Tag Archives: Employee Resource Groups

Why the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in the U.S. is Important to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

Post Syndicated from Jocelyn Woolbright original https://blog.cloudflare.com/why-the-100th-anniversary-of-womens-right-to-vote-in-the-u-s-is-important-to-celebrate-on-international-womens-day/

Why the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in the U.S. is Important to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

Why the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in the U.S. is Important to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

Seven months ago, I joined Cloudflare to work on the Public Policy Team focusing on our democracy projects such as Project Galileo, Athenian Project and Cloudflare for Campaigns. Since I joined the team, I have learned a lot about how important cybersecurity protections are for organizations that are the target of sophisticated cyberattacks, while also learning about the complex election security environment in the United States and abroad.

It seems fitting that on International Women’s Day, a day people throughout the world are celebrating the achievements of women, we also celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement which was the tipping point that gave many women voting rights in the United States.

Since I have been working on Cloudflare’s election security projects, this day means something extra special to me and many of my colleagues who believe that voting is the cornerstone of democracy and that having access to information regarding voting and elections is essential.

Why the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in the U.S. is Important to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

Here are five reflections that I want to share on International Women’s Day and the Centennial Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment which granted women the right to vote in the United States:

1. The Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States was a decades-long battle

The Women’s Suffrage movement burst into view in the United States in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention, where participants introduced the notion that women deserved their own political identity and that a righteous government cannot exist without equal rights for all. These organizers passed the torch to the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, founded in 1913, which raised awareness through distributing pamphlets at street meetings, organizing parades, speaking tours, and petitioning Congress to pass legislation on the movement. In 1919, the Senate passed the Nineteenth Amendment and it was officially ratified on August 26, 1920.

2. Due to racial inequality, many women of color in the United States were not granted the right to vote until 1965

With the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, it technically granted women the right to vote. However, due to widespread inequality within the ranks of the women’s suffrage movement who primarily focused on white middle-class interests, many African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and American Indian women did not receive the right to vote until later in the century. African American women were not guaranteed the right to vote until the Voting Right Acts of 1965. During the height of the civil rights movement, The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.

Why the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in the U.S. is Important to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

3. There has been a historical, global increase of women in political power

Much has changed since the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. The Center for American Women and Politics in the United States reports that in every presidential election since 1964, the number of female voters has exceeded the number of male voters.

There has also been a historical increase of women in elected offices around the world. This is evident with the highest number of women ever elected to the U.S. Congress in 2018, Slovakia electing the first female president, the United Kingdom electing 220 female MPs to the House of Commons, women making up 49% of Senate of the Republic of Mexico and female Prime Ministers in Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Foundationally, the right to vote is a nonpartisan issue that benefits the interest of the country, strengthens our democracy, and with more women in office, it promotes diversity of thought and experience.

4. The spread of voting and election information has changed

The way we share information has evolved dramatically from distributing pamphlets in 1913 to millions of people sharing information on the Internet across the world in 2020. State and local governments now use their election websites as the primary source to provide up to date announcements and information on how to register to vote, find designated polling stations, and access election results. Political campaigns use their digital infrastructure to release information about their policies, accept donations, recruit volunteers and give updates on the campaign to increase supporters’ engagement.

5. Access to election information is essential to voter turnout and democracy.

Voting is a crucial tenet of our democratic system and regardless of circumstance, individuals should have access to the information necessary to exercise their rights without outside interference. At Cloudflare, our mission is to build a better Internet and part of that is ensuring that users have access to accurate, trusted information, in a safe environment. With many upcoming elections in 2020, it is important that we have confidence in the democratic processes and that starts with ensuring their website infrastructure and internal teams are secure against malicious efforts to take them offline and shake voter’s faith in democracy.

Cloudflare has made election security a priority, investing our time in the Athenian Project and Cloudflare for Campaigns as political campaigns and state and local government election websites are the first line of defense in election security. In 2016, it was reported by the Department of Homeland Security that state and local government election infrastructure in all 50 states were targeted during the Presidential election. Fast forward to 2020, we are protecting more than 170 state and local government election websites and providing services to 18 of the 32 U.S. Presidential campaigns.

Therefore, it seems fitting that we celebrate the Centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and International Women’s Day, highlighting the achievement of women throughout history and the importance of voter confidence in the democratic institutions that many fought to participate and have their voices heard.

Working at Cloudflare has allowed me to learn how important access to information is to Internet users, and voters across the world, and I am proud to work for a company that supports strengthening democracy.

If you are interested in learning more about our election project, please visit cloudflare.com/athenian/ & cloudflare.com/campaigns/usa/.

Going Beyond Black History Month

Post Syndicated from Fallon Blossom original https://blog.cloudflare.com/black-history-month-is-for-everyone/

Going Beyond Black History Month

Around this time of year in the United States, African-Americans are often tasked with explaining why we spend 28 (or in the case of a leap year 29) days celebrating the contributions our ancestors made to this country. It may come in the form of responding to ignorant questions posed in learning environments or expressed in well-crafted articles lauding the relevancy of Black history in our modern time.

Black history is not only relevant, it is how we ensure that our heroes are not forgotten and that we have a viable future in our respective industries. As Carter G. Woodson famously said, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

As the US leaders of Afroflare, Cloudflare’s employee resource group (ERG) for employees of African descent, we made a personal commitment this month and beyond to effectively represent, build, and grow at Cloudflare and in the tech industry.

To honor that commitment, we decided to tackle some commonly asked questions about the state of African-Americans in tech.

How many African-Americans work in tech?

The latest report on diversity in high tech from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in May 2016, indicated African-Americans made up 7.4% of the high tech workforce, with less than 1% in Manager or Executive roles.

An updated report hasn’t been released, but according to USA Today, Wired, and Fortune, Black workers made up between 1% and 6% of Black of the tech workforce from 2018-2019.

What are the barriers to increasing those numbers?

According to the EEOC, some factors driving the lack of diversity in high tech include:

  • The “pipeline” problem – traditional recruiting efforts depend heavily on individuals’ personal networks, which in the US, are typically not diverse.
  • The inhospitable culture in relevant industries and occupations forcing women and minorities to tolerate the environment or leave the field.
  • The reluctance of high tech companies to train new employees.
  • The fast-changing nature of the industry.

How can I work to create more inclusion in tech?

The future of African-Americans in tech is dependent on the concerted and consistent effort of all high tech employees and departments.

Recruiters can build a more diverse pipeline by building relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), attending events like Afrotech, or partnering with organizations whose mission is aligned with increasing diversity in tech. We have highlighted a few notable organizations below.

Black Girls Code, founded in April 2011, focuses on teaching young African-American girls how to code in several programming languages. They hope to “bridge the digital divide” in a society that pits underrepresented, young, aspiring, girls against more privileged individuals. They aim to “provide African-American youth with the skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing job openings expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020, and to train 1 million girls by 2040.”

/dev/color is a non-profit foundation led by supporters of inclusion in the tech industry with a mission to “empower Black software engineers to help one another grow into industry leaders.” /dev/color does this by focusing on helping individuals find new jobs, assist with start-ups, and most importantly, ensure that engineers find a sense of purpose in their careers and in tech.

Project Include uses data and advocacy to push diversity and inclusion initiatives in high tech. They work with companies to implement diversity initiatives that focus on three core concepts: inclusion, comprehensiveness, and accountability. Project Include shares a powerful message about what it takes to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to diversity:

“Change is hard, especially around a multidimensional issue like diversity. It is easy for all of us to become defensive and emotional, to shift the blame to others, and to feel fundamentally unheard or misunderstood. It is so uncomfortable for us to talk about the diversity problem that we have not been able to acknowledge it in full.”

These are a few of the many tech events and organizations working to solve this problem. However, doing this work takes more than just money. It involves having difficult conversations, training employees on ally skills, and supporting ERGs to celebrate and educate tech companies on different experiences, which is what we do here at Cloudflare.

As Cloudflarians, we come to work every day to build a better Internet. As Afroflarians, we want to acknowledge the current industry problems around inclusion and work tirelessly to build a better tech industry that welcomes and supports everyone. Not just during Black History Month, but always.

We urge you to do the same.

Going Beyond Black History Month
Afroflare at Afrotech in Oakland (November 2019)
Going Beyond Black History Month
Afroflare at Afrotech in Oakland (November 2019)
Going Beyond Black History Month
Afroflare at Afrotech in Oakland (November 2019)
Going Beyond Black History Month

Vetflare, Cloudflare’s Military Veteran Employee Group Launches

Post Syndicated from Harry Hirschman original https://blog.cloudflare.com/vetflare-cloudflares-veteran-employee-group-launches/

Vetflare, Cloudflare's Military Veteran Employee Group Launches

Vetflare, Cloudflare's Military Veteran Employee Group Launches

“Diversity leads to better outcomes… better decisions, increased innovation, stronger financial returns, and a great place to work for everyone” said Janet Van Huysse, Head of People at Cloudflare during our Q1-2020 kickoff. Veterans, people who have served in the military, are a vital element of a diverse workforce. We come in diverse shapes, sizes, colors, genders, and orientations. We bring diverse skillsets, experiences, and perspectives.  

If you haven’t served in the military and haven’t worked with many veterans, here are some of the things that you can expect from your colleagues or direct reports that are veterans.

Veterans know what it means to SERVE. Indeed, it is a truism that living in service to others is a life well-lived, and that service to others is a foundation of esprit de corps. Though relatively few of us have seen combat, we have all signed a blank check to our nation made payable for any amount, up to and including our lives. This is what it means to become part of something bigger than oneself. This translates to putting our common shared interests ahead of our personal interests even when that means becoming an instrument of a foreign policy we might not agree with.  

Veterans know what it means to be part of a TEAM. The phrase “I’ve got your back” means a lot when it comes from a veteran because they’re referring to the blank check. Just about every veteran you ask will tell you they really miss being part of something bigger than themselves. Companies and organizations in the civilian world that can connect the dots in this way, like Cloudflare’s mission to help build a better internet, unlock the magic that accomplishes the seemingly impossible. We see this at Cloudflare in the incredible pace of product releases AND product improvements. We see this at Cloudflare when people go to the mat for their customers and when people come together to fix a problem.  

Veterans know what it means to focus on a MISSION. When people have bought into the mission, everything and everyone aligns to achieve it. We know that together, as part of a team, with solid leadership, strategy, and tactics we can accomplish the mission. Veterans will help you drop things that are extraneous to the mission and help you focus on the things that will get the mission accomplished. When a veteran on your team asks, “What problem are we trying to solve?” or “Why are we doing this?” you can bet a paycheck that they’re trying to draw a straight line to the goal of the mission.  

Veterans know what it means to COMMIT. Most people view the military as a top-down, hierarchical organization because, well… it is.  But most people don’t realize the level of consensus-driven decision-making that happens prior to an order being given. “Because I told you so” is just not enough of a reason for people to risk their lives or for them to effectively execute their part of a mission. So the military involves their people in mission planning where alternatives are thrashed out, often with great conviction. But when time is up and the mission commander makes their call on how the mission will be carried out, veterans know it’s time to put aside their personal opinions, get onboard, and do whatever it takes to make the plan successful. Jeff Bezos famously calls this “disagree and commit” and veterans are well-practiced in this skill.

Veterans know the importance of MORALE. We’ve seen the unit with everything going for it fail, and we’ve seen the underdog come out on top. We’ve seen troubled units turn themselves around, seemingly overnight. Veterans know how the days drag on endlessly when morale is low, and we know the joy that comes from playing their part in a group that is proud to be doing what they’re doing.

Veterans know how to make DIVERSITY work. We had to because we had no choice in who we worked with in the military. Every year one-third of the people in our units left and new people showed up out of the blue. They were selected by someone else and we couldn’t fire them. So veterans get good at onboarding themselves into new organizations and onboarding new people to their teams. Veterans get good at figuring out what people have to offer and where they have gaps so the team can reshape itself to maximize performance.  

If you’re a veteran reading this, know that Cloudflare has a seat at the table for you. This can be your opportunity to transition into the civilian world, transition into tech, or accelerate your career in tech at a rocket-ship that appreciates what you have to offer.  

Supporting veterans is distinct from supporting their country’s foreign policy. Most Americans recognize the mistake we made in not welcoming home veterans of the Vietnam War because we didn’t support the war at-large. Nowadays, “thank you for your service” is a meaningful phrase most veterans hear with some regularity and I’m here to tell you that it means a lot. And it especially means a lot to those veterans who carry the lifelong burden of combat action.

So we Cloudflarians that are also veterans also want to say thank you to all of YOU for welcoming us into this company, this culture, and this team that is doing so much more than helping to build a better internet.  We are proud and grateful to serve alongside you at CLOUDFLARE.