In recent years, we held an annual Inclusion Summit, where a group of Spotifiers working directly with inclusion and diversity met in person. Pausing all in-person meetings during the pandemic has prompted us to reimagine the experience.
When we canceled our Inclusion Summit at the height of the pandemic in 2020, and in 2021, and announced our Work From Anywhere program, we began to think about what a distributed-first-experience could look like for this specific event. We tossed around the idea of following our normal design: bring together 150+ Spotifiers who were selected to attend the conference, but make it virtual for 1-2 days. While that approach was consistent with what other companies were doing, we knew that many of our band members were feeling the screen fatigue, and for such an important conversation, we wanted it to be engaging. So, we decided to hold tight and wait for an opportunity to host a hybrid event – virtual and in-person where possible.
Our goal has always been to better equip Spotifiers to create greater community and belonging, so we took the opportunity to change the approach from just a limited number of participants, to a Spotify-wide experience. Therefore, we decided to expand the Inclusion Summit concept, replacing it with a Global Belonging Week, where Spotifiers across the globe are able to participate in the conversations.
The “Glocal” Experience
As a continuously growing organization, it’s important that every voice, culture and opinion is heard and embraced, therefore one of the core focuses for our 2022 Global Belonging Week was to bring the local voices of Spotifiers to our global community. We provide a platform to discuss topics on belonging, and how as a company we can be better positioned to “win the game of talent”. Spotifiers were able to bring their unique perspective on what that means for all the different communities from across our global and fully distributed organization. Within the platform was our “Fika Tent”, a place where all Spotifiers could connect and talk with one another online.
Our approach included a strong collaboration with our senior leaders in our various markets at Spotify. The essential elements of this partnership were in the curation of the local experiences, without encroaching on the overarching experience for all Spotifiers. We called this the “glocal” experience. Our Spotify Managing Directors (country leaders) were deeply engaged in helping us to ensure that our content translated into action locally. The beauty of this meant that we could fully embrace that diversity and inclusion means something different for every market, but the journey of community and belonging is universal (where everyone has the opportunity to participate). This glocal approach allowed us to pursue the greatest level of inclusion, while also ensuring that conversions were relevant to Spotifiers in their own regions.
Pass The Mic Sessions
Another new component we implemented throughout the week was hosting sessions called “Pass The Mic”. The intention of these sessions was to go beyond listening to the different keynote speakers, by also talking through how the content of the panels applied to each individual and creating dialogue on different perspectives of the topics. There was a uniqueness and power translated into the group dialogues and engagement with each other’s experiences. We won’t see change happen in a real way without conversations that challenge us to ask the questions, and explore answers / understanding in a meaningful way. Our “Pass The Mic” sessions were our solution for Spotifiers to put this belief into practice after our keynote presentations. Some of the discussions emphasized the importance of intersectionality, measuring impact and using a platform to speak on equity initiatives. For many of our office locations, Spotifiers had an opportunity to come into the office to experience these sessions in-person as well. For those joining the experience virtually, we provided a way to connect in our metaverse virtual event platform.
A Look Back
In full transparency, when we started planning we were not totally convinced that by offering this hybrid program in three different time zones was going to be effective. However, as we look back on this experience, we are certain that the impact and access was worth it, the long hours of planning, design and creation of an employee-center platform paid off!
More than ever, we’re committed to curating DIB experiences for all Spotifiers around the world, and facilitating educational experiences that ultimately translate into the behaviors and decisions that we make. In true Spotify form, we also want to do a “retro” on the experience. Here are a few key learnings we as a DIB team have been reflecting on:
- Mindfulness Matters: In alignment with our goal to make this an engaging and informative event for all Spotifiers across the globe, every detail had to be heavily considered. From the timing of the sessions, to topics and titles, speaker selections, music choices and even the buildout of our virtual event platform itself, we wanted to ensure that all Spotifers felt considered and recognized in our approach. This type of planning can not be performed in a silo for the sake of expediency but instead evolved out of many conversations and feedback discussions to consider all points of view.
- Prioritize Connection: While Spotifiers were keen to attend the sessions and hear from external speakers, the overwhelming feedback was about how employees enjoyed hearing from one another. The virtual Fika Tent, an area where Spotifiers can connect 1: 1 or in small discussion groups, was one of the most popular features of the event. Some employees even created their own in-person watch parties, in addition to the ones offered, in order to connect and share in even more specific ways. Lightning talks, quick TED talk style sessions where employees shared from their own experiences continued to live up to their reputation as an engaging staple in Spotify events.
- Becoming a Global Citizen: Global events have a multiplier effect when it comes to cross cultural learning and belonging. By bringing all employees around the globe together for this one event, individuals were able to identify commonality of experiences and challenges. Through these sharing opportunities people were given space to connect on a human level as global citizens with one thought in mind – belonging.
We are staying true to one of our Band Manifesto mottos: “change is our constant”, and we know that this change in approach will help establish greater community and belonging – and we are always looking at making it even better for the next year.