By Angela Jackson
There’s no doubt life in Denver has its perks. This living, breathing metropolis has the Rocky Mountains for a backyard. Its healthy lifestyle and growing economy strengthens its reputation for being one of the best places to live…and work. There are several businesses moving their headquarters here because they recognize an opportunity.
Here’s a look at just a few businesses coming our way.
VF Corp. is a publicly traded outdoor apparel company that recently announced it plans to separate into two independent entities. The first will be called VF Corporation and the other is yet to be named. It is referred to as NewCo in the meantime.
VF Corp. is the headquarters for global brands synonymous with outdoor living. Some of their brands you may know well and use whenever a hike or other adventure calls: The North Face, JanSport, Timberland and SmartWool. It made sense for them to set up shop close to the customers who use their products.
“Colorado is an area with an unrivaled heritage and culture of outdoor and activity-
based lifestyles, as well as a thriving business environment,” said Steve Rendle, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
Denver is a good fit for VF Corp not only for its culture, but it made good business sense in order to attract a high-level workforce also.
“We believe that the creation of our new headquarters in the area will help us to unlock
collaboration across our outdoor brands, attract and retain talent, and accelerate
innovation,” Rendle said.
Slack Corporation sees the value in Denver too. The San Francisco-based online collaboration company has signed a lease and is expected to move into the Lower Downtown area. If you take a quick glance on LinkedIn, you will see they have several positions to offer. In fact, they may have over 500.
In May 2018, the Colorado Office of Economic Development approved and offered the company a $10.5 million incentive to encourage the company to open an office here. Slack accepted, and the tech firm told the state that it estimates its Denver hub would create up to 550 full-time jobs with an average salary of $107,975.
Slack’s presence downtown will add to the numerous technology companies relocating to Denver.
ezCater opened its second office in Denver earlier this year. They state they are the only nationwide marketplace for business catering. Their model is to connect corporations with reliable catering to meet any culinary need.
You would think with the word ‘cater’ in its name, everyone who worked there would be a great chef. However, the Boston-based company considers itself a tech company. They spent years improving their technology to connect corporate clients with a local catering service. ezCater selected Denver based on the city’s strong emergence as a technology center with a diverse and experienced talent pool.
"Denver has great talent," said Stefania Mallett, CEO of ezCater. "We’re growing so fast
that we had to open our Denver office to find enough of the insanely helpful people that our customers love."
Funding Circle connects small businesses with investors who want to finance them.
Funding Circle is becoming the leading global small business loans platform that allows investors to lend to businesses looking for finance in the United States, UK, Germany and the Netherlands.
Entrepreneurship and the presence of small businesses is ever increasing. Funding Circle’s growth motivated them to spread their wings and look for another place to call home. The management team considered other areas but finally settled on the Mile High City.
“Denver has a great quality of life, low cost of living, and thriving tech and financial services industries from which we can recruit candidates. We also considered things like how many direct flights there are to San Francisco and London, where we have large offices,” said Libby Morris, Funding Circle's Head of US Loan Operations who heads up the Denver office.
Funding Circle looks to hire almost 300 people over the next two years to support its growing needs, and they are taking steps to make sure their workforce is diverse.
“Our mission at Funding Circle is to ‘build a better financial world,’ and we recognize that we can only do this by being inclusive to a workforce from all different backgrounds,” Morris said.
One of their most active employee groups is Women@FC. This group is focused on making the company welcoming for women. They also have a partnership with BankWork$, a program that trains people from diverse backgrounds and communities for careers in financial services.
“Across the company, we pay close attention to building diverse teams, starting with how job descriptions are written to eliminate non-inclusive language, all the way through to unconscious bias training for all staff. We also offer unlimited vacation and flexible working hours, which helps support working parents,” Morris said.
There are several benefits any company can hope to gain by hiring a diverse workforce.
“A wealth of research over the past decade consistently demonstrates that companies often experience many advantages and benefits when they hire and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce,” said Lisa Christie, Senior Director of Communications for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.
Some of these advantages include improved operational and financial performance and increased innovation and group performance. Women in particular are more likely to build consensus and collaborate with colleagues, Christie explained.
“Hiring a diverse workforce doesn’t just make sense, it makes good business sense,” Christie said.
Although some companies place priority on hiring a diverse workforce, Elaine Marino, founder of Equili, a company whose mission is to build a more diverse tech community that levels the playing field for underrepresented or underutilized groups, says there is another piece to the puzzle.
“Hiring is a really narrow focus for solving the diversity problem because it’s really an inclusion problem,” said Marino. “My advice to companies is to track attrition and dive very deep into why the attrition is occurring.”
“If you solve for inclusion, diversity will follow,” Marino said.
She said a good first step for that is to conduct exit interviews and ask those hard questions and not be afraid of the answers.
So, what’s the best way to improve hiring diverse candidates overall? In Marino’s mind, it starts at the top with a diversified leadership.
“Women and people of color need to see themselves represented at the top. Companies that have representation have no problem receiving resumes from underrepresented candidates. They see themselves at the top and a path forward.”
As new corporations continue to enter our dynamic Denver community, we hope to see a growing focus on prioritizing diversity and inclusion to continue making Denver a great place for women and minorities of all kind to thrive and grow their careers.