b'57P R I M I N G T H E P I P E L I N ETo make self-driving a reality, Argo fosters a culture that embraces differences, prizes learning, andcounterintuitivelycelebrates driving.For a self-driving company,Argo AI employsronmentforpeoplewhothinkdifferently.DirectorofArgo for a designated period of time. In the first three a surprising number of people who spend their free timePeople Jen Honick says the effort is part of Argos overar- years of the program, about 100 interns have graced Ar-racing carsas well as fixing hot rods, climbing boulders,ching commitment to inclusivity. To boil it down, not allgos offices and more than 20 of them have been hired brewing craft beers, and driving on twisting mountainhiring processes are accessible for all applicants, and thisfull-time. These interns have contributed to some of the roads.(Seepage48formoreexamplesofthat.)Howis our attempt to make things more equitable, she says.most critical aspects of our self-driving systemthey do can this be? Simple answer: Its the culture, one that cel- One of our foundational values is, We is greater than I,meaningful technical work and are treated like regular ebrates creativity, invention, and the enjoyable side ofand its critical that we are able to recognize and celebrateemployees.driving, all while working to eliminate the tedious, dan- differences and understand diversity among our staff. Forced to improvise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gerous, and energy-draining parts of it. Argo welcomed more than 30 interns to a remote virtu-This ethosknown internally as the Argo Waytrick- al experience in 2020. We werent sure what to expect les down to every aspect of the companys operations. Itgoing in, says Ada DeFanti,Senior Program Manager, shows up in the way Argo hires workers, cultivates youngInclusion & Experience, but this was one of the most talent,andcollaborateswithschoolsanduniversities.CELEBRATING PEOPLE memorablegroupsofinternsweveeverhad.Even On one level, this translates into smart recruitingArgoArgo demonstrates its long-term commitment to itsthough very few interns had the privilege of meeting col-has built its 1,000-person workforce around brilliant andemployees financial interests and career advancement inleagues face to face, they made efficient use of videocon-talentedpeoplewhoaremotivatedbythecompanysseveral ways. Argo has a robust referral program, throughferencing to learn, collaborate, and build camaraderie. mission, purpose, and values. On another level, it meanswhich current employees are encouraged to refer pro- Outside of these formal programs, Argo champions working double-time to cultivate the next generation ofspective employees and are compensated if their contactsSTEM education. This falls under the companys Corpo-employees and nurture a pipeline of talent for the future. are eventually hired. rate Sustainability Responsibility initiatives of communi-Today, Argo AI is a diverse group that spans dozensIn addition, the company recently announced plansty, philanthropy, and educational outreach. Argo leaders of disciplines. But the companys bedrock values are un- to launch two initiatives in 2021 geared toward fosteringgive tours, volunteer at speaking events, and participate changed: the commitment to safety first and foremost,leadership: the Emerging Leaders Program and the Wom- in career fairs. Argo also cultivates connections with stu-the prizing of honesty over hype, the belief that embrac- en in Leadership Academy. Both of these efforts will helpdent-led nonprofits and donates to high school robotics ing differences delivers better results. Across the board,manager-identified employees gain skills necessary to be- teams.people join the Argo team because theyre attracted tocome leaders themselves. People Operations Manager Ali the impact they can make. Heres a look at some of theBilak-Littler says the goal is to allow for people to grow companys people programs and initiatives. in the direction they want to grow.ArgoalsohasspawnedseveralEmployeeResource Groups for like-minded individuals. While some of theseRESEARCH CONNECTIONSERGs exist to form common bonds between coworkersFromtheverybeginning,Argohashadcloseties over shared passions from biking to British football, oth- with the academic world. Over the last few years, Argo EMPOWERING NEURODIVERSITY ers aim to tackle serious issues. Currently some of ourhasforgednewbridgesbetweenacademiaandbusi-Argo employees come more than 50 different nationsERGs include Racial and Ethnic Minorities at Argo, Par- ness, which comprise an important part of Argos iden-and represent a rich diversity of races, genders, ethnici- ents at Argo, and Immigrants at Argo. Our people aretity today. In 2019 Argo pledged $15 million to fund the ties, and sexual orientations. But theres another kind ofspending big portions of their lives with us, says Honick,CMU-Argo AI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research diversity that has long been overlooked in workplaces,so we need to make sure Argo is a place where people(see more on that partnership on page 94). This center and which Argo seeks to empower: people with differentfeel good about coming to work. is staffed by world-renowned faculty and supports grad-neurological functions. This is known as neurodiversity,uate students at Carnegie Mellon University conducting and in recent years, Argo has partnered with the Pitts- self-driving technology research.burgh branch of Jewish Family & Community Services toStudentsandresearchersalwaysneedaccessto launch a new program aimed at recruiting, developing,high-quality resources, and Argo is doing its part to provide and hiring neurodivergent job candidates such as peopleINTERNSHIPS AND MENTORSHIPSthose with its open data collection Argoverse and corre-on the autism spectrum. Like many technology companies, Argo invests seri- sponding annual competitions. Participants use the curated In addition to hiring candidates from this unique pool,ous energy and capital into its annual internship program.datasets and high-definition maps to develop new approach-Argo works with JFCS to train managers in how they canThis is a comprehensive paid apprenticeship program,es that advance motion forecasting and 3D object tracking. foster a more welcoming hiring process and work envi- where students come and work as full-time employees atEven developers from outside Argo get involved.FullBook_Mar24.indb 57 4/25/21 6:42 PM'