A message from our CEO
We're nearly a quarter into the 21st century, yet, women's rights are being taken away, and many parts of the population remain on the fringes. Society as a whole is polarized and the divide seems to be getting deeper. There has never been a more important time for companies to take up the banner of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Collectively, we must ensure that in our real or virtual walls, empathy, understanding and appreciation of our fellow coworkers win the day.
As with many people, my path to understanding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been less intentional and more through a series of revelations over my career these past two decades. One of the first books I ever read about managing and leading people was "Women Don't Ask" by Babcock & Levescher, which outlines pay disparities between men and women in the workplace. With it already being the 21st century, I was taken aback by the case the authors laid out: women are equally-to-more satisfied with their pay than men – even though they may know they earn less. I was confused and angered by this. Why wouldn't women stand up for themselves, but more importantly, why should they even need to? Further, how can a business be structured in a way that would equate to pay disparity for people in equivalent roles?
This was naive thinking on my part as a young entrepreneur. Nevertheless, I made a commitment to myself that this wouldn't happen for any company I lead. In the earlier days, compensation was done on a case by case basis through direct conversations around adequate pay and promotions for women in the workplace. While that was a good place to start, that didn't scale. As young companies grow, middle management becomes a necessity. At this point, institutionalizing pay equity must go beyond personally coaching managers at a team member level.
At Ozmo, we have role rubrics that explicitly detail requirements between different levels for roles. This is meant to encourage more meaningful one-on-one conversations and facilitate the creation of professional growth plans for employees. This also helps to answer the question: when's that promotion coming? Our team has worked diligently to take a methodical approach to pay equity. Through the use of external services for competitive pay data and ongoing efforts by our Human Resources & Recruiting teams, we have developed and maintained pay scales for every role in the company. With the market being as crazy as it is in 2022, this has also meant continuously adjusting salaries for existing team members as if new employees were to join at a higher compensation. While not budget-friendly for some businesses, this is critical to fairness for employees. We are committed to equal pay for every Ozmonaut.
Want to know more about Ozmo's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
In 2022 we decided to make work-from-home a permanent fixture at Ozmo. This was a very difficult decision. Prior to 2022, we had a strong office-oriented culture in downtown Blacksburg, Virginia. It was common for groups to take excursions for coffee, lunch and to meet up after work. This transition has left some feeling nostalgic for the pre-COVID days; however, moving fully remote has the advantage of a much larger employee base.
We are now better positioned than ever to fight the technology industry’s norms of a white male dominated employee base, and even more so at the leadership level. We have become more intentional about reaching out to organizations like JobTarget to extend a welcoming hand to various communities to consider Ozmo as their next place to work. We have an internal metric that tracks whether or not we're bringing underrepresented individuals to the final interview stage for new positions. We're also arming those with the responsibility of hiring with unconscious bias training and behavioral interviewing. While these are great steps, they are just our first steps as we aspire to expand the definition of what it means to be an Ozmonaut.
When it comes to leadership in the tech industry, diversity is an even bigger problem. Unfortunately, at Ozmo, we aren't yet better than this industry average. Matching the industry norm, today, white men make up 80% of our manager-level and above. This year we developed an internal KPI to track internal promotions across diverse peoples at Ozmo. We also plan to build upon the role rubrics that we have created and identify clear career pathways for employees. In 2021, our Ozmonauts founded the Ozmo Women’s Network (OWN) in an effort to encourage career development and networking amongst our team members, including an employee-led mentorship program. This is a great start and something that I'm truly proud of.
Moving forward, we need to build on this and foster mentorships and executive level sponsorship more broadly across Ozmo. I'm confident that, with focus and determination, we will make more progress in this area.
I believe that company culture stems not just from the fun social activities, but from the environment in which we accomplish our day job. Mutual respect for others builds trust and trust is a foundational element to high performing teams. Creating an inclusive culture is impossible without trust. This begins with having an appreciation for different world views and a recognition that different perspectives can lead to novel ways to solve problems. Everyone at Ozmo, no matter their walk of life, should feel comfortable being authentic to who they are.
One of the ways in which Ozmo fosters inclusivity is through our employee-led efforts to make space for underrepresented communities. Our internal diversity group engages in and encourages important conversations among all Ozmonauts surrounding DEI topics including: Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color (BIPOC) issues, LGBTQIA+ themes and more. Additionally, our dedicated non-binary space allows non-binary and transgender employees at Ozmo to feel safe and connected to share their experiences with one another and encourage others within the company to get involved in those conversations.
Diversity, equity and inclusion within the technology industry
At Ozmo we've been actively encouraging conversations, activities and events that are centered around diversity and inclusion efforts company-wide to individuals of all backgrounds. Outside of our company, it is encouraging to see pay equity and discussions around DEI quickly becoming institutionalIzed in how companies do business, including our industry. With more people championing diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace, we will all be better for it.