Designing an Virtual Effective Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programming for a Remote-First, Multi-National Team
Our Client: RStudio, PBC
Locations: Boston, MA; Remote
Challenges: Seeking a partner to help nurture and support meaningful conversations around DEI
Jen Hecht is the VP of People Operations at RStudio, PBC. RStudio provides free and open source tools for R and enterprise-ready professional software for data science teams to develop and share their work at scale.
Why did you initially reach out to SGO?
I first heard about SGO back in 2015, and began attending meetups in Boston as a way to meet other local women in tech. As someone who tends to avoid more traditional ‘networking events,’ SGO was such a welcome relief — imagine, a whole room filled with smart, interesting women who felt the same way I did! Having had such a welcoming and supportive experience as a member, I was thrilled to see SGO evolve further into DEI consulting and training work over the past few years. When I joined RStudio in 2018, and began seeking a partner to help cultivate meaningful conversations about inclusion and diversity within the company, SGO felt like the perfect fit for our values, our culture, and our team.
What was your experience like?
Honestly, it was fun! Going in, I had a lot of confidence in the quality of SGO’s overall content and approach, as I know that there is a lot of research behind their work, and I had seen first-hand at SGO meetups how warm and engaging Felicia and Rachel are as facilitators. I knew they would be effective with a team filled with many quiet, technically-minded people. The biggest challenge for us was designing sessions to accommodate our remote-first, multi-national team. The SGO team was amazingly open and flexible on the logistics — at the time, most of their corporate trainings were being done in an in-person format, but they were willing to experiment with virtual, video-enabled sessions, scheduled in three different time slots to accommodate employees across the US, Canada, and Europe. Ultimately, we were able to deliver highly interactive, quality training for close to 150 remote employees over the course of 3 days. The feedback from the team was great — we are looking forward to hosting our SGO friends again soon!
How has our service made an impact on you/your company?
I see our work with SGO as a starting point for ongoing learning and discussion on DEI topics within the company. I am very fortunate to work with a team who is both engaged and committed to maintaining an inclusive and equitable culture as we grow and evolve. The training SGO provided on unconscious bias and allyship gave our team a solid, shared foundation for our ongoing efforts in this area. As a B Corp, we operate our business with the interests of our employees and our community in mind. By continuously improving our DEI impact, we will benefit the people and constituencies who have the biggest stakes in our success.
“We were able to deliver highly interactive, quality training for close to 150 remote employees over the course of 3 days. The feedback from the team was great — we are looking forward to hosting our SGO friends again soon!”Jennifer Hecht, VP of People Operations at RStudio, PBC
What advice would you give to other organizations who may be struggling to support their teams and keep DEI at the forefront right now?
We are fortunate in these times to be a remote-first company, within an industry that is less directly impacted by COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders. While we have certainly had to make some adjustments, such as canceling business travel and pausing most of our hiring, much of our internal pandemic response has been focused on making sure our team feels connected and reassured, and that our leaders are as visible and available as possible. We’ve added a few new casual (and optional) team meetings to the calendar, which has been helpful as a stress-buster — at least for me. Whether it’s a virtual game night, or just a chance to catch up and swap stories, the additional time spent talking and laughing with each other has made a big difference for us.
One of the things I have been reminded of daily during this pandemic is that it is dangerous to make assumptions about others, and the circumstances they may be grappling with on a personal level. As one of my colleagues said to me recently, we are all on the same ride, but different hills. There are many flavors of pandemic-related stress happening within the team, and the specifics of each person’s identity, family and cultural background, relationship and caregiver status, geography, living arrangements, and health deeply affect how the current crisis is experienced by each person. It’s more important than ever to appreciate colleagues as unique individuals — to listen carefully, without judgement; to ask questions respectfully; and to practice empathy with one another as we work through this challenging time together. The skills we need to collaborate and thrive as a team through this pandemic will serve us in our longer-term DEI goals as well.
“We were able to deliver highly interactive, quality training for close to 150 remote employees over the course of 3 days. The feedback from the team was great — we are looking forward to hosting our SGO friends again soon!”
At She+ Geeks Out we’re helping businesses embrace a path of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Contact us to bring dynamic, interactive training to your company!