Vancouver is the epitome of an international city. Headquartered in Vancouver, PNI’s office is a reflection of that as well. Our team is comprised of an incredibly diverse range of people, and last month we decided to map it out, literally, to see the big picture.
Led by our company newsletter team, the “Where are you from?” project was a perfect fit for our employee engagement program. Everyone can get involved, it’s employee-focused, and it sparks conversation.
AN OLD-SCHOOL ANSWER TO A TIMELESS QUESTION
We could have used any number of digital means to gather this data. An online survey, a social media geo-tagging project, a genealogical data mining AI application. (OK that last one was made up.) But we decided to go old school by simply tacking a large world map to our kitchen bulletin board and filling a cereal bowl with pins. “Pin your hometown,” the instructions read.
And simplicity wins again.
The map quickly turned into an art installation. It prompted a wave of interactions and introductions. As they filled their coffee cups, people of PNI paused to see how the map was filling up too. They’d take a closer look at the small village in Ireland where not one but two pins landed. They’d share in surprise at the island country where half a dozen of us called home.
THE RESULTS ARE IN
Our company was born in Vancouver, but few of us can say the same. A mere 17% of the PNI team is from Canada, many of whom are east-coasters who’ve since migrated. Canadians outnumber the Indian population by just 1%, where Hyderābad is the top locale. Next runner up is the United States, home to our Austin office of about 30 employees. And it’s a 5-way tie for fourth: Brazil, England, Mexico, Taiwan and Iran each make up 5% of the PNI team.
MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
Multiculturalism doesn’t just mean that we have a mosaic of skin colours in our group photos. It means that we actively share, respect, discuss and celebrate diversity.
Some ways that multiculturalism takes shape in our office:
Events: Cultural celebrations of Diwali, Nowruz, St. Patrick’s Day and Mexican Independence Day are staples of our social events calendar.
Special initiatives: For example, several of our employees had connections with people impacted by the Mexico City earthquake in September of 2017. These employees launched a fundraiser, rallying our team to raise $1880 to fund relief efforts.
Discussions: Our Empowerment Committee hosts regular discussions around how to navigate workplace diversity in gender, sexuality, cultural ethnicity and more.
Personal connections: You’ll often see us learning to tell a joke or order a beer in another language, baking cultural delicacies for our coworkers, and teaching one another about our unique nuances and traditions.
A MULTI-FACETED APPROACH
It’s incredibly important to surround yourself with people who challenge your perspective in your personal life, and the same applies at work.
“Even the most universal problems have subtle variables. The chances of a team with similar backgrounds understanding those variables, are close to zero.” – Stuart Thomas, Engage Me
Diversity breeds two essentials in the tech industry: creativity and innovation. When culturally diverse people collaborate and discuss potential solutions to a scenario – each of whom have unique experiences, concerns or value systems – everyone’s realm of familiarity broadens.
As we approach an open-ended client request, navigate a customer concern, or develop a plan to address a complex technical hurdle, diversity is our strength. Our multicultural workplace allows us to come up with holistic solutions that are more well-rounded than any we’d come up with individually. And that makes a world of difference.