Our Voices series this year spanned an incredible range of topics. From celebrating Pride month to discussing anti-ableism, our veterans, stereotypes, race and the importance of mental health, we touched on a wide variety of subjects that are close to our heart, and truly represent the culture that we have worked so hard to foster.
As we close out 2021, we wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and get some comments from our employees about what resonated for them. One of the biggest changes for us as an organization was undoubtedly the acquisition of NetMotion by Absolute Software in July. Since then, as we’ve become one company, we are thrilled to see that Absolute has its own strong pillars supporting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, in addition to CSR initiatives and employee programs at a level that simply wasn’t possible for us as a smaller company.
More on that later. For now, though, let’s take a brief look back at 2021.
Our goal with the Voices series was to start conversations. We wanted to celebrate our differences and diverse backgrounds. From a workplace perspective, a central theme that we’ve touched upon several times throughout the year has been about encouraging employees to bring their whole selves to work, and what that means in practice.
This was especially true for our posts about mental health and Pride, where many people may feel the need to conform and not want to be ‘seen.’ By creating a safe space where employees are free to discuss issues that they are passionate about or things that affect them, we wanted our readers to feel informed. We also wanted them to feel welcome to start conversations of their own.
All of that ties into another thread that we often repeated this year – the fact that we’re not where we want to be with respect to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We can point a finger at society as a whole, but it’s important to realize that as a group of individuals within an organization there is a lot that we can still do to improve DEI for everyone. For me, this challenge seemed most obvious during our ‘gender gap’ and ‘navigating stereotypes’ conversations. While we are proud to have come a long way, we also must acknowledge that we still have a long way to go. Again, we can see signs of positive change within our society, but many women still encounter wage gaps, no matter their background, while others face microaggressions based on nothing more than gender or race.
This may sound obvious, but one of the big takeaways from our Voices series this year has been the realization of how important the human connection is, especially now that so many of us are working from home. By purposely inviting people from different teams who didn’t normally have a chance to interact, we sparked some very interesting conversations that helped enrich our discussions exponentially. Even from an HR point of view, we’ve noticed candidates mention that they enjoyed reading Voices to get a glimpse of what our culture might be like. (Shameless plug, but if you are looking for a new role you can find our careers page here)
But what did our employees think? From the outset Voices was a little bit experimental. We ended 2020 knowing that we wanted to create some new content that spoke about ‘us’ in a very real way. We weren’t sure whether the topics would resonate, whether people would read the content or even if we could get employees to participate. Fortunately, those worries were quickly put to rest.
Let’s hear from some of our employees:
“We have a fantastic culture. It is something that I’m genuinely proud of. We have shown care to minorities, to veterans, to people with disabilities… Another thing I saw is the importance of listening and respecting other people’s voices. As a participant, too, I liked the way the actual conversation was brought to the forefront and was left unfiltered. It never felt like things were scripted or non-authentic.”Eddy Kuo, APAC corporate sales
Another one of our employees, Jim Simpkins, software engineer, sent us this feedback:
“Voices articles are always thought provoking, enlightening, and educational. I learned something new with each one. For example, I now know more about “ableism,” and that it is a negative term because it refers to the discrimination and social prejudice towards people with disabilities.” Jim Simpkins, software engineer
Mirriam Williams, senior security compliance specialist, joined us for our discussion about stereotypes, and had some valuable comments.
“I learned that everyone has a story, and all of those stories deserve to be heard. No one group has a monopoly on discrimination, achievements and feeling that they are not understood. I loved the series because I got a newfound respect for the people I work with. It’s not about pushing the boundaries, but rather asking the hard questions and giving us the space to answer them honestly and without judgement.”Mirriam Williams, senior security compliance specialist
Being a global organization, it was also very rewarding to have responses from members of our international team.
“It’s amazing to think how close IT has brought us – we are in an era where we can easily connect with people on the other side of the globe at any time. Instead of being stuck in one way of thinking, it’s so important for everyone to be exposed to other ideas and cultures. Voices gave me a great opportunity to hear about different backgrounds and perspectives from our colleagues around the world.” Naoto Nishida, corporate sales
Other comments that we received included ones like:
“I loved Voices. It was so fun to be a part of, to read about, and to learn about my peers. I was so impressed with people’s input and experiences. I loved how it made us look to the outside world as well. It’s important that we are having these discussions along with also making really great software. It made me feel very proud of our company.”
“I am thankful for the conversations and the thought. Some of it was uncomfortable, but we need to have some discomfort in order to grow.”
So, what’s in store for us next? As I mentioned earlier, we are now Absolute. Turning our attention to 2022, we want to keep having these conversations and sparking these discussions on the Absolute blog in the new year. As part of a larger organization, we have a much bigger footprint with even more topics to discuss.
If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we may all be different with different experiences and backgrounds, but we all want to be heard. Stay tuned!