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eBenefits President Discusses How Inclusive Culture Drives Innovation at Pittsburgh Tech Council’s “OpenUp. FixIt.”

eBenefits' Kismet Toksu at PTC

Earlier this spring, eBenefits president Kismet Toksu was one of four speakers at Pittsburgh Tech Council’s first of a series of conversations entitled “OpenUp. FixIt.” As part of Pittsburgh’s Inclusive Innovation week, Ms. Toksu spoke on how women and minorities in the tech industry and business can help build inclusive company cultures and drive innovation in the Pittsburgh region. Ms. Toksu sat down with us to discuss her experience and takeaways from the event.

What were you most excited to share as a guest speaker at the Inclusive Innovation PTC talk?
I was excited to participate in an open exchange about inclusivity because it impacts everyone. My situation was that of a woman rising up the ranks dominated by men. It was important to establish myself as a trusted peer but I did not share natural topics of conversation or bonding experiences like going to games. I made it my business to become conversant and comfortable with topics that I had not been familiar with, which helped me establish and grow relationships. With that as background, I most wanted to share that we have a responsibility to take action, for ourselves and for others.

How would you describe the eBenefits company culture?
eBenefits is an execution-oriented company focused on providing excellent services and solutions to our customers. We are highly collaborative and work hard every day to satisfy our customers and, as a team, create the next-generation solution for tomorrow. Our focus drives eBenefits to have a culture of inclusivity. In fact, eBenefits actively seeks diversity among its candidates and team because a breadth of strengths and perspectives is needed. Every member of the team is expected to jump in, be innovative, and give her/his best.
In what ways would you say eBenefits’ company culture is different from other company cultures you’ve been exposed to?
eBenefits is more collaborative, accountable, and innovative than many cultures I have been exposed to as an employee or as a consultant. The bias is toward excellence, continuous improvement, and big steps toward advancement.

How has the Pittsburgh region and community made strides towards building inclusive company cultures and driving innovation?
When I moved from Washington, D.C. a little more than a year ago I heard many people state that the area needed greater diversity. Leaders in region recognized that need and are taking action. Pittsburgh Inclusive Innovation Week was an impressive start toward bringing attention to this topic. It’s sensitive to tackle, but as the title of our session highlighted (“OpenUp FixIt.”) it is critically important cast a light on inclusivity and to make strides.

What was one takeaway you heard at the panel that you plan to apply within eBenefits?
I learned that people interpret “corporate culture” in many ways. Rather than using the phrase “corporate culture,” I will be more specific about the corporate culture eBenefits is striving for.

To read more about this discussion, take a look at the event recap by Rhiza, one of the event sponsors, along with Saul Ewing LLC.