals should always be moving forward and we want to continue to listen to feedback to make the most of each opportunity to foster diversity and inclusion.
Our commitment to culture and community is reinforced by concern. By concern, we include not only empathy and training, but also appropriate enforcement. The company trains employees each year on its anti-harassment and bullying policies and requires additional training for managers. We’ve reinforced our concern about this issue by withholding financial support for conferences that refuse or are reluctant to create anti-harassment and bullying policies. We have enforced our own conference’s policies. While the company anticipates a future where those actions are not required, we believe policies help ensure that all voices are heard and that an opening and welcome culture becomes the norm.
We can Always do Better as Companies and as an Industry
Our team is diverse and we’ve done a lot of work to amplify diverse voices. But we need to provide additional pathways for employee advancement. Discussions about how to create these pathways are taking place from our leadership team and throughout our organization. Our discussions are guided by a commitment to the power of metrics to drive change and accountability in an organization.
Providing pathways to advancement and desired opportunities are only as good as our employee support. We’re currently thinking about how our Employee Experience Department works. This thinking includes providing diversity and inclusion support to employees. We’re committed to supporting employees whose career paths and experiences may not be traditional by hiring based on qualifications and experiences in addition to education.
Just as engineers improve systems through iteration and discover new methodologies, we can always look for new ways to build diversity and inclusion into what we do. And we can use culture, community, and concern to guide us.