My heart is full of inspiration. My arms are full of swag. And my face is full of glitter (more on that later). This can only mean one thing—I’ve just returned from Greenhouse OPEN 2019.
As a former Greenhouse employee and continued freelance contributor to the Greenhouse Blog, attending this conference was awesome for a triumvirate of reasons: I got to connect with my former coworkers and current client, stay in tune with what’s going on in an industry I write about regularly, and have a TON of fun while doing it.
There was so much going on throughout the conference and there’s only one of me, so my view is admittedly limited, but here are a few of my impressions and standout moments from the event.
Walking the walk with Diversity & Inclusion
From my perspective, Greenhouse did an impressive job of creating an inclusive event. Of course there were plenty of sessions dedicated to topics of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (check out one of my live recap posts from the “Let’s Get Awkward: Tackling Tough Hiring Conversations” session here). But beyond this, there was a diverse slate of speakers and people featured in the promotional posters and videos, a dedicated space for nursing mothers, plenty of references to and celebrations of Pride, and, of course, a fierce drag performance by Ms. Brita Filter at the opening party.
While I’ve written about Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion frequently over the past few years (in the context of university recruiting, onboarding, and unconscious bias, to name a few), I still learned so much from speakers like Jessica Richman from The Visible Collective on the topic of size-based discrimination (which is extremely common and not protected by law) and Albert Rizzi of My Blind Spot. I loved Albert’s points about being “dislabeled” rather than “disabled” and striving to be more inclusive of people of different abilities is a win-win situation for everyone.
Introducing inspiring Talent Makers
“Meet the Talent Makers” was the theme of this year’s event. Greenhouse CEO Daniel Chait explained in his opening keynote that Talent Makers are people who are successfully navigating the worlds of business and talent. Greenhouse President and Co-Founder Jon Stross further elaborated on this concept and provided a blueprint for achieving alignment between Talent and other functions through structured, repeatable processes, thoughtful approaches to data, and strategic partnerships with leaders and executives.
But the Talent Maker concept extends beyond Greenhouse, as evidenced by inspiring speakers like Warby Parker CEO Dave Gilboa, Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman, and HubSpot Chief People Officer Katie Burke.
The closing keynote, a discussion between Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman and Greenhouse CEO Daniel Chait, was particularly moving. What I loved about this conversation was learning about Jennifer’s ability to make decisions that prioritize people over the business bottom line.
Jennifer shared the story of her decision to offer the same benefits to hourly employees that are available to full-time staff, especially around life insurance, parental leave, and paid time off. This was in direct response to an hourly employee’s sudden passing, which left his young daughter in a situation of financial insecurity. Employees rallied together independently to create a college fund, which led Jennifer to realize she wanted all employees and their families to have the security of life insurance and other benefits.
Similarly, Jennifer believes in supporting employees who would like to leave Rent the Runway to pursue their career dreams. She takes a long view to talent development, explaining that she’d much rather help her people find the right role outside her organization than keep them when they’ve outgrown a position. At the same time, she wants to leave the door open to the possibility that she’ll be able to hire them back in the future when she has an even bigger role for them to fill.
Creating a beautiful branded experience
I just love the Greenhouse branding, with its plants, leaves, and flowers, all united by the concept of growing. From the Greenhouse-like space of the Javits Center and plant-based projections on the ceiling to the slide decks and T-shirts, Greenhouse created a cohesive brand experience.
The “Here we grow” hand-painted mural by Natasha May Platt and the photo/gif booth was another stunning example of this.
Oh, and the glitter I mentioned earlier? Yeah, there was a glitter station at the opening party. It may not technically relate to the Greenhouse brand, but it was definitely a lot of fun. It was also pretty amusing when Jon mentioned in his keynote that it’s the first time his daughter was actually jealous of a party he attended.
And the true test? When I brought home my cool canvas swag bag, my husband (a minimalist whose pet peeve is our ever-growing tote bag collection) gave it (along with his super soft Talent Maker T-shirt) a resounding nod of approval. Now that’s the mark of a truly successful conference!
I’m impressed and inspired by the Greenhouse OPEN 2019 experience. I hope I get the opportunity to attend next year’s event, too!