When I joined Softdocs as CEO last year, there were two initiatives I felt important for us to lead: defining our company vision and setting out a list of values that all of us would commit to. Ultimately, how we plan to achieve our goals, and the type of company and culture we strived to build, were just as important as the goals themselves. Our team spent a day offsite to align around our current vision, which is to remove the barriers that prevent organizations from delivering on student success. We then laid out a list of values that would guide us on how we would engage with each other, our partners, and our customers.
I’m reminded of this exercise because June marks the start of Pride Month, which is a month-long celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and other non-heterosexual (LGBTQI+) people. As we defined our values, we felt it was critical that our employees were authentic and that we fostered inclusivity. For Softdocs, these values are not merely signs that we post in our office and ignore, these are core values that we encourage everyone to lean into as we make impactful decisions for our team, partners, and customers. In practice, our values such as authenticity and inclusivity are not just suggestions for our staff. These are requirements that we hold each other accountable to. It is the gravity of these values that compels us to speak about LGBTQI+ rights now.
While we should all celebrate the advances and progress we’ve made as part of Pride Month, LGBTQI+ people still face harassment, violence, and discrimination around the world, which was recently highlighted in the White House’s Interagency Report on Advancing Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World. Today, sixty-nine countries still criminalize same-sex sexual activity, and in up to nine countries, this can be punishable by death. Softdocs supports all efforts to continue making progress in this area and our team is engaged in activities and policies internally to support our LGBTQI+ employees and allies. We’ve worked to remove pronouns in our documentation, launched an inclusive parental leave policy, and we provide health insurance and company benefits for domestic partners.
Supporting our LGBTQI+ colleagues and embracing diversity all drive toward us living our value of “inclusivity.” Inclusivity is not only a “nice to have,” but a critical part of our strategy at Softdocs. We must “be the change we want to see in the world.” We know with certainty that our company and our customers benefit from the perspectives, experiences, and talents of our LGBTQI+ staff, and whether it’s this community or any other diverse community, it is the meshing of these viewpoints and perspectives that ultimately help Softdocs be the best partner we can be to our nearly 1,000 educational institutional partners.
At Softdocs, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to deliver for our customers, so it's critical that we balance the pressure to perform with psychological safety. From our perspective, the foundation of psychological safety is in supporting employees to be their authentic selves, as we all produce our best results when we can bring our whole selves to work knowing we will feel safe and supported. While Pride Month is an important month of celebration, we always stand with and celebrate our LGBTQI+ staff, customers, and all the allies within our ecosystem.