Originally aired on June 8, 2021 @ 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM EDT
Andrew Fitch (Learning Partner – Community and Inclusion) and Talea Seyed (CS Program Manager, Womenflare Lead) will talk about what makes Cloudflare’s culture unique. They will discuss our various Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and how everyone can feel supported and included at work.
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Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for our segment on Cloudflare Careers Day. I'm Talea and I'm super happy today to be joined by my colleague Andrew. We're planning on touching on a few different topics that have to do with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, specifically at Cloudflare. And Andrew and I are also going to talk about our own personal career journeys at Cloudflare. And with that, I'm actually going to turn it over to Andrew first to tell us a little bit more about himself and introduce himself. Yeah, thank you Talea. Okay, so I'm Andrew Fitch, as Talea already told you. I think it's already here as well in my name. You're probably seeing it. And I'm based out of Cloudflare San Francisco, though I'm not in Cloudflare San Francisco right now. None of us are in that office right now, I think. So I'm actually in North Adams, Massachusetts, renting a place for a month and exploring my home state. This is where I'm from. And I work on, I've worked on a couple of different teams actually in a few different departments within Cloudflare. But I currently work on the people team. And I've been working on the people team for a year and a half. And I've been at Cloudflare for three years and eight months as of tomorrow. So I'll celebrate my little eight month anniversary, I guess, plus three years tomorrow, and I'll look forward to that. And why Cloudflare? I joined Cloudflare because I was working at a coding school. I worked at a couple of coding schools before Cloudflare actually, and I was in sort of evangelism, like spreading the word about the educational programs we had there for coders or for data scientists to come in and to study and to learn to develop their careers. And one of the instructors at Galvanize, it was called, the previous coding school I worked at, had gone over to Cloudflare. And we were close. We kept in touch enough. And one day, he reached out to me and said, hey, Andrew, I think there's a role that's right for you at Cloudflare. I was like, I had hardly heard of it, to be honest with you. And I was like, I think I've heard of it, but I don't know much about it. Tell me about this. And he said, let's just get lunch. Because like in tech in San Francisco, so much of it is like right in SOMA, like right around each other. So we got lunch nearby. And then all of a sudden, that turned into an interview. And my then boss showed up to interview me and everything. So I got involved. I got kind of pulled in almost accidentally. But I'm so glad that I did, because I came in. And one of the things that I saw immediately at the company was that there was so much opportunity at our fingertips. And it seems to me like at everyone's fingertips. So I'll get into this more in a little while about the formation of employee resource groups and everything. But I kind of could feel that in the air, like, oh, this company is growing. This company seems to be doing well. But there's also opportunity to really make a difference here. So that's why I was really excited to join. Same questions for you, Tellia. Tell us about yourself. Thanks, Andrew. And I actually love hearing. I didn't know your Cloudflare origin story. So that was really interesting to hear about. And I think I'm going to also reiterate a lot of what Andrew said in terms of just being able to make a difference. But before I do that, I'm Tellia. I have always worked out of our San Francisco location at Cloudflare. I've been here now for almost six years. And how I joined Cloudflare and why I joined Cloudflare was because I was pretty fresh out of college when I was searching for a job like a lot of people are probably doing now. I know a lot of graduations are happening. But I really wanted to find a company that was a little bit established, but also still small enough where I had enough opportunity to get my hands dirty, grow, try new things, and really get hands-on learning experience. And the reason why I say established enough is because I still wanted someone to go to, like mentors, people who have done this before, knew what they were doing, and wouldn't tell me prescriptively exactly what to do every single time I started a new project, but who could help guide me and could teach me how to think and navigate what all these things would look like. And so that's kind of exactly what I got. I started as a business development representative at Cloudflare and very quickly moved to the customer success team where I've been ever since, both directly helping our customers as a customer success manager and now working on strategic programs on our programs team. And the other thing that I wanted to mention quickly too was, as I was kind of going through the interview process and looking at different companies, one of the questions, one of the biggest questions I kept asking was, what kind of people work here? What kind of people do you look for? What do you think are successful personality traits for someone to like really thrive and do well here? And I kept getting a lot of really similar answers. Everyone kept telling me they were looking for the smartest people. And that's really relative. You could meet smart in so many different ways. And we still do this now, but your last kind of call at Cloudflare is a call with one of our executive team members. And at that time, mine was with Matthew and I asked him the same question and he had a really unique answer to this. He said, we are looking for people who are empathetic and curious because with those two qualities, you can really almost get anything done. You can put yourself in a customer or user's shoes and understand where they're coming from and curious to learn and basically do things. And so that's kind of my long winded answer for why I joined Cloudflare, but I hope that was valuable to everyone who's watching. Yeah, that's a great one. Thanks for talking about too how your role has evolved. Do you mind if I talk a little bit about that too? I didn't cover that in my intro. Yeah, definitely. Oh yeah, go for it. I was going to say how has your role changed, Andrew? Yeah, pretty significantly. So when I first joined the company, I was in a developer evangelism role. And that means like marketing to software engineers, going out and saying, you know, not in like an evangelist would do, like saying Cloudflare is great. And here's why it's great. And here's why you should partner with Cloudflare. And like, here's the value that we have for you. And so it was all around building developer community around Cloudflare and like offering what we had to the community and forming that kind of a partnership, that kind of a relationship. So I'd go to conferences a lot, and I'd go to different Cloudflare offices a lot, which was probably my favorite part of that job is meeting like, at the time, almost everyone at the company, I kind of knew, at least remotely, you know, at least a little bit. So that was, that was really lovely. But about six months into my first job at Cloudflare, I started, I had noticed this opportunity in diversity, equity and inclusion. You know, I, I saw that our company and a lot of other companies were starting to have conversations about like, what are we doing about diversity, equity and inclusion? Because there weren't any real official programs set up at the time. So I started to dive into them on a part -time basis. And then I started to pitch the company on how about a full-time role for this? Actually, how about several full -time roles for this? And sort of, you know, like worked up to that over time. And it took me about a year and a half of pitching a couple of our Cloudflare leaders. And they said, yes, we're now ready. And let's get started with it in January of 2020. And so that's, that's where I joined as my current role, which is learning partner of community and inclusion. So yeah, working in diversity, equity and inclusion programming. And I've been at that for, again, about a year and a half now, actually a little bit, yeah, a year and a half now. And I started it though, about a month and a half before the pandemic really struck, or maybe, you know, two months or something before the pandemic struck. So it's, it's been different, you know, I expected we would be doing things very differently, but it's evolved in a, in a pleasant way. I think we've done pretty well with what we've had to work with. Yeah, definitely. And I want to ask you some follow-up questions on that, but you just reminded me, I should probably also elaborate a little bit on career progression too. So I started as a business development representative, like I said, and at that point in time, I think there were like four of us, the company was, you know, not as large as it is today. And that very quickly we very quickly grew as a team. And so I got to be involved in a lot of, you know, creating process, onboarding new hires, and also helping kind of establish these roles in our global offices, which were super interesting. And I was being really thoughtful about what I wanted to do next. And I found that customer success was probably, you know, the best fit for what I wanted to do at the time. And what I found as I was doing customer success though, were all these kind of supporting projects and programs that you also get to work on just when you're trying to figure out how to best serve your customers. And so I got to establish a lot of our first kind of programs and projects that we did in that area, which was super exciting. And eventually that became my full-time role. And it's, you know, been an incredible experience to be a part of, just you learn so much when you're really, you know, building these things from the ground up, which I think Andrew, you can probably resonate with too. But I actually wanted to ask you a follow-up question as you were talking about your career journey. And I don't know if you meant to touch on this, but when Andrew and I were kind of getting started in this diversity, equity, and inclusion area, which we'll get to this first part in a second, we started leading this workshop called Ally Scales, which is now called How We Work Together. But one of the first things that Andrew also did was he founded our first employee resource group at Cloudflare. So I'd love to hear a little bit more about your experience there, Andrew. Certainly. Thank you for asking. And so I'll take you into the history of employee resource groups in general at this company too, because it did start with Cloudflare. Though there were, you know, there was some different sort of chat rooms about different types of like underrepresented and or marginalized people, you know, employees of the company coming together to form community. And so there were kind of a couple of chat rooms out there. I can't take credit for that. I think they started way back. But when I first joined Cloudflare, and as soon as in the new hire orientation, which was fabulous, by the way, I love that program. They, you know, pretty quickly gave us access to the company chat. And so I very quickly, I am gay. And so I very quickly searched LGBTQ. And up came LGBT at Cloudflare, there was a chat room there, but nobody had chatted in it for about six months. And it looked like they had done something before, but not really much. And so I very quickly chimed in there saying like, Hey, everyone, I'm new to the company, I'd love to get something started if you're interested in like, what do you think? And so I chatted with somebody who was in that chat room on the side and said, you know, would you mind if I set up a little bit of programming because I had done this at other companies to at the previous two companies, I started the employee resource group programs there as well. So I got started with that at Cloudflare too. And this is what I was talking about, too, about seeing the opportunity at Cloudflare to make a difference. By the way, quick, like very, very brief detour, that opportunity still exists. Like I say that to the new hire classes, when they come in, really, there's many more of us now, but there's still an opportunity for every individual to make to make a difference. So consider joining us anyway. So I think it was maybe that next week, we had our first crowdfunding. And from there, we decided collectively that we want to continue having discussions about articles, getting to know each other, planning future things like planning pride celebrations in the future, for example. So we just kept getting the events on the calendar. So we'd always have the next step to look forward to. And I think it was in our second meeting, somebody brought up, what should we name ourselves? And somebody came up with the idea of Proudflare. And we all agreed immediately, oh, of course, that's the name, we are Proudflare. And so I'm so pleased that that person, I don't remember who it was, sadly, but that that person had suggested it. Because I really think we have one of the best names like ERG programs out of any tech company, you know, Cloudflare, Proudflare, Womenflare, Afroflare, many other ERGs formed over time as well. And Talia, in a second, I'd like to hear about Womenflare, of course, but there are now 16 different employee resource groups at Cloudflare. And so you know, and there are actually a couple others that are being loosely talked about, but we have 16 formed, fully formed ERGs, or employee resource groups right now. And they, you know, they started by just folks like me, folks like Talia, saying, we want to do something, we want to help make a difference, and we want to get something started and help to like, support and grow this community within the company. And then that's really all it takes. And then all of a sudden, other people want to help. And you know, when you empower others to get involved and to help as well, and all of a sudden, there are all of these different employee resource groups, and they've done a fantastic job. And speaking of the fantastic job that they serve, you know, that the purpose of them really is to provide a sense of community and belonging amongst that community. But most of them, in fact, almost every single one of them has gone much further beyond that. And Talia, I'll ask you this question in a moment, if you don't mind, of what you've done with Womenflare. But you know, some of the employee resource groups have really worked to provide a lot of educational content, a lot of programming, a lot of ways to remind the company that, you know, there are some issues that exist in the tech industry, and we at Cloudflare want to do something about it. And these ERGs, from my point of view, do actually help to push the company forward. And so thank goodness that they exist. And thank goodness that they do that. And so now Talia, yeah, would you mind telling us a story about Womenflare and also a little about about how you've gone so far above and beyond, by the way, and the work you've done with Womenflare? Oh, thank you, Andrew. So I guess I'll preface this a little bit by saying, you know, one of the things that I also just, you know, really respect about Cloudflare and what makes me love working here is that you get to bring your whole self to work. And I know a lot of people say that, but what I mean by that is the opportunity to, you know, get Womenflare started and do all this programming was like, is just like innately kind of in me, I guess. Gender equality, gender equity, that's something that I live and breathe inside and outside of work. It's not just, you know, this extracurricular thing that I do. And so having the chance to kind of work on this within that, within my career as well, has just been really rewarding. And I think very similar to what Andrew was saying about the opportunity for Cloudflare, the very same thing. I think we had a couple different groups that would meet regularly, women in sales. We also have a women in engineering group, but it wasn't necessarily something that, you know, everyone had pulled together yet at the time. And so I really wanted to focus on creating like a larger community for all of the women and all of the women and all of the different kind of functions that we have for Womenflare. And so, you know, I think what I've gotten the opportunity to do and what I really loved about it is I kind of took my job first and foremost to be a listener. Like what do people feel like they need? What do people want? And we really came down to these two kinds of themes for ourselves that we would, you know, make sure women at Cloudflare felt supported and that we made sure women at Cloudflare felt represented. And so those have been kind of like our two pillars as we've been building. And we have a bunch of different initiatives that live under that. And I was so lucky to be joined by my co-lead, Angela, who also, you know, runs this with me. And over the past year and a half, we've gotten to really build like a solid foundation for Womenflare. So we've gotten to, you know, figure out how do we get an executive sponsor, for example, for our employee resource group? And how is that, how like does that benefit us? How does that help us in making sure that we have a voice? And also, you know, structuring out leads, the different kind of support channels, we would have different activities that we would do just to make sure that there was always community, always learning opportunities. And, you know, the ability to kind of listen to each other and share and learn. So we can all like grow together as a community. I think that's one of the biggest opportunities we have as employee resource groups, is like just that notion that you're not alone in your silo to figure this out and try and navigate what it's like to be a woman in technology by yourself, or part of the LGBTQIA plus community, like by yourself and trying to navigate through that. It's that we all have each other in this community to like go to and learn from and, you know, build from. So I think that's probably been the most incredible part of it. Yeah, that's awesome. And Telia, when did you start Womenflare? Like what were you doing at the beginning of Womenflare that kind of changed things? Yeah. So that's a great question. So we started Womenflare in January of 2020, and we kind of launched ourselves at International Women's Day in March of 2020. And it's the last thing we all did before we got went into shelter in place. And so also navigating through all of that was, was difficult, but we did it and we pull like, we somehow pulled it all together. And especially in times, you know, throughout the year when there was a lot of, you know, upsetting social things going on, we really, those were also times that we really got to come together as a community to make sure that we were, you know, listening, supporting each other. We had an open space to talk, especially when you're all by yourself, you know, in shelter in place. And you know, not all of us have folks at home that we can talk to. And so that was also just, you know, another kind of really like way that we could all support each other and be, have community, even though that we're all kind of separated by distance. Were the cupcakes for International Women's Day, right? Yeah. That's so funny. So that Andrew brings that up. So I think Friday, right, we did our International Women's Day, like lunch and celebration. We had this huge thing. And then the next week we were going to have a co-sponsored event with us and Desi Flair, because it was also Holly. And so we had all these things. Yeah. And so we had cupcakes and I think I was asked because one of the restaurants that I went to actually, you know, had a reported case of COVID to shelter in place at that point the next week. So I think one of the last things other people did was have these cupcakes before everyone headed out. I'm glad you were bringing up that quick transition and everything, because, you know, I noticed that as well with employers, just group events, and also our next topic, by the way, folks is going to be about our inclusion workshops, like how we help educate the company about these different topics that are really important. And so, you know, one thing I think probably between you and me, Talia, and like maybe a couple other ERG leaders, we very quickly agreed that we would just shift everything we were doing to be virtual. You know, Zoom was like hardly a thing at the time, I think, you know, we were using Google, Google Chat, and we were using Google Hangouts and everything and occasionally Zoom, but we just decided that we can't just wait for three weeks or five months or however long it would be. We decided to just kind of proceed with what we were doing and just shift globally and shift virtually as quickly as possible. And that also went for our, how we work together workshops and our other, our other workshops that we do as well for inclusion. So yeah, Talia, would you, would you mind maybe getting into a little bit of how we started Ally Skills? Talia and I know we've been to so many different areas. We do, we've crossed paths just a few times here, but I will say actually, like with the quick transition, we got so creative with what we were doing for ERG events. I think we actually hosted as one of our first things as kind of like a relaxing thing, like a virtual spa session. So we just all came on Zoom with like our face masks and other things and had a little hangout. So it was really fun as we were, you know, trying to figure out how to navigate this new landscape, which everyone was doing at the time. But getting to the next kind of thing Andrew and I wanted to talk about, Ally Skills, that is something, how long have we been kind of helping facilitate that? I think it's a little bit longer than three years or roughly three years. Cool. So yeah, I think one of the things that, you know, before I think we even did employee resource groups that Andrew and I kind of, you know, volunteered as the first folks at Cloudflare to do it was, you know, facilitating getting trained to facilitate this Ally Skills workshop, which is now called How We Work Together. But it's basically a workshop with the purpose of teaching everyone everyday skills to act as a ally to underrepresented or marginalized groups. And, you know, that's evolved a lot over time, but I'm actually going to let Andrew talk about that one just a little bit, because this is something that he has been focusing more and more on as he has been taking on this learning partner role at Cloudflare. So, Andrew, can you tell us more about that? Certainly. Yeah, we reconstructed the workshop because really every single workshop that we do, and this goes for all of them, by the way, and I'll get into the other options as well. Every one we do, we take the feedback very seriously. We encourage people all throughout, like, please tell us what you think should change. You know, how was your experience here? And so, every workshop, we'd make at least a slight change, and that just evolved it quite significantly over the years. And, you know, we removed a couple of different scenarios that just didn't work quite as well, and we added some more scenarios, and we added more content, and we made it all much more closely to connected to Cloudflare as well, all tying up to our, we call them capabilities here, not unlike pillars at other companies or sort of like values, you know, the behaviors that we expect in employees. And one of the key ones there is embrace diversity to make Cloudflare better. So, we have a whole sort of segment about that and this whole scenario about that. Anyway, this continued to evolve, and we trained many more facilitators over time as well. There's now, I don't know, maybe 12 to maybe even up to 15 of us at the company who facilitate these workshops, and then we also formed our unconscious bias education program, and that is a three-tiered workshop experience. So, the first is just, it's an e-learning, so you can just sort of take it anytime, and it takes an hour to an hour and a half to maybe two hours, and then you go through two additional Cloudflare facilitated workshops as well, Cloudflare employee facilitated workshops, where we also have roughly 20 employees who facilitate these things. If you folks end up joining Cloudflare as well, please come and talk to me, and we'll start to facilitate these things together. But anyway, we basically educate the company and like anybody who's willing to listen, and like most people are going through these programs, that bias exists, you know, and it exists within all of us, it is pervasive, and we all have an opportunity to do something about it at the individual level, and also at the systemic level. So, we encourage employees, in fact, we challenge employees in the last workshop to go and find a focus area where they can go and kind of poke at policies and processes, things that we do here at Cloudflare, to find ways to remove systemic bias from the equation altogether, and to clear the road for people to join the company, and to stay at the company, and like fair and equitable and inclusive treatment of everyone. So, that's a little bit about that as well. There are some other programs too, and I won't go into great depth, because I know we're running down about five minutes, I think, until the end of this, but we do have a manager diversity and goal-setting initiative, and that is all about, you know, supporting managers and setting diversity and inclusion goals for their teams. So, that is ways to make their teams more diverse, ways to make their team's dynamics more inclusive, so that that diversity feels comfortable and staying within that team, and also contributes to that team, and that's what makes the most effective and the most innovative teams out there. Yeah, that's, I love hearing you talk about all these different initiatives you're working on, because I think also, hopefully the viewers who are watching right now can see it too, but just your passion for all of this work, Andrew, is just always so inspiring, so you definitely make me push myself too, to, you know, keep stretching myself, think about these things thoughtfully, and like, what else we can do and keep doing to make sure that, you know, not only Cloudflare stays a place where everyone belongs and is included, but also, you know, our larger communities, so thank you for that. Thanks for saying that. For sure. Thanks, Andrew. Did we talk about the inclusion council? Yeah, I think so, and I think, sorry? I was just saying maybe some of our initiatives. Yeah, I think that's a great thing to wrap with, and I just wanted to also round out, you know, that's what we just talked about by saying, you know, all these different workshops that we offer is to really make sure, if it didn't come through already, hopefully it did, that, you know, Cloudflare is a place where everyone belongs, where everyone's included, and everyone has all the resources that they need to really thrive here and do well, and with that, actually, Andrew, to what you just said, I would love to hear more about what other inclusion initiatives you have planned and what else is going on. Yeah, sure, so for one, we just had our monthly inclusion council meeting yesterday, so it's fresh in my mind. I'll talk a little bit about that, especially because Talia and I also essentially started that together, right? I mean, like, I think we facilitated the first meeting together. We've been partnering on everything from, I think, the start here. Anyway, the inclusion council formed as a gathering of all the different employee resource group leaders and also inclusion workshop facilitators at the company, so all those who facilitate unconscious bias education and facilitate how we work together and lead Womenflare, Cloudflare, so on and so forth, gathering together, and it was, they especially gathered together. I think we really formed this right after the murder of George Floyd, so that was, you know, last May, I believe it was, of 2020. Things, you know, things were really bad, and obviously, like, our employees of color were really feeling a certain way about this, and everybody was devastated, and things kept happening, and so we all, I think all employee resource group leaders, or at least most employee resource group leaders, realized that we all have to partner together to help our, you know, our employees of color and those groups especially right now, so Talia and I, I think, facilitated that first meeting where we had discussions about how can all employee resource groups support the employees of color right now, especially now, can we all do some programming that's focused on that, so that's where decisions were made, where, like, prior to this year, you know, the month of June, which is shortly afterward, is going to be dedicated to queer people of color, and, you know, we, the inclusion council had a bunch of different other initiatives that came up, and per the recommendation of the leaders of Afroflare, our employee resource group for black, black employees decided to form what was called Day On, and I realize we only have two minutes left, by the way, so I'll make it quick, and so Day On was, instead of taking a day off for Juneteenth, the 19th of June, the Afroflare leaders asked how about we, the company takes a day on instead, and how about we really focus on anti-racism education and action, and so that's what we did, we had some great educational content, and a lot of the company attended, and so because of that, we decided that we want to do it all again this year and continue that, so this year is called Week On, and that's what I'm working on first and foremost right now, in fact, right after this, I have to finish drafting an everyone at email to send out to the whole company saying, hey, here are the sessions that we have this year, please register as soon as you can, we're so excited about them, because it is important that all employees really lean into understanding racial bias and also taking action to do something about it, or else we won't be successful in our initiatives, thank you for asking. Yeah, of course, and I think I'm really excited for Week On, and I just wanted to add really quickly, I think one of the most amazing things to see from Inclusion Council, and just as we've, you know, all kind of grown organically together, is how much all the employee resource group leaders all work together, and we collaborate, and we make sure everyone is supported, we're all learning from each other, so there's even like a community just between all of those folks, too, who, you know, want to make sure that not just their like group or underrepresented group is taken care of, but that everyone is taken care of, and so that's also been really amazing to see. I know we are almost at the end of our time here, so I guess in the last, yeah, I guess Andrew and I will tell you a quick thank you so much for joining us today for this segment. We really enjoyed talking about this, and thanks so much for listening. Thanks, Celia. Bye, everyone. Bye, everyone.