News and Views

Embracing parallax: DEI at thinkPARALLAX

Jean Okamoto
March 8, 2023
News and Views

Embracing parallax: DEI at thinkPARALLAX

When a new hire joins the thinkPARALLAX team, one of their first meetings is with our co-founder and CEO Jonathan, who walks them through the history, mission, and core values of the company. Part of this history is explaining the idea behind our name – and preparing folks to answer the frequently asked question “What does ‘parallax’ even mean?” 

“Parallax” is an effect where the position of an object appears differently when viewed from different angles. At thinkPARALLAX, we’ve characterized our unique approach to problem-solving as the “parallax effect”: diverse perspectives allow us to see matters in a new light. By combining varying perspectives to tackle problems from all angles, we can create insights that are more novel, nuanced, and impactful than they would be based on a single perspective. 

tPX’s combination of a growth mindset along with purposeful opportunities to connect with each other formed a great cultural baseline, but this idea of “thinking parallax” had never before been explicitly applied to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). So when we refreshed our values in 2022, one priority was to formalize the importance of DEI to our company. Establishing our “embrace parallax” value expressed that this is key to who we are – DEI is not an add-on or a nice-to-have, but core to defining, strengthening, and continuously shaping our culture and work. 

We see this value of “embracing parallax” coming to life in three ways, and our actions the past few years have followed suit: 

  1. Be courageously authentic – No matter our job description, it starts with us. By working from a place of self-acceptance, our own vulnerability fosters safety and freedom for others to be their authentic selves as well.
  • This first layer is about making DEI personal to how we show up to work every day – and putting the onus of responsibility on all of us. This includes company-wide coordination, like investments in all-tPX training from our partners at ADR Consulting to build our collective knowledge; it also means individual engagement, like in our internal DEI Slack channel, where everyone is encouraged to share openly about what they’re learning along their own journeys. 
  1. Amplify unheard voices – Good ideas can come from anywhere. Not only do we listen inclusively, but we proactively seek out the voices that might otherwise go unheard, and take action based on what they say.
  • This next layer is about how we show up with each other: in formal channels, like our annual employee engagement survey; in one-on-one times with managers, where the first priority is checking in on a personal level to help spot roadblocks and address individual needs; in DEI-specific settings, like our Duo Sharing program (where everyone has an opportunity to share on DEI topics); and in open forum discussions for current topics, like the overturn of Roe v. Wade and neurodiversity in the workplace. Any tPX-er can suggest an open discussion, and the DEI committee supports in facilitating. 
  1. Unlock possibilities – Beyond individual actions alone, we recognize that inequities and barriers to entry are perpetuated by biased processes. We’re on a journey to increase opportunity and create enduring systems for equitable hiring, advancement, and industry representation.
  • Trainings and discussions like those above are necessary for an inclusive culture; but alone, they are not enough to create a diverse, equitable company. This final layer is about recognizing how systemic inequities in our world shape our workplace, and doing what we can to rectify them: for our company, for our communities, and for our industry. It has implications in our HR processes – in how we’ve expanded the networks we hire from, in making our application process as accessible as possible, in the establishment of salary bands and clear promotion criteria. And it weighs on our goals for the future, such as establishing an internship program to help lower the barriers to entry our industry poses.

We’re proud of the progress we’ve made the last few years, since establishing our DEI committee in 2020, to launching our “embrace parallax” value in 2022, to our current strategy for 2023 and beyond. But we also don’t pretend it’s near enough to be where (and who) we want to be. We see these first steps as just that – steps on a journey we’re traveling alongside many others, following in the footsteps of those leading the charge (like our friends at Diversity in Sustainability) and hopefully setting our own tracks for others to follow. 

If you’d like to be a part of the journey with us, we’d love to connect – we welcome you to reach out to share any thoughts or feedback. 

Embracing parallax: DEI at thinkPARALLAX
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