It’s an understatement to say I’m a fan of the musical “Hamilton.” I saw it for the first time on Broadway in 2015, and I’ve seen it live three more times since then. The story of an ambitious, scrappy immigrant who earned his place in history during the founding of the United States took on even more resonance this past year, as quotes from the Broadway hit became rallying cries at protests for the social justice movement. Lyrics such as these appeared on handmade posters:
“This is not a moment. It’s the movement.”
If I could adopt a rallying cry for the year ahead, that would be it. When viewed through the lens of belonging and diversity (B&D), all of the crises we’ve endured—from the global pandemic to the social justice movement to economic turmoil and uncertainty—have caused disproportionate hardship for our Black and Brown communities. Our marching orders now are to turn the frustration and inequity of these moments into a sustained movement that creates lasting change.
Yet, how can we achieve lasting change for everyone who has faced hardship because of their skin color, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, nationality, or other important aspects of their identity? How can we ensure our workplaces are inclusive and welcoming to everyone? Here are some of my thoughts.
When we made the shift from working in an office to working remotely, that change happened quickly. But progress in the area of B&D can sometimes feel slow. As we all work to drive change globally at Workday, I’m acutely aware of three things to keep top of mind:
Lasting change takes time. I’ve shared our ambitious company commitments with you, but we know we’ll need until 2023 to achieve some of them. For example, we want the makeup of our company to better reflect the makeup of our society, but addressing this imbalance isn’t a quick fix. And, while the pace of change may sometimes feel discouraging, we have to continue to push through, learn from our mistakes, and move forward.
Change requires accountability. It can’t be the job of just one person, whether that’s me or another Workmate, or of a specific team. We all need to ask ourselves, “What work am I doing that can contribute not only right now, but on an ongoing basis?”
Change is big. And small. We need to think about the impact of the changes each of us can make in our day-to-day lives to move the needle. That’s vital. But we also need to think big, and examine the entire system we operate in. From a company perspective, that includes the entire employee life cycle, from attracting talent to examining why people leave. For example, to feel like they belong, all Workmates should feel a sense of inclusion. We must empower our workforce, providing opportunities for advancement and growth for all. And, we must strive to partner with organizations that share our values.
The Progress We’ve Made
We’ve made substantial progress since I joined Workday just over three years ago, and I’m especially proud of our accomplishments in 2020. All of them are rooted in VIBETM (Value Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity), which is Workday’s approach to B&D. VIBE makes us stronger as a company, connecting us to our purpose, our core values, and our culture, and it helps unite us. It’s an approach that drives more long-term systemic change, in part because it’s about being in a learning mindset: gathering and examining data, gleaning insights, and sharing experiences, enabling us to learn from each other and identify our opportunities for improvement.
VIBE is already embedded in many programs and activities we’ve launched for our Workmates, and we’ve continued and increased our commitment to working with our customers, partners, and communities to spread our VIBE approach. For our customers, we launched two new offerings in the fall, VIBE Index and VIBE Central, to help leaders advance B&D initiatives in their own organizations and embody VIBE. Early response has been extremely positive, and more than 200 customers have attended our VIBE Central workshops.
We’re rallying Workmates to get involved, and new training and educational opportunities are part of that effort. Launching early this year for all Workmates, our new VIBE learning series will include live and on-demand training and resources to help us all gain a deeper understanding of what VIBE is and how to put it into action.
In the months to come, we’ll have much more to announce about the progress and tangible results from our core B&D team and the Accelerator team we formed last year.