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Creating Equity in a Digital-First Workplace Environment

Listen to the full episode of Untapped on iTunes or Spotify.

While COVID-19 has caused much devastation around the world, in the world of work, the pandemic has sparked some changes that will ultimately be positive. When it comes to DE&I, COVID actually exposed some shortfalls in the way companies hire because when they moved from the office to working remotely, organizations realized they may not have been handling their business as equitably as they intended to. 

“When I think about the journey that we've gone on over the past five years, there has been a lot of progress, but I just think it accelerated this past year. And I'm glad that it did. I don't want us to go through another pandemic, but I think it's just accelerated these discussions at the highest level,” Dena Upton, Chief People Officer at Drift, said in the latest episode of Canvas’s “Untapped” podcast. “Our board is asking us about our DE&I stats. I saw that before, but not at the same scrutiny that we have seen over the past year. So I'm happy about those changes.”

Another change that Dena is happy about since the pandemic is the move to being a digital-first workplace, which she believes will ultimately make Drift more equitable for current and potential employees, since it will help level the playing field by opening up opportunities for people despite their location. In order to ensure that this evolution helps the company meet its DE&I goals, Drift has adopted the following principles. 

1. Establishing a National Pay Structure

Giving people equal access to opportunities is a great start, but to make the compensation more equitable, Drift is moving toward a national pay structure so employees in the same role will have the same compensation range no matter where they’re located, instead of providing premium compensation to those in big cities like San Francisco and Boston.   

“We’ve moved to a national pay structure because the digital-first world is smoothing out the pay structure right now,” Dena said.  

2. Emphasizing Outcomes

Before COVID, many companies had the philosophy that being under the same roof was the best way for workers to be productive. However, Dena says that moving to a digital-first environment allows companies to focus on outcomes because creativity isn't confined to one location or set business hours.

“Creativity happens at any time; it doesn't always happen right in front of your computer,” she said. “I come up with my best ideas on my jogs in the morning. So your mind is going and work is happening at different times of the day—your productivity and your effectiveness, it happens. If organizations can make sure they're migrating to outcome-based performance and outcome-based measurements, they will be better off.”

3. Establishing Companywide Rituals

Just because Drift employees are not in an office together doesn’t mean they don't have opportunities to connect with each other. Drift has created companywide rituals that encourage connection among colleagues, as well as an opportunity to find out what every department is doing—thus creating equity of information across the company.

“What happens in a digital-first world is you end up working with those four or five people that are working on a project—whether you're a software engineer, a marketing analyst, or whatever you are—and in a digital world, you know those people really well. So I think bringing the organization together and rituals are really important,” said Dena. “We have two of them—Monday Metrics and Friday Show and Tell—where the whole organization comes together and everybody understands at high level what the overall metrics of the organization are regardless of your position. So we put our arms around the whole organization and we look in the organization.”

To hear more of Dena's views about equity and Drift’s transition to a digital-first workplace, listen to this week's "Untapped" podcast, where host Tariq Meyers has discussions with DE&I leaders about the issues they face.  

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