Domo is a leader in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) best practices among the newest generation of homegrown Utah employers. We spoke with Nikki Walker, Director of Brand Experience and Community Engagement, and Cameron Williams, Director of Partners Solutions and Diversity, at Domo to learn more.
Founded in December 2010 in Utah’s Silicon Slopes, Domo offers modern business intelligence software to businesses all over the world. They have more than 650 employees at their American Fork headquarters and roughly 100 more globally.
A focus on diversity has been a part of Domo’s culture from the beginning. Founder Josh James, a serial entrepreneur whose first venture – Omniture – is now part of Adobe, recognized that Domo customers are inherently diverse. He wanted a more diverse team to build a better product to serve this diverse customer base. The philosophy was formalized in 2017 with the appointment of Cameron Williams to Director of Diversity in addition to his other responsibilities. Since then, Domo has conducted annual all-hands trainings on unconscious bias and invested in support for diverse talent at all levels.
DEI at Domo
Cameron Williams explained that a good DEI strategy starts with the right mindset. “How do you build a diverse organization?” he asks. “The first step is to realize you need one.” Domo began with an authentic commitment from leadership, and the next step was to enlist their current employees. Following the example of Goldman Sachs, where Williams previously worked, they hired a specialized training group from New York City and rented out the Hale Center Theatre for an immersive unconscious bias experience using actors.
“It changed the culture of Domo immediately,” notes Williams. “Domo went from, ‘We don’t have a DEI problem; nobody’s a racist’ to ‘we understand and we want to help.’” The training covered many ways that employees interact with one another. As one example during the training, an actress of Asian descent shared that English is her third language. In meetings, she has to translate what she’s hearing in English, think of her answer in her native tongue, and then translate it back to English before she speaks. She often doesn’t get a chance to speak because by the time she’s ready, the conversation has already moved on. The message sunk in with Domo employees, and now, all Domo conference rooms have signs that read, “Don’t forget to let everyone speak.” Nikki Walker notes, “It’s a particularly helpful reminder with Domo’s international teams.”
In another example from the training, a black actor walks into a meeting and the tone immediately changes. There’s nothing harmful or overtly discriminatory, but there is fist-bumping and a change in vocabulary that demonstrates unconscious bias from his white colleagues. Williams explains, “People got it right away. We interact differently now. Everyone is more cognizant of how we treat each other.”
While larger companies often have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) dedicated to different types of diverse employees, Domo has one group called Everybody@Domo. Walker explains, “We created one place where ‘Domo-sapiens’ of all stripes can come together and share their experiences.”
In addition to annual unconscious bias trainings, Everybody@Domo hosts events throughout the year on a variety of diversity and inclusion topics. The program brings in national speakers on topics of interest, and also hosts events for employees and their families. “This year, we did a self-defense training over Zoom and encouraged employees to bring their families,” explains Walker. “It’s always great for employees, and especially for their children, to see that while we may all look different, we all have the same needs and concerns.”
Williams clarifies, “Everybody@Domo truly means everybody -- including those who are in the majority. We try to reinforce the message that bringing diversity into Domo serves to make everybody better.”
Parity at Domo
Diversity goals were first formally addressed on the basis of gender. Women@Domo, a specific Employee Resource Group (ERG) was developed early in the company’s history to provide a networking opportunity for women at the company. Domo’s Josh James was also a co-founder and one of the original signers of the Parity Pledge back in 2017, committing to gender parity in the company’s leadership positions by ensuring that every open position of VP and above included at least one qualified women in the interview process. One measurable outcome is that women members on Domo’s board of directors went from 0% to 44% since the pledge was made.
In addition to women, Walker points to Domo’s success in hiring diverse candidates of all backgrounds in the Utah office. Domo’s company policy is now that for every open position, interviews must include at least one qualified female and at least one candidate of color. The process is clearly working. “In the most recent two quarters of 2020,” she explains, “more than 40% our new hires were diverse.”
Domo is also working to find and elevate diverse partners and suppliers. “Even our lunch vendors are diverse,” explains Williams. “We rotate through Chinese, Soul Food, Indian – we’re always conscious to support minority-owned small businesses.”
Building the Talent Pipeline
In 2020, Domo worked with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) to hire their first cohort of HBCU summer students. While the pandemic forced the pilot to go virtual, they’re hoping to bring the next cohort to Utah in 2021. “Although we weren’t able to bring them here in person this year, we worked to get them all Domo certified,” says Walker.
“We’re also supporting the Johnson STEM Center in Atlanta through our Domo for Good program,” adds Williams. “We need to prepare more black and brown kids for the tech industry, whether they end up at Domo or not.”
Domo also works to support the diverse talent pipeline at home in Utah. They recently brought in 40 diverse high school students from Kearns on Salt Lake City’s west side to help them begin to see themselves in tech careers. Walker explains, “We asked the kids, ‘Who wants to work in tech?’ and zero hands went up. So we asked, ‘Who is afraid to work in tech?’ and all the hands went up. We’re working to break down those barriers sooner so diverse kids can see themselves as part of the future of tech in Utah.”
Advice to Companies
Walker and Williams shared a few pieces of advice for smaller companies grappling with diversity and inclusion. “The most important thing,” says Walker, “is to find your Why. Then, find your Champion. Decide who is going to own Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within your firm and empower them to affect real change.”
Williams goes on, “It’s ok to start small – even setting a goal to hire people who didn’t graduate from the University of Utah or BYU can spark the beginnings of diversity.”
He also advises partnering with diverse community groups. “There’s no way you can ‘do’ DEI on your own. Take advantage of the diverse chambers, advocacy groups and other resources. Plug into different communities and boards. They’re all there to help.” (NOTE: Nikki Walker also serves as Director of the Utah County chapter of the Utah Black Chamber.)
The Utah Pitch
While many of Domo’s diverse hires are Utah natives, both Williams and Walker are transplants from out of state. Both are unabashedly bullish on recruiting diverse talent to Utah. “It’s really an untapped jewel,” says Walker. “You’ll get opportunities here in Utah that you may not have in more densely diverse markets, and you can really make a difference in the community.” Williams continues, “There’s just so much upside in Utah – upward mobility, affordability, redeployment opportunities at other tech firms, growth potential. It’s the new gold rush – you really can write your own job description in Utah.”
Williams sums it up with an invitation to other Utah employers. “If Domo hires ten black people, and Qualtrics hires twelve, and Goldman Sachs hires twenty, we can begin to build a diverse community together.” He continues, “Then, even smaller Utah businesses can hire one or two people of color, and we’ll all become more successful together.”
For more information, visit https://www.domo.com/blog/taking-the-next-step-toward-a-more-inclusive-workplace/