In 2020, President and CEO of Tandem Diabetes Care, John Sheridan, shared a commitment to diversity on behalf of the entire company to every employee in an email titled, “Racism and Intolerance.”
"Cultivating and encouraging diversity and inclusion at Tandem has always been an important part of who we are for a couple of reasons," he wrote. "1) It’s just the right thing to do, and 2) organizations made up of people from different backgrounds, who feel safe sharing their unique perspectives at work are proven to be more innovative and ultimately more successful. I think we already experience these benefits, but cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture is not a project you can check off as complete. It’s an ever-evolving process that you must keep working at, and we are definitely at a point in Tandem’s journey where it is time to formalize our commitment to DEI initiatives so we can continue to stay true to who we are."
As part of this commitment, Tandem recently brought on a new Senior Program Manager & DEI Lead, Jaya Mallik, in 2021. Prior to joining Tandem, Jaya was a Program Manager and DEI Lead at Meta (formerly known as Facebook). She also served as Senior DEI Program Manager at Amazon, where she led a company-wide goal to remove non-inclusive language from technical systems and documentation.
Jaya is excited about growing the Tandem DEI Council, which currently has more than 20 employees helping to create a sense of belonging for everyone.
“I believe that centering empathy is important for a company culture,” Jaya said. “That means understanding what empathy means, how you can connect with someone on a human level, and placing yourself in someone else’s shoes — especially with people who need to be amplified.”
FROM PRODUCTS TO TEAMS, TANDEM IS “PEOPLE FIRST”
As Tandem continues to grow — adding nearly 1,000 people in 2021 — the company is putting a greater focus on “people first” by underscoring how each person is unique. Whether through hiring channels, amplifying current team members, or collaborating with people in different industries who have varying skill sets and distinct ways of thinking, the company has an opportunity to amplify innovation even further.
“At Tandem, our values, culture, and organizational success are rooted in people first,” Senior Director of Human Resources, Marcie Faraimo said. “Diversity in our employee community, and our ability to embrace the many unique gifts, talents, experiences, and perspectives fully, is incredibly important to our success and what makes us a positively different place to work.”
Even amid the pandemic, Tandem has continued to listen to employees, customers, and community. With the modern “workplace” continuing to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly important to ingrain the principles of equity and inclusion, so that it shines through in the company culture, teams, operations, and products.
“We want diversity, equity, and inclusion to be synonymous with Tandem,” Jaya said.
Tandem has myriad partnerships in the works. For example, the company is working with Athena to empower women in STEM. Another partnership is with the National Foundation for Autism Research to enhance neurodiverse talent pipelines by better understanding how to interview candidates inclusively and equitably.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION — DEFINED
“We are a deeply empathetic and caring culture,” Jaya said, “and we have enough maturity and awareness as an organization to understand when we have even more opportunities to continue to grow and learn. By being mindful about DEI, we can only make an already awesome product better!”
To start, she believes it’s important to break down each word in ‘DEI’ and examine it more closely.
“Diversity is a knowing of who’s in the room,” Jaya explained. “Equity is asking if you’ve made adjustments to all the seats at the table so everybody can sit and see each other. Inclusion is questioning how everyone at the table can have a voice to speak. All three are related, but you can’t have equity without inclusion — they must be hand-in-hand.”
When putting these ideas into action, Jaya shared several examples for any company to take into consideration:
- Creating more equity can involve working to remove discrepancies in pay, and accounting for promotion biases or biases in hiring
- Implementing more inclusivity would account for areas such as learning differences, language variations, different values, distinct viewpoints, and neurodiversity
- Cultivating more diversity means supporting a mix in hiring that is reflective of the overall population of the talent pool, as well as developing products that are most representative of the people who use them
- When it comes to Tandem, the company endeavors to have a diverse representation, from inviting a broad range of participants for clinical trials to incorporating different perspectives in the design of the products at the start
By taking an approach of humility, Tandem can constantly evaluate policies and practices so that they are as equitable and inclusive as possible. This encourages greater diversity in the organizational makeup.
“To integrate DEI well is to apply these ideas with thoughtfulness,” Jaya said. “That’s at the heart of it, right? It’s love and care.”