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Marissa Andrada Explains How Kindness Improves Company Culture

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Culture Master and Kindness Catalyst Marissa Andrada focuses on spreading kindness and teaching organizations how to create a company culture in which employees at all levels prioritize kindness.  The business world today is fast-paced and highly competitive. Many companies prioritize profit and productivity above all else. With that mindset, what often gets overlooked is the importance of kindness and compassion in creating a positive and healthy work environment.

Research has shown that a kind and supportive workplace culture makes employees happier, and happier employees are more productive and creative, and the company is more successful. But how do you create this type of environment?

Below, she will explain why kindness is crucial for a company’s culture and how businesses can foster a culture of kindness in the workplace.

Grit Daily: You left Chipotle as their Chief Diversity, Inclusion and People Officer in August of 2022. Now you are a Culture Master and Kindness Catalyst. What do those titles mean, and what services do you provide?

Marissa Andrada: Over the past two and a half decades, I have had the opportunity to lead people and human resources across multiple Fortune 500 companies and consumer brands. I always lead with the mantra that you can grow companies through growing people. On my journey of mastering culture, I have gained deep, comprehensive experience working with leaders and employees across these organizations to foster inclusive, diverse and high-performance cultures.

To be a Culture Master though, one must never rest on past experiences. It requires unyielding commitment to personal evolution, relishing the opportunity to learn from all people and experiences, and cultivating a growth mindset. Culture is dynamic and organic in nature, and the journey to mastery is a continual pursuit.

In addition to creating company cultures, I have been hard-wired throughout my life to prioritize societal culture and the shared experiences that draw people together. My personal experiences developed my calling to profoundly and joyfully connect people with one another. Not surprisingly, this passion translated to a career in building and mastering culture.

I believe that kindness is a choice and a mindset. In grade school, I learned about ‘The Golden Rule – Treat others the way YOU want to be treated.’  This consciousness from childhood has evolved to ‘The Platinum Rule – Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.’  To be kind is to be curious about and consider the other person’s perspective. It’s about treating individuals with respect and acknowledging them for ALL of who they are.

Also Read: Several Tips on How to Build an Engaging Corporate Culture in Your Startup

Grit Daily: Is there a distinction between being nice and being kind?

Marissa Andrada: Absolutely. To be nice is to pay a compliment to someone whether or not you really mean it. It is a way of creating good feelings in the moment, and I love this if the intent is really to pay a compliment. However, in a situation where a ‘hard conversation’ needs to occur and a person chooses to ‘soft-pedal’ information because it is easier, being ‘nice’ is actually a disservice.

To be kind is to be clear and to share information (whether good or bad) with immediacy because it comes from a place of true caring and concern for the other person. It is about treating others with dignity and respect.

Grit Daily: A catalyst is a device for starting a process which, once started, doesn’t need the catalyst to sustain itself. What is it you are trying to start in your work as a Kindness Catalyst, and how does it sustain itself after you move on?

Marissa Andrada: A simple, small act of kindness and giving grace to another person can be life altering — not only for them, but for everyone they come into contact with as well. One small act of kindness in essence creates a life affirming ripple effect. It just takes one person to start this movement, impacting large groups of people in an organization and/or community.

Grit Daily: You encourage leaders to lead with kindness. What results have you seen from leading people with kindness?

Marissa Andrada: In addition to fostering an environment in which team members are encouraged to show up as their authentic selves, kindness creates a spirit of inclusivity and belonging in which everyone is inspired to collaborate, share all of their ideas, and drive business results. As a result, I have also seen the positive impact on retention and engagement of employees.

Also Read: Kindness Is a Strong Foundation for Success

Grit Daily: How are you continuing to learn and grow now that you have expanded beyond the corporate world?

Marissa Andrada: I am building on my cultural mastery by utilizing my experience to influence corporate strategy as an independent director on the Krispy Kreme Donuts Board of Directors. I have also enjoyed broadening my outlook on life and forming new perspectives through the conversations on my podcast, CultureCast and a variety of new experiences. I have met amazing people and immersed myself in other cultures through my personal travels.

I continue to engage with other organizations as a speaker on culture and inclusion, as well as mentor individuals eager to grow their careers. I am an adviser to three start-up companies, all focused on creating pathways to overall well-being and growth opportunities for people. These diverse experiences continue to increase my knowledge and energy and have vitalized my creativity in helping others create new solutions for their biggest culture challenges.

I continue to be inspired by my personal calling — to make a positive impact in our world while profoundly and joyfully connecting people to one another.

Published First on Grit Daily. Read Here.

Featured Image Credit: From the Author at Grit Daily; Thank you!

Politics

How to Move from Cybersecurity Silos to Holistic Protection

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How to Move from Cybersecurity Silos to Holistic Protection


Safeguarding sensitive data and systems is paramount, yet conventional approaches often fall short. These methods rely on disparate tools and tactics, creating what we call ‘cybersecurity silos.’ In this guide, we’ll unveil a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that fortifies your defenses, enabling you to combat various threats.

Even high-ranking professionals like Chief Data Officers grapple with this issue. Recent research reveals that 55% contend with over 1,000 data sources within their organizations. Additionally, by 2023, 50% plan to implement five or more management tools. This underscores the magnitude of the challenge posed by data silos.

Cybersecurity Silos

Picture a fortress with towering walls, yet each wall stands alone, and the guards on each wall can’t talk to those on neighboring ones. In the realm of cybersecurity, this is a common scenario known as “Cybersecurity Silos.”

In simpler terms, Cybersecurity Silos happen when different security teams or departments work separately, not sharing information or coordinating their efforts effectively. These silos often form due to specialization, old systems, or a lack of communication channels.

Understanding cybersecurity silos is vital because they bring various challenges and limitations:

Limited Sight: When security teams operate independently, they see only a small part of the threat landscape. They might miss signs of cyberattacks because they focus narrowly.

Resource Waste: Cybersecurity budgets are usually based on siloed departmental priorities. This can lead to inefficient spending, with some areas getting too much while others get too little.

Slow Response: When a security incident occurs, the lack of coordination among siloed teams can slow down response times, giving attackers more time to cause harm.

Duplication and Confusion: Different teams might invest in similar security tools separately. This not only wastes resources but also creates conflicts and confusion.

Compliance Hurdles: Siloed approaches can make it tough to comply with industry regulations and data protection laws, often requiring a cohesive security strategy and unified incident reporting.

Benefits of Holistic Protection

Holistic protection offers a comprehensive view of your digital environment by incorporating various security tools and processes. This integration boosts threat detection, analyzing data from multiple sources concurrently to identify potential breaches swiftly. Early detection is vital for halting cyberattacks and safeguarding data.

During a cyber incident, holistic protection enables a coordinated response. Seamless collaboration among security elements empowers your response team to isolate affected systems, mitigate threats, and restore operations promptly. This reduces downtime and prevents breaches from escalating.

Contrary to the perception of high costs, holistic protection proves cost-efficient in the long term. It eliminates redundancy in standalone security solutions, reducing licensing, maintenance, and training expenses. Early threat detection and efficient response also avert financial consequences from breaches.

Many industries face stringent data protection regulations. Holistic protection aids in achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance by consolidating security measures and showcasing proactive cybersecurity. This not only avoids fines but also builds trust with data-conscious customers.

Steps to Transition to Holistic Protection

To shatter cybersecurity silos, first, pinpoint them. These silos emerge when different parts of your organization handle security separately. Identify these isolated efforts.

Once you’ve found them, evaluate the effectiveness of their tools. Check if these tools are outdated, repetitive, or inadequate for evolving threats.

Set precise goals for your comprehensive security plan. What’s your aim? Clear objectives are vital to complete threat visibility, better incident response, or regulatory compliance.

Ensure these goals align with your organization’s broader strategy. This alignment secures leadership’s support and resources.

To nurture collaboration, break departmental barriers. Encourage open communication and shared responsibilities.

Foster the exchange of threat intel and security insights. Create regular meetings or channels for sharing emerging threat information.

Consider investing in unified security platforms for a single view of your security. They manage multiple tools and technologies from a single dashboard.

Select vendors open to collaboration and integration with your security stack. Partnerships are key to holistic protection.

Regularly assess your security posture with tests and scans. Identify weaknesses and areas for improvement.

Stay vigilant and adaptable in the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity. Your holistic strategy must evolve with it.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Transitioning to holistic cybersecurity faces resistance from employees accustomed to old practices. Invest in thorough cybersecurity training to show the benefits for both the organization and individual roles, fostering acceptance.

Leadership plays a pivotal role in this shift. Gain their support, let them champion the cause, and communicate its importance company-wide. When leaders lead, others tend to follow.

Budget constraints can be a hurdle, but prioritize critical areas needing immediate attention and allocate resources wisely. Start with cost-effective, high-impact solutions, expanding the budget as the organization grows.

Seek innovative, budget-friendly cybersecurity solutions like open-source tools, community initiatives, or cloud-based security services for maximum coverage without straining finances.

Develop a clear integration strategy to tackle the complexity of integrating security tools and data management. Choose tools designed for seamless compatibility and invest in a robust SIEM system for centralized data control. Adapt your strategy as your cybersecurity landscape evolves.

If integration issues persist, consider consulting cybersecurity experts. They offer tailored insights, best practices, and vendor guidance to optimize your investments.

Conclusion

Transitioning to comprehensive cybersecurity is a vital necessity in today’s digital world. Collaboration, breaking barriers, and embracing integrated solutions enable effective defense against evolving threats. Achieving holistic protection is an ongoing journey demanding constant vigilance and adaptation to outsmart cyber adversaries. Your dedication will define the security and resilience of your digital assets.

Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Growtika; Unsplash; Thank you!

Micheal Chukwube

Experienced PR Strategist, Content Writer, and Tech Enthusiast. Published in Techopedia, Infosecurity magazine, HackerNoon, Dzone and more.

Ready to work with me to grow your brand’s online visibility? Get in touch via: [email protected]

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NSA launches AI security center amid growing cyber threats

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NSA launches AI security center amid growing cyber threats


As artificial intelligence weaves itself deeper into the fabric of national defense, the U.S. National Security Agency has unveiled a dedicated AI security hub. The NSA’s outgoing director, General Paul Nakasone, announced this strategic move on Thursday.

The new AI division will nestle within the broader framework of the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center, a nexus where the NSA collaborates with private entities and global allies. The Associated Press reports that the goal is to bolster the nation’s cyber defenses, especially with looming threats from powerhouses like China and Russia.

At a recent press event, Nakasone voiced concerns over the U.S.’s lead in artificial intelligence, particularly in relation to Beijing’s growing cyber capabilities. “We maintain an advantage in AI in the United States today,” he said. “That AI advantage should not be taken for granted.” 

AI and the global cybersecurity landscape

With the 2024 U.S. presidential elections on the horizon, Nakasone confirmed that there’s no evidence yet of interference attempts by major adversaries like Russia or China. However, he emphasized the U.S.’s commitment to safeguarding global elections in partnership with international allies.

China has had clear cyber ambitions, with recent activities hinting at attempts to compromise U.S. military communications. Both the U.S. and Japan have raised alarms about Chinese cyberattacks on their defense infrastructures.

On the AI front, Nakasone clarified the role of technology in threat analysis.

“AI assists us, but humans make our decisions. This distinction is crucial,” he said. “We do see assistance from artificial intelligence. But at the end of the day, decisions will be made by humans and humans in the loop.”

The new AI hub will collaborate with various U.S. sectors, including academia, research labs, the Defense Department, and global partners.

As the NSA gears up for a leadership transition, Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh is poised to take the reins from Nakasone, overseeing both the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command.


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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Building a Strong Tech Team

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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Building a Strong Tech Team


Imagine a tech team where every member feels heard, valued, and empowered. Think of a workspace filled with individuals from diverse backgrounds, each bringing their unique perspectives to the table. Among them is Maria, a talented product designer who grew up in a small town, navigating a world dominated by a singular narrative. 

However, her experiences, shaped by her cultural heritage and upbringing, give her a fresh outlook on problem-solving. As Maria joins this inclusive tech team, her ideas and creativity flourish. Collaborating with colleagues from various walks of life, they combine their expertise and viewpoints to create groundbreaking solutions that resonate with a diverse user base. 

This short story exemplifies the power of diversity and inclusion in creating a better tech product. By embracing differences and fostering an environment where everyone’s voice is valued, we pave the way for remarkable innovation and growth. In this article, I’ll explore the benefits of diversity and inclusion in tech teams. I’ll provide insights into cultivating a culture of inclusivity that sets the stage for success in our ever-evolving tech industry. 

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion in the Tech Industry

To truly appreciate the importance of diversity and inclusion in building a solid tech team, we must first understand what these terms encompass and how they differ. 

Diversity goes beyond just demographic factors like race, gender, and age! It encompasses a broad range of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds. Inclusion, on the other hand, refers to creating an environment where all individuals feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique insights and skills.

Unfortunately, the tech industry has historically struggled with lack of diversity and inclusion. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, and other underrepresented groups have faced significant barriers to entry and advancement. 

However, acknowledging these challenges allows us to work towards creating a more inclusive tech community.

Think about it…

The benefits of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry are multifaceted and far-reaching. 

By embracing gender diversity in the workplace, for instance, the tech industry can unlock its full potential and create a more inclusive and prosperous future. 

When individuals from diverse backgrounds collaborate, they bring a wealth of different perspectives, ideas, and problem-solving approaches to the table. What you get as an inclusive organization is enhanced creativity, innovation, and out-of-the-box thinking

Moreover, diverse teams are better equipped to understand and address the needs of various user bases, resulting in the development of more inclusive and accessible tech solutions.

By fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, we create a more equitable and fair industry. We also unlock the full potential of our tech teams. 

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the current state and impact of diversity and inclusion in tech and explore the numerous benefits they bring to the table.

The Impact of Diversity on Tech Team Performance

Embracing diversity goes beyond ticking boxes. It is about creating an environment where individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives can thrive. 

Such diversity fosters an atmosphere of innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration. Research consistently supports the positive correlation between diversity and team performance. They highlight the advantages of diverse teams in driving business success. 

Moreover, successful tech companies that prioritize diversity have not only achieved significant growth but also become industry leaders in creating inclusive cultures. 

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into how diverse teams enhance problem-solving and innovation, examine the research supporting the correlation between diversity and team performance, and explore examples of tech companies that have successfully prioritized diversity on their path to success.

How diverse teams can enhance problem-solving and innovation

One of the remarkable aspects of diverse tech teams is their ability to excel in problem-solving and drive innovation. When individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together, they bring a rich tapestry of ideas and insights that can lead to breakthrough solutions.

Diverse teams have the advantage of approaching problems from multiple angles. Each team member brings their unique knowledge and expertise, which expands the range of possible solutions. 

Different perspectives can challenge conventional thinking and spark creative approaches to tackling complex issues. By embracing diversity, tech teams can tap into a wellspring of creativity and innovation that would be otherwise inaccessible.

Moreover, diversity encourages healthy debates and discussions. When you have a mix of voices, opinions, and ideas in the room, it sparks critical thinking. Different perspectives challenge the status quo, helping to uncover biases and blind spots that might otherwise go unnoticed. This inclusive approach to problem-solving creates an environment where everyone’s voice is valued, fostering a supportive and collaborative team culture.

The positive correlation between diversity and team performance

Numerous studies and research have demonstrated the positive correlation between diversity and team performance in the tech industry. A 2019 study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the third quartile of gender diversity were more likely to achieve above-average (25% more) profitability than their less-diverse counterparts. The research highlighted that diverse teams tend to foster a more inclusive and innovative environment, driving business success.

Another study published in the Harvard Business Review showed that diverse teams outperformed homogeneous teams in decision-making and problem-solving. The research found that companies with various teams solve problems faster.  HBR found that diverse teams were better at considering different perspectives, processing information more carefully, and avoiding groupthink. This ability to leverage diversity led to more effective and successful outcomes.

Furthermore, several studies have revealed that diverse teams are more likely to produce higher-quality products. Teams with greater gender diversity demonstrated a higher level of attention to detail, problem-solving capacity, innovation, improved communication, and a more customer-centric focus. These factors contribute to enhanced product development and customer satisfaction.

Successful Tech Companies That Prioritize Diversity

Several tech companies have recognized the importance of diversity and made it a priority in their organizational culture. These companies have cultivated a diverse workforce and have also experienced ignificant growth and success as a result.

One notable example is Microsoft, which has implemented initiatives to increase diversity within its workforce and leadership positions. The company actively seeks to create an inclusive environment where individuals from all backgrounds can thrive.

One of their noteworthy programs is its Diversity and Inclusion Program. This program empowers employees to become advocates for diversity by providing them with training, resources, and opportunities to engage in initiatives that promote inclusivity. These champions are pivotal in fostering a culture where everyone feels valued and respected.

Microsoft also recognizes the importance of supporting underrepresented groups in tech. Their DigiGirlz program aims to inspire young girls to pursue careers in technology. Through workshops, mentoring sessions, and immersive experiences, Microsoft encourages girls to explore the possibilities in the tech industry, breaking down barriers and fostering a more diverse talent pipeline for the future.

Microsoft’s dedication to diversity and inclusion extends to their leadership positions as well. The company has set ambitious diversity goals for its executive team and holds leaders accountable for progress in achieving these goals. By prioritizing diversity at the highest levels of the organization, Microsoft sets a powerful example for the entire industry.

Google has also made significant efforts to foster diversity and inclusion within its workforce. The company has implemented programs to increase the representation of underrepresented groups, such as women and people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Google also provides resources and support for employee resource groups that promote inclusivity and celebrate diversity.

Google is widely recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, both within its workforce and beyond. 

One notable program led by Google is the “Made with Code” initiative. This initiative aims to inspire young girls to pursue careers in computer science and close the gender gap in tech. Through partnerships with organizations, coding projects, and events, Google empowers young girls to explore coding and technology, nurturing their passion and potential in the field.

By implementing these diversity and inclusion programs, both internally and externally, Google strives to create a more equitable and inclusive tech industry. The company recognizes that diverse perspectives and experiences are essential for driving innovation and solving complex problems. 

Salesforce

Salesforce, a leading cloud-based software company, has been vocal about its commitment to diversity and equality. The company takes equality as a core value and focuses on building a culture of inclusion, and provides resources and programs to support underrepresented groups in tech. As a result, Salesforce has experienced remarkable growth, both financially and in terms of its reputation as an inclusive employer.

Salesforce is renowned for its commitment to diversity and equality. The company has established robust diversity programs, including initiatives focused on gender equality, racial and ethnic diversity, and LGBTQ+ inclusion. By prioritizing diversity, Salesforce has created an inclusive culture that fosters innovation and drives business growth.

Adobe: Adobe recognizes the importance of diversity in driving innovation and creativity. The company actively supports employee resource groups, provides diversity training, and offers mentorship and sponsorship programs to promote diverse talent. Adobe’s focus on diversity has contributed to its reputation as a leader in design and creativity.

Tackling Common Challenges to Diversity and Inclusion 

We know it! Creating a diverse and inclusive tech team is not a one-time effort. It requires ongoing commitment and the implementation of best practices. Let’s explore common challenges and strategies for building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive tech team.

Monotonous job pool

Picture this: you’re searching for diverse talent, but the applicant pool seems a bit monotonous. Don’t worry! Companies can take proactive steps to expand the pool. 

You can team up with organizations that focus on underrepresented groups. You can cast a wider net through targeted recruitment efforts. Employ graduates from programs like these. You can even give your job descriptions a makeover to make them more inclusive and appealing to a diverse range of candidates.

Overcoming bias 

Bias in recruitment and hiring processes is a sneaky little devil that we need to address. But it’s not an intractable problem. How about implementing blind resume screening or blind hiring

It’s like putting on a blindfold and evaluating resumes solely based on qualifications, removing personal information that might unconsciously trigger biases. 

Structured interviews and clear assessment criteria also play a role in leveling the playing field and ensuring fair evaluations.

Education is key

Ongoing training and education are essential for promoting diversity and inclusion. Companies can provide diversity and unconscious bias training to all employees, giving them awareness of their biases and fostering a culture of inclusivity. 

Employee resource groups and mentoring programs can also help create spaces where individuals from underrepresented groups can learn, grow, and be supported.

Building a culture of respect

Nurturing a culture of respect, collaboration, and open communication is vital. Why not encourage your team members to embrace diverse perspectives, challenge biases, and engage in meaningful discussions? But remember, it all begins from the top of the hierarchy!

Foster an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique ideas and insights. Finally, celebrate achievements and promote teamwork to create a sense of belonging.

Conclusion

We have explored the multifaceted benefits that diversity brings to the table, from enhanced creativity and innovation to a deeper understanding of diverse user needs. Inclusion fosters an environment where every team member feels valued, empowered, and able to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

As we move forward, organizations must prioritize diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s not just about ticking boxes or meeting quotas—it’s about creating a culture that embraces diversity as a driver of success. By implementing inclusive policies, practices, and strategies, organizations can unlock the full potential of their teams and contribute to a more inclusive tech industry.

Looking ahead, I envision a future where diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but integral components of the tech industry’s DNA. This future holds the promise of more incredible innovation, breakthrough solutions, and a more accessible and equitable tech ecosystem for all.

 

Timothy Odutolu

Senior UX Writer and SEO Expert

Timothy Odutolu is a senior UX writer at Techloging.com with a passion for design tech and its transformative impact. He’s also a contributor at ReadWrite and has years of experience in the product design, tech and digital marketing industry. You can connect with him and learn more about his work on LinkedIn or via his personal blog at Techloging.com

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