I feel when someone comes to work for you they sign a contract, usually an un-written one, that says you as a company need to value them as an employee and ensure you put their interests in the same rarified air as the interests of shareholders, founders, and customers. We also need to keep our employees away from situations where bad things can happen to them: I remember getting emails from Cisco’s security team warning me to not fly to certain parts of the world on occasion, and several times in management training being told that I have a responsibility to my employees to solve problems when they are being harassed – whether internal or external.
Marc Benioff recently recognized a scenario where the government of Indiana was signing a bill into law that would allow businesses in that state to harass or discriminate against his employees and he is doing something about it. First off: thank you Marc – you are one stand-up guy.
We are a smaller company, and we don’t have operations in every state and country yet – but I agree with Marc that we have an obligation to ensure our employees – from all races and backgrounds and orientations and lifestyles – have the ability to be themselves. We hired them, not because of whose hand they like to hold, but because they add value to our company every day – we owe it to them to not put them in situations where they are discriminated against, ridiculed, made to feel less than equal. Life is hard enough without trying to make it worse…
I also saw a very interesting note today that RSA has made a decision to not allow companies to use ‘booth babes’. Again, I applaud this decision. We are not exhibiting at RSA this year, but will be hosting a series of private briefings (if you are interested please let us know, we will do our best to accommodate you!), but as we continue to grow it is likely we will be at RSA in the future. I think a similar gesture from companies stepping up to decry the use of objectified women in marketing is also needed.
I’ve never hired a model, or outside talent, to represent my company’s products, systems, or brand – I hope to never have to. I was especially proud at Arista Networks where a few members of my marketing team would be helping on the show floor and a customer would make some comment about our ‘booth babes’ (who were wearing the same polo shirt I was with a tasteful pair of khakis or dark jeans) and have their jaw drop when the so-called ‘booth babe’ turned out to be a full time employee, who knew the product line, could explain the differences between switching products and could discuss the BGP state machine.
We really like the team we’ve built here at Skyport. We don’t have enough clout to change legislation yet – but we do have every opportunity to make our employees proud of where they work, who they work with, and never put them in a situation where they are lessened.