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December 14, 2021

Portfolio Company Roundtable: Developing a DE&I Strategy

Adelaide Whitehead, Employee Experience and Talent Acquisition Manager for Liquibase

We spoke with Adelaide Whitehead, Employee Experience and Talent Acquisition Manager for Liquibase, about how the company is approaching its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy.

Tell us a bit about Liquibase: Liquibase is a community-led database change management solution. We are a Series C company just over 50 folks strong, committed to bringing high-speed CI/CD to the database. Liquibase’s software solution helps enterprises accelerate the software delivery process by automating req

uired database updates. As enterprises continue to adopt an agile methodology and DevOps practices, there is a growing realization that the database needs to be considered as part of this innovation process. Liquibase is the leader in the database release automation segment of the more broadly defined DevOps market.

How do you define your “why” around your strategic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan?

First and foremost – Liquibase authentically believes in Open Source values. Freedom, choice, transparency, meritocracy are not just fashion labels here, but sincere convictions.  Our meritocracy will work best when there is broad diversity and multiple perspectives tackling problems. Secondly, the DEI business case cannot be ignored. Companies with more diversity in their workforces have been shown to be more innovative, as a diversity of perspectives lends itself to fresh thinking. Employee engagement tends to be higher, clients are more likely to connect if they see themselves reflected in our workforce, the list goes on.

How did the first conversation about DEI initiatives begin?

We are continually striving for opportunities to make Liquibase even stronger. Adding diversity to the team is something we’ve identified will do just that, and the sentiment that we need to take steps in that direction long precedes me. However, while there was conversation around the issue, we were without a formally drafted action plan. In November, we put together a document that outlines actionable goals and the strategy of HOW we’re going to be successful at this initiative.

What role do you think geographic location plays in the ability to recruit diverse talent?

I’d imagine this is an important factor for many companies. We have leaned into the fully remote business model at this point, so are able to recruit the best and brightest minds regardless of location and background.  With most of us located in Austin, we’re looking forward to hosting remote workers here for company events as soon as we are safely able!

What advice do you have for companies just starting to think strategically?

Use your resources. It has been incredibly valuable for me to lean into listening and learning. There are countless webinars, articles, TED talks, etc. available to you once you start putting feelers out. I gleaned a lot of understanding, useful information and new ideas from attending these sorts of things.

How do you define success for this strategy?

Tactically, we’re striving for our employee population to demographically represent a wide array of background and experience.  More strategically, we are asking ourselves, “Have we provided talented individuals in historically underrepresented groups the opportunity to be successful?  Will their success serve as a role model for others, so that they see the opportunity to pursue a path in technology?”

How do you measure yourself and ensure accountability?

Our focus right now is turned towards the top of the pipeline. Our top priority is to have a balanced slate of candidates for every role we have open to ensure that folks of all types are getting the chance to interview here.  We’re also being frank with ourselves and recognizing that our established personal and business networks do not always include diversity. We must reach outside of our typical hiring process to find diverse talent.

How do you ensure “inclusivity” post recruitment and hiring?

Our goal is to create an inclusive and equitable climate, ensure employee satisfaction and engagement, and promote a culture of trust, support, respect and inclusion. We’ve been intentional in discussing this frequently at the management level. We’ve instituted a company-wide climate survey, and we’ve created an anonymous space employees can report inequity or climate concerns. We also hold biannual employee-manager meetings (we call them Radical Conversations) that encourage open communication. In these meetings, the managers seek feedback from their employees on an array of things, including their views on our climate and culture.

Anything else you’d like to discuss?

Liquibase really leans into the open source model of business, not just in how we build our software but in how we interact with one another. We champion this notion that when everyone has the opportunity to contribute, it will make for more elegant, more efficient & superior solutions. By everyone I do mean everyone – regardless of age, race, gender, etc. Ultimately, diversity of thought and background will make us a more valuable organization.

I’d note as well that the success of this model does not just extend to software, we’re seeing the concept at play in DNA discovery, Wikipedia, crowdsourcing, how news is shared, etc. In these open models, it’s not just one group of experts or elite that push a practice forward.  Harnessing the collective wisdom of everyone is simply a better production model.