How our Vice President of Finance Technology and Operations Akshay Srivastava helps build inclusiveness and achieve meaningful outcomes at RingCentral
Inclusive workplaces don’t just happen. Enmeshing diversity and belonging into a company’s culture takes effort along with a commitment and willingness for leaders to actively engage and support others. We asked Akshay Srivastava to share a few thoughts on how diversity strengthens a company’s culture, how he creates belonging for his team, and how to turn allyship into action every day. Here’s what he had to say.
Akshay believes that a leader’s job is to create an environment where team members can do their best work. This is more true than ever in today’s remote-work world. The focus continues to be on results. We all bring different skills and perspectives to the table – there is no one right way to think about the problems or solutions. As a leader, he believes his job is to ensure that everyone can speak up, share ideas, and be heard.
Akshay believes the first rule of inclusive hiring is to put a passion for the work above all else and to be aware of any unconscious biases that may creep in:
“In our team, we have one thing in common, which is— we all care very deeply about the work that we do. Even if we work in different areas, what binds people together in an organization before anything else, is a common passion to solve problems and accomplish business goals.”
When looking for a team fit, Akshay says potential and a growth mindset takes precedence over pedigree:
“We look for people who are hungry to prove themselves. People who take great personal accountability for their work as opposed to what school they went to or how many degrees they have. We look for relevant experience but not an exact experience. We always want people who have done something relevant and are able to grow into the job. Having a growth mindset accelerates the learning trajectory.”
Akshay, who has three women leaders on his direct staff, says:
“An ally may not be a member of an underrepresented group but a person who takes action to support that group. We follow the 80/20 rule on the team: at least 80% of the time, it’s the team’s ideas that we execute on not mine. When you take that level of input from the team, they automatically feel included and engaged in what we’re doing.”
Bringing a diverse set of ideas to life means putting active listening first.
“I speak to my direct reports on a daily basis. Not to get status updates but to continually align on our strategy and the bigger picture of the work at hand. We also partner on removing roadblocks. So it’s high-touch, low-control leadership.”
Akshay believes the inspiration for an open, empowered, and inclusive approach to management starts at the top.
“Vlad was named one of the 10 Best CEO’s for Diversity because he actually lives those ideals as opposed to talking about them. I think he practices inclusion and meritocracy by finding the right talent and empowering them to execute. I think this is how an inclusive culture takes shape for us. When people see Vlad, Mitesh, Vaibhav, Anand, Kira, John, and others operating with a focus on results and without bias, that attitude spreads throughout the company. I think that’s reflected in the high level of diversity we have today.”
Akshay believes that lots of companies talk about diversity and inclusion but RingCentral walks the walk. He thinks that RingCentral actually puts those values into action and it’s driving the company’s meteoric growth.
“In the industry today, we see so much effort going into talking about diversity and inclusion when really what companies need to do is actually practice it. Mitesh, Vlad, and my manager Vaibhav, they model it every day. I see all these LinkedIn articles about diversity and inclusion and companies are trying so hard in this area. RingCentral has been operating that way, and getting recognition, and business outcomes.”
RingCentral creates an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work. Akshay thinks that is how you build a culture that allows for varied perspectives that deliver results.
“I think it’s virtually impossible that people with a passion to deliver great outcomes come from any one particular gender or race. We will always deliver better in a diverse environment where you have different voices contributing.”
Originally published Aug 06, 2020, updated Apr 23, 2021