Top takeaways from Adobe For All Summit 2019
by Adobe Life Team
Posted on 09-18-2019
One our favorite moments of the entire year has finally arrived: the Adobe For All Summit in San Jose! The Adobe For All Summit is where we celebrate all things diversity and inclusion, and saw over 1,200 employees attend from all over the world. This year’s theme was “Empower Every Voice,” and we had an amazing time celebrating everyone’s unique background. Here are the highlights.
“There’s no rule book”
“We want to create an environment where everyone can do their best work,” said Katie Juran, Senior Director, Diversity & Inclusion and Experience Communications, as she kicked off the summit.
Katie took the stage to explain how Adobe is constantly pushing for change to lead the way in diversity and inclusion. She also announced exciting news, including reaffirming global gender pay parity, our progress on opportunity parity, tripling our U.S. fertility drug lifetime coverage, and more.
“There’s no rule book or standard way of measuring this,” she explained. “We’re building the plane as we fly it. But we’ll end up creating an environment where everyone can make an impact.”
“Start planning how you’re going to empower every voice, and start that with your very own”
“Society is rapidly evolving and inclusion is definitely front and center,” Donna Morris, Chief Human Resources Officer & EVP, Employee Experience, said as she shared the importance of acceptance and diversity in society. She emphasized Adobe’s values and their continuity as we grew over the years. Donna also shared her excitement for our momentum on opportunity parity, the Learning Fund, and family benefits.
In tune with the Summit’s theme “Empower Every Voice,” Donna spoke about her own upbringing and offered a token of advice: “Start planning how you’re going to empower every voice, and start that with your very own.”
In line with this, eight brave Adobe employees took the stage to share their personal stories, an experience that left many in tears. Stay tuned as we cover their stories throughout the year.
“Fight for equality for everyone in all fields”
Not only is Jess McDonald a decorated player on the U.S. women’s national soccer team and the North Carolina Courage club team, she’s also a dedicated mother to her 7-year-old son, Jeremiah. “I work hard every day to show him that it takes hard work to get to where you want to go,” she told Claire Darley, VP, Digital Media EMEA. “I can’t imagine not being a mom. I’m so grateful that he’s on this journey with me.”
As the sole mother on the national team, she highlighted that she’s faced many challenges, including compensation, childcare and travel time.
“There were times in my career where I was worried about how I was going to feed us that night,” she reflected. “During off seasons, I would work full-time at Amazon for 11 hours a day. I was packing boxes just to make ends meet.” But, she persevered, providing for herself and her son while still continuing to play the sport she loved.
Now, not only is Jess playing soccer beautifully — and winning back-to-back World Cups — but she and her teammates are using their platform to advocate for equal pay.
“It’s been a learning process for me, but I’m here fighting for all parents,” she said. “This is us trying to create history and put our foot down in the middle of a movement. Because at the end of the day, I have a little one looking up to me to be his role model. So we’ll continue on this path to fight for equality for everyone in all fields.”
“It’s not just what you do, but how you do it”
Interviewed by Donna on the mainstage, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen shared how important acceptance and inclusion are to him — values instilled in him by his family during his upbringing in India.
Despite his many accolades, Shantanu reminded the crowd that no one is perfect. In fact, he told us that he’s “very comfortable making mistakes,” and that this is an important part of the recipe for success, in addition to being comfortable in your own skin and learning to be direct. He gave a huge thank you to Adobe employees, stating, “All the accolades that I get are a result of what the team accomplishes.”
Looking to the future of Adobe, Donna and Shantanu highlighted diversity of all kinds, from driving diverse team collaboration in building a product to bringing that product to a global audience. Access to digital literacy, he said, will be the great enabler. That’s why we’re on a journey to make our technology accessible to all. He closed by stating, “it’s not just what you do, but how you do it.”
“Enjoy your likeness and enjoy your distinctions”
“Totally blind, an introvert, and on the autistic spectrum,” Daniel Kish began. “If you combine the three, I’m a pretty rare person indeed.”
Daniel was only 13 months old when he lost his eyesight to retinal cancer. Now he’s the Founder and President of World Access for the Blind, a nonprofit that teaches basic navigation skills through human echolocation to people with all forms of blindness.
“Blindness isn’t about not seeing,” Daniel said. “Blindness is first and foremost about different ways of seeing. It’s about adapting to new ways of seeing to restore, maintain, and further one’s achievement in life.”
Daniel gets images from his surroundings by clicking his tongue, as his brain has learned to reconnect its visual system to the ears. He’s become such an expert teacher that he’s even hiked the Swiss Alps by himself, solely accompanied by his cane and his click.
“The thing that binds us together, the force of humanity, is that we’re all challenged,” Daniel said. “Blindness is more a state of the mind than it is a state of the eyes — and that is true of most challenges and most diversity. It’s really about our state of mind. So, enjoy your likeness and enjoy your distinctions.”
“You better believe in you”
Eric Hutcherson wanted to be a basketball player. Then he realized he could have just as much impact taking a different route — working in Human Resources and eventually becoming the Chief Human Resources Officer for the NBA.
Eric takes immense pride in working to empower people to believe in themselves. “I knew the common theme for me was helping people to realize their personal and professional goals,” he said about his previous jobs, such as working with INROADS, a nonprofit that supports youth of color.
He had to learn to believe in himself too. With people making assumptions simply because of the color of his skin, Eric learned to move beyond others’ perceptions. “You better believe in you, because there are a bunch of people out there that don’t believe in you,” he shared.
He brought this desire to empower others to the Summit stage, telling audience members to believe in their voice and not let others define their limits. “No matter what someone thinks your limitations are, you’re only hindered by your own creativity,” Eric said.
“You can do what you love to do”
Music legend Gloria Estefan closed the event with a Q&A hosted by CFO John Murphy. Throughout her life, Gloria has been passionate about music and inspired famous artists like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. Having been told “no” a lot when she started her music career, Gloria reflected, “You can do what you love to do. Find your passion and find a way to make a living out of it.”
Gloria’s diverse music ranges from dance tracks to heartfelt ballads. She loves different styles of music and trying new things, so she wanted to create music that reflected this. And that she did!
But her journey wasn’t easy. In 1990, she suffered paralysis after her tour bus was hit on the road. Doctors told her she would likely not get her career back. “What if this is what I was supposed to do?” Gloria wondered, taking the accident as an opportunity to be an example for others and show them that they can overcome adversities. She set short-term goals for herself and eventually was able to walk and perform again.
Gloria continues to inspire with her music today, and now her daughter Emily sings as well. In fact, Emily performed original music for her mother and sent Gloria a video for one of her songs. Gloria, an avid user of Adobe products, took that footage and used Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects to create a fascinating music video.
Gloria’s advice to the audience was to follow your passions and be inclusive of others. “Inclusion is not a choice,” she said. “We’re all humans!”
Look out for more Adobe For Summit coverage throughout the year, as we highlight some of our powerful employee speakers, and the Adobe For All Summit in India on September 24, 2019!
Topics: Adobe Life, #AdobeForAll, Adobe Culture, Brand