Homegrown Utah technology leader Qualtrics is working to ensure Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are central to their company’s culture and a matter of course for their employees. We caught up with Farren Roper, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, to learn more about the initiative and how the company deploys technology in the effort.
Qualtrics was founded in Provo in 2002 and has since grown to be a globally recognized experience management company with 13,500+ customers in more than 100 countries and 25 offices around the world. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace for all employees is core to who Qualtrics is as a company. This is reinforced in their founders’ letter: “Qualtrics will be a force for good… With strong views on diversity and inclusion, immigration, wage equality, and the universality of human rights—without regard to race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. We will not be quiet, but will amplify these views on behalf of our employees and organization.”
Qualtrics has taken an intentional approach to DEI while building the company and its culture. The company believes that diversity and inclusion are good for the world and business alike. In order to provide customers with the best products, Qualtrics recognizes their workforce needs to reflect the world around them. Further, they realize inclusion is a very nuanced topic and goes beyond simply addressing unconscious biases. Rather, “you have to build a company that people can see themselves working for, and then foster a culture that makes them want to stay once they are a part of the team,” Roper says.
“We cannot be a truly inclusive company if we are not an actively anti-racist company. So beyond putting out a statement, we asked ourselves, ‘what can we do to stick to our values and actively demonstrate that we are anti-racist?’ We decided to take a stand and make sure we have anti-discrimination policies internally, and provide training to help employees understand where they are in their own DEI journey. We as a company are still on our own DEI journey, but we want to support our employees in their journeys as well.”
Another area of concern is the gender gap seen across the tech industry. Over the last several years, Qualtrics worked to increase gender representation within their workforce. This year they made the decision to continue their efforts around gender, and also expanded those efforts to include underrepresented minorities. While they are making significant progress with gender parity both in Utah and elsewhere, there are challenges with representation of minorities in Utah, Roper says.
Notwithstanding those challenges, Qualtrics wants to promote Utah as a place where diversity can thrive. “A significant number of team members from diverse backgrounds are relocating to Utah, and are successfully building lives and navigating their careers,” Roper shares. “People want a sense of community and the more we succeed in places like Provo, the more we create that community and help build the future of the talent pipeline.”
When it comes to recruiting diverse talent, Qualtrics has three main approaches. First is what they call their talent brand – the content the company publishes on their blog, “Qualtrics Life.” A significant number of their new hires apply through the blog, so they work to ensure content that celebrates diversity and helps potential applicants understand the importance of DEI to the company.
Second, when actively recruiting for positions, Qualtrics builds a diverse candidate pool to select from, since they can’t hire diverse talent if they aren’t interviewed in the first place.
Finally, the company trains its hiring managers on inclusive interviewing and hiring practices, unconscious bias, and how to develop a diverse interview pool.
Additionally, Qualtrics hires based on “cultural add” instead of “cultural fit.” Roper explains: “Rather than hiring someone based on perceived fit to the existing culture, we hire based on the candidate’s potential to add to our culture.” Qualtrics core value system is internally referred to as TACOS – Transparency, All-in, Customer obsessed, One team, Scrappy. To add to their culture, they look for people who exhibit those values, and beyond that, the company simply looks for those who will bring their own unique perspective to the team.
Once employees are part of the Qualtrics team, the company works to make everyone feel included. They currently have five employee resource groups, referred to as Q Groups. The groups are: MosiaQ for racial and ethnic minorities, Q&Able for those differently abled, QPride for the LGBTQ+ community, QSalute for veterans, and Women Leadership Development.
These groups are supported by the company and are guided by two key principles: they are organized by employees, and they are open to all community members and allies alike. The majority of the content these groups provide focuses on allyship and education. The Women Leadership Development name was deliberately chosen to emphasize its goal of developing female leadership within the organization. Women can use the group to better understand what professional development resources are available to them, while men can use the group to learn how to be better allies for their female colleagues.
Qualtrics is the leader in employee experience technology so it’s no surprise they use their own tools to make sure their employees are being heard and supported. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not only important to Qualtrics, but their customers as well. That’s why earlier this year they released a new DEI solution to help organizations around the world increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Qualtrics wanted a solution they could use to capture at any given point in time what their Inclusion and Belonging scores were, while still being methodologically sound. This new solution provides DEI professionals with the ability to breakdown data to measure the inclusion experience of different employee groups. The other significant value of this new tool is that it provides quantitative data on a topic that involves emotion and sentiment. Business decisions are data-driven, and this solution allows companies to make data-backed decisions regarding their DEI initiatives.
For Roper, this solution is very exciting as it allows him to do his job more effectively than ever before. “This solution is exciting for us at Qualtrics. Even though we are still on our DEI journey, we can now help our customers with their journey,” Roper explains.
To further support their customers, Qualtrics has recently partnered with Korn Ferry, a leading global consultant on DEI. Qualtrics’ solution provides the data while Korn Ferry allows for a services layer to account for cultural and regional sensitivities around DEI topics.
“The best advice I could give, because it was the best advice I got when I started this job, is to start with the data. As a company you need to understand what your data tells you about where you are at in terms of DEI and then you need to build a plan to get to where you want to be. You are going to need to practice a lot of empathy and understanding as you start your DEI journey,” Roper says.
For those companies without the resources to create a designated DEI department, they can enable the initiative at the managerial level. There is only so much that can come from the top down, and there needs to be both a supply and demand for true DEI activation within your company. “DEI is everyone’s job and the best way to acknowledge that is to empower others to be force multipliers,” Roper states.
To learn more about DEI at Qualtrics visit: www.qualtrics.com/dei-at-qualtrics
Ze Min Xiao
Director, Center for Economic Opportunity & Belongingzxiao@edcutah.org