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Building a sustainable workforce, through communities


9 min read

At Cloudflare, we have our eyes set on an ambitious goal: to help build a better Internet. Today the company runs one of the world’s largest networks that powers approximately 25 million Internet properties. This is made possible by our 1,900 team members around the world. We believe the key to achieving our potential is to build diverse teams and create an environment where everyone can do their best work.

That is why we place a lot of value on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. Diversity, equity, and inclusion lead to better outcomes through improved decision-making, more innovative teams, stronger financial returns and simply a better place to work for everyone.

To become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, we believe it’s important to focus on communities within and around our company.

Building internal communities at Cloudflare

At Cloudflare, like most workplaces, there are built-in communities: your direct team, your cross-functional partners and (because we take onboarding very seriously) your new hire class. These communities, especially the first two, are important to help you get your job done. But we want more than that for our team at Cloudflare. We believe that community builds connection and fosters a sense of belonging.

Because of that, we have supported the growth of over 16 Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s). We use the term ERG broadly at Cloudflare. We have many ERG’s focused on traditionally under-represented groups in tech: Afroflare (Black, African diaspora), Latinflare, and Womenflare; groups that have been historically marginalized: Proudflare (LGBTQIA+), Cloudflarents (parents and caregivers); as well as interest and affinity groups like Mindflare and Soberflare. To read more about all of our ERGs, visit our diversity, equity, and inclusion webpage or read about them on our blog. In addition to creating a community of support and belonging, our ERGs also work to enhance career development of their members and contribute to the development of a more inclusive culture at Cloudflare.

Building the skills to build communities

We define an inclusive culture as one where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected with a sense of belonging. We do not leave this to chance. We make investments in training and programs to develop and deepen the skills needed to nurture and preserve inclusive communities at Cloudflare.

One of our earliest offerings was Ally Skills training. The aim of this workshop is to help build awareness of the types of behavior and language which can be harmful to inclusivity at Cloudflare, and teach simple, everyday ways to support people who are targets of systemic oppression. During the workshop, team members share strategies on how to act as allies and how to create a long-lasting, inclusive culture at Cloudflare. As the program was being rolled out, the management team did the workshop together and quickly realized these were not skills reserved for ‘allies’ but it was our expectation that this was how all of our team members treated each other. These were necessary skills to be successful at Cloudflare. As a result, we reworked some pieces of the workshop and renamed it: How We Work Together.

We have also partnered with Paradigm IQ and Included to create a three-part Unconscious Bias Education Program. These workshops are a mix of eLearning and facilitated workshops where we learn about how to help mitigate unconscious bias and make our company a more welcoming and inclusive place for everyone. tEQuitable is an additional comprehensive resource which helps us create a safe, inclusive, and equitable workplace. They provide an independent sounding board where our employees may confidentially raise a concern, access a just-in-time learning platform, and get advice from professional Ombuds. They also help us identify systemic workplace issues and provide us with actionable recommendations for how to improve our workplace culture. What we especially love about tEQuitable is that it’s all about empowering our employees with tools and resources to address issues that may be impacting them, or they may witness impacting others, so we all play an active role in maintaining and nurturing our culture.

One other program worth highlighting is our Week On: Learning and Inclusion. This program came as a response to the murder of George Floyd in the US at the end of May 2020. Our Afroflare global leaders suggested we use Juneteenth as a full-day of deep learning from external experts on topics ranging from the history of race and racism to the psychological impact of racism on people of color. In 2021, we expanded it from a one-day program to a week full of programming with topics ranging from antiracism keynotes, inclusive people management workshops and inclusive recruiting practices.

Holding ourselves accountable to an inclusive culture

Increasing awareness and skill-building is valuable, but it is not enough. We also have to hold ourselves accountable by analyzing data, setting goals and measuring progress objectively. Each year we set company-wide goals around our diversity, and for the last few years we’ve added individual goals for managers — one focused on building a more diverse team, and one focused on building an inclusive team culture.

We also place a high value on behaviors at Cloudflare. This is imperative because we believe that culture is defined by the behaviors we reward. So in order to have a healthy and inclusive culture, we must reward the behaviors that promote and preserve that. We have defined these behaviors as our Cloudflare Capabilities.

We screen for these Capabilities during our interview process, and they are used in performance and promotion conversations. We hold ourselves accountable by using a very simple formula: Performance = results + behaviors. Equally weighted.

Our Recruiting Efforts

Speaking of interviewing, hiring is an important part of our diversity story. We believe that diverse teams win, and we put in a lot of effort to build diverse teams across the company. We have many team members who took unconventional paths into tech, and we believe that makes us stronger as a company. In fact, many of our job descriptions read: We realize people do not fit into neat boxes. We are looking for curious and empathetic individuals who are committed to developing themselves and learning new skills, and we are ready to help you do that. We cannot complete our mission without building a diverse and inclusive team.

In addition to an inclusive and expansive mindset around hiring, we also have interviews dedicated specifically to fit against our Capabilities, as well as leveraging technology and tools to help identify great talent who help to increase the diversity of our teams.

We have also made investments in events and partnerships that help support our diversity recruiting efforts. In August 2016, Cloudflare was one of the first companies to partner with Path Forward when it first launched its program in California. [Fun fact: that’s how I learned about Cloudflare and became interested in working here]. In Singapore, we have a similar partnership with Mums@Work.

We also engage with organizations and participate in events that help us reach talent from underrepresented groups. We have sponsored and spoke on stage at events like Lesbians Who Tech and Grace Hopper, where our co-founder, President and COO, Michelle Zatlyn, delivered the keynote in 2020. We regularly attend events and conferences hosted by AfroTech, Women Who Code, Girls Who Code, TAPIA, NSN, and more.

Engaging with external communities

Our ethos is to support and connect with external communities as well. Prior to the pandemic, when our offices were fully open and social and professional events were a thing, we regularly hosted external organizations to host events in our communal spaces. One example of such an organization is Wu Yee Children’s Services, a San Francisco Chinatown-based nonprofit that connects parents and caregivers to affordable childcare options, offers payment assistance to low-income families, and other family and community services. We were honored to host their orientation session. Another organization we hosted was Women Who Code SF. We regularly hosted their “ algorithm and interview prep” workshops, which helped women coders gain the skills they need to land good jobs in the tech industry. Unlike many of our tech company peers, we did not offer free lunch five days a week. It was important to us that our team members got out of the office and supported local businesses and restaurants. It is important that we do not isolate ourselves, but rather are part of a larger community.

We also believe in giving back to our local communities. Prior to COVID, Cloudflare dedicated one week every year to volunteer efforts. Coordinated across many of our large office locations, we would dedicate each day for a full week volunteering at employee-nominated, local non-profit organizations. Our participation pivoted to virtual during COVID, but we are anxious to return to in-person giving when we can.

While we are proud of these efforts, it is in using Cloudflare products and services for good that is truly special. Cloudflare’s mission to help build a better Internet means we are in a unique position to help vulnerable websites, applications and services be safer, faster and more reliable online.

A few to highlight:

Project Galileo

Organizations working in the arts, human rights, civil society, journalism, or democracy, may apply for Project Galileo to get Cloudflare’s cybersecurity protection, for free. Since 2014, we’ve been leveraging our services to support vulnerable public interest web properties including, but are not limited to: minority rights organizations, human rights organizations, independent media outlets, arts groups, and democracy and voter protection programs.

Our support of one of these organizations has blossomed over the years. We are proud to announce our partnership with The Trevor Project. Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. We support the organization through monetary donations, a partnership with our LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group, Proudflare, and free Cloudflare services through our Project Galileo Program.

Since 2017, we have donated about $8 million in cybersecurity tools under Project Galileo.

Athenian Project

Cloudflare launched the Athenian Project in 2017 to provide our highest level of cybersecurity services for free to state and local governments in the United States that run elections. The project is designed to protect these websites tied to elections including information related to voting and polling places, voter registration and sites that publish election results. And voter data from cyberattack, and keep them online. During the 2020 U.S. election, we worked closely with civil society and government agencies to share threat information that we saw targeted against these participants and protected more than 292 websites in 30 states, including the Missouri Secretary of State, Solano County in California and The Colorado Department of State.

In recognition that election security is a global issue, we recently announced our partnerships with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute to extend our cybersecurity protections to election management bodies around the world, as well as organizations that support free and fair elections. We look forward to continuing our work to protect resources in the voting process and help build trust in democratic institutions around the world.

Project Fairshot

Around the world, governments, hospitals, and pharmacies are struggling to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. Technical limitations are causing vaccine registration sites to crash under the load of registrations. At Cloudflare, we want to help. Cloudflare's Waiting Room feature allows organizations with more demand for a resource — be it concert tickets, new edition sneakers, or vaccines — to allow individuals to queue and then allocate access. Waiting Rooms can be deployed in front of any existing registration website without requiring code changes. As we watched the world struggle to fairly and efficiently distribute the COVID-19 vaccine we wanted to lend our technologies and expertise to help. Under Project Fair Shot, Cloudflare is providing Waiting Room to any government agency, hospital, pharmacy, or other organization facilitating the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine for free until anyone who wants to be vaccinated can be, until at least 31-December 2021.

We all need to work together to get past this incredibly difficult time worldwide and are humbled to have helped so many different organizations around the world such as the County of San Luis Obispo, Verto Health, and the Ministry of Health for the Republic of Latvia, and more!

Why we are publishing our diversity data

At Cloudflare, we believe in being principled, curious and transparent. Publishing our diversity report is aligned with these values.

We are Principled: One of the Cloudflare Capabilities is “Do the Right Thing” — that includes long-term thinking about how we build an innovative and sustainable workforce. We have a fundamental belief that fairness is the right thing. We believe that equity is the right thing.

We are Curious: Creating a more diverse and sustainable workforce is hard work. We want to draw lessons from the things we try, and we want to learn from what others are trying. Sustainable communities is not a zero-sum game, and we believe we can all benefit as an active part of the broader community.

We believe in Transparency: For many years, we have been transparent with our team about our diversity data and our goals, and we have measured our progress regularly. Now we are taking the step to share publicly because we believe in accountability and accept the responsibility to build a diverse and sustainable workforce.

You can check out our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webpage with our diversity report here.

While there is always more work to be done, we are grateful for the empathetic and curious team that makes Cloudflare what it is today. Together, we are optimistic we can build a better — and more inclusive — Internet.

We protect entire corporate networks, help customers build Internet-scale applications efficiently, accelerate any website or Internet application, ward off DDoS attacks, keep hackers at bay, and can help you on your journey to Zero Trust.

Visit from any device to get started with our free app that makes your Internet faster and safer.

To learn more about our mission to help build a better Internet, start here. If you're looking for a new career direction, check out our open positions.
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