Inclusion and Diversity: How Do We Lead?

Mark McLaughlin


At Palo Alto Networks, we’re committed to creating an environment where all the members of the team feel inspired to do their best work and contribute to the mission of protecting our way of life in the digital age. To do this, our team must better reflect the world we live in and secure with our products and services. For us, this means Palo Alto Networks should lead our industry on inclusion and diversity (I&D). It’s ambitious, but achievable, as we focus on fostering a workplace that welcomes every culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, background and experience.

A key feature of our corporate culture is self-awareness, so let me start by sharing my perspective on how we’re currently doing. The short answer: we must do better as a company.

On our website, you will find numbers and percentages associated with the composition of our team across race and gender, which, as you can see, does not represent the world in which we live. While the data is humbling, sharing it is an important step in the work and commitment required to achieve true inclusion and diversity across our organization.

As a company, we’re experienced at bringing technology leadership to the market: launching, iterating, improving, and repeating those steps until we are the best. We will do that here as well. Research shows conclusively that diverse teams are more creative, innovative, and perform better than teams that are not diverse. Having people from different backgrounds – particularly those who have been historically underrepresented in the tech industry – at the decision-making table will lead us to better business outcomes and result in better products to meet the needs of the broad spectrum of people we serve worldwide. It’s common sense backed by empirical research. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

These numbers have prompted me to think a lot about the corporate culture we have cultivated at Palo Alto Networks. While I am proud of our core values of putting our customers first, transparency, and a “no egos” approach, at the end of the day, inclusion and diversity must be part of our company DNA if we are to make meaningful change. We need the entire company to embrace this effort.

Ultimately it all comes down to action. We’ve launched a number of initiatives to build a culture of inclusion at the company, through our own internal programs and by signing on to the CEO Action for Inclusion and Diversity pledge. Here’s a snapshot of where we’ve been focusing:

  • Launched our “Power of Inclusion” training program to help employees understand the research on inclusion and diversity, reflect on their experiences, personalize what inclusion and diversity means to them, and identify actions they can take to create a more inclusive workplace. All people managers worldwide will be expected to complete the training by July 31.
  • Recognizing that training is not enough, we are also in the process of planning ongoing, systemic efforts to put this training into action with toolkits and resources for employees and managers to help build more inclusive teams and a more inclusive culture.
  • Enhanced our hiring practices to better focus on attracting candidates with diverse backgrounds and expertise. For example, we’ve partnered with organizations like Direct Employers and InHerSight to post our jobs on over 150 channels focused on diverse communities. We are ensuring diversity in our interview teams and rolling out a “License to Hire” training program for interviewers to eliminate unconscious bias in our hiring processes.
  • Expanded our Employee Networks to foster a greater sense of community across our organization. So far, we have network groups for women, veterans, Black and Latino employees, and early-in-career professionals. Muslim, Asian and LGBTQIA+ networks are in the early stages of forming, and I encourage more to come.
  • Established the Mosaic advisory board, a diverse group of women and men from across the organization responsible for providing guidance on companywide I&D investments and championing I&D efforts within their own organizations.
  • Deepened our relationships with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), AnitaB.org, Women of the Channel, VetsinTech and National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE). With NCWIT, for example, we are creating training and resource kits for thousands of community college career counselors to encourage female and minority students to consider cybersecurity, and we will launch a new Collegiate Cybersecurity Award to recognize the cybersecurity achievements of college women.
  • Through our collaboration with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), we are introducing cybersecurity education to millions of girls across the United States through compelling programming designed to increase their interest and instill in them a valuable 21st century skillset. This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access, and will target girls as young as five years old, helping to ensure that even the youngest girls have a foundation primed for future life and career success. The first in a series of 18 Cybersecurity badges will be available to Girl Scouts throughout the United States in September 2018. We’re also partnering with Black Girls Code to develop a cyber camp that will be delivered this August.

There is so much more to do and, in addition to the internal discussions we’ll have as a company, we continue to seek input and advice from outside experts. We are committed to providing you with updates on our progress and look forward to suggestions and feedback.

Mark

Got something to say?

Get updates: Unit 42

Sign up to receive the latest news, cyber threat intelligence and research from Unit42

By submitting this form, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Statement.