Words by: Janna Kimel
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who's a job coach specializing in User Experience. I asked her, “What people are looking for in jobs these days.? What's important?” She responded that people are looking for psychological safety. They're looking for diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Diversity is representation of any and all different types of people, promoting equity is promoting impartiality and a fair distribution of resources, and inclusion is what happens when the diverse employee population feels welcomed and able to participate. A focus on DE&I In the workforce means being able to bring your whole self to work. It's the year 2021 and employers are listening. People are resigning and looking for companies that allow them to be everything they are and more.
On that note I'd like to share with you what my first six months have been like at Hinge Health compared to experiences earlier in my career and how working for a company where I can bring my whole self to work is very freeing..
I’ve been at Hinge Health for 6 months. For my last 15 years in the health tech world, I have moved from the behemoth Intel of 100,000+ people to Hinge Health with around 1000 employees. Both the era we are in, and company size, have some very real impacts.
As I look back at my brief time at Hinge Health, I’ve experienced humanity and humility in colleagues and leaders that I’ve never experienced at other companies. These people allowed us to see them, all of them.
In the past 2 months I have seen a Senior VP cry in a meeting while discussing the pain he had been in prior to using our product, I've heard from upper management about their struggles with depression and we had a guest speaker who is the trans partner of one of our employees. I never had this view into the real personality of leaders in any other company in my 30 plus years of being in the working world.
Instead, organizations in my past lacked diversity, transparency and awareness. I remember interviewing someone in the '90s, while working at a small non-profit, and having my boss at the time say he didn't want to hire her because he thought she might get pregnant. I was appalled.
I have quietly suffered with my own chronic pain at many previous jobs and I find that at this company I can share it both personally and academically, receive empathy and also provide empathy for those that we service.
In 2005 I joined a large tech company and I remember sitting in many meetings where literally I counted the number of men to women in each meeting. The odds were not good. I know that's still a significant struggle in the workforce but I don't feel it nearly as much as I used to and I'm still in the tech world.
I like where things are going. That said, we still have work to be done. I am hyper aware that my small team is not terribly diverse, we are four white women, and we hope to rectify that with the next group of hires. Hinge Health is working very hard on diversity. Not just working on it, but accomplishing it.
We have employee resource groups for Black and Latinx employees, LGBTQ+, disability, women, Veterans, etc. Those resource groups all work to make employees feel heard and included. The evolution of organizations can be seen in events and efforts across the company.
One of my favorite events this year (that I was not able to attend but it sounded wonderful) was a cross-cultural potluck. The resource group used its money to allow people to either order food from their ethnicity or cook a special meal and then talk about it in an online potluck. What a wonderful way to bring your heritage to work.
After realizing some of our Zoom meetings were not allowing for closed captioning we worked with HR to make sure that got rectified.
The employee mentioned above whose spouse is trans had written a book and it was part of a book group and conversation for anyone who wanted to join in.
All of these things are happening while we are of course working hard, heads down, trying to meet deadlines and work towards IPO. Letting people bring their whole self to work makes for a workforce that is more dedicated, more honest and more connected.
I'm proud to continue to be able to bring my whole self to work - my female, over 50, Jewish, chronic pain sufferer self who plans to support her team mindfully in any way possible and encourage them to continue to bring their whole selves to work. We are better employees, stronger influencers and more connected to each other when we can be who we are. I believe that small businesses and startups are helping to push this movement forward. I thank all of the people who spoke up before me and made it easier to speak up and show up every day as I am.