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Very CEO Talks Language in the Workplace with AnitaB.org

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Very's CEO, Ryan Prosser, recently spoke with AnitaB.org Sr. Local Communities Manager Natasha Green about how the language we use in the workplace impacts diversity and inclusion.

During their conversation, Ryan shared the story of a challenge around workplace language we encountered at Very and the common-sense approach our leadership team took to address the issue.

This approach mirrored the deliberate, thoughtful way we tackle every problem at Very, from complex engineering quandaries to company culture questions, and included:

  • Reexamining our current context (a company with an historically informal culture that is scaling quickly)
  • Setting goals for what we want to accomplish (create an environment where everyone is able to do their best work and codify positive behavior that's already happening)
  • Crafting a hypothesis for a scalable, easy-to-implement solution that could help us meet those goals  
  • Validating that hypothesis through multiple methods, including transparent discussion of the issue at hand in a company-wide town hall meeting
  •  Releasing a set of guidelines to drive and reinforce the kind of behavior we want to see at Very

The final stage — measurement — is ongoing, as the new guidelines were implemented in February of 2020. 

“We put a huge amount of effort and energy into our hiring process trying to find and retain great people,” Ryan said. “So we wanted to provide guardrails to steer people in the right direction rather than being too prescriptive.”

AnitaB.org is a global nonprofit organization founded by computer scientists Anita Borg and Telle Whitney dedicated to creating a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for whom they build it. Learn more at https://anitab.org/