Workday Rising Daily: Going Even Further Together

We conclude this year’s Workday Rising Daily with a recap of great discussions around diversity and inclusion, and a look at how some attendees gave back to the Las Vegas community by mentoring young job seekers on-site. Finally, we share with you some truly inspiring insights from bestselling author Shane Snow on how we all can continue to go further together. We look forward to seeing you at Workday Rising Europe in Vienna, Nov. 13-15, or next year at Workday Rising in Orlando, Oct. 14-17!

Diversity: Much More Than Checking a Box

At several Workday Rising sessions on diversity and inclusion, leaders gathered to discuss why we need to better redefine the meaning of diversity. “In a human workplace, it’s not about checking boxes and filling quotas. It’s thinking about diversity in a more holistic way,” said Erica Keswin, author of the book “Bring Your Human to Work.”

Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer at Workday, agreed. “Diversity does not equal women and people of color,” Taylor said. “Everyone needs to be included in the conversation.”

The forums included steps leaders are taking to shift their companies’ approaches. At Quicken Loans, employees are getting training on how to start “courageous conversations” if they have concerns or feel they’re not being treated equally, said Kiran Sahota, vice president, talent operations and analytics. “We’re focused on training leaders and team members about having these conversations, which requires courage on both sides.”

Erica Keswin Workday Rising
Organizations need to take a holistic approach to diversity, said Erica Keswin.

At PwC, Mike Dillon, chief diversity and inclusion officer, also helps facilitate difficult conversations. For example, employees across the company will have differing opinions about national news and events. “We put out simple rules,” said Dillon. “Don’t assume anything, listen, have respect, and give forgiveness. Not everyone will say the right thing at the right time.”

At the University of California, Berkeley, Larissa Roesch chairs the advisory council for the business school’s Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership. One step they’ve taken is to more actively invite men to join the conversation about diversity and inclusion. That’s been effective, and a group of male students had the idea to become “manbassadors.” The men have “sought to educate their male peers, and even created a booklet to share with incoming students. It’s the men educating the men,” said Roesch.

Efforts to increase the conversation around diversity and inclusion are helping companies everywhere, said Taylor. “It’s the first time in history where we’ve all started to come together to address these issues as one. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.”

Opportunity Onramps: Workday Rising Attendees Mentor Young Job Seekers

On the final morning of Workday Rising, as part of the Opportunity Onramps movement, 70 young job seekers from the Las Vegas community joined up with conference attendees to participate in a mock interview workshop. The job seekers got the opportunity to practice interviewing with attendees who volunteered their time. “The idea is to extend the Workday culture of giving back to our customers and partners,” said Nikki Egenolf, giving and doing program manager at Workday. “We invite them to give back with their expertise and knowledge.”

Job seekers came from two organizations: Tech Impact and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). Tech Impact hosts a number of programs that offer free, immersive IT and tech training to young adults ages 18 to 26 in Las Vegas who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree. JAG is a national non-profit organization that works with local schools to set up career readiness paths. They’ve helped more than a million young people stay in school and secure quality entry-level jobs.

“This is helping me understand what to think about for the future and also what I need to do right now.”
—Mohammad Nasani, trainee at Tech Impact

Mohammad Nasani, a 23-year-old from Tech Impact, said it was a great experience. “It’s very helpful. Everybody in our group wanted to be here. You can talk to anyone—people who have good jobs—and ask questions about how they manage their time.”

The Syrian native came to the United States nearly two years ago, and with two younger siblings, he’s focused on helping his parents provide financial support for the family. “Jobs are important. This is helping me understand what to think about for the future and also what I need to do right now.”

Inspiration Keynote: How to Go Further Together

Gathered In a packed auditorium for the closing Inspiration Keynote at Workday Rising, attendees heard Shane Snow, an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and journalist, argue that the idea that two heads are better than one, and that groups are smarter than an individual, is false.

“When humans work together, we either slow down, break down, or break through.”
—Shane Snow, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and journalist

He said research consistently shows that whether it’s playing tug-of-war, shouting as loud as possible, or brainstorming at work, people just don’t try as hard when they’re in a group. “But the reality is that most problems we want to solve involve a lot of people,” Snow said. “This could be building a skyscraper, cleaning a stadium, or curing disease.”

“When humans work together, we either slow down, break down, or break through,” he said. “I think we can all go further together if we understand what differentiates dream teams from teams that break down.”

Snow’s main idea is that getting people together with different perspectives—which often means different ages, races, ethnicities, and genders—can lead to big breakthroughs if people can actually bring those perspectives to bear.

“It’s not a matter of getting along well, but learning how to not get along well.”
—Shane Snow, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and journalist

He noted that only half of corporate mergers are considered successful after five years—but that’s because of something he calls “organizational silence.” It’s not that different groups clash; it’s that different groups stop talking to each other and no longer apply their varying “cognitive mosaics” to better solve business problems.

“It’s not a matter of getting along well, but learning how to not get along well,” Snow said, explaining that researchers have found that lack of communication is a much better predictor of divorce than the number of fights a couple has.

So, what can a business leader, or anyone who wants to be a better collaborator, do to better harness the creative potential of what Snow calls “cognitive friction?” A key ingredient is intellectual humility. Basically, even if you think you’re right, realize that you might be wrong. On the flip side, when someone in a group has a “bad” idea, don’t be quick to dismiss it. Sometimes bad ideas can point the group towards an entirely new way of framing a problem.

“What this intellectual humility is all about is transcending your current thinking, and is the number one collaboration skill we can all develop,” he said.

Snow offered attendees three “hacks” that they could start using right away to foster intellectual humility:

  1. Force yourself to switch sides during an argument.
  2. Start your ideas with, “I could be wrong, but . . .”
  3. When you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to admit it with, “I don’t know, yet . . .”

Anyone who wants to evaluate their own intellectual humility can take Snow’s assessment at

Closing his talk, Snow said, “As you go back to your families, your neighborhoods, your workplace, remember that you are part of a team, and we need each other to go further together.”

Check out our previous onsite reports this week from Workday Rising: “Workday Rising Daily: Welcoming the Workday Community,” “Workday Rising Daily: News Highlights from Innovation Keynote,” and “Workday Rising Daily: The Culture Imperative.”