DECODING ACCOUNTABILITY: Full disclosure
Etched in history is the year 2020, as it brought to the forefront the deep-seated issue of racism and discrimination. No longer content with willful ignorance, shallow acknowledgments, and inaction, marginalized communities took a stand to confront systemic racism, galvanizing a wave of nation-wide protests.
Our initial response was inadequate. Not taking immediate action to lend our corporate voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement was incongruent with our values. The unified cry to be seen and heard was clear, but we failed to engage in a meaningful way. This ill-advised pause revealed knowledge and process gaps. However, it also served as a silver-lining, birthing a commitment to corporate advocacy as a vocalized necessity rather than a muted consideration.
The sobering realization of the error in our ways started a purposeful and iterative plan for infusing DE&I into our company culture and workflow. It’s a mandate of collective activism that has yielded an inclusive mindset, promoting respect, fairness, curiosity, collaboration, emotional and cultural intelligence, kindness, and empathy. For this cause, no one is exempt.
We understand that holding a torch for diversity requires an introspective and systematic regard for its intricacies. For this reason, we cultivate safe spaces for meaningful engagement. Against the backdrop of discrimination and intolerance, we believe our role as a technology company is to lean in, learn, change, and grow. An inquisitive stance we hope becomes a staple in the technology sector.
The journey has not been without bumps, but progress is rarely a straight line. ActZero’s values and keen appetite for industry wide change reinforces its commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Our approach is manifold, some of which are detailed below.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION: Peas in a pod
We see diversity as what it is; an indispensable asset. The absence of which is an impediment to innovation and growth.
Spurred by the lessons learned from our mistakes, we introduced inclusive policies and initiatives that have proven successful in bridging identified gaps.
The DE&I Committee
The DE&I committee and slack channel are an essential compass in our pursuance of thoughtful inclusivity. Both represent, in part, our commitment to creating platforms that amplify diverse voices, within and beyond the metaphorical walls of ActZero.
We have seen an increase in employee self-analysis, awareness, and development, which are also reflected in the leadership team. This level of engagement keeps us fully apprized on the concerns and issues that matter to and affect our employees.
The actionable insights generated from these conversations are how we stay authentic in both our social response and corporate interests.
Slack, our chosen communication platform, has gone through a series of adaptive modifications that mirror our values of trust, communication, and continuous improvement. We have taken steps to remove common technical and exclusionary language like ‘master/slave’ or ‘blacklist/whitelist’, and integrated alternatives like ‘primary/secondary’ or ‘blocklist/allowlist’, to mitigate bias and amend the corporate vocabulary. This way, it prompts us in real-time to self-evaluate, unlearn, and take part in the corporate culture of inclusivity.
Unlimited Vacation and Flexible Working Hours
As part of our commitment to improving work-life engagement, we have eliminated the cap on the number of vacation days, and espoused flexible working hours to put the spotlight on self-care.
Life happens. No one should have to choose between putting out fires on the home-front and satisfying the traditional construct of a 9a.m.-5p.m. work schedule, for fear of job loss.
These measures emphasize our dedication to enhancing employee work experience and preventing burnout. In addition, affording this element of control to our staff has yielded multiple benefits, including increased morale and high productivity.
Our leadership team embraces wellness and well-being as a way of life and encourages employee buy-in and usage by modeling the lifestyle.
Paid Parental Leave
As avid advocates for enriching the lives of our employees, we have structured our parental leave policy to benefit the birthing parent and supporting partner. We recognize that the first few weeks with the new arrival are crucial and require planned time to accommodate and adjust to the changes. We also believe in the long-term benefits of parent-child bonding and encourage our employees to be fully present with family.
For context, the parental leave for our employees in Canada is 12 months, topped up to 82% of employees’ salary, and 6 months for our American counterparts, topped up to 100% of employees’ salary; well above government requirements. This applies to birthing and non-birthing parents alike.
At ActZero, we see our employer-employee relationship as a value transaction. We honor this by crafting a health culture that facilitates wellness and well-being, relationship building and peer-to-peer support. It is a business priority rooted in a firmly held corporate belief that our employees deserve to be seen, heard, and supported.
Besides the benefits package of $1800 per year for physical fitness activities and healthy pastimes like cooking classes, we use internal and external resources to implement comprehensive and first-rate wellness programs. Some of which include book clubs, walking circles, and gaming channels. This applies to our employees both in Canada, and US.
In keeping with the notion that healthy roots develop fruit, we established relational standards that put the person first, encourage ownership, and respects professed capacity for additional work.
For instance, it is commonplace within our teams to ask: what is your capacity for…? rather than do you have time for…? We have found that the former allows a reflective pause that prompts an honest feedback and rallies support as needed. Here, our focus is not exclusive to time availability but extends to the mental and emotional bandwidth of our teammates.
Diversity is fertile ground for innovation and growth. It is to be celebrated, supported, and protected. We have made some progress, for which we thank our dedicated employees. However, considerable work remains.
We will not grow weary in well-doing. Instead, we will continue our quest in spearheading inclusive initiatives that solidify our core values, while creating space for and listening to diverse voices to instruct our mandates and direct our actions.
To learn more about our values and who we are, check out our company page.