Okta’s Core Values: Be Transparent with Audrey Hoffman-Lekmine
Transparency provides room for honesty, improvement, and growth. Our fourth core value is “Be transparent,” so we share information widely across all levels of the company. Audrey Hoffman-Lekmine, our internal communications lead, embodies this core value by managing Okta’s internal communications strategy and coaching others on how to communicate effectively.
What does “Be transparent” mean to you, and why is it important?
Transparency is ultimately about trust. When it comes to communications, you have to trust that your employees will act responsibly with the information you share. It’s especially important for rapidly growing companies like Okta because this is often the stage when information silos start to develop. One person may openly share information with their team members, but not with a broader group, which could potentially lead to duplicative projects, processes—you name it. Ultimately, we need to enable and empower our people with the information they need to do their jobs successfully, so it’s critical to trust your employees, be transparent with them, and ensure you’re sharing information at the highest level in your organization.
Where do you see this core value exemplified at Okta?
I see it every Friday at our weekly All Hands meeting, where we share updates on the business with all of our global employees. For example, we discuss our company strategy and the VMT framework for it, new programs we’re launching, customer success stories, product demos, and more. We trust our employees with a lot of information—more so than most companies our size—and that’s what sets us apart. We also have a Q&A session, where people can anonymously submit questions for our executives. I’m always impressed by how real their answers are, and how much they value that direct connection with our workforce.
Weekly All Hands meetings have been core to Okta’s culture since the very beginning. What started out as a small and informal meeting has become a place for community, celebration, feedback, and information sharing. It’s the glue that helps keep everyone together while also breaking down silos. We continue to receive positive feedback on All Hands because people appreciate the connectedness that comes with hearing updates on the business and getting facetime with leadership.
How do you embody this core value in your professional life?
I advocate for overcommunication. You should never assume that people have the same context and background knowledge as you. When people want to communicate with the entire company, whether through email, Slack, or All Hands, I counsel them on how to keep it at a high-level and use language that everyone understands. Clear and effective communication is hard for anyone, especially for specialized functions, but I try to serve as a buffer and remind people to think about their audience—specifically, why should they care and what’s in it for them.
Is it ever challenging to use this core value in your day to day—how do overcome that challenge?
Of course! As a public company, there’s certain information that we can’t share externally, so it’s all about knowing when and what you can share. If there’s ever information that might not make sense for a certain audience, we rely on a team of experts to review and keep us honest. Having close partnerships with my peers on the PR, FP&A, and Legal teams helps ensure that the information we’re sharing isn’t risky in any way.
Do you have any mentors or colleagues that have inspired you to use this core value?
In college, I had a mentor who sparked my interest in Internal Communications. She taught me the value of storytelling and crafting a strong message. There’s something so satisfying about telling a story that just lands across many audiences and mediums. Being exposed to that craft early on in my career was truly formative.
What advice do you have for how others can channel this core value?
Information can be used to empower your employees. Without access to the right information, people will work in a vacuum, innovation will stall, and engagement will suffer. Companies that aren’t actively sharing information with their employees are only hurting their business. My advice is to always overcommunicate and share as much as possible. Be transparent about your wins, honest about your losses, and—most importantly—share opportunities for improvement.
If Okta had a sixth core value, what would it be?
Stay humble. We work hard, get stuff done, and don’t let wins go to our heads. People don’t brag about their accomplishments or rest on their laurels. Instead, they’re always ready to move on to the next big project. We have a collective mentality of working and winning together as one team, and I truly cherish that.