Building and maintaining a diverse, eclectic company culture like RingCentral’s demands a collective realization that diversity is an ongoing effort—one that doesn’t have a finish line. But ongoing efforts have a way of becoming everyday ones; looking for the same people in the same places, with diminishing returns over time. Employee Experience Business Partner Jonathan Evans shares some innovative thoughts on how to keep an inclusive culture vibrant, including a few tips on building connections in places others may not think to look.
When it comes to building community, Evans finds RingCentral’s Employee Resource Groups invaluable – and he’s not alone:
“I became a member of the Black Employees at RingCentral (Employee Resource Group) very early in my tenure. Obviously over the past several months, as the optics of what’s going on in the world are more focused on the Black experience, our Employee Resource Group has exploded in popularity and visibility, growing from 60 members to over 100 in a very short period of time.”
Rapid growth can be an organizational challenge. But Evans thinks the ERGs are not only handling it well, but using their voices to create meaningful change.
“(Our members) want to feel like (they) are being productive members of the community and the organization, adding value. On the organization’s side, just looking at where we are as a society right now, there’s naturally more focus on ensuring that the experience for the Black employees is positive. We’re being involved in more things than I think we were before. I think it’s a great time to be any employee at RingCentral, but right now I think it’s a really great time for Black employees to be seen and heard.”
Being able to bring your whole self to work means you’re able to bring all your strengths to bear for the organization. Seems elementary, but according to Evans, it’s still appreciated.
“(As a gay man,) I’m also a member of The Rainbow Room Employee Resource Group. That’s a part of who I am I felt comfortable enough to bring to work on day one. I am incredibly appreciative of the fact that it was made clear to me very early on that it was okay to not have a heteronormative way of life within the RingCentral community. That was very important for me — I’m a little too old to hide who I am at this point.”
Employees experience a company’s culture before they even start work. That matters to Evans.
“I got a very good vibe from the environment when I came for my on-site interviews. By nature I’m very observant of what’s going on around me, and the diversity characteristics that I was able to see just on the surface level immediately made me comfortable. Obviously I did my research before embarking upon the interview process, but what I saw and heard in person; all the conversation about the family feel and the culture…I knew that who I am wasn’t going to be a problem.”
A diverse, inclusive culture requires care and feeding. Evans thinks RingCentral has more work to do—and some innovative ideas on how to do it.
“I think we could do a better job at how we approach on-campus networks. Let’s say you go on campus and you find some outstanding young woman who is just growing in her career. The question we need to ask is—does she have a network? A sorority sister or somebody that was an underclassman one or two years below her who’s going to graduate soon? That’s how you build a referral base — because if I’m a recent graduate I’ve been going to school for years with people who are a year or two behind me, and I know the quality of their character. I’ve had classes with them. I’ve seen them in organizations. I’ve seen them as leaders on campus. So those networks not only grow our referral base and increase diversity, but they keep us top-of-mind on that campus. When that starts to spread, and it becomes an idea that others can aspire to, we’re starting to build something.”
Today, Evans is using his voice to help Black and LGBTQ+ employees be heard…and start some good trouble.
“Recently, a publicist trying to engage organizations for diversity and inclusion efforts reached out to me via a Facebook group I’m a part of. Well, it turns out that her client is Erika Alexander, who played Maxine Shaw on Living Single. Erika’s media company just producted the John Lewis documentary, (John Lewis: Good Trouble,) and through her, we’ve been able to arrange a private screening for RingCentral employees. It’s an important tool for educating people, and having the chance to share this film is something I’m really proud of.”
When everyone in an organization is empowered to participate, the organization is stronger, more vibrant and more innovative. Jonathan Evans is using the power of connection to help every voice be heard. That’s what #workingtogether is all about.