Thoughts and Observations: Me Too, For All and the Great Road to Equality in the Workplace


Host Julian Lute, Organizational Culture Consultant for Great Place to Work®

Diversity is being invited to the party.  Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

-Verna Meyers

It’s been a couple of weeks since I attended my favorite annual gathering of global business innovators, and I’m still feeling energized by thought provoking ideas on how to make a positive impact on people in the workplace.

Last fall, I wrote about what I learned from and my keen interest in Great Place to Work®, arguably the industry leader in workplace transformation.  For almost 30 years, GPTW has been showing companies across the globe how to create workplaces that maximize human potential and foster improved productivity. This year in San Francisco at the Great Place to Work® For All™ 2018 Summit, in conjunction with their latest book release, the organization shared its exciting new mission to build a better world by helping organizations create Great Places to Work For All. And, they armed Summit attendees with plenty of useful information on how to make it happen.

In his opening keynote address, CEO Michael C. Bush emphatically called on leaders to build  a Great Place to Work For All—that is, one where all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the company, are treated equitably.

He shared that this work is not just good for employees—it’s good for business, too. As shown in the graph below, drawn from A Great Place to Work For All, the  companies where employees report the most consistently positive work experience across employee groups have more than twice the median revenue growth than those that are less inclusive.

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 8.59.41 PM

Over the next two days, thought leaders shared their realizations, confessed their missteps and explained how they improved conditions within their own workplaces during Fireside Chats. For example, Tim Ryan, US Chairman and Senior Partner of PWC explained that updating the PwC dress code to finally allow jeans was his way of signaling leadership trust in employees around the globe, and identified the move as a deliberate small step toward strengthening trust within his company.  Arianna Huffington, CEO and Founder of Thrive Global remarked that placing the employee experience at the core of employee engagement and well-being is essential to building a workplace led by purpose. Aneel Bhusri, Co-Founder and CEO of Workday advised that experience has taught him that high performers who aren’t cultural fits in an organization have got to go, because they do harm to the rest of the staff.  He also pointed out that the removal of this kind of influence sends a very powerful message to employees about company values.  And, many agreed that the Me Too Movement provided a power burst and renewed sense of urgency to the drive for greater equality in the workplace.

Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer of Salesforce delivers the Summit’s Closing Keynote

The Summit drew to an end with a powerful closing keynote by Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer of the #1 FORTUNE 100 Best Company to Work For this year, Salesforce. Tony shared that Salesforce is positioned to serve a higher purpose: leading the drive toward an Age of Equality, not only in the U.S. but globally.

The notion that equality begins at home can be exemplified in the way Salesforce has built its company culture. Based on the principle of family, the mission of the Salesforce Ohana is to fully embrace people of all ethnicities, sexualities and beliefs.  Its commitment to leadership via a culture of equality is evidenced by the steps senior management has already taken to correct gender pay and opportunity gaps—having already spent $6 million to do so.  Salesforce’s strategy for workplace equality perfectly illustrates how For All leadership directly leads to organizational success on so many measurable levels.

As the lights went up and I walked toward the exit for my journey home, I realized what a great opportunity it is to be a part of these transitional times. I also couldn’t help but think about the wise words of Michael C. Bush: “Diversity is more than policies, programs and headcounts.  True diversity means valuing, respecting and including all people no matter who they are or what they do for the organization.”  That this is true I believe with all my heart, and am committed to doing my part to usher in a world of equality For All.

©2018 Lisa Ihnken All Rights Reserved, except where noted

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s