Okta for Good: Building Our Social Impact

I recently joined Okta as the Executive Director of Okta for Good, our corporate social impact initiative. In my first few weeks, I met with numerous leaders and employees, many of whom asked the same questions: “What makes a successful social impact program? What is Okta’s unique opportunity to do good? And how do we get there?”

Although we are just beginning to build and scale Okta for Good, Okta already has what I consider three of the most foundational elements of a successful social impact program.

Erin Baudo Felter

Commitment from our People

The best social good efforts combine authentic commitment from the top with the passion and action of employees. We are lucky to have both at Okta.

At Oktane last year, our CEO and co-founder Todd McKinnon announced that we were taking the 1% Pledge, committing our time, product and equity to help give back to the community. Like many companies at our stage, we took this pledge to formalize our commitment to social impact and to enable it to scale with our company. But, long before that, Todd and our COO and co-founder Frederic Kerrest had been living those values by supporting their own personal philanthropic efforts (Todd sits on the board of Family House and Frederic on the board of The Ocean School) — and encouraging employees to do the same. They continue to be committed to not just talking about the company’s desire to do good, but also backing it up with resources and action.

Take, for example, back in January when the Trump Administration issued its first Executive Order on travel and immigration. Todd told employees that Okta would make a $10,000 donation to the ACLU — and he promised that he and Frederic would personally match any employee donations to the organization. Okta employees collectively donated $11,710. Together with the company’s donation, and Todd and Frederic’s match, we directed a total of $33,420 to the ACLU — making that our company’s largest employee giving effort to date.

A Product that Accelerates Impact

Many companies have to work to connect their products to impact. For us, the impact is inherent in what we do. Okta sits uniquely at the intersection of mission-driven organizations and the people and technology that power them. If you listen to and read the testimonials from our nonprofit customers like Rotary International, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, charity:water and City Year, it’s clear that the Okta Identity Cloud enables them to do their work more efficiently, and connect with their constituents in innovative ways.

If we can help nonprofits get out of their own way when it comes to IT, so they can spend more time and resources delivering on their missions, that is exactly the kind of impact we hope to make. It’s an exciting place to be — and we are just getting started.

A Community-Minded Approach

Collaboration, partnership and the search for the win-win are core to Okta’s business. These values also define the best work in the social sector. Last year, we joined Box’s Impact Cloud Initiative, a coalition of cloud vendors supporting support crisis response organizations like Team Rubicon. And for years, we’ve teamed up with civic-minded companies in the San Francisco Bay Area to fight poverty through Tipping Point Community’s SF Gives initiative. I am personally proud to be a part of a company that understands the value of working together to help solve our toughest challenges.

So, where does Okta for Good go from here? We’ll continue to work with our community partners and nonprofit customers to determine where we can make the most impact and we’ll leverage our people, product, and financial resources to meet those opportunities. One of the ways we plan to do that is by hosting our first company-wide volunteer effort — a week of career workshops with some of the best tech education and workforce development nonprofits in our communities around the world — starting May 15. We’ll be sharing more details here on the blog and on our social channels, so stay tuned.