This has been a year of reckoning. As the world has battled an unprecedented global pandemic, we have confronted – at equally unprecedented scale – issues of racial inequality, social injustice, and civil unrest around us. The murder of George Floyd, a tragedy so egregious and the communal response so strong, presented us with a moment – a mandate – for change.
We see change, as with all progress, slowly beginning to take shape. A guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin brings accountability. Civil rights groups and activists rally in cities big and small, committing to the fight for justice as a police reform bill named after George Floyd goes to the Senate.
But the central question remains: How do we create sustainable change? How do we come together at the individual, community, and business level, using our collective power and influence to chart the course for the future?
At PTC, I think of it as change starting at home. Last year, I wrote a blog about PTC’s contributions to the movement for change: It was a moment for every company, every CEO, to stand up and say “enough is enough” – this is about right and wrong.
A year later, we’re continuing our commitment to drive change, now with a dedicated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) function at PTC – a core part of the business with its own set of strategic goals, priorities, programs, and policies. We realize that change doesn’t happen overnight, so we’re putting one of PTC’s core values – brains and passion – to the test, championing change across all levels of the organization by bringing in diverse thinkers, voices, and perspectives.
I sat down recently with Kameelah Benjamin-Fuller, PTC’s Chief Diversity Officer & Corporate Social Responsibility Leader, to have a conversation about PTC’s DEI journey. Take a look at excerpts from our discussion:
Kameelah, thanks for being here today. I want to start by discussing what diversity, equity, and inclusion means to PTC. When I think about DEI, I think about the three pieces working together to form the bigger picture. PTC should be reflective of the communities in which we live and work – a diversity in perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds is crucial for innovation and studies show it makes good business sense, too. Inclusion, fostering a sense of belonging for all, is what’s necessary for diversity to take root and prosper. And equity is the place we ultimately get, with everyone having equal opportunity at PTC.
That’s exactly right, Jim. I like to think of diversity and inclusion as being a formula for driving the future of work, for fostering innovation, and for supporting creativity. Equity is the outcome of those two things together: When you have an environment that has policies, practices, and programs that create access for all, that’s when you get to that place of belonging – the ultimate goal for our ecosystem of employees, customers, and partners.
Yes, that’s what we’re striving for – a sense of belonging for everyone. It all ties back to the concept of “brains and passion” – this idea that sometimes the best way to create a company that embraces change is to bring in fresh, diverse perspectives that challenge us to see things in a different light.
Having passion around the DEI work we’re doing is so important, but it has to be strategic – and that’s where our focus lies. Each new employee can pull you into the future, so we’re spending the time building the future we would like to see.
OK, let’s talk about the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death – today is a day that reminds us that racial injustice remains a significant challenge and there is much work to be done. Can you talk through some of the ways PTC is approaching DEI, one year later?
When you have something this stark, a clear loss of life and racism in its highest form, people realize they need a voice. So one of the most impactful things PTC has done over the last year is carve out space and time for people to have a voice: through work within our employee resource groups, through listening sessions, through small group dialogues. We’re all participating in this social experience – it’s impacting daily lives, it’s impacting the communities where we live and work.
That’s right. For me, and for the executive leadership team at PTC, George Floyd’s death marked a moment in time where we made the strategic decision to be invested in DEI over the long term. This, of course, led to the creation of the DEI team and the appointment of you, Kameelah, as our Chief Diversity Officer.
Support from you and the executive leadership team has been critical in building a sustainable DEI program at PTC.; there’s a lot of energy and excitement about our path forward, but we all recognize that it’s a long journey. The one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death is a moment to say ‘let’s stay the course, this work is important’ because the reality is these kinds of inequities exist everywhere. If we don’t address challenges at their core, we’ll never see sustainable change.
Yes, we’re making progress, we’re investing in programs, and we’re not afraid of talking to each other – that’s a huge part of it. Kameelah, you and your group have been instrumental in helping PTC assess where we are on our DEI journey today – and map out a strategic plan for the future. So what’s the path forward for DEI at PTC?
Change has to be sustainable with DEI so we’re being very intentional with the programs we are building from the ground up. A good example is a program we launched this year, PTC Lifts. It’s focused on exposing underrepresented minorities to aspirational tracks within the company and giving them time with executives to get coaching and inspiration around building their careers. Programs like that are super strong because they cultivate the next generation of leaders in a supportive, inclusive space.
At PTC, we’re committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace for employees from all cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life. Let’s stand together to be the change we want to see.