Building a More Diverse and Inclusive F5—Together

Mary Fairchild Miniature
Mary Fairchild
Published December 12, 2022

I’m so excited to announce the publication of the 2022 Diversity + Inclusion at F5 report, and to talk about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going—as well as what each one of us can do to help us get there. I first came to F5 in 2018 and I knew right away that the company culture was unique. I recall asking as I was interviewing, “Why do you work here?” Each person said something to the effect of “because of the people.” F5ers work hard to create and nurture a culture where everyone can be themselves and reach their full potential. This report reflects that hard work, which is happening at every level of the organization.

It turned out that 2018 was a pivotal year. I joined just as we were formalizing a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) office and setting our intentions toward building a more diverse and inclusive workplace. We knew we needed to accelerate the change and work hard to build a culture where each employee feels included, supported, and empowered. Over the last four years, we’ve taken some big steps: expanding our employee inclusion groups, transforming our hiring efforts, and providing training on unconscious bias and allyship.

I’m pleased to share that our employees’ efforts have been paying off. Since 2018, we’ve had continued increases in both ethnic and gender diversity in our workforce—and over that same time, our global belonging scores have risen from 72 percent of the company to 84 percent. We’ve seen that as diversity and representation increase, so too does that sense of inclusion and belonging. It’s a prime example of our human-first, high-performance culture: when we all feel included, we work better together. And working together is the key to continued success.

For me, it’s important that we extend this “working together” across companies and throughout the tech industry. And that’s why we’re sharing our D&I strategy publicly today. I believe D&I is one of many elements of a company’s culture and not all practices and concepts will be transferrable—but perhaps this will spark ideas for others or encourage more sharing and openness about D&I programs. I’d like to share with you just a slice of what is in the report, including our framework of I.D.E.A. (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Allyship), our working definitions of these complex concepts, the efforts that proved fruitful for us in 2022, and our commitments for the next fiscal year. 

Inclusion is all about how we make others feel. We practice fostering a sense of belonging that helps us all love what we do and reach our full potential.

  • FY22 Progress: We evolved our training program to feature shorter, more accessible sessions on inclusive hiring, combatting microaggressions, and encouraging allyship, while reflecting employee pronouns and expanding our gender, race, and ethnicity options on forms to empower employees at F5 to self-identify in the ways they choose.

  • FY23 Commitments: In addition to committing to maintaining belonging scores of 80% or above, we’re continuing to require inclusion training sessions for all employees, as well as investing in our EIGs and their leaders by providing a performance bonus to each global EIG leader.

Diversity involves working toward variety in our employee demographics to incorporate many different backgrounds, ways of thinking, and viewpoints into our innovation.

  • FY22 Progress: We took part in the inaugural Black Equity Index to establish and share best practices across industries, shined a spotlight on F5's Black professionals to help attract new talent, and promoted new roles and programs through the Black Leaders in Tech group.

  • FY23 Commitments: We will continue to require balanced slates for all open positions at the time of interview and focus on increasing both gender and ethnic diversity in our workforce.

Equity means we work to ensure that everyone has access to the resources, opportunities, and information they need to succeed. 

  • FY22 Progress: We held the second annual global Leadership Development Conference for Black and Latinx employees and expanded our sponsorship program to include our F5 Appreciates Blackness, F5 Latinx e Hispanos Unidos, and F5 Connects Women EIGs.

  • FY23 Commitments: We’ll launch a curated leadership program for our Latinx EIG members internally, provide recordings from our D&I conference on thriving in leadership, and continue to expand our equity analysis of talent processes and programs within F5.

Allyship is listening to and learning from those whose experiences are different from ours—and asking for feedback on the impact of our actions.

  • FY22 Progress: We provided mandatory allyship training to all employees, supported employee-run allyship book clubs, and offered more than 40 books throughout the year to educate and inspire.

  • FY23 Commitments: We’re going to engage and expand our Allyship at Work group, form a Mental Health First Aider community of practice internally, and require that all members complete training to equip them to practice allyship and advocate for a diverse and inclusive F5.

Each F5er has played a part in building a more diverse and inclusive company and it will take all of us to continue the momentum. We know it’s not perfect and the list of things to accomplish is much longer than the list of those we’ve achieved. But today, we take note of both where we’ve been and where we’re going. And we appreciate the commitment to working together to build a culture where each one of us can be who we are—and where everyone can thrive.