Creating an Inclusive Culture: Julie Whish @ Uberflip
I’ve had a lot of people asking me how they can take steps to create a more inclusive culture, and when I heard about how great Uberflip was, I needed to learn more.
What better way than to talk to the heart and soul of Uberflip’s culture, Julie Whish! Julie, aka Jules, is the culture specialist at Uberflip, an avid blogger, wedding planner, and self described lover of sparkles. We did a deep dive into Uberflip and her role there and I learned:
What is actually involved in the role of a Culture Specialist.
How Uberflip ensures that the role is successful.
7 things Uberflip does to create a diverse and inclusive culture.
Why Uberflip decided to create this role.
5 questions to ask your team when trying to create a more inclusive culture.
Why Julie operates the Uberflip Instagram page and how it strengthens their employer brand.
Oh, and stick around for her awesome Instagram stories at the end!
Stefan: Tell me about Uberflip’s culture, what’s it all about?
Julie: Here at Uberflip we’ve made a purposeful decision to create a culture that is transparent, fun, and inclusive of everyone. At the heart of this is making sure people feel engaged at work - so we’ve always got something going on here. To quote our sales team, “It’s such good vibes!”
Stefan: As the Culture Specialist, how do you create this culture?
Julie: The biggest part of making this culture real is understanding the needs, wants, and feelings of our employees and making sure that we do everything we can to meet those.
When I started here I spent the first couple months grabbing coffees with colleagues, getting to know them and their dream initiatives. Once I understood this, I was able to create a long term plan and build out our monthly culture calendar.
This culture calendar is a big part of my job - it shows off all the initiatives we’ve got going, whether thats an exciting fireside chat, in-office yoga, or a company soccer game.
These coffees weren’t a one off thing though, I make sure that I’m here to talk with my colleagues - anything they need, whether it’s work related or not, I’m here to listen and help.
Stefan: Do you have any guidelines or structure in place from leadership for all these initiatives?
Julie: Our founders are incredible and created our six core values at Uberflip, these guide everything we do. When creating this role, they made it a priority to give me the freedom to plan and execute initiatives that speak to the values we've got in place.
From a measurement standpoint, here are a few things that we do:
Have questions about the culture in our quarterly reviews.
Constantly do pulse checks to see how people are feeling.
Ask questions about employee’s experience working here and what our culture is like during exit interviews.
Following our Glassdoor reviews and making sure that we act on the feedback people share.
When it comes to initiatives we ask the questions: How many are we doing? Are we executing these well? Are people showing up? Do we get good feedback on them?
Another part that is slightly structured is the employee onboarding piece. I make sure that all new employees get to know the office space and at the 30-day market do a check-in with them to see how everything is going.
Stefan: A big part of workplace culture, especially a diverse one, is making sure that everyone feels included and valued. How have you approached diversity and inclusion at Uberflip?
Julie: Diversity and inclusion is really important to us at Uberflip and I love that we have employees who value it. I think one of the most important parts of our D&I strategy is that we don’t approach it from a preachy or finger pointing perspective.
We want to be proactive about it, so we make sure to provide employees with the support, resources and knowledge needed to keep D&I top of mind. I’m really happy with the work we’ve done, happy to share an overview for other people to work off of!
Host community-specific events year round (don’t just support the LGBTQ+ community during pride month, do it all year around!)
Create slack channels for diversity and inclusion
Support external organizations (ex: we sponsored Venture Out last year)
We bring in speakers to share their stories, a group we like is called The Get Real Movement
Publically support D&I in your marketing (check out our inclusivity hub!)
Ensure job descriptions are inclusive (check out this article for guidance)
Creating a safe space (here is a great guide)
Stefan: You mentioned that you joined Uberflip a year and a half ago, why did they actually decide to create this role?
Julie: At this time they were around the 75 person mark and it had organically become a fun place to work. That being said, they knew that they had big growth on the horizon and didn’t want to leave their culture to chance, they wanted to be intentional about it and so a few people doing it as a voluntary part of their role wasn’t enough.
I think this is something that all companies should be thinking about. When you look at the future of work, companies need to hire and retain high-calibre employees - if you don’t invest in your culture then these people can easily find opportunities elsewhere.
A really valuable thing that has come out of my role is understanding the relationships within the organization. Turnover is a natural part of any business, but since I focus so much effort building and understanding relationships in the workplace I get a feeling of who may be affected the most by a colleague moving on. This way if something happens, I can be there to support.
Stefan: What would you recommend as the first step for a company that wants to create an inclusive culture?
Julie: The first thing you need to do is sit down and establish what you want to achieve. Here is a good list of questions you can work through as a team:
Why are we doing this?
What is our desired end goal?
How big of a commitment are we going to make to this? (is it ongoing or just monthly/quarterly?)
What are our employees asking for? Have we talked to them about this yet?
What are some small changes we can make to get the ball rolling?
In my opinion you really need to get your employees engaged from the beginning. Once you as a leadership team make a step to show that you care and want to invest in this, people will speak up and join the conversation. This will really help you find your internal champions - which is the key to any kind of change.
A big takeaway from this is that our founders didn’t know what was going to happen with this role. They didn’t know what to expect, but just did it because they knew culture was important. To get things started they found someone (Me! :) ) who lived the values of their company, was energetic and had creative skills.
Stefan: I see that the Uberflip instagram page is really active and that you’re owning it - why is that?
Julie: When I joined Uberflip I expressed interest in taking over the Instagram because this is something I've always loved to do. With one of our priorities being to strengthen our employer brand, we wanted to showcase the events and initiatives that I plan on our social channels, making me a great fit for this.
What I find really valuable about this is that it gives us an opportunity to show people what it’s really like to work at Uberflip. It gives them a glimpse into our culture, the things we do, and all the fun we have. Rather than having to explain it, we can easily show people what it’s like. We actually have people telling recruiters about the page and how exciting it looks.
This along with our overall company growth has made a big impact. A few years ago we would have to explain Uberflip to recruits but now everyone just knows about us.
Stefan: What’s your favourite Instagram Story to date?
Julie: Oh geez, there are so many. We always show off the best theme day costumes, we did an office tour when we moved into the new office, but I think the best is definitely when we balloon people for their birthday.
Stefan: This is awesome, I love what you’re doing here. Truly living and breathing the culture. With all this going on, what would you say are some of your favourite personal moments so far?
Julie: At Uberflip we have this awesome initiative called the “Core Value Awards”. Each quarter you nominate someone who truly lives one of our core values. A few months into my time here I won one of these and it was such an amazing feeling. People wrote such kind things about me that just warmed my heart.
One of my favourite things about being part of this team is just the feeling of coming into work every day and loving what you do, and loving the people you work with so much. It's truly special to be able to say you love what you do and I am beyond thankful to be in such a meaningful role at Uberflip where I can share the love and positive vibes every day!
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