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Representation Matters: Introducing Okta's People of Color

Brittany Braxton and Sydney Lew

Identity matters because we’re all unique. We were raised in different places. We have unique backgrounds. We’ve faced specific challenges. And we've learned a lot along the way. At Okta we believe those experiences equip us to look at the world with our own perspective.

But it’s no secret that tech is lacking in diversity. Whether you look around or read the headlines, it’s clear this is one of the most significant challenges we are facing as an industry. However, these headlines are not to discourage us, but to call us into action to make change.

Brittany Braxton, Co-Founder POC: When I started at Okta, I came to realize I wasn’t seeing as much diverse representation as I had expected. I asked myself, “why” and teamed up with others who were seeing the same, to start Okta’s People of Color (POC) employee resource group. POC’s vision is to promote equity and inclusion at Okta through representation of all cultures, ethnicities, and genders. We aim to disrupt the status quo by building a culturally and ethnically diverse community that celebrates our intersecting identities at Okta.

Sydney Lew, Co-Founder POC: At Okta, and the tech industry in general, there is a lack of diversity. I started as a recruiting coordinator and saw this day in and day out. I wanted to be able to change that, but I didn’t know how to. Starting POC has given us the footing to do just that and to tip the scales in the other direction. We realized there was a deficit in the conversation around diversity and inclusion and we wanted more dialogue and more community. We all need a space to talk about this, to gain new perspectives, and most importantly, to come together to figure out how to create a more diverse and lasting talent pool.

We started POC because representation matters. It matters because when we see people who look like us at work, it makes us feel like all opinions are respected. If that’s not enough, McKinsey & Company’s diversity report tells us that diverse companies are “better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”

While we’re just getting started, we wanted to hear why representation matters to the broader Okta community and our society as a whole. At Oktane18, we erected a “Representation Matters” wall where attendees shared their personal stories and sentiments. Here are just a few of our favorites:

  • “Representation matters because every identity matters.”
  • “Diverse ideas drive better outcomes!”
  • “Representation matters because without it, the world would be boring. Life is more beautiful in color.”
  • “Diversity of thought and culture is very important to build a successful company and society.”
  • “Representation matters because everyone has a different perspective.”
  • “Representation matters because everyone deserves to see and know they can succeed regardless of what they look like or where they come from!”
  • “Representation matters because nothing awesome happens in a bubble!”
  • “Collaboration and simplification is an important step in the journey toward innovation.”
  • “Representation matters because it planes a seed in the minds of those who never felt like they belonged. It inspires – it tests us to think bigger, think different.”
  • “Representation matters because I shouldn’t have to use my imagination to see myself in the c-suite.”

 


 

Employees should be able to bring the fullness of their identities into the workplace. We’re all in this together and we’re just getting started!

Interested in joining us? We are hiring