With ‘Belonging Campaign,’ Oracle builds a culture where everyone is welcome

March 24, 2021 | 4 minute read
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In a 2020 presentation to the Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN), Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, shared a traditional Zulu greeting: “I see you.” The customary reply: “Because you see me, I exist.”

Uritus noted that when it comes to seeing people in an organization such as Oracle, diversity and inclusion are essential elements. But the Holy Grail is creating a sense of belonging. “That’s not a bunch of New Age-speak,” she said. “It’s a smart, strategic way to shape organizational culture. When people feel they belong, their teamwork, morale, and performance naturally improve.”

At the same time, OPEN launched its Belonging Campaign, an ambitious effort to promote belonging throughout our global business. The campaign’s broad goals are to build a culture that recognizes, accepts, and invites people from diverse backgrounds; helps people feel safe to maximize their potential; and inspires connectedness by allowing people to bring their authentic selves to work.

Enlisting executive support

The first step was to enlist the support of Oracle executives. “We asked a handful of executives to show their support on video and send them to their teams. A few words of genuine support can make a big difference,” says Paul Boyd, OPEN’s global executive sponsor. “Our initial goal was 5 execs, but quickly found ourselves with 15! ”

Besides recording a video, executives can help the cause by, for example, signing a Belonging Commitment and emailing it to their teams, promoting OPEN events at team meetings and encouraging employees to support it, speaking at an OPEN event, or assigning someone on their teams to mentor a team member from the OPEN community.

The campaign has bottom-line goals, too. It aims to drive retention, recruitment, development, and promotion of the best talent as well as to make sure that customers and partners feel comfortable when they do business with Oracle. Then there’s the critical effort to “thaw” middle management.

Thawing the middle

Oracle Pride Employee Network

“It’s great to have executives offering their support, but it’s equally important to involve middle managers,” says Cheryl Lander, another OPEN cochair. “They set the example in their departments when they make hiring and promotion decisions and assign people to key projects. When all of those actions are done inclusively, and when managers put KPIs behind them, a sense of belonging truly starts to emerge.”

The Belonging Campaign is hardly the only activity on OPEN’s agenda. Plans are underway to hold a modified version of last year’s 24-hour virtual PRIDE celebration, involving members from all over the world. OPEN has 35 chapters in 22 countries. This year’s event will hopefully be a mix of virtual and in-person activities.

“Last year’s event was incredible,” says Boyd. “Each region signed up for six hours of programming, which included thought-provoking talks, contests, and games—there was even bingo. People from different cultures shared the challenges they face, for instance, what it’s like to be Black or Latino and gay in areas that are accepting of neither, or the experiences of transgender people in different parts of the world. It was a fascinating way to come together, by seeing the cultural differences and the commonalities.”

OPEN chapters regularly create educational programs, including several recently focused on helping nonbinary people feel that they belong in the workplace. There are also community outreach programs, such as volunteering at LGBTQ+ homeless shelters and youth safe spaces.

A business resource

“We want to be a business resource for managers and employees,” says Lander. “We can help managers recruit within the LGBTQ+ community or offer advice on making their departments more welcoming places to work. We succeed when we help to brand Oracle as a place where diversity matters.” One way OPEN is doing that is by sharing with Oracle’s recruiting organization the opportunity to work with myGwork, a networking hub and job board for LGBTQ+ people.

Open zoom backgroundBoyd echoes the sentiment. “We have an opportunity to help make Oracle a global leader in diversity and inclusion. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s good for business,” he says. “If someone goes into a meeting where ideas are being shared, but they’re shy about speaking up because of who they are—that’s a missed opportunity. But if someone can bring their true self to the game, the organization can take advantage of their full potential.”

He adds, “It’s not enough to count the people in your organization that are diverse. It’s really about inclusion and listening to people from all kinds of backgrounds and taking their perspective. That’s when people feel safe to be authentic, belong, and can grow and thrive. I have heard people say that the office is the place where they feel the safest. As individuals and as a company, that’s exactly what we should want. After all, safety is a key ingredient to the innovation process.”

Want to lend your support? To help promote the Belonging Campaign or support OPEN’s mission, contact Paul.boyd@oracle.com or cheryl.lander@oracle.com.

Photography: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Mark Jackley

Mark Jackley is an Oracle digital content specialist.

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