CEO & Chief Creative Officer
When it comes to diversity, my company Fire Engine RED, a fully remote marketing and software company that serves the higher education enrollment market, doesn’t just talk the talk; we literally walk the walk.
In this post, I’ll tell you how we’ve used what we call Walking Wednesdays to create a company culture that values and celebrates diversity.
Here’s how Walking Wednesday works: Approximately once a month, on a Wednesday afternoon, I invite my 70-plus team members to join me for a walk and talk. At a designated time, everyone calls into Zoom (audio only) to hear one of our team members share a life experience. At the end of each talk, we have a 20-minute Q&A session. I typically moderate the discussion.
Our Walking Wednesdays usually last an hour and attract between 60% and 75% of our team.
Past Walking Wednesdays have included talks on:
- Living and working in the U.S. as a DACA recipient
- Fleeing Uganda as a nine-year-old to avoid ethnic persecution
- Living as a transgender woman and the process of transitioning
- Growing up in Alaska and how it’s different than growing up in the lower 48
- Living in a U.K. refugee camp for nearly a year, as a young child
- Fleeing Iran during the Iranian Revolution, as a teenager
- Living as a political refugee in Canada
- Working as a designer while being legally blind in both eyes
- Serving in the U.S. military and the process of transitioning to civilian life
- Growing up as a Pacific Islander and the influence of their heritage (Native Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino) has had on their life
- Growing up as a Native American woman and the importance of preserving the customs and traditions of their Native American heritage
So how do I know that my team has put our company’s commitment to diversity into action?
I know it when …
- 41% of our new hires since 2020 have been non-white
- One of our executive vice presidents, who formerly led the admissions department at the most liberal institutions in the country, hired a team member who had attended one of the most conservative institutions in the U.S.
- Nearly 50% of my team joined the company’s book club to learn about the untold history of slavery in the U.S.
- Our software development group hired a transgender woman to join their team
- My company hired two very diverse candidates to fill two open positions for the same role: a man who previously worked for an HBCU (Historically Black College & University) in the south; and a woman who had previously worked at an evangelical university in the midwest
- One of our team members updated their profile on our company’s website to include their given Native Hawaiian name
Despite the progress my company has made in increasing our team’s diversity, I believe we still have a lot of work to do. I know I speak for my team when I say we’re up for the challenge and excited about making Fire Engine RED an even more diverse place to work!