DEI Feb. 10, 2023

It’s About Trust: Talent, Culture, and Experience at Climate, Eight Years On

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about managing our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program at Climate, it’s that trust is the foundation for progress.

Trust in your self-growth, trust in your colleagues, and trust that a broad range of perspectives reflects the world at large and builds robust products. Building trust holistically across an organization by walking, where lots of organizations are just talking.

Research – and my practical experiences in my eight years with Climate – have indicated that diverse experiences and perspectives push the innovation envelope. We know that diversity remains a key growth opportunity for both industries Climate supports: tech and farming. 

In my time at Climate, I’ve seen DEI evolve from being an aspirational area of focus to becoming central to so much of what we do. We’ve made important strides in supporting employees from underrepresented groups as they’ve joined the Climate team as well. Imagine where society was in the United States eight years ago. We’ve come a long way in that time, moving from equal opportunity to identifying inequity to celebrating the power of difference. 

I didn’t begin my career thinking this is where I would be today. I’m fortunate to work for an organization that’s open to continual change, both from a growth and development perspective as well as for the organization itself. 

I didn’t come into Climate as our DEI Lead, but rather as a Recruiting Coordinator whose role expanded into our diversity space until that was my sole focus. Growing this program has been the highlight of my career and has become such a necessary part of our strategy as we strive to ensure our global employee base remains as diverse in identity, culture, and experience as our customers around the world are.

From the perspective of our broad, global customer base, our teams support a broad mix of hardworking individuals with disparate backgrounds, access to resources, technologies, and basic approaches to farming. 

Our approach to DEI needs to reflect the unique cultures and varying desires of this diverse population!

Over the past few years, we’ve worked to overhaul our recruiting and hiring processes to ensure we’re effectively reaching underrepresented communities. Our teams are highly prioritizing these efforts. We’re seeing meaningful early results, significantly increasing hires from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups throughout 2022. We’re also doing a better job of hiring women, trending toward representation that better reflects society. While there’s always more work to be done, we’re really encouraged by the progress we’ve made!

I’ve also seen a very real evolution across Climate over this time. From the top down, leaders increasingly internalize DEI-focused processes and are becoming intentional about equity in hiring. They’re coming to me of their own volition to seek new and better ways to advocate for improved representation in our job candidates. They understand it’s no longer just “the right thing to do.” It’s a business imperative.

One of the most gratifying things about that imperative is that it’s become so much more than a matter of recruiting and hiring a diverse population of qualified candidates. DEI is part of the comprehensive employee experience, and I’ve been fortunate to work on diverse projects from tools that use machine learning to automatically identify bias in the language of job descriptions, to standardized processes across the organization, to encouraging community among our teams through the advent of grassroots Business Resource Groups (BRGs).

One new initiative I’m proud of is Empower Hour, a series of meetings designed to ground our employees on different DEI-related topics. We’ve held sessions on topics like the business case for DEI, micro-aggressions and how to effectively deal with them, and privilege and oppression. These sessions have been well-attended, and we’re looking forward to expanding this series in 2023.

As with many organizations, we have some distance to go before we fully realize our DEI goals, and DEI work is never truly done. But we’re making important progress every day, and I am encouraged by the growing enthusiasm for DEI that I see throughout Climate. I couldn’t be prouder to be working on these initiatives, I’m looking forward to providing additional updates on our progress along the way! 

About the Author

Annette Sarlatte-Matsu is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead at Climate. Her time at Climate began in 2014 as Recruiting Coordinator, and in the last eight years she has worked to build out Climate’s holistic DEI program and strategy. Annette has a BA in Romance Languages from New York University and her master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences from San Jose State University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Vinny, and their cat, Rita Hayworth.

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