The ideas of inclusiveness and empathy have always been part of Dashlane’s culture. However, a few years ago, as the company was scaling from a very small startup to a tech company with more people in more countries, we knew we had to intentionally think through the concepts of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), what they mean, and how they’re practiced at Dashlane.
Laying the foundation
While the general concept of a DEIB program was fairly straightforward to some, it was important that we have a conversation as a company to make sure everyone was starting with the same foundation.
Being a company that was founded in France and then expanded to the U.S. and Portugal, we had to be thoughtful about looking at DEIB from different angles to ensure that we were articulating our thoughts in a way that would resonate with Dashlaners from myriad national and cultural backgrounds. While we knew the popularity of unconscious bias training, we’ve also read studies about such training being ineffective and even leading to more discrimination, especially if the main focus is the awareness and impact of biases as opposed to ways to eliminate them.
Regardless of this complexity, one thing rang true everywhere: We wanted to ensure that Dashlane is a place where every person can belong and can bring their authentic self to work.
Another thing that was always clear to us was that DEIB work was not meant to be siloed in our People (HR) function. While some large pillars of the work indeed happen within processes that are generally owned by people departments—such as hiring—DEIB work is something that needs to be interwoven inherently into every department in order to be successful. It must be on the mind of every leader, and there must be a way for every person at the company to advocate for it and contribute if they wish.
How we shaped our training
Back to our story of developing our global DEIB training. We were thinking through the conversation starters that would allow us to take concrete steps towards progress and bring our teams along. In this process we realized two things: We needed to figure out the level of awareness on the topic from our communities, and we had to pay special attention to the effect of the language that we use every day, especially considering that the majority of Dashlaners speak English as their second or third language even though that’s the language in which we do business.
Luckily, we already had a language pro working at Dashlane—Shannon, then our Lead Copywriter, now our Editorial Director—so we came to the idea of what our focus should be: inclusive language! Our aim was to inspire people to expand their conception of what it means to respect other Dashlaners to also include a better understanding of what—and why—identity-based language can mean to people from different backgrounds and contexts.
While we wanted to make sure we introduced best practices on inclusive language and provide education and resources on the topic, we also wanted to make it clear that we’re not introducing “rules,” and that instead, everyone should strive to “be brave, not perfect.” Being “perfectly” inclusive the first time, every time, in every instance is not possible, and we will all make mistakes. But it’s how we listen, learn, give and receive feedback, and improve our ways of relating to one another that really create a culture of inclusion. (Hence the title of our training: “Building an Inclusive Culture Through Language”!)
Creating and delivering our inclusive language training
We have to admit that this was something we were nervous about because not only were not sure if we were going to be able to produce a quality training that would make a long-lasting impact, but we were also setting the tone across the company as the very first step we took towards our DEIB goals. So we had to be successful!
As this work kicked off, we did a ton of research about best practices for inclusive language, collected feedback internally from multiple Dashlaners across the three countries in which we operate, and reached out to other small startups that were similar enough to us to discuss their programs. We have examined all the examples and stories we collected to maximize the relevancy of our content in each of our geographies, and we curated the training for each of our offices when we introduced this topic for the very first time. We are forever thankful to all of our local team members who shared their knowledge and insights with us!
When the training was finally ready, we presented it in our Lisbon, Paris, and New York offices within about a week to keep the conversation aligned across the company. The result since? Dashlaners have started great conversations, asked thoughtful questions, and shared with us that they’ve learned something new!
Today and beyond
Fast forward to today: We’ve combined the three trainings into one holistic presentation for all our geographies, and we’re proud that this training is now a part of our onboarding program so that every new Dashlaner is equipped with this knowledge at the beginning of their journey at Dashlane.
While we believe that developing this training was an important part of our DEIB program, its impact is complemented with other actions we’re taking to contribute to systemic changes in the workplace. To learn more about what we do and to further educate and promote DEIB efforts, Dashlane is sharing this internally built DEIB training, “Building an Inclusive Culture Through Language,” with everyone—you can watch it here.
In addition, we will share an editable version of the presentation and all the notes with any company that will, in turn, donate to organizations that uplift, support, and elevate historically marginalized communities. For details on this exchange, contact Karmen at email@example.com.
One last thing we’d like to note here is that as we are using this opportunity to provide support to various organizations, we do not consider it a box that we checked on the path to reaching social justice. There is so much work to be done, and we are committed to challenging ourselves continuously to do more. We invite you to join us and do the same!