More than 500 employees from across APAC, Japan, and India came together in New Delhi last week to celebrate diversity, inclusion, and expression.
This year’s theme of “Empower Every Voice” was perfect for the Adobe For All Summit, as guest speakers included an ex-army soldier, a royal prince, an internationally-renowned body language expert, and our very own employees! The Summit truly represented diversity at its very best.
Katie Juran, Sr. Director, Diversity & Inclusion and Experience Communications, presented the opening keynote, speaking about our continued commitment to global pay parity and our next initiative: opportunity parity. She reiterated the benefits of the Learning Fund and how it’s an asset to all employees who want to drive their career growth.
Next on stage were Abdul Jaleel, Vice President, Employee Experience India, and Sarah Dunn, Head of Employee Experience APAC. They spoke about the amazing initiatives that various sites in India and APAC have taken over the last year to promote diversity and inclusion. Sarah spoke about initiatives such as Code Camp, where Australia employees brought their children to work for two days to expose them to coding. She also shared some amazing awards we’ve won, including Adobe Australia and Adobe Japan being featuring on Great Place to Work lists, with Australia jumping six spots to reach #6.
Abdul spoke about India’s diversity and how it’s at the heart of everything we do. He highlighted key initiatives like She Sparks, an innovative internship program at Adobe where mothers who took a career break are given an entry point to rejoin the workforce, and Technovation, which helps girls in high school develop coding skills.
The morning session continued with a panel on “leading in a multi-cultural environment.” The panel was moderated by Katie and featured Abhigyan Modi, Country Manager, India, and Vice President, Document Cloud; Jim McCready, President, Adobe APAC & Japan; and Nadia Rasheed, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP India. The panel discussed the importance of diversity, their own personal challenges against biases, and how diversity brings strength to every organization.
Next came the highlight of the event: employee stories. Haider Jasdan, a recent Founders’ Award recipient, spoke about his struggles with his identity growing up and how he found an outlet in writing poetry. He also shared his challenges about coming out to his mother, and how his mother’s belief in him gave him strength to believe in himself.
Aishwarya Shetty moved attendees with her inspiring lesson on “being you, regardless of what people think.” Her story was one of confidence and never giving up on doing the things you love, despite what others may say, because there you find true strength to conquer the world.
Our next panel was truly diverse, with a prince and a soldier! We welcomed Prince M.S. Gohil, the first royal prince to identify as gay, and Major D.P. Singh, an ex-army soldier who came to be known as the first “Indian blade runner” — running more than 25 half-marathons with a prosthetic limb. Ruchira Garg, Director, India ERC & Business Partnering, moderated the panel.
Major D.P. Singh gave the audience a refresher on the age-old saying of “never give up,” sharing how doctors had said he might never be able to walk again, let alone run. “It’s all in the mind,” he said. “Life will always throw challenges at you. But you should stand up to them and say, ‘everything that is happening to me is good, and I will make the most of it.’”
Price Gohil spoke about his charity, The Lakshya Trust, which works for the betterment of the LGBT community.
After lunch, we heard more stories from employees Emiko Anayama, Nikhita Thakur, and Clare Cahill. Emiko told her heartbreaking story of losing her mother to cancer early in life, and how it completely collapsed her world. She shared how it took years to untangle herself from the lie that she didn’t deserve to be happy, and how her therapist and close friends helped her escape that negative space.
Nikhita spoke about her difficulties growing up with parents from two different parts of the country, and how she felt an identity crisis of never completely fitting in with either side. She emphasized that we need to build bridges, and not walls, for people who are different and move from unconscious bias to conscious inclusion.
Clare left many of us teary-eyed, as everyone could feel the pain and struggle of a single mom who has to juggle work and her 7-year-old daughter. Clare spoke about her struggles raising her child — but how Adobe’s flexibility has helped her find time for her daughter and her job.
After the employee speakers, attendees split into two groups for breakout sessions. The “What’s Y(our) Story” session asked employees to confront their unconscious biases and assumptions they might make about another person based on how they dress, speak, walk, or carry themselves. “The Jury Is Out” session presented a fictitious case to participants — acting as a jury — where they had to overcome their biases after hearing the testimony of all involved and deliver a final verdict. Across the breakouts, we appreciated the opportunity to engage with each other and hear how different people think about the same things!
Our final speaker of the day was Dr. Louise Mahler, a body language and confidence expert from Australia. Her session spoke to our theme of empowering every voice through examples of how the right posture, tone, pitch, breathing, and using your whole body can positively impact your confidence and ability to communicate and influence. The audience loved the session so much that she got a standing ovation from the crowd!
Between keynotes, participants met with representatives from Employee Networks in India — namely Adobe & Women, AdobeProud, AccessAdobe, and Veterans Employee Network. They also visited “Experience Zones,” which offered experiences ranging from talking to someone from the transgender community to learning to write your own name in Braille.
After a long day filled with fun, emotion, excitement and much more, the Summit ended with employees given Adobe For All in Action cards, so that they can ensure diversity and inclusion in their teams. It was another successful Adobe For All Summit and employees can’t wait until the next one!