At Autodesk, innovation is our lifeblood. It courses through every part of the company, including the experiences we create for our employees.
And I’m so proud for our company to be recognized for these efforts.
Fast Company just named Autodesk a Best Workplace for Innovators 2023. This honor puts a stamp of approval on our efforts to empower employees to improve processes, create new products, and envision new ways of doing business.
Our company’s culture leaders think big, out of the box, and beyond the status quo–just like our technology focused employees. In celebration of our recent Fast Company recognition, I talked with three of them and asked:
Which programs set us apart?
How are they innovative?
How do they foster innovation?
Here’s what they shared, in their own words.
Workplace Innovator: Jenny Lum, Autodesk’s Director of Global Projects
Program: Embracing a hybrid-first workplace.
“While other companies set return-to-office mandates, Autodesk came up with a new approach that balances the needs of our employees and business. We call it Flex Forward. It prioritizes flexibility for our employees, allowing them to work from anywhere in the world where we can legally do business. We still value in-person meetings, but they have to be meaningful. These intentional gatherings have to drive human connection, belonging, and business impact.”
“Our Flex Forward approach offers workplace flexibility–but when you’re in an Autodesk office, we want it to empower you to do great work. We’ve redesigned our offices to help facilitate employee choice–with focus areas for heads-down work, collaboration areas for meetings and brainstorming, and social areas for human connection and fun. We also created the Autodesk Conference Experience (ACE). It’s like a concierge service for onsite gatherings, so our teams can personalize their in-person meetings, room arrangements, and team-building activities. ACE helps our teams make the most of every moment together.”
“Flex Forward is a talent magnet. Since we announced our hybrid-first approach to work, we’ve seen a significant increase in job applications, especially among the underrepresented groups we want to attract. We strongly believe that diversity drives innovation and business impact.”
DEI Innovator: Ramona Blake, Autodesk’s Senior Director of Diversity & Belonging
Program: Diversifying leadership development.
“At Autodesk, we recognize we have to do more than attract diverse talent. We also need to develop the next generation of diverse leaders. That’s why we developed our NEXT LEVEL program to give underrepresented Autodeskers of color one-on-one leadership coaching and mentorship, creating a strong bench of talented individuals for senior level opportunities moving forward.”
“After six months of leadership development, our inaugural NEXT LEVEL cohort of employees participated in a capstone competition called ‘Innovation Idol.’ We grouped them into teams to develop and pitch a recommendation for a real-world Autodesk opportunity. The proposals focused on developing a machine learning (ML) solution for our customers.”
“The cohort got a crash course in ML for the capstone project. Most had little prior experience with ML. Now, they’ve gained valuable awareness around how ML can deliver value for our customers and experience in building a business case tied to a new solution. That part of the program delivered immediate innovation impact to the company. But over the longer term, this and future cohorts will grow into more leadership roles, where their diverse voices will help drive innovative products, solutions, and experiences for our customers.”
Impact Innovator: Christine Stoner, Autodesk Foundation’s Executive Director
Program: Democratizing employee-led grantmaking.
“Who better to identify how and where our communities are most in need than our employee resource groups? ERGs represent the underrepresented. So, the Foundation partnered with them to develop and complete a grantmaking pilot. We gave the ERGs $140,000 in unrestricted funding to provide to the nonprofits of their choice.”
“Each step of the grantmaking process involved innovation. We upskilled ERG leaders on progressive and strategic grantmaking practices. We held workshops on how to establish an impact thesis, conduct due diligence, and engage communities in the selection process. Then, each ERG either voted or used a grant selection committee to make their final decisions.”
“I was thrilled to see how these ERGs put their resources to good use. The Autodesk Latinx Network granted funds to LatinaGeeks, which encourages Latinas to pursue tech careers. The Autodesk Black Network and Young Professionals Network pooled their grants to support Techbridge Girls, which inspires BIPOC girls to go into STEM fields. This initiative is just one example of the investments we’re making to inspire the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy, the workplace, and beyond.”
At Autodesk, we power the technology that empowers the people designing and making the world around us. A culture of innovation is what will unlock the next big idea that makes buildings greener, products smarter, or blockbusters more mesmerizing. In other words, a better world designed and made for all.