How the Greenhouse sales org is creating a culture of diversity & inclusion
8 mins, 59 secs read time
This post could easily be titled “Why I love working at Greenhouse” because one of the biggest reasons I love working here is the culture of diversity & inclusion that became evident in my first interview and is still evident today. This is made possible by our structured hiring approach and strategic people practices, helping us drive a diverse & inclusive workplace that I’m proud to call home.
My background in the arts gave me an early education in diversity. I was able to work with people from all over the world which helped drive my passion for diversity and showed me how big the world actually is in the way of people, personalities, and worldviews. As such, I have learned to look at myself as an individual who brings something new and unique to each opportunity I’m given, including being the Sales Operations Director at Greenhouse. Here, I am able to add to the diversity of the sales team, as I am empowered to be my most creative and unique self.
Having worked in various large corporate sales environments, I have seen the other side of the coin and witnessed the drawbacks of being a part of a less diverse workplace. I have been in large, bustling, open rooms filled with middle-aged white men making calls to try and close deals. In those groups, as a young gay man, I was always the minority. I didn’t connect well with my environment nor the people I worked with and because of this, I wasn’t able to express myself freely, nor did I reach out for mentorship from those around me. What I have learned from working in these places that seem to hire based on conforming to a specific mold is that they tend to isolate the different and stifle the creative—the exact opposite of my current experience in the Greenhouse sales organization.
With my past experiences and my hopes for the future in mind, I’d like to highlight 3 aspects of diversity in the Greenhouse sales org—Cultural Diversity, People Diversity, and Organizational Diversity—and demonstrate how this model sets us apart, helping us thrive as a team as we scale the company.
1. Cultural diversity
One of the best parts of working in a sales organization like the one at Greenhouse is that there is a strong focus on the importance of company culture. This is the first company I’ve worked for that has a dedicated team to support employee experience and carry out culture initiatives. That team fosters our culture with team events, happy hours, and “fun days,” as well as building out a myriad of social clubs that bring people from different teams together around a common interest. I love being able to connect on a personal level with my fellow employees who have completely different job functions than I do. This gives me a more comprehensive view of what the company is trying to achieve as a whole.
Further, Greenhouse takes measures to actively integrate the various teams by creating opportunities for us to interact with one another and build stronger collaborative relationships. Just last week, over 30 employees from all over the company joined together for a lunch time power yoga class, and recently, a group of us participated in the NYC Pride march. A culture of diversity means that outside of the work we do, we can also come together as a diverse team around passions we share and causes we believe in.
2. People diversity
When I was new at the company, my manager—our VP of Sales—told me that he appreciated the fact that I came in with such comfort to be completely authentic and just myself. Now with our highly diverse 60+ member team, you can see the fruit of his decisions to hire with diversity in mind.
That said, our sales leadership team is truly unlike any other. We are all the colors of the rainbow, we represent multiple orientations, and we have 4 women in leadership positions (out of 12). And because we have deliberately hired people from many different backgrounds (not just tech and SaaS), we have a mix of ideology and creativity unlike anywhere I’ve ever worked.
From day one I knew this wasn’t a cookie cutter sales org. Looking around the room I see those from all walks of life. We have people from all over the world—Australia, Ireland, and India, to name a few—and we have artists, athletes, writers, musicians, comedians, and thought leaders a plenty. Although we are very different, the bond that unites us is the common purpose we share. This comes in the form of a mantra—“We are here to do the best work of our careers.” There’s no room for exclusion or judgement when we are united in purpose.
One of the lessons I have learned in my sales career from being in a room with people who were very similar is that idea flow is limited. People who all want to get to the same place and climb the same ladder tend to be followers of the ones who have come before and rely more on doing what has been proven to work than thinking outside the box. On the team here everyone has their own skill set and idea of where they want to go professionally. Those ideals are encouraged by leadership and a track is put together that isn’t straight up and down through management. It spreads out into a decision tree where there are many options. Here, Sales Development Reps (SDRs) can move up and become Account Executives—but they also can transition onto other teams, like Customer Success, Operations, Marketing, or even onto the Sales Renewals Team. I mention this because I know someone on each of those teams who started their career as an SDR. Not only are the people diverse but the paths that are available to be chosen are diverse as well. This is a unique type of diversity that our sales org promotes—one where you’re encouraged to try new things and gain a well-rounded perspective of the greater org and how everything works together.
3. Organizational diversity
Cultural diversity and people diversity are about who we are. Organizational diversity is about how we work. I am a part of one of the most diverse teams at Greenhouse, and that is found in how our team is constructed. Our SDR team contains team managers and a senior manager (split into inbound and outbound). And we have an Account Executive team with three sales directors who are split into Small-to-Medium Business, Account Executives, and Enterprise Account Executives.
Then there’s my team, Sales Operations. We have an Operations Manager, a Sales Administrator, a Salesforce Administrator, a Sales Engineer, and a Productivity Manager. The Ops team is the most diverse team in the sales organization in how it encompasses a wide variety of titles and responsibilities. Putting all of these roles into a group that shares projects and brings people together with very different personality types and expertise gives us an edge in both strategic and tactical planning. We have the resources and skills to forecast, train, and plan—and the analytics to understand the impact and evolution as we build out an iterative process. Each of the roles on my team could be grouped by responsibility or even paired down to the technology worked with, but as a team we are stronger and more creative. The ideas we bring to the table—and the strength to implement them—is rooted in the diversity of our backgrounds.
When I speak of organizational diversity, I also speak to the kinds of roles that were designed, interviewed, and hired for. At Greenhouse, they were envisioned in a way that doesn’t just fill a slot or put a quota-bearing rep in a seat, but that were thoughtfully constructed to fill a specific organizational need. For instance, our Sales Engineer was hired to support the technical part of the sales process and handle requests for proposals, but the role was expanded to examine our reps’ behaviors and help lead decisions around training and managing demo environments, giving him organization-wide impact.
Further, when I think about organizational diversity, it is never more clear than in our Salesforce Administrative team. The Operations Manager, Salesforce Administrator, and Sales Administrator all work closely within our Salesforce instance, but each have different goals and support different departments at Greenhouse (not just Sales). Inside of our sales organization, there is a smaller team of people whose primary focus is to generate the best ROI on our Salesforce instance. Having the ability to achieve that kind of laser focus keeps us ahead of the curve in stretching the abilities and use cases for the technology we use.
Because of the diversity of approach and experience that is represented on the sales leadership team, there is never a fear of implementing a creative solution to the challenges we are currently facing or the ones we project we will face in the future. Creating a role around a challenge and then letting that role grow organically to impact the entire sales culture is a part of the process here. Because Greenhouse follows its own mission and uses the very platform we sell to optimize our hiring process and candidate experience, we are always able to define any unique roles, source a pool of qualified candidates, and then hire the best and most qualified person.
Tying it all together
All too often, the hiring decision comes down to “Who is the best person for this job function?” Simply focusing on someone’s ability to perform in a specific role seems a bit shortsighted to me now.
Instead, in addition to ability, we also consider diversity, asking questions like: “How is this person and their unique personality and background going to impact our company overall?” Sometimes the person who’s an expert in their field doesn’t play well with others or contribute to the overall culture of the company. For that reason, we highly value culture fit interviews. We’ve had prospective hires that we know can do the job, but we’re much more confident about making them an offer when we know their presence and input will help drive our diverse culture.
As such, I am grateful to work in the Greenhouse sales org—an environment that is open to every kind of person and which places more value on experiences and ideas than on the likelihood to conform to a pre-built mold. I hope other sales organizations can take a cue from Greenhouse and see the value that creating a diverse team brings.
For more insights on creating a diverse workplace, be sure to view our Greenhouse Open 2016 video presentation, "Building Competitive Companies Through Diversity & Inclusion." Simply click the button below!