MAKERS@Home with Katie Juran, Sr. Director of Diversity & Inclusion

As a trusted partner to the MAKERS organization, Adobe has taken the stage at MAKERS conference for the last two years, pledging to achieve gender pay parity between women and men in 2018 (which we accomplished!), and pledging to tackle opportunity parity in 2019. When we look at our Diversity and Inclusion initiatives at Adobe and take these pledges, one thing is abundantly clear—it takes all of us to achieve change.

To understand more about our Adobe For All mission, and to learn about the recent shifts in our strategy, Katie Juran, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Adobe, sat down with MAKERS to answers a few questions as part of their MAKERS@Home interview series.

MAKERS: How has Adobe’s Diversity & Inclusion team pivoted during the COVID pandemic and amidst recent injustices and unrest across the globe?

Katie Juran: When our entire global workforce moved to working from home in early March, many of our employees felt isolated. In the pre-COVID world, we had built a D&I strategy around employee storytelling as a way to build understanding and empathy. So we decided to build on that strategy in the virtual world and introduced a series we call Adobe For All Coffee Break. It is a weekly, 30-minute live-streamed “fireside chat” session with Adobe leaders who have unique life experiences like growing up a racial/ethnic minority, homelessness, military service, LGBTQ+ identity, health challenges, immigration, and many more. Attendance and engagement have far exceeded our expectations, which reinforced how much value people find in these transparent, vulnerable conversations.

When George Floyd’s death and other racial injustices catalyzed the Black Lives Matter dialogue, we were fortunate to already have the Adobe For All Coffee Break as an established weekly venue. We pivoted the format of our next scheduled session to a panel where several Black employee volunteers shared their personal stories and reflections. Then we brought in our first external Coffee Break speaker, Angela Glover Blackwell (whom I first saw at MAKERS!) who was incredible. Of course, we utilized many other employee venues as well, but I felt like the groundwork we laid for the pandemic allowed for an agile way to support our employees through a totally different crisis.

MAKERS: What has been the greatest lesson as a diversity and inclusion leader during this time?

KJ: My favorite quote is from Will Rogers: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” The value of that quote has really come home to me over the past few months. Diversity and inclusion are a journey without a clear end, and it’s hard to imagine that we will ever get to a perfect state. But we need to keep moving forward and recognize that we are making meaningful progress.

MAKERS: Can you share tangible actions you’ve taken to ensure your team is supported?

KJ: I’ve done two very different things to support my team. The first is opening up space to ask 1:1 how they’re doing and really listening. “Tell me more about that” is a phrase that I try to use as often as I can, as a way to give them the space to share and reflect on what they’re going through. The second is completely opposite, which is to gather people together (virtually) and have fun. I had every member of my team order gourmet flavored popcorn shipped to their homes, and we spent an hour on a Friday afternoon playing “Scattergories” and joking around. That was at the end of the most painful week of supporting our Black employees and allies through the firestorm, and I wasn’t sure what mood everyone would be in. But they loved it! I think it was a relief to not have to talk about work for a while and just enjoy being with one another.

MAKERS: As companies are reshaping the landscape of diversity and inclusion teams, what are you most interested in seeing happening at Adobe and other companies collectively?

KJ: I would like to see more collaboration happening across companies to share best practices and make joint investments focused on the root problems that members of underrepresented groups face – education, access to internships, mentorship and sponsorship, etc. We are all doing a lot of great work, but it feels like there is an acceleration effect that we could get if we combine forces. We’ve shared our learnings in areas where we’ve had success, such as pay parity and reskilling nontraditional candidates for tech roles, and we would love to learn from other companies’ successes as well. I’m grateful to be part of the MAKERS Board as one way to make those cross-industry connections.

MAKERS: What are you most hopeful about?

KJ: I’m hopeful that after recent events, people will understand that life isn’t a zero-sum game. Someone else getting more opportunity doesn’t mean you lose it. It means now there is more opportunity for everyone, and that’s a good thing.

Learn more about Adobe For All on our Diversity & Inclusion site.