Some of the specific actions we took at Mariana included:
- Defining Culture. We created – and institutionalized – our mission and values that focused on diversity and the qualities that diversity breeds. Those became the cornerstone of our culture.
- Sourcing candidates. We hired search firms with a strong track record placing diverse candidates. We leaned heavily on our colleagues to drive referrals, knowing they would refer people who shared our value system. We were creative about discovering other sources of talent – meet-ups, universities, professional organizations.
- Interviewing/Assessing candidates. We started the interview process with a culture interview to determine if the candidate possessed the values we cherish. It was important to do that at the beginning of the interview process so as not to waste anybody’s time hiring the wrong employee. We also included peer interviews – another critical check in the process. If team members had serious reservations about hiring a candidate – and for reasons that could be explained – it would have been unconscionable to hire that person and make our colleagues uncomfortable.
- Including values assessments in reviews. For our values to have teeth beyond the hiring process, we had to make sure that people were accountable to them.
- Encouraging anonymous questions at team meetings. We used a tool to make it safe for people to ask hard questions to the management team. And it was used! As CEO, sometimes it wasn’t fun to get those questions, but we never failed to answer them and they made us better managers and better people.
- Being human. Everybody hits a rough patch now and then. What’s considered important or a crisis isn’t necessarily the same for everybody. We listened. We heard. And we were flexible with the rules when appropriate.
- Walking the walk. We worked on inclusivity all the time. We encouraged shy people to find their voice in a way that was comfortable for them. We supported each other’s charities. We made sure that menus at company events reflected everybody’s needs. We were there for each other.