Creating a Sense of Belonging for the modern workplace

Creating a Sense of Belonging for the modern workplace

The transcript of our recent discussion with Redbubble's Workplace Programming & Belonging Lead - Dominic Taranto

Simon McSorley

Simon

Why does the belonging role exist?

Dominic Taranto

Dominic

Redbubble has a long-standing history of providing a safe space not just in their workplaces but also on the site itself. The founders of Redbubble really celebrated diversity and inclusion informally which became a real foundational part of RB culture.

As it’s grown and grown-up essentially, the P&C team has made a concerted effort to protect the result of those grassroots efforts, maintain it as part of our value system and improve or more importantly formalise programs – as the work is never done.

Simon McSorley

Simon

What does the day to day of your role entail?

Dominic Taranto

Dominic

As someone who has been with the business for close to nine years I have had the privilege to see the company grow and I alongside it. My role is ever-changing but entails quite a few elements which keeps me on my toes and forever learning. Such as:

  • Collaborating with the talent team on attracting a diverse pool of candidates. Including their campaigns and processes
  • Partner on the Redbubble employee value proposition
  • Coach and mentor to hiring managers
  • I am stepping away from more generalised events and celebrations as that is handed over to our workplace experience team but I am excited to become more of a resource or partner for them.

In terms of Belonging:

  • I lead the development and delivery of our Belonging strategy which up until has been a P&C focal area. As we graduate into a more comprehensive ESG strategy I plan to partner closely with and become an active member of that group.
  • Recently we released our global RB Group diversity policy which I helped co-write and we are about to launch our next Redbubble Residency arts program which also demonstrates our commitment to D&I not just for our employees but the wider artist community which we serve.
Simon McSorley

Simon

Why is it important to the business?

Dominic Taranto

Dominic

I think Redbubble has always recognised and been aware of its place especially within the tech and arts industries. There are some very specific challenges and behaviours that need to be faced that are inherent in our field. I cannot speak for the senior leaders but it has always been apparent to me that there was a genuine commitment to being a part of the solution and lead where possible.

The Redbubble ecosystem at a high level in my opinion is all about diversity and inclusion. We serve different communities (artists, customers, fulfillers) who are naturally diverse so in my mind the ONLY way we can best serve them is to reflect their diversity in our employees and ways of thinking.

We see time and time again better solutions are presented and the success of the business reflects that. Not to mention a point of difference for Redbubble has always been about welcoming all realms of creativity, art and design on the site as well as levels of experience. Our customers come back to our site because we honestly have the most diverse range of product, art and design.

Simon McSorley

Simon

How does Redbubble know that it works/brings benefit to the business?

Dominic Taranto

Dominic

I think this is a great question, how do you measure efficacy and success in this area. I know a lot of work and effort has been put into this by other businesses and industries and I myself am still learning more about this. In saying that, Redbubble has always understood that it takes more than a commitment to do D&I work because it feels good and it is the right thing to do.

For instance I think there are three key areas we have seen the value with the caveat they are not the only. Our success as a business has the potential to bring success and opportunity for so many others in our ecosystem.

Firstly our talent team in my opinion are world class and have led the charge at Redbubble. We are able to consistently attract and retain diverse talent in an incredibly competitive market. We may never be able to offer the most money but we do offer what I think is an incredibly healthy and authentic work culture that especially during a pandemic has shown its value even more.

Secondly, as Redbubble has made the concerted effort to engage different markets the importance of D&I has been essential for innovation and growth.

Our employee engagement and belonging survey results have been a big focus for us as a part of the P&C team. I am incredibly proud of our results in this area which also extends to our leadership development efforts. We have seen many of our leaders develop into even more effective managers not just from skill-based training but also from D&I.

Simon McSorley

Simon

Can you tell us about the D&I Landscape at Redbubble?

Dominic Taranto

Dominic

In the past we have identified specific areas that have needed urgent attention to best serve our employees in terms of gender representation.

I would say the three areas of focus have been around our talent acquisition and retention which I spoke about earlier. Another is gender representation across ALL levels of the business. 

Our board, executive and senior leaders have all undergone some serious growth and change over the past 4-5 years and we are really keen to take a lead when it comes to gender beyond just the binary, that is reflective in our diversity policy commitments and objectives. Last but not least is pour community engagement both inside and outside our walls. 

This includes education and training internally but also as we learn more we want to engage with community organisations that cover bases around race, sexuality, near diversity to name just a few.

I think moving forward however we are looking forward to focusing our efforts around some key areas that Redbubble is in a unique position to bring about the most change and improvement. That’s not to say we forget about everything else but resources are always limited in this field.

Simon McSorley

Simon

Where does a business start if it wants to do something like this?

Dominic Taranto

Dominic

I love this question and I wish there was a simple answer for everyone. The thing is it really does depend on the current culture and business goals. For me, if someone could go back in time and give me this advice it would be to pause and try and not ‘save the world’ in one day. There are so many things you could potentially do but think about what about your business and position that uniquely equips you to bring about the most change.

As for approach I think it starts with people. If you haven’t got people who share your values and behaviours you almost handicap yourself.

From there you can really put effort into promoting inclusive behaviour as a key focus. It shouldn’t be seen as an added workload, it should actually be seen as the standard. Once you foster that environment and culture, naturally what makes us diverse will bubble to the surface and you almost can’t ignore how it benefits you as individuals and the business.

Next step is to start testing and improving areas that present themselves.

3 Key takeaways

  1. If you don’t fundamentally understand why D&I work is essential for the success of your business, that’s a sign that you need to go do some learning.
  2. Leaders need to be actually lead and not assessed solely on outcomes but on other metrics that relate to engagement, belonging and so on.
  3. Inclusive behaviour should not be thought of as a road block or added step, it should be at the core of everything you do.

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