Canva’s For All™ Culture: What Fuels Its Accelerated Business Performance

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Canva is a company that began in 2013 with a single-minded mission: to empower everyone to design. Fast forward to nearly a decade later, it is now valued at US$40 billion. It has also inspired users of the platform from over 190 countries to create 4 billion designs to date, which continues to grow at a rate of 80 designs per second.

Its workforce is also expanding with over 1,000 team members—or Canvanauts as they like to refer to themselves—spread across time zones. At Canva Philippines, this grew at a phenomenal rate starting from a small team of eight in 2014, to a medium-sized company that’s 550 employees strong today.

The people who make up the company are as diverse as the designs created by users of the platform. These include men, women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, millennials, people living with disabilities, expatriates and those who already have families of their own.

Such diversity is also present at Canva Philippines, which creates a rich tapestry of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. But this also comes with a tremendous challenge: how does one create a workplace where every employee feels welcome and valued?

This is where Canva’s values come into play.

The pursuit of excellence. Setting crazy big goals and making them happen. Empowering others. Making complex things simple. Being a force for good. Being a good human.

Together, these create a mindset that permeates into everything the company does, including creating a diverse and inclusive workplace for its employees.

“Hiring the right people for us has always been about great skills and shared values. We didn’t stop at just finding brilliant people, but we looked for people that embraced and called our values their own. To this day, we continue to look for highly talented, ambitious, good humans because that’s the secret behind our amazing growth,” shares Canva Philippines’ Country Head Yani Hornilla-Donato.

What Makes Canva Great—Straight from the Canvanauts

As complex as it sounds to create an ideal workplace that champions diversity and inclusion, Canva Philippines simplifies it by focusing on a singular goal. 

“Our commitment is straightforward: to create a company where people can do the best work of their lives. We will achieve this by empowering them with the magic that comes from setting crazy and ambitious goals, fostering a deeply rooted sense of respect and belongingness and banding together behind a shared passion to do the most good in this world,” says Vanson So, the company’s country HR & head of people central.

The COVID-19 pandemic tested this commitment when everyone was forced to work from home. However, Canva Philippines responded quickly—prepping its Canvanauts with the tools to help them create great work from the comforts home; even going as far as providing food allowances to help weather the physical and mental challenges of working remotely, among other things.

To sustain a culture of inclusiveness and diversity in a workforce that now works remotely, Canva Philippines also redesigned its employee experience to help them transition to this new way of working. 

Apart from providing them with work tools, employees can also join the regular country sit-downs for updates on Canva’s achievements and everything else that’s happening within the organization. Canvanauts also get the opportunity to represent their teams on these sit-downs; helping promote a sense of pride in what they do. 

Listening to the needs of the employees played a key role in helping the company create a quick and effective pandemic response. It ran surveys to gather everyone’s feedback and suggestions to paint a clearer picture of how employees felt about their situation at the time. As a result, Canva Philippines not only boosted everyone’s productivity, but also their well-being. 

Consistency plays an important role in a great workplace For All™, particularly when it comes to employee experience. In the case of Canva Philippines, this rings true in both momentous events like the pandemic, and in the day-to-day experiences of Canvanauts.

Among them is Geryl Minguillo, learning designer for Canva University. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Geryl says that he never felt like he had to hide in the proverbial closet at work.

“In fact, I don’t think that the closet even exists in Canva. No matter what your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression is, everyone can be their fabulous selves. I personally find it empowering seeing and working with people who openly identify as LGBTQ+ hold leadership positions and own different projects,” he shares.

Geryl adds that creating a safe work environment that’s inclusive and offers positive representation is work that’s continuously in progress. The whole company is involved as well, with everyone showing the desire to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, alongside the respect for the importance of pronouns. “These are just some of the things that continue to make Canva a workplace for everyone under the rainbow.”

And then there’s Kevin Castro of customer sales and success, a 40-year-old American expatriate who began working at the company almost three years ago. At first, he felt nervous about not fitting in with the team he was joining. But on his first day of work at Canva, he immediately realized that his fears were unfounded.

“From the very first day, I was greeted by everyone I saw, and although I speak only English everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Canva is a company that not only accepts diversity but truly celebrates it,” he shares.

As a family man, he also found a bigger family in Canva Philippines.

“Joining Canva was like joining a family, and I can hon​​estly say that I have never felt anything like it before. There were even times that I would bring in my family. The team members took time away from their responsibilities and played with them, helped them make drawings and inspired my children who now want to join Canva when they grow up.”

The company also offers a homelike atmosphere for some like Caren Raymundo, operations lead for customer service teams. There, she found a place that offers wholehearted acceptance and unwavering support.

“At Canva Philippines, equality is more than just lip service. I have never felt so empowered knowing that any and all of my contributions are considered based on merit, and not because of my sex or sexual orientation. I am extremely grateful for being given a chance to be part of this amazing family, and I commit to paying it forward as much as I can,” she adds.

From providing its employees with the tools they need to do great work, to embracing their individual needs, the company truly embodies what it means to become a great workplace For All™. It is no wonder that Canva Philippines has been Great Place to Work-Certified™ for two consecutive years.

A For All™ Culture is Everyone’s Business

In his 2018 book “A Great Place to Work for All™”, Great Place to Work® CEO Michael C. Bush cites our research for the 2016 Best Workplaces™ for Diversity list where we found that, “the most inclusive workplaces experienced average annual revenue gains 24% higher than their peer companies certified by Great Place to Work.”

This is why Canva’s meteoric rise in less than a decade is not at all surprising once one considers how much it invested in its Canvanauts.

But diversity in the workplace isn’t just about combining people from different demographic profiles. Our data shows that factors such as fair treatment at work coupled with a nurturing environment typically have a greater impact on an organization’s revenue than just diversity.

Canva takes the same approach. “People are the most important resource companies need to invest in to succeed,” says Vanson. After all, according to him, the company needs “a village of strong, creative, brilliant, and driven individuals” if it wants to achieve 99% of its mission to empower the world to design.

At Great Place to Work, this is what we call “maximizing human potential,” which lies at the heart of our For All™ concept. Michael’s book states that when an organization lets its employees be as creative, knowledgeable and productive as possible, work becomes, “a place where people come alive, where they get in ‘the flow.’” Or in Canva-speak, it’s where Canvanauts set crazy big goals and achieve them.

It also helps to have a leader who shares Canva’s people-first approach. At Canva Philippines, Yani emphasizes the importance of treating people as people as well as celebrating their uniqueness and individuality for a company to celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

“If leaders see people as people with different views, preferences, needs, wants, circumstances  and alignments, they will begin to see their programs through these lenses and design these programs in a way that resonates with everyone, and everybody is enjoined to participate and contribute,” she adds.

Become a Great Workplace For All™ Like Canva Philippines

It takes a serious amount of commitment to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. But if a once-small venture like Canva Philippines was able to do this, others can, too.

Let Great Place to Work® be your guide in your company’s transformation into one where everyone has a consistently positive experience. Please contact us for more information on our range of offerings, including employee surveys, certification and employer branding.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.