Cadence is about as high tech as it gets, but people power enabled the company to navigate a challenging 2020.
San Jose, Calif.-based Cadence provides software, hardware and services used by other technology firms to produce the computer chips and other building blocks found in phones, computers, automobiles and a host of other everyday products.
But a high-trust culture of collaboration was critical to the way Cadence and its 8,700 employees across the globe responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and, later, the racial justice reckoning inspired by the murder of George Floyd.
Consider the way the company, nearly overnight, arranged for the vast majority of its employees to work from home to keep them safe from the coronavirus.
“I don’t think, in my 17 years at the company, I’ve seen an issue that has required so much cross-functional collaboration,” says Tina Jones, senior vice president, global human resources at Cadence.
“This required IT to be on their game as we transitioned the majority of our employees to working from home. Facilities, HR, Legal has been phenomenal, and then business leaders. Without business leaders staying connected to employees, we would be lost.”
The way Cadence has not only survived but thrived over the past year was featured in the November 20, 2020, edition of “Better Together,” Great Place to Work®’s conversation series with exceptional, purpose-driven leaders.
For six years in a row, Cadence has ranked on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list. This year, Cadence appeared on our World’s Best Workplaces™ list, and it has earned a spot on the PEOPLE Companies That Care® list each of the past two years.
During the recent Better Together virtual event, Tina, along with Cadence chief revenue officer Neil Zaman and Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush, discussed how Cadence has tapped a long-standing people-first culture to turn the crises of 2020 into opportunities.
Return on culture
Michael noted that Cadence is among many Best Workplaces that have seen their people pull together in these tough times.
“Great companies got even greater in 2020,” he said.
By contrast, he said, companies without strong cultures have struggled to create community.
The strong customer partnerships that Cadence has today reflect the Cadence value of “One Team,” Neil said. But, this was not developed in 2020.
“I don’t believe you can solve a crisis in a crisis, if you don’t have the right culture,” he said. “If you don’t have an employee-first element you just cannot come up with it in the crisis…Whether it’s our European team or the North America or the Asia Pacific/Japan team, these teams have always come together.”
Prudent care of people
Cadence was careful at the outset of COVID. Tina recalled that the company postponed salary adjustments in the spring to see how things would shake out in the global economy.
When business results indicated Cadence was on a positive trajectory, the company delivered salary adjustments to employees and even gave bonuses to recognize the one-quarter delay. The company was also able to share its business success from the first half of 2020 by making those bonuses “very, very healthy,” Tina says.
Cadence also invested in employees in other ways in 2020. The company gave $1,250 to all employees to set up a home office. And if they already had one, employees could use the money to “do something that’s good for them, with a lot of flexibility,” Tina said.
Supporting employee mental health during COVID-19
What’s more, the company supported employees with their mental health and family obligations. Cadence has provided online yoga classes, access to the Headspace meditation app, as well as backup childcare and elder care through Bright Horizons.
The company has encouraged employees to take time off to recharge, even if employees cannot take vacations, per se. To ensure that employees stepped back from work, the company instituted extra holidays, including global three-day weekends so that work slowed down for all Cadence employees.
“We really think this blending of home and work is super challenging for some people, especially ones with young children and home schooling,” Tina said. Cadence trained managers on how to be sensitive to these challenges and flexible with how and when work gets done.
Cadence aims to lead on racial justice reckoning
The May 2020 death of George Floyd has prompted renewed attention at Cadence to the issue of racial justice. Soon after the tragic killing, Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan issued a statement both internally and externally declaring Cadence’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion.
And the company has worked to back that pledge up with new initiatives: Donations to organizations pursuing racial justice
Expanding Cadence’s recruiting to universities with more diverse student populations
investing in Cadence employee resource groups that advocate for people of color
Cadence had not been ignoring matters of racial equity. But it had concentrated on another facet of building a “For All” culture in recent years, Tina explained.
“Our true focus,” Tina said, “was on gender diversity for the last four or five years. We felt that was a crisis in our industry.”
Cadence has made progress when it comes to hiring, promoting and providing equal pay for women, Tina said. Still, the events of 2020 “[were] a wake-up call, at least for me,” she said. “The industry is not especially diverse, and we really want to lead on this and not just follow.”
Cadence grows through crises
Like other Best Workplaces, Cadence has transformed a year of challenges into opportunities to advance its business and culture.
One other arena where Cadence is learning from 2020 is the physical workspace. The company has successfully transitioned the vast majority of its employees into a remote workforce, which has convinced leaders to rethink the need for so much office space and co-located teams.
“We were a little old school on our thinking on this front,” Tina said. “It really blew the doors open for us on how open we are to saying, ‘We’ll look at the whole spectrum of choices and we really want to hear from our people. What’s important to them and how do they want to work in the future?’”
That Tina and her team are basing office decisions on what employees want is another reminder of Cadence’s core identity. It is high-tech company for sure. But Cadence is about its people first.
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