Transparency Leads to Change

Twice a year, my company, Conversica, is dedicated to posting both its Diversity & Inclusion goals and its progress against those goals. As anyone who knows me, or, better, has worked with me, you know that I am a student of change leveraging the power of minorities. I truly feel that diversity in the workplace (and in the world, in general) is a path to not only doing what is right, but a path to beating the competition.

CEOs who still believe that they will win based on their application of innovative technologies, or their superior go-to-market strategies, or purely by out-investing with large amounts of capital, will ultimately lose to those who believe in the one key competitive advantage that matters – their company’s people.

OMG, the power of diversity is real. Our staff at Conversica is so far past the debates of equality. And although it may be front and center for our nation with a clear disconnect in the fight against racism, we at Conversica are leagues ahead of that talk track. We’re focused on how to close the GAP that we have long believed in solving. In order to rally our actions around change, we have organized ourselves around 9 discrete initiatives – our pillars for Diversity & Inclusion:

  • Conversica’s Employee Days for Diversity: Set annual goals for diversity and inclusion within our organization each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and revisit those goals mid-year on May 25th (the anniversary of George Floyd’s untimely death).
  • Conversica’s Services for Diversity: Provide minority-owned businesses and charities supporting minority advancement with free augmented workforce solutions.
  • Conversica’s Recruiting for Diversity: Achieve our employee diversity mix targets by 2022 by requiring a diverse selection of candidates for every role.
  • Conversica’s Training for Diversity: Promote management training on diversity, inclusion, and equality will be provided annually, and maintain zero discrimination complaints/incidents by employees.
  • Conversica’s Community Support for Diversity: Encourage employees to volunteer in external diversity initiatives and reward them for their community service. Conversica will sponsor events and webinars to support our continued education and community participation in diversity, inclusion and equality topics.
  • Conversica’s Metrics for Diversity: Report Conversica’s progress on its diversity KPIs to employees, and to the public, ultimately holding ourselves accountable.
  • Conversica’s Retention and Advancement for Diversity: Increase career development for underrepresented group members, as well as retain employees and measure/manage the time and rate of promotions.
  • Conversica’s Trusted Exchange for Diversity: Offer an environment where all ideas are welcomed, and employees feel comfortable and empowered to have discussions about diversity, inclusion, and equality.
  • Conversica’s Ecosystem for Diversity: Enforce our diversity, inclusion, and equality by “firing” customers or partners who don’t adhere to our values. Encourage the use of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBT-owned, and differently abled-owned businesses as suppliers to Conversica.

We’ve made major strides in each of these key areas, with a team of 23 Conversicans focused on rallying and leading the whole company to create change behind each.

As part of our commitment, we have committed to reporting on our progress within Conversica itself. So here it is…but first, lets set the end-of-year baseline. How many people within our company are contributing to our diversity goals as a company? Answer: 196.

So here is our progress on gender diversity. We have a goal of 50% male and 50% female across all functions: The Board, our executive team, our broader leadership team, and the company as a whole. Here’s where we landed at the end of 2020 – our company is made up of 61% male and 39% female Conversicans. See the details across groups below.

Now, the equally important measure of success in our diversity efforts at Conversica – our progress on racial diversity. At the company level we still have a majority of white workers at 64%, followed by Latinx at 26%, Asian at 8%, and African-America at 1%. See the details across groups below.

As we continue to grow Conversica (our team target this year is 33% year over year growth), we have aggressive initiatives to drive recruiting and, ultimately, our selection to achieve our targets for race as follows:

  • White: 55%
  • Asian: 20%
  • Latinx: 15%
  • African-American: 10%

If you are a peer CEO reading this, transparency leads to change. So, what are your commitments to much needed change, and how are you performing against your Diversity & Inclusion goals?

Jim Kaskade

Jim Kaskade is a serial entrepreneur & enterprise software executive of over 36 years. He is the CEO of Conversica, a leader in Augmented Workforce solutions that help clients attract, acquire, and grow end-customers. He most recently successfully exited a PE-backed SaaS company, Janrain, in the digital identity security space. Prior to identity, he led a digital application business of over 7,000 people ($1B). Prior to that he led a big data & analytics business of over 1,000 ($250M). He was the CEO of a Big Data Cloud company ($50M); was an EIR at PARC (the Bell Labs of Silicon Valley) which resulted in a spinout of an AML AI company; led two separate private cloud software startups; founded of one of the most advanced digital video SaaS companies delivering online and wireless solutions to over 10,000 enterprises; and was involved with three semiconductor startups (two of which he founded, one of which he sold). He started his career engineering massively parallel processing datacenter applications. Jim has an Electrical and Computer Science Engineering degree from University of California, Santa Barbara, with an emphasis in semiconductor design and computer science; and an MBA from the University of San Diego with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and finance.

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