Carrot Cake and Inclusivity at Work

inclusivity at Work

Today, one of our senior developers brought in a large carrot cake for the entire company. The reason? To mark the 25th anniversary of his immigration to the United States. As the HR guy here at MoxiWorks, I love this for a couple of reasons:

  1. He is a success story. A hard-working developer and family man, he is making a living in one of the hottest tech markets here in Seattle.
  2. He brought in cake to share with his colleagues, co-workers, and friends. I find this to be next-level employee engagement. If he didn’t like the company, employees, or the work, he wouldn’t have brought in such a treat for over 70 people.

I am often approached to speak about diversity and inclusivity at work. Just last month I addressed a Fortune 100 company on the subject. As an executive, I understand why a company benefits from hiring diversely. As a minority, I have experienced what it is like to be the only minority in the room in my personal and professional life. I don’t know everything about diversity, but I do feel like I have relevant perspective when it comes to hiring people and creating an inclusive workplace.

Like most technology companies, we appear under-represented when it comes to diversity. However, when compared with other tech giants founded in Seattle, we are more diverse in most categories. Even so, I do receive flak about it here at MoxiWorks and visually, I get it.

We recently hired a VP and I heard that employees were disappointed when they learned it wasn’t a woman. Truth be told, we interviewed both men and women, but in the end hired the best person for the role, who happened to be a white male. The newly-hired VP even heard from employees that if we were serious about diversity, we would have hired a woman of diversity. Ugh.

Here at MoxiWorks, we don’t chase diversity and inclusion. We appreciate it, we embrace it, but we don’t chase it. What I mean is we don’t hire diversely to fill quotas or meet numbers. As a minority myself, I don’t want to be hired just because I filled a quota. I don’t want anyone thinking, “Ring got this job because the company and the executive team needed a minority.” I want to know I landed this job because I was the most qualified. More importantly, I want everyone to recognize they hired the best person for the position.

I was proud of our CEO, York Baur, when he stood in front of the company and said the same thing. “We are going to hire the best person for the role. We are not going to hire diversity for the sake of diversity. Help us hire the right person for the role by referring us the best candidates.” (For reference: We rely on employee referrals and offer a small gesture of thanks when we hire from their networks.)

Here are the reasons I loved the carrot cake gesture that our Senior Developer, Konstantin Kifa, shared with the company:

I didn’t know that Konstantin was an immigrant.

I am a big believer that what a person says or does can convey as much as what he does not say or do.

Konstantin doesn’t make a big deal of being a diverse employee and has never approached me about diversity or inclusion issues in the workplace. He does his job very well and his nationality, gender, and religion don’t impact his work. His life experiences affect his performance, of course, but he doesn’t bring issues to the workplace; instead, he is known for his intellectual horsepower and work ethic. (Note: His email to the company didn’t mention what country he immigrated from!)

I believe that MoxiWorks is organically creating a diverse and inclusive place to work. It isn’t contrived, and HR isn’t practicing “diversity by the numbers.” When employees like their workplace, they bring their families to visit and encourage friends to apply. When they don’t, their families won’t set foot in the building and they don’t recommend the company as a good place to work.

I like to think that because diversity isn’t an issue at MoxiWorks, our employees are comfortable bringing their accomplishments into the workplace.

Thank you, Konstantin, for getting your message across without even mentioning it. And thank you to everyone at Moxi for creating an inclusive place to work.