How Tech Companies Can Build A Culture Of Diversity

This post was originally published on the Internet Infrastructure Coalition website. Written by cPanel’s General Counsel David Snead and Documentation Manager Jennifer Doubrava, we are pleased to share this on our blog as well:

Since it was founded in 1997, cPanel has embraced the importance of inclusion and diversity in our business. Inclusion and diversity is not an end goal, though: it’s a path. While we continue on this path, we thought it might help provide some insight into the accomplishments and lessons we’ve learned along the way and how we can do better. 

Our path includes culture, community, and concern.

Culture

Everyone at cPanel is encouraged to bring their genuine self to work every day. Being your authentic self can start small: dressing the way you want. There are no expectations around how you express yourself through what you wear. While this aspect of our culture may seem trivial, it leads to a broader understanding of ourselves and facilitates dialogue. A conversation about discomfort felt about a person’s manner of dressing may lead to a greater understanding of that individual and their life.

Facilitating a dialogue about individual circumstances is the job of everyone at the company, but it starts with managers. Managers are supported and trained to help teams navigate issues that may arise in a diverse culture. These are not pushed under the rug or simply made the province of the legal or HR departments. This dialogue is facilitated and encouraged. Doing so moves the company along the path of understanding what diversity and inclusion means, making the path clearer and easier to choose.

Community

For years cPanel has supported the Internet infrastructure community by participating, promoting, and providing financial sponsorship to industry events. cPanel was the first company in the Internet infrastructure industry to include diversity networking in its conference programming. The company partnered with the I2Coalition to sponsor and strengthen diversity programming at industry events. Providing support and community reinforces our cultural commitment to diversity and inclusion.

And this embrace of diversity shouldn’t be limited to a diversity or “women in tech” panel. We need to make sure there are diverse voices present in programming whether it’s a technical or a business subject. At our 2019 WebPros Summit, we were commitmented to including speakers who reflect our company’s diversity. Our goal is that at future gatherings and conferences we lead, our programming will continue to reflect this commitment. Drawing attention to the many diverse voices in our industry helps show there are people with different backgrounds doing amazing things.

We also ask for feedback whenever possible. Our goals should always be moving forward and we want to continue to listen to feedback to make the most of each opportunity to foster diversity and inclusion.

Concern

Our commitment to culture and community is reinforced by concern. By concern, we include not only empathy and training, but also appropriate enforcement. The company trains employees each year on its anti-harassment and bullying policies and requires additional training for managers. We’ve reinforced our concern about this issue by withholding financial support for conferences that refuse or are reluctant to create anti-harassment and bullying policies. We have enforced our own conference’s policies. While the company anticipates a future where those actions are not required, we believe policies help ensure that all voices are heard and that an opening and welcome culture becomes the norm.

We can always do better as companies and as an industry

Our team is diverse and we’ve done a lot of work to amplify diverse voices. But we need to provide additional pathways for employee advancement. Discussions about how to create these pathways are taking place from our leadership team and throughout our organization. Our discussions are guided by a commitment to the power of metrics to drive change and accountability in an organization.

Providing pathways to advancement and desired opportunities are only as good as our employee support. We’re currently thinking about how our Employee Experience Department works. This thinking includes providing diversity and inclusion support to employees. We’re committed to supporting employees whose career paths and experiences may not be traditional by hiring based on qualifications and experiences in addition to education.

Just as engineers improve systems through iteration and discover new methodologies, we can always look for new ways to build diversity and inclusion into what we do. And we can use culture, community, and concern to guide us.

Join The Club: The Growing Subscription Service Model

How many subscription services are you currently subscribed to? Chances are, you have more than you realize. Subscription services have become the preferred model for digital assets and have changed customers’ ownership and purchasing power in the modern age, with 8 in 10 American adults currently subscribed to at least one such service. 

These scheduled subscription services have automated our lives much in the same way we have become accustomed to letting the “robots” do our work. Driven by instant access and low entry point value propositions, customers today are comfortable with the automatic recurring billing model, provided there is no interruption in service.

The subscription e-commerce market has also grown by more than 200% over the past five years, fueled by a globally connected marketplace and convenience-driven lifestyles. The Subscription Trade Association (SUBTA) estimates that by 2023, 75% of Direct To Customer (DTC) businesses will offer subscription services. Latest global e-commerce projections suggest that by 2025 the subscription market will be worth $246.6 billion.

In a recent blog, “It’s Subscription World,” Industry Analyst Robert Jacobi noted that “The reality is that business growth now hinges on the speed by which businesses adapt to technological change. SaaS makes this simple and cost-effective. Early adoption of the right SaaS solutions for your business are critical to retain greater financial control and free up resources to focus on business growth.”

Subscription services are nothing new, and most Gen-Xers will probably remember their first subscription being a school magazine or the infamous Columbia House Record Club. Though Gen-Y and Millenials most likely never had the unique pleasure of receiving a dozen or so records in the mail (for only one dollar!) and then being hundreds of dollars in debt. 

Photo: 1970’s Columbia House Advertisement

Subscription models haven’t always been about value and honesty. Columbia House’s bait and bill, negative option billing model is just one example of how far from those bad business practices we have come with the subscription models in use today. Currently, there are three main subscription models successfully generating recurring revenue on the web.

The Curation Model

The Curation Model, based on personal preferences and impulse purchases, accounts for most of the subscription box market. Think retail and meal kit boxes:

  • Beauty (Birchbox)
  • Clothing {Stitch Fix)
  • Meal kits (Blue Apron, HelloFresh™, Imperfect Foods)
  • Gaming Gear (Loot Crate™)

The Replenishment Model

One of the best models is the Replenishment model, containing products that will generally need to be replenished weekly or monthly. Think personal care and household items:

  • Personal Healthcare (Dollar Shave Club®, Ritual™)
  • Household Items (Amazon Subscribe and Save, Secondnature) 
  • Pet Supplies (Chewy.com®)

Digital Access Model

Digital products, content, and SaaS services are also growing at a record pace. Adobe’s Creative Cloud SaaS is a perfect example,  comprising more than 65% of the companies total revenue. Other examples include:

  • Apps
  • Stock Images (Shutterstock)
  • Credit Reporting (Experian®)
  • Digital Books and Newspapers (Kindle, New York Times)
  • Online Training (Udemy™)
  • Computer Software (Adobe Cloud, MacPaw)
  • Music (Spotify, Apple Music)
  • Hosting Plans (GoDaddy, HostGator®)

Starting your own subscription service has also become part of the market, with more SaaS-based options emerging.

SaaS-based subscription services

As the Subscription Market reaches new heights, getting started has never been easier. These SaaS solutions cater to literally everyone, from total beginners on up to large corporations: 

Shopify®

Shopify® has quickly become an industry leader in the SaaS e-commerce sector. Shopify currently powers over a million SMBs in 175 countries around the world. Using Shopify’s new Subscription APIs and Product Subscription Extension, you can build a custom subscription solution. 

Recurly

Recurly is at the center of enterprise-level subscription services. Recurly boasts powerful analytics and industry-leading decline management technology, driven by machine learning to minimize churn, and maximize revenue. Streaming media giants Sling, Showtime Twitch, and CBS Interactive use Recurly’s flexible promotion creation and management tools to quickly test, learn, and iterate.  

Subbly®

Founded in 2014 by Steffan Pretty, Subbly® has focused on creating a one-stop Curation and Replenishment model “Subscription Box” SaaS platform. At the core of Subbly is a powerful subscription billing engine making complex billing requirements simple, from Cut off dates & set renewal dates to customizable billing and shipping cycles, “build-a-box” to trial periods. Add to that a powerful website builder and marketing tools, and it’s no wonder Subbly is one of the leading Subscription Box Platforms.

Creating a subscription service with WordPress 

It’s no doubt that WordPress is the go-to Content Management System for bloggers and small to medium business sites. WordPress currently powers over 38% of the entire internet and has 68% of the CMS market share, but is it right for your subscription service?

In 2015, Automattic Inc, the parent company of WordPress, acquired WooCommerce®. Since the acquisition, the team has focused on keeping the product viable in the ever-changing software market. Today, setting up an online shopping cart with a subscription platform is fully integrated into WooCommerce with plugins like WooCommerce SubscriptionYith WooCommerce Subscription PluginPaid Member Subscriptions, and SUMO Subscriptions. These solutions make it easy to accept member payments, manage members, create subscription plans, and restrict access to premium content. 

WordPress’s open-source codebase and community give you the flexibility and extensibility to create a custom subscription website and cPanel’s WordPress Toolkit can help you launch, secure, and maintain your WordPress site in a matter of clicks.

In Conclusion

No matter what model or software you choose, the subscription market is on fire with the lasting impacts of the 2020 pandemic. The growing use of subscriptions among millennials, along with  online streaming services’ rising popularity, and the low cost of subscription boxes, surely means there is no end in sight for this phenomenon.  

We hope this helps you to reach success with your subscription service. As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please let us know. We are here to help in the best ways we can. You’ll find us on Discord, the cPanel forums, and Reddit. Be sure to also follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Disaster Recovery And Why It Matters

Zombie apocalypse. Random meteor crash. Electromagnetic pulse from the Sun. Or maybe just a crashed hard drive that has no backup. But don’t forget volcanoes. Or vampires!

These are just a few examples of things that can potentially interrupt your normal flow of business. Some of those examples are less likely to happen than others (I mean who doesn’t backup their hard drive these days?), but the most likely cause of a business disaster might just be the least expected eventuality. 

What Is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery is the plan for, and execution of, restoring mission-critical business functions following any type of disaster. Zombies aside, what if your data center was to actually catch fire and be destroyed. How long before you could restore service to your customers, and do you even have a plan in the event of a worst-case scenario?

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should expect the unexpected. Accidents happen. Clearly pandemics also happen, which has loosely translated into a slow-motion disaster recovery scenario on a global scale; many businesses had to figure out how to continue to provide service under an atypical and unprecedented set of circumstances. This is the fundamental idea behind disaster recovery.

Hope For The Best, Plan For The Worst

Although it is rarely (if ever) spoken of publicly, all larger businesses have disaster recovery plans. Normally, these plans consist of:

  • Multiple (daily / weekly / monthly) data backups physically stored at entirely separate geographic locations.
  • Third-party data center or colocation space (generally at least a few hundred miles away from their main business location), containing the necessary hardware to re-establish mission-critical business operations from the aforementioned backups in the event of a disaster.
  • Clearly identified team members who would be dispatched to the off-site location with the knowledge and expertise to restore all mission-critical business functions in as little time as possible.

These businesses will then periodically run actual disaster recovery drills, sending team members to the designated data center with only their data backups. The team then attempts to fully restore all business operation within the controlled environment, effectively making a micro version of their company’s entire data infrastructure. This is the only way to know, with certainty, that business could actually be restored in the event of a catastrophic occurrence.

Why Does Disaster Recovery Matter?

Fundamentally, the value of a disaster recovery plan is equal to the value of your data plus the ability to restore business operations following any catastrophic occurrence. For smaller businesses, an event of this nature might not be something where you would put business before, say, family or other matters. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t something to be learned from the way in which large businesses handle emergencies.

If you don’t currently maintain backups of your important data, then you really should start immediately. The price of external hard drives is very reasonable these days, around $100USD for 4TB of capacity. Don’t just trust “the cloud,” always maintain your own physical backup of any critical data.

An ounce of prevention will always be worth a pound of cure; keep your data, and your business, safe. Consider your own disaster recovery plan today.

As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please let us know. We are here to help in the best ways we can. You’ll find us on Discord, the cPanel forums, and Reddit.