Future of Work Inclusion Initiative

CBT on Forming the “Future of Work Inclusion Initiative”

In the wake of social injustices erupting reactions on a global scale that range from peaceful protest to violence and vandalism, it is critical that business leaders focus on creating an environment where people from all walks of life can belong, grow and thrive. As you read through this article, consider ways you as an individual can make a difference, ways your company can make a difference, and how that can inspire others to do the same.

Future of Work Inclusion InitiativeAs you read in our previous post, we merely scratched the surface of what makes diversity and inclusion important to the CBT business strategy. The terms “diversity, inclusivity, compassion, and empathy” are at the core of CBT’s values. The first two terms are commonly used in business, but compassion and empathy? Less so. Why are these more sensitive or so-called soft terms relevant in business? Because business relies on people. People are what makes each business unique, each product a solution, and each partnership meaningful.

Compassion and empathy are also rooted in data and dollars and sense. Did you know that employee productivity, loyalty, and engagement are directly impacted by empathy? Empathy in the workplace generates positive outcomes as employees are better positioned to communicate (good and bad news), collaborate (their ideas matter), and express their ideas and concerns (without fear).

Check out the stats on Empathy in the Workplace:

  • 77% of workers would be willing to work more hours for a more empathetic workplace; meanwhile, 60% would actually accept a slashed salary for the same
  • 92% of HR professionals note that a compassionate workplace is a major factor for employee retention
  • 80% of millennials noted that they would leave their current job if their office became less empathetic. 66% of Baby Boomers also shared this sentiment.

In this episode, we engage in discussion with Jocelyn DeGance Graham, who leads Strategic Marketing initiatives for CBT as we explore not only a deeper explanation for why, but also how CBT prioritizes diversity and inclusion every day.

Question: Who is Kelly Ireland and why is Diversity & Inclusion important to her?

Jocelyn: Kelly Ireland is our founder and CEO. She created this WBENC-certified women’s business enterprise. What you need to know about Kelly is that she first taught herself how to code [language] back in the late 1970s. As a single mom, she set aside what many would consider significant limitations and began a career in IT working for IBM. When we consider the gender gap in tech today, over forty years later, it’s hard to imagine what it was like for her when she first started. Growing up as the college football coach’s daughter, she witnessed the impact of mentoring and meaningful relationships had on the lives and careers of many. This planted a seed that inspired her to pay it forward and positively influence others. As she grew in her career and became undeniably successful, she realized she had the opportunity and the responsibility to hold the door open for others and to empower other women and minorities in their own quests to become great technologists.

Question: What was your career path, and how did you become connected to Kelly and CBT?

Jocelyn: My career in tech began about 20 years ago. I started as an intern at HP, worked in the customer research function, and then 10 years later joined a startup doing this new thing called ‘cloud computing’. I was among very few women in this nascent field– I think there might have been a couple of dozen women and a thousand men at the first cloud conference that I attended. So, I began networking with other women in order to support each other’s careers, and learn and exchange ideas with them. It was apparent that women were underrepresented and undervalued by our industry and so I created the Cloud Network of Women (CloudNOW.org). Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook became key supporters to this initiative which recognized women’s achievements in cloud computing through awards, events, and scholarships. We came together to imagine how the next generation of women in the tech industry would be empowered to ideate and impact technology development. We created an educational platform to support women and other minorities to learn coding and software engineering disciplines, which is how I met Kelly. From our first conversation, there was such a strong alignment of passion and desire to create social and economic justice through career pathways. I joined CBT as a marketing consultant and was given the opportunity to work directly with Kelly to create this scholarship-to-internship program to attract and mentor the next generation of CBT’s diverse workforce.

Question: How does CBT compare to other companies you’ve worked for?

Jocelyn: CBT is one of the very few organizations where there are no barriers limiting your growth and development. It reminds me of my early days with HP under their first female leader, CEO Carly Fiorina. CBT truly is a meritocracy with representation at all levels of the organization. Kelly demonstrated her incredible leadership qualities as she entrusted me with the responsibility and opportunity to pursue the internship program, to engage directly with schools, identify candidates, and manage the program overall. At this point, I can’t imagine working for any other organization and having the opportunity to create the impact that I have had on D&I.

Question: Tell me about the scholarship-to-internship program.

Jocelyn: We call it the “Future of Work Inclusion Initiative. The scholarship-to-internship program supports Diversity and Inclusion by directly connecting underserved talent to employment outcomes; this first of its kind program pilots during the COVID-19 outbreak and accommodates remote work. It starts with an academic scholarship and ends with a job! It wasn’t enough to just be an equal opportunity employer that is willing to hire folks from different backgrounds. We needed to reach out to find the individuals who aspire to be great, who are committed to their futures, even if (especially if) they are not in a position to find CBT to apply for one of our open positions. Where are these up-and-coming individuals who have so much potential but are not necessarily at a top-tier school with an obvious path to greatness? Our Future of Work Inclusion Initiative is about searching the globe for candidates and paving the way for them to join our cause and deliver premier integration solutions to our clients.

Question: Have you sought and found any of these aspiring candidates?

Future of Work Inclusion InitiativeJocelyn: We most certainly have. CBT recently announced in a press release that we have extended an offer to an individual candidate who comes from a remote, impoverished village in India. She graduated from the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project which was featured in Netflix’s documentary “Daughters of Destiny”. This inaugural scholarship-to-internship program provides funding for her education along with a paid internship between semesters.

Question: Did she move from India for this opportunity?

Jocelyn: She moved from India to the US for her education and career, and is currently enrolled in a college in Boise, ID. Of course, it was very difficult for her to leave her family and the place she called “home” her entire life. While she was supposed to relocate to Southern California for her internship, due to the COVID-19 pandemic CBT is allowing her to intern from her college campus.

Question: Wow, a remote internship during COVID. That’s unheard of.

Jocelyn: Agreed! I actually do NOT know of another student who has a remote internship. Many companies, in fact much larger tech firms with very deep pockets, have rescinded internship offers and have canceled these programs due to these unprecedented circumstances. I can only suppose that they lacked the vision and the heart to navigate the situation. Kelly’s commitment to this internship program, and more importantly, to our intern, could not be swayed. She will be paid according to her original offer, even in a remote setting. We will leverage technological advancements to teach, engage, and collaborate with her from afar.

Question: How did you come up with the idea for the Future of Work Inclusion Initiative? Are there other programs that you’ve been a part of that focus on diversity and inclusion?

Jocelyn: The idea is rooted in the collective experiences that Kelly and I have. Kelly is well known for her philanthropy, and I serve on the Board of Trustees of a venture-funded alternative software engineering school along with Jeffrey Weiner (former CEO of LinkedIn), actor Priyanka Chopra, Esther Wojcicki, and other influential and tech leaders. In addition to CBT, this is where I’ve gained so much knowledge and experience in the practice of empathy and compassionate leadership in the workplace. I’ve learned the importance of making this an experience that is going to accelerate our intern’s career, to provide a foundational understanding of business acumen, and foster a culture that fully integrates her into our community.

Question: The Future of Work Inclusion Initiative is a wonderful cause and clearly life-changing for your intern. What does CBT get out of this investment?

Jocelyn: CBT will undoubtedly benefit from our intern’s contributions to our work. I would even argue that we will gain far more from the experience than our intern, including diversity of thought and a fresh perspective, can make our products, services, and partnerships more effective and successful. We believe that by opening this door for her, she will be in a position to do the same for the next generation behind her, fostering a culture of forward-thinking, open-mindedness, and innovation. By paying it forward we believe that CBT will remain a positive influencer and catalyst for the ever-evolving tech industry many years from now.

Question: I’d love to hear your intern’s story. Is there any more you can share?

Jocelyn: Stay tuned! In our next blog, you’ll be able to ask her all about her journey from homelessness to a job in tech and learn from her experiences.

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