Last week I had two opportunities to discuss one of my greatest passions—encouraging organizational diversity. My week began in Stockholm at Internetdagarna or “Internet Days,” Sweden’s largest and most highly respected digital technology conference, focused on shaping the internet today and into the future.
There I had the opportunity to keynote a Women in Tech track where I shared my experiences as the CEO of a rapidly growing technology company, and the competitive advantage that a diverse workforce gives WP Engine.
I was pleased to share with the audience that our workforce of over 400 is made up of 26 percent women and that women comprise 30 percent of our non-executive management leadership roles and 65 percent of our senior executive management roles.
This stems from our belief that diversity in all forms – diversity of ideas, diversity of beliefs, diversity of people helps us reach out to, build innovative features for, and encourage the inclusion of the global communities that are our customers. Having a workforce that mirrors our global customer base makes us a stronger, more competitive company. And once you start down that path – it builds momentum.
I always say, “Diversity attracts diversity.” People are more likely to join an organization where they can be themselves and find people with shared values and opportunities that will challenge them. We aspire to build a company that empowers people and provides them with the environment and tools to be the best they possibly can.
We embrace people of all background, beliefs, and orientations. Thirty percent of our employees are non-white and five percent of our employees have self-identified in an anonymous survey as LGBTQ.
Across all functions and teams, we are opening our doors to those who have the heart for customer service, high work ethic and passion for technology but might not have had the opportunity to go to college. Thirty-three percent of our employees do not have a college degree, but that does not limit their ability to progress. To date in 2016, over 20 percent of our organization has received a promotion.
My challenge to the audience was to be intentional about diversity. Balance doesn’t just happen; you have to create an environment where differences are valued and encouraged. People have to feel they can be themselves and from that, they thrive and encourage others to do the same. I would encourage all organizations to intentionally embrace diversity and do the work necessary to open their doors wider.
On Thanksgiving Day, I was delighted to head over to BBC’s new Broadcasting House where I was interviewed on the GMT News Show by Aaron Heslehurst for BBC World News. It was an exciting opportunity to talk about diversity in tech, the need to encourage young people to study STEM and take technology related careers, and highlight WP Engine’s exciting growth story.
— Heather J. Brunner (@heatherjbrunner) November 24, 2016
We need more women in tech with hands on a keyboard, coding and building the future. But also we need women in every other type of role such as sales, leadership, management, and marketing.”
“WP Engine has sent a signal to the industry that we are open to diversity!”
Spending my Thanksgiving afternoon under the hot spotlights of a BBC news studio was certainly an unusual way to spend the holiday, but I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to share our experiences and promote diversity in technology with broader international audiences.
At WP Engine we have much to be thankful for, but most importantly, we are very thankful for the opportunity to serve and earn the trust of our customers every day!