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A workplace where everyone’s welcome: podcast dives into diversity and inclusion

Jun 28, 2022
4 min
Ela Robles

The pandemic brought to light a lot of things about our complex relationship with work. If The Great Resignation is anything to go by, there’s a threshold for how much we can take before deciding to jump ship. Whether it’s as crucial as decisions on work-from-home vs. hybrid setups, or as simple as methods of giving feedback, the clincher seems to be how humanely a company (or its bosses) treats employees. 

PumaPodcast’s newest show, “The Imaginable Workplace,” does just that. It imagines what work culture could look like if companies did better by their employees. The podcast, hosted by Haraya Coaching’s Culture Practice Lead Jen Horn and PumaPodcast CEO Carl Javier, explores how work cultures have changed in the past two years of the pandemic and consults experts on how to make lasting changes within company systems. 

One workplace that seems to get it right is Canva Philippines. It has been lauded as Best Place to Work in the Philippines for two years running by Great Place to Work® (GPTW). Canva Philippines’ Country Manager, Yani Hornilla-Donato joins Jen and Carl to share how they put inclusivity at the forefront of Canva's workplace culture.

Starting with inclusive hiring

“We've really tried to veer away from looking at what school you came from, what company you came from,” Hornilla-Donato explains. “[What’s important are] your skills and [whether you’re] aligned with the values that Canva has.”

Canva’s hiring strategy goes beyond only acknowledging “seen differences” like physical ability and educational attainment, but is also mindful of “unseen differences” like neurodivergence and mental health—differences that can only be known through asking and listening.

“Our mission is to empower the world to design, and that means basically everyone, not just a selected few,“ says Hornilla-Donato. She shares that they have several systems in place to help employees’ voices be heard.

Passing the message

The process of building up a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) doesn’t stop at hiring good people with great skill sets. The practice of inclusivity needs to have strong foundations, and at Canva, communication between management and employees play a vital role in maintaining this culture. 

Canva’s Onboarding Bootcamp has specific sessions on diversity and inclusion that are meant to be a safe space to help new hires understand company values early on, and also to listen to them speak about their own experiences if they wish to do so. “It establishes that... we have the same values, we subscribe to the same code of ethics,” Hornilla-Donato says. “It creates conditions for you to understand, to listen, but also to act accordingly.” 

As people grow into their roles at the company, Canva’s “Fix-It” Forms are one way employees can give feedback. They’re completely anonymous and are welcome at any time, but Hornilla-Donato says there’s a catch: “You identify the problem and then you will recommend the solution.” She believes that it helps employees take ownership of the problems and empowers them to solve them in a way that benefits the most people.

Walking the talk

To cultivate a diverse workplace is to be prepared for the various needs of your team. “Diversity … isn’t just about a range of sexual orientations or gender identities. Kasama na rin dito ang differences in age, religion, socioeconomic class, or ability,” says Horn.

Blanket solutions and “one time, big time” fixes do no good. “Equality is just giving people the same thing, it doesn't matter if they need more or less,” explains management consultant Elizha Corpus. “[While] equity is about considering the unique needs of the individuals, and giving them support based on that need.”

Considering your team’s unique needs and putting inclusivity at the heart of company culture leads to higher productivity. After all, “You cannot perform well [at work] if you don't feel like people value you for who you are,” says Corpus.

BONUS RESOURCE: Here are some questions to help you reflect on the state of your DEI.

The Imaginable Workplace is a PumaPodcast production available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen.

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