How We Make it Work: Being Purpose-Driven and Women-Led in Silicon Valley

By: Shannon Adkins

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Future State is a purpose-driven, women-led, and 80 percent-woman employee-owned company, and we’ve been driving results here in Silicon Valley for more than 30 years — through the dot com boom and bust, the great recession, unicorn IPOs, bro culture and beyond

To remain the company we are today, we have had to be true to ourselves. We have had to constantly innovate and transform along with the dynamic forces here in one of the most unpredictable business environments in the country. And we’ve had to do it while keeping our essential mission and value proposition intact — enabling extraordinary visions that positively impact the world.

Inclusive Leadership

One of the things we often talk about with clients is that values and culture must be driven by leadership. Leadership defines culture and is responsible for weaving it throughout an organization.

We have had a succession of leaders committed to building a culture that allows for and encourages authentic self-expression, rewards action and results, and gives opportunities to lead to people from non-traditional backgrounds. I picked up where our prior CEO Steven Laine left off, and he built on what began with our founder Meryl Natchez more than 35 years ago. In fact, Meryl hired COO Kathy Krumpe, Delivery Director Jennifer Riebli, Portfolio Lead Lynette Phillips, and myself almost 20 years ago. She saw something special in us, and then she mentored and coached us into the leaders we are today. This legacy is reflected in our values today: being purpose-driven and human-centric, a certified women-owned company, employee-owned company, and B Corporation.

[Related: 6 Tips on Breaking into a Male Dominated Industry]

Living Values

Being a company that is welcoming to all means valuing the whole person. This is a trending topic in talent development today, but it is how we have operated from the beginning. It has required our organization to care about and understand the unique strengths and needs of our team members, and to design work experiences that work for all of us. This sets us apart as employers and as a team, and our recruits, team members, and clients all feel the difference. This difference is what has led us to a world-class 77 NPS score in an incredibly competitive market. It is what has made us a Best for the World company in the Workers category for the past three years. And it shows all the way through to our work and results with clients. What I hear from clients is, “Your teams are different,” “ They care more,” “They are having fun and they are real.” That’s all true, but it’s not by chance — it’s by design. That’s the thing about values. It’s not enough to believe in them; we have to take actions that support them every day.

[Related: Authenticity Might be the Key Ingredient for Career Success]

We are 100 percent believers in the foundational importance of equity, inclusion, and diversity in 21st-century businesses. We hope to continue to model this way of building a team that allows for an individual to be fully self-expressed, human, and connected to all aspects of their lives , including work, home, health, community, and purpose. Only when all of these elements are valued by a company can employees, teams, and organizations truly thrive.

Future State CEO Shannon Adkins is committed to living and working at the intersection where colossal business success meets passion, purpose, and meaning. An expert facilitator known for supporting and aligning teams as they develop and implement innovative strategies, Shannon’s ability to connect the dots and make sense of seemingly unrelated factors helps her identify creative solutions that solve more than just profitability, but also help build strong and deep business cultures that value the integrity of people, communities, and the planet.

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