Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity
A large portion of my young professional career (2010-2018) was spent at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) helping run one of the largest federal civil rights business programs and advocating for infrastructure that created equity for our underserved communities. On the heels of a one trillion dollar investment into our national infrastructure, it is a bold reminder on the importance of ensuring our investments prioritize equity. Our infrastructure includes not only what our Government invests in like roads, bridges, airports, broadband, energy grid, but what some private companies are developing, an infrastructure for the future of our workplace.
At Spot, we aspire to build the future of our workplace and prioritize equity, inclusion, and diversity. How does a company make this a priority for any industry they are in? Listen, engage, collaborate, and develop empathy to understand the needs of others. Stakeholder engagement and buy-in was critical for developing infrastructure at the USDOT and it remains a cornerstone in the development of Spot. One stakeholder is my younger brother, Alex Ralston, who is a C6 quadriplegic -- he wanted to share in his own words:
Written by Alex Ralston:
My name is Alex Ralston, I am a quadriplegic with no mobility from below my neck since I was 17 after suffering an accident while working. I consider myself an opportunistic entrepreneur and struggled with my accessibility and mobility restrictions. I work from my fully accessible home, which is customized for my abilities and makes my day much simpler and painless.
In 2019 I started exploring alternative worksites that would allow for better social interaction compared to working from home. In February 2020, I discovered a shared workspace company close to my home in Arizona and was prepared to sign a year-long lease. Then came March, 2020 and the world changed as we knew it, COVID-19 had shut down the world, and I was confined to my home once again. Companies across the world sent their employees home and began a period of limbo.
With there not being an expiration date on the quarantine, people began to work from home. My quadriplegia restricted me to my own home for most of my life. While most people were overjoyed to be able to work from home, I was not one of them. There was a lack of allowance for not only quadriplegics, but people with disabilities, to work from home and maintain the same level of social engagement.
I explored the different work from home platforms that are currently available but had yet to find one that satisfied what I looked for. Fast-forward to November of 2020, I was introduced to Spot, a startup that is looking to design the future, work from home experience. I adopted Spot over the last six months and am convinced with its “Sims” style workplace setting, spatial audio, and serendipitous flowing office conversation, that I found what I was missing. The ability to customize my workplace and avatar to my own preferences and requirements allows me to express my personal creativity. Being able to seamlessly jump on/off audio and video calls brings the collaboration aspect together for me and allows for a more personal social interaction. This all while still being at the comfort and liberty of my own home.
Spot bridges the gap of allowing me to work from home, while still getting the sense of community, friendship, and engagement of an in person office.
Alex’s ability to shed light on his experience with Spot is just one example of how we are focused on prioritizing stakeholder buy-in to build a workplace infrastructure that prioritizes equity, diversity, and inclusion. As Mahatma Gandhi shared “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” Help us build a better future -- reach out and let us know how we can build a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse product for the future of the workplace.