On Culture

Ted Neward on August 21, 2017

After the events of the past week, Smartsheet’s engineering leaders felt the need to make a statement about the issues of free speech, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As a company that values a safe and welcoming workplace, not addressing these issues could come across as sending a message we don’t believe and didn’t intend. While we believe the Smartsheet culture is a healthy and expressive one, we want to remain careful to keep it so.

In short, our position is this: If we didn’t think each and every one of our employees had smart things to say, they wouldn’t be here. We will fight to ensure that every employee’s voice is heard, so long as it does no harm to anyone else .

This means, practically speaking, three things:

Smartsheet has the right to discipline or terminate any employee who makes use of company time, assets or position to promote an idea or viewpoint that runs contrary to our values or makes people feel unsafe at work. The right of free speech means that the government cannot restrict your freedom of expression but as a private organization, Smartsheet has greater latitude to determine what is and is not acceptable behavior in its workplace.

However, we value the intellectual freedom that comes from an open and honest conversation. Innovation cannot happen if people are not free to speak their minds and take risks. Smartsheet risks failure if employees operate under some kind of “approval umbrella” in which only a certain subset of opinions--be they technical, organizational, societal or simply emotional--are permitted.

Similarly, we value the richness and depth of thought that can only come from a group built out of a melting pot of people. We are all of us human, yet we all come from very different places--different genetics, different experiences, and different training. Those backgrounds give us a wider collective perspective on the various obstacles we encounter; without that diversity, we are literally blind to huge swaths of our customer base.

We are a fast-growing group of diverse individuals, and that group is going to disagree--in fact, if we didn’t, that would be an indication that something was wrong at a much deeper level. However, we expect our employees to treat each other with dignity and respect, and we will go to whatever lengths required to keep this culture open, expressive, and friendly.