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What It Takes to Be Named One of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces in 2020

Inc. magazine has recognized Best Workplaces annually for nearly four decades. Contrast Security was selected one of the 2020 Best Workplaces winners. The recognition is especially meaningful since winners are evaluated based on the survey feedback provided by employees. Contrast believes that its connected culture, adaptive leadership and mentoring models, and other innovative people programs are key to the company’s success and the reason why it was selected as an award winner, all of which enables the company to develop and maintain a laser focus on the customer.

Our company was founded to solve problems, not win awards. At the same time, there are some forms of external recognition that put a warm and gentle wind at your back while sailing toward the greater destination. Being named one of Inc. magazine’s Best Workplaces for 2020 is one such honor (the full article, including the entire list of winners, will appear in Inc. magazine’s May/June 2020 issue).

Inc.’s annual review process looks for private U.S. companies that have prioritized a working environment that is both humane and engaging for employees. These are organizations with strong leadership, as well as ones achieving excellence in their industries and that have found far-reaching business benefits by cultivating a positive workplace culture for their employees.

Making the Winner’s Circle for Inc. Best Workplaces

Making the winner’s circle for the Inc. magazine Best Workplaces list is not easy. Over 3,000 submissions were received this year, but less than 15% of those were selected for the award. “The companies on Inc.’s Best Workplaces list are setting an example that the whole country can learn from, especially now, when company culture is more important to the workforce than ever,” says Inc. magazine Editor-in-Chief Scott Omelianuk.

Inc.’s ranking process is based on employee survey findings. Survey topics include trust, management effectiveness, perks, and confidence in the future. Great workplaces have positive reviews on performance management, employee recognition, and diversity. When a company’s priorities are to do right by its customers and staff, and the entire leadership team supports this objective, employees take notice.

In Good Times and Bad—Leaning on Our Collective Culture

Over the last year, Contrast has grown tremendously—and how we run our company is part of the DNA of what we do as an application security (AppSec) company. Our business practices, our diverse base of employees, and our customer-centric approach to solution development are intertwined to define both who we are and what we make.

We have worked hard to develop a culture of connectivity at Contrast Security, empowering employees to work collaboratively and to innovate without constraint. To facilitate communications between teams and employees, we rely on live chat collaboration tools like Slack. We also utilize continuous communications and feedback to drive positive improvement—whether we’re working in one of our physical office locations or in a home office setting. This connected culture is a critical business enabler regardless of industry or economic conditions.

Adaptive Leadership and Mentoring

The Inc. recognition feels especially meaningful at a time when we’ve proactively worked to ensure our company culture thrives in our now 100% remote work-from-home (WFH) environment during COVID-19. The good news is that like the protection our security platform offers to applications wherever they reside, Contrast’s work culture is extensible beyond our on-premises environment. Our company is doing everything it can to support employees as they struggle and adapt to the challenges of working remotely.

In this case, our focus is on adaptive leadership and the need to get the right type of data on their team members so that they can adapt to each individual person. For example, managers may need to teach those who are junior on their team, mentor those who are experienced, and coach those who are senior.

COVID-19 has disrupted everything from global economies, to individual businesses, to individual professionals. Recognizing these challenges, we established a special CARE team and a dedicated Slack channel to help employees cope with the different challenges presented by the pandemic. Our efforts cover myriad aspects—whether it’s managing the complexities of work and family obligations in a home office setting, coping with relatives who are battling health issues as a result of COVID-19, or maintaining one’s own mental and physical health under these unprecedented circumstances.

Game Respects Game—and Our People Are Top Players

It always feels good to have your work validated by a third party or recognized in the press—just as we were very proud last year when Forbes named us one of a select few “Next Billion-Dollar Startups.” But this particular honor really comes from our own people feeling that they are meaningfully engaged in their work, their contributions are treated with respect, and that they have the right benefits and compensation for their unwavering dedication and hard work. And so that’s an extra special kind of honor to receive—one that we don’t take for granted.

For more details on the Inc. 2020 Best Workplaces award, listen to my podcast interview with Inside AppSec—“How Culture Defines a Company and Enables a Laser Focus on Customers.”

Babak Dehnad

Babak Dehnad

As Vice President of People, Babak (pronounced “Bob-back”) is responsible for all human resources functions for the company. He is a Silicon Valley veteran and has mainly gravitated towards the start-up to scale-up growth companies. Babak’s primary area of expertise is everything that has to do with Talent (talent acquisition, development, management, and retention). He is tasked with developing a strong Talent strategy for Contrast and enabling it to scale with Contrast’s culture in mind. Babak lead the people organization in companies such as MySQL, Taleo, and InMobi helping to drive massive global scale-up for them.

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