3 Ways to Cultivate an Inclusive Community

by Jennifer Tejada March 8, 2018 | 12 min read

Do you know the saying, “The fish stinks from the head?” It implies that responsibility for failure lives at the top of an organization. When businesses falter, leadership is accountable. On the flip side, successful cultures rest in the hands of company leaders. The tone is set at the top. Culture is defined by the lowest form of behavior you are willing to accept. As leaders, we not only set the targets and BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals), but also the tempo, tolerance, and limits of our organizations. In our journey to greatness, what are we unwilling to compromise? What values or principles must we not only cultivate—but also protect? True success is characterized by both the value you create and the way you go about creating it. When people are involved, which they always are, winning at all costs is not an option.

As a leader of high-growth cloud company, I view winning pretty simply. When our users win, we win. The only “hero culture” in our company is the collective drive to make our users and our customers wildly successful—heroes in the eyes of their stakeholders.

Innovating for customers in a dynamic, high-velocity, hyper-competitive market requires awesome people doing the best work in their careers at PagerDuty. For our people and our teams to thrive, we must set clear goals and define our values—in plain English—that translate to behavior. We must walk the walk, which includes calling out unacceptable behavior and making it known it is ok for anyone to report unacceptable behavior in a safe way. This is hard. It takes effort. It’s not something you do when you have time, and it needs to cascade through the entire organization and our community. One way we have walked the walk is through implementing systemic changes to ensure gender pay equity, which we achieved last year and will maintain. At PagerDuty, male and female team members are compensated equally, within 1-2 percent, job for job.

We are extremely proud of our inclusive company culture. It’s been a core tenet and asset for our business from the start. So as CEO, I know it’s critical that I and our leadership team are thoughtful, intentional, and visible in demonstrating our values in all we do. Our values are more than words on a poster—they define the way we win together, the fabric in a tapestry of ethics, integrity, equality, and inspiration for our community:

  1. Community. PagerDuty is for all people.
  2. Trust. You can count on us. We do what we say we will do.
  3. Growth. We strive for growth, in service to our users and customers, in our own personal development, and in our business, with grit, resilience, and focus.
  4. Passion. We are ALL IN. There is joy in loving what you do and who you do it for.
  5. Team. We are ONE DIVERSE TEAM. We win, fail, and learn together.

Here are three initiatives we are sharing in the hope other companies and teams can leverage our learnings to accelerate inclusion in their teams.

1. Laying the Foundation: New Employee Resource Groups and Leadership Development

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are funded, voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture aligned with the mission, values, and goals of an organization. We have recently launched the five following ERGs at PagerDuty:

  • SisterDuty. To promote an inclusive culture and professional development opportunities for women.
  • RainbowDuty. To promote a positive, collaborative, and inclusive environment for all employees—no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • PatriotDuty. To promote and build military support and presence through recruitment, internal education, and community outreach efforts.
  • MigrantDuty. To support employees who aren’t working in the country in which they were born, regardless of reason.
  • Array. To level the playing field for black/Latinx employees by cultivating and celebrating a diverse and inclusive global work environment.

These groups allow employees from traditionally underrepresented populations in the workforce and society the opportunity to be additionally supported with networks, champions, and mentors at work. Since rolling out, PagerDuty’s grassroots ERGs have already done some amazing work, including creating a range of mentoring networks and hosting a celebration brunch during Pride Week.

Additionally, we know our tireless company managers are critical to creating the right on-the-ground environment where all employees can “kill it,” flourish, grow, and transform. We believe it’s our responsibility to develop and prepare the next generation of industry leaders. We must equip them with the foundational leadership skills and knowledge to match the pace of change in the world.

To further set our teams up for success, we’ve launched new leadership, manager, and interviewer training programs to include modules that specifically touch on embracing and leveraging our differences. We have also set them up with tangible action items related to diversity and inclusion around their daily management and interviewing processes.

2. Making Diversity a Priority in Recruiting

In the past year alone, our company has opened offices in Australia and the U.K. and seen significant growth in our workforce. PagerDuty has been named a fastest-growing company by Inc. 500 and has been included in the Forbes Cloud 100 and Deloitte Fast 500 lists in both 2016 and 2017.

High growth amplifies the need for amazing talent. If we don’t focus on diversity when bringing in new people, we can’t move the needle. So we’ve launched our own version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule: put emphasis on sourcing a diverse pipeline from the moment a job is posted. We simply will not extend offers if we haven’t seen candidates from underrepresented populations in the final rounds of interviews.

We’ve also taken a unique approach with our internship program. In addition to amazing partnerships with university campus recruiting programs, we’re leveraging partnerships and hackathons with a specific focus on reaching underrepresented populations. I’m thrilled that due to our efforts, our engineering team has tripled the number of interns over the past 12 months. An internship class we held last year was comprised of 50 percent women/black/Latinx. This summer, we’ll be bringing in our own first cohort from Code2040 and will continue to look at different ways to bring fresh, diverse talent into our early-career programs.

3. “BabyDuty”: Supporting Our New Parents—an Industry-Leading Parental Leave Policy

Parents in the United States face an uphill battle when it comes to balancing work and family. In the U.S., the business world is losing an estimated $4.4 billion annually due to lost productivity and absenteeism tied to child care issues. The nation still ranks last out of 41 developed nations for its lack of a federal mandate for paid parental leave, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As a country, we need to better enable parents to thrive in their careers.

PagerDuty has made it a priority to put our money where our mouth is to support this critical movement. Our new parental leave policy is one of the most generous in our industry. We’ve set our paid U.S. parental leave allowance to 22 weeks with total job security, compared to an estimated industry average of 13-14 weeks. We also provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave for non-pregnant parents, including adoptive parents. We are incredibly proud to have made it more possible for all of our team members on “BabyDuty” to have the much-needed time off to care for and spend with their new child. 

A recent McKinsey study found that “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” At PagerDuty, our diverse and inclusive company culture has been a competitive advantage from the get-go. I’ve seen firsthand how it empowers teams, strengthens company culture, and produces tangible business results. As CEO, I am personally committed to this core pillar of our vibrant company culture and excited to see what we will continue to do to take it to the next level.

For further context, please see the message I sent out to our team for International Women’s Day. Happy Women’s Day and thank you to all the incredible women and men (you know who you are) who have helped me to be the best version of me in leading the wonderful company I am so fortunate to call home, PagerDuty.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Tonight I came home from work a little late so Samantha, our 12 year-old, and I stood together in the kitchen and ate the take-out pho my husband was kind enough to have picked up, while we walked through our daily rundown. We sent my nephew a birthday text at 12am in Michigan where he lives, and then realized we don’t have carpool covered for play-practice tomorrow. There’s an English project due Monday which apparently requires rare art supplies and we need to email Sam’s teachers to reschedule her student-led conference I will miss due to business travel. My husband was upstairs on a conference call with a client in Australia. Sam took all this in stride. She was more interested in Google’s International Women’s Day doodle. (Cool, right?)

It’s not exactly the Norman Rockwell portrait of the family dinner. But it’s our “normal,” and I suppose we have adapted over the years to our crazy schedules, learning to appreciate these simple moments when we are all together in the same city, having dinner “together,” even like this. I love my work and I love my personal life and some days I get awesomeness in both, in the same day.

Over dinner, Sam and I also discussed our plans to celebrate International Women’s Day. I will be wearing a purple dress and she is going to wear a purple scrunchie in her hair. Donuts will be involved. She learned some new information at school—that women in the US get paid 17 cents on the dollar less than men on average. I’m proud to tell her that that’s not the case at PagerDuty. That job-for-job, we have achieved gender equity within 1-2% in the last year.  

She thinks it’s “crazy town” we even have to work hard to achieve parity, and this fills me with hope and joy; Hope that she and the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders will learn from the activism and dialogue emerging today and design more inclusive, equitable cultures, companies and teams from the start; joy in knowing this is a self-sufficient young woman who has half a chance of navigating effectively through teenagery with her pragmatism, open mind, and curious nature. She will have an even better chance at equality in the workplace than we do today.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressforProgress, a call to action to stand alongside your female colleagues, teammates, friends and family in support of equity and social justice for all people, with a focus on measurable progress like equal pay. Closing the gender pay gap is a great start and we should celebrate PagerDuty’s progress – we are leading the industry by example. We are making progress towards gender equality in leadership roles, recently achieving gender balance in Engineering leadership, and towards our diversity goals with better inclusion of under-represented minorities as well. We have more work to do.

The tech industry and the US on the whole are shamefully behind other industries and countries in achieving balance and equality – more progress needs to be made faster if we aspire to innovate for good, disrupt the status quo and change the world. I am personally committed to making a dent in this challenge and I need your help. I am frequently asked, “how can I” or “how can we help?” Here are some of my favorite suggestions:

  1.     Ask someone who doesn’t look like you, what you can do to help them achieve their goals at work. Start the dialogue and listen. #empathy
  2.     Sponsor a female or under-represented person in or outside of our company. This can be as simple as making introductions to your network, referring a person into an opportunity (a speaking engagement, a networking event, a high-profile project) to recommending someone for an open role, a promotion, or an accolade.
  3.     If you see an opportunity to bring balance to a room, a team, a project – call it out and invite others. Put a plan in place and address the imbalance prior to your next meeting.
  4.     Lean in to helping others, encourage and demonstrate inclusive behavior, watch for share of voice in a room, amplify or encourage those not getting heard.
  5.     Assume good intent. We are imperfect humans. We will make mistakes. We are stronger together. Don’t be afraid to have a meeting alone with someone who is not like you. Fear breeds contempt.

As for tomorrow:

  • Wear purple for solidarity
  • Use the purple ribbon slack emoji (:iwd:)
  • Take a picture with #PressforProgress selfie cards and post to the #sisterduty channel

Thank you to SisterDuty for organizing events in both our San Francisco and Toronto offices:

Discussion Panel at 9 am PT/ 12 pm ET featuring four local women professionals

  • Roula Vrsic – CMO at Agreement Express
  • Cinzia Bazzo – Strategic Account Executive, Canada Enterprise at Salesforce
  • Cheri Mara – VP, Digital Merchandising at Indigo Books
  • Kelly Festarini – Customer Business Development New Hire Capability and Recruiting – Procter & Gamble

#YouToo: Feminism, Activism, and Allyship at 12:15 pm PT / 3:15 pm ET

Our very own Renee Lung will talk about how to be a part of positive change. What does #metoo mean, and what does it mean to change it to #youtoo?

Finally, thank you to all of the sponsors, allies and mentors who support the women in our community. Happy Women’s Day!