Diversity at Autodesk is a Good Thing


As a hiring manager, I can have an impact on diversity at Autodesk. I try to do what I can.

For example:

  • I consider summer intern candidates from the Code2040 program. Code2040 is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways to educational, professional, and entrepreneurial success in technology for underrepresented minorities with a specific focus on Black and Latinx (gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina) people. Code2040 aims to close the achievement, skills, and wealth gaps in the United States by the year 2040.
  • I am supportive of my direct reports that are in our Emerging Leaders Program. The Emerging Leaders Program is an internal Autodesk initiative that takes high potential employees who satisfy inclusive dimensions (e.g., gender, race, or geographical location), and volunteers assist them in their career development.

I do this because diversity is good for our workplace. Autodesk Director, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Daniel Guillory, recently pointed out that diversity at Autodesk:

  • Helps Autodesk become an employer of choice.
  • Uses creativity and innovation to create leading edge products and web services [like Autodesk Forge — I added that].
  • Develops an unmatched level of customer focus.
  • Foster collaboration across geographies, groups, and functions.
  • Continues to ensure a high level of quality for customers.
  • Expands opportunities for communities to imagine, design, and create a better world.

What I like about Autodesk's diversity efforts is that we don't have to lower our standards to achieve diversity. When I first got interested in this topic, I brought up the following example:

  • A requirement to be a fireman is that the fireman must be able to carry an unconscious person down a flight of stairs and out of a burning building.
  • Many female firefighter applicants could not meet this requirement. Thus, females were underrepresented in fire departments.
  • To remedy this, the requirement was changed so that the unconscious person could be dragged down the flight of stairs and out of the burning building.

I have no plans to set my house on fire, but if it happens, and I pass out, I prefer to be carried out of my house. I wish fire departments had not changed the requirement.

At Autodesk, the requirements for the types of jobs we offer are independent of factors associated with diversity. For example, look at my requirements for this year's summer intern position:

  • Though a self-starter and self-managing, have a strong desire to work as part of a team.
  • Tolerate ambiguity, as project activities are determined by your team.
  • Full-time student pursuing a bachelors or masters engineering or design degree at an accredited program in the United States with at least one academic term to complete post internship to be eligible for internship participation.
  • Experience with 3D design and geometric modeling.
  • Hands-on experience with digital fabrication, particularly CNC.

We don't need to change these requirements to achieve diversity.

I also like that Autodesk does not use numerical quotas in its practices. Yes, we do measure aspects of diversity and compute percentages (e.g., X% of our employees are female) but we don't mandate results like "Well, if X% of our employees are female, then X% of our upper management must be female." Instead, we look to address diversity on an individual basis and foster inclusion for all.

Diversity is alive in the lab.