„All of a sudden, you are working in a place in which everyone can just…be.“
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say “working at Google”? I bet many people will think about how playfulness is integrated into their offices. Some would associate it with power and influence – we’re talking about THE big tech, right? If you come from the agency world, you probably had some meetings there and witnessed the fact there’s food everywhere, for free, for everyone. But after working at Google for 5 months, I can tell you the best of it is something else.
While working at the São Paulo Headquarters as Insights & Strategy Manager for the WazeAds team, I could see real diversity and inclusion in the workplace on a bigger scale. It’s a sort of a magic moment when you realize the best professionals in the country surround you, and they differ a lot from the typical white-straight-cis-male. We are talking about people with different disabilities, neurodivergent individuals, members of the LGBTQIAP+ communities, and various ethnicities of every gender, height and weight. All of a sudden, you are working in a place in which everyone can just… be. And collaborate. It’s inevitable to think “what if it would be like this everywhere?”
Numbers are out there to prove diversity and inclusion are a competitive advantage for business. Companies with more gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to outperform their counterparts in terms of profitability, according to McKinsey. The Boston Consulting Group found that diverse teams are more innovative and generate 19% higher innovation revenue than less diverse teams. But it goes beyond the performance numbers: it feels good to be in such a workplace because everywhere you look there’s living proof that 1) it’s possible, and 2) the world could be way much better for SO MANY people.
I might be biased, but when I look at the AMC Broschüre Marketing Agenda of Marketing Executives in Austria presented earlier this year, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are the obvious answers popping up. According to the study, 42% of Austrian Marketing Plans for 2023 and beyond focused on acquiring new target groups. At the same time, the top concern of Marketing Executives in Austria is recruiting employees with relevant experiences.
Hiring DE&I is one part of the solution. But the second one goes down to the core, which Google understood and applied very well. The Aristoteles Project is an internal initiative aiming to discover the ingredients of a perfect team. Differently from what everyone expected, the teams with the top individual performers are not necessarily the top-performing teams. After some hard work analyzing the data of teams across the whole company globally, the major found patterns were:
An alternated place of speech. „When everyone has a chance to speak, the team does better. But if only one person or a small group talks all the time, collective intelligence is undermined,“ says Abeer Dubey, the project leader.
Social sensitivity. The group members were able to perceive, to intuit, how their colleagues were feeling through gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions.
We can sum it all up with two words: psychological safety. People perform better when they know it’s okay for them to be themselves. This means there’s room for vulnerabilities, different perspectives, and new voices, which is closely connected to a great place for minorities to work, which is the most fertile ground for innovation. I know this is an extremely radical take on workplace culture, but the time to go beyond free coffee and “duzen” has come. It’s said at the AMC Brochüre that the top Marketing trend in the Austrian market is “New Work – Agile teamwork and workplace structures.” I hope the leaders of our industry remember it also means “opening doors to minorities and building diverse teams.”
PS. Despite loving my time at Google, I must say my psychological safety was quite impacted when 500 colleagues and I were laid off due to the company’s geo solutions merges. However, that’s a topic for a different article…