As the Chief People Officer at Flatiron Health, I firmly believe that the difference between companies that merely survive and companies that truly flourish are those that invest in building a resilient culture.
In the past few years, within the U.S. and around the world, more companies have been willing to confront systemic and institutionalized inequities than ever before. There’s an increased awareness that in order to create a healthier and more inclusive workforce, we need to challenge accepted norms and premises of our society, including work as we know it. This can be challenging when our resilience as individuals is being tested on a regular basis.
Enter: Mandala. Featured in Fast Company and incubated out of Harvard Business School, Mandala is on a mission to build resilient leaders in the workplace so that they can create safe, healthy and innovative teams. Mandala was primarily built to serve the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees, but by being intentional about their design and their programming, they were also able to create a leadership platform that serves all within an organization.
Along with their BIPOC focus, what makes Mandala different from other programs are two other design choices. First, they focus on very foundational skills that undergird resilience in the work-place: self-awareness, emotional regulation and connection. And second, Mandala does so by building a safe, introspective and connected community for people. So far at Flatiron, we’ve seen a lot of positive engagement with this program from our managers, and we’re eager to continue investing for additional impact.
A ‘Mandala,’ in ancient Sanskrit, is a circular geometric figure symbolizing the universe and the deep connection amongst all life; put simply, it is a "container of essence." This is at the core of what Mandala offers through all their programming for Flatiron: Resilient Leadership, Resilience Circles, and Resilient Community.
Resilient Leadership: To support managers and leaders across all levels in creating a psychologically safe and healthy culture, Mandala offers Flatiron leadership (across all levels of management, from managers to directors to vice presidents and the C-suite) programming that centers self-awareness, emotional regulation and empathy. From our Executive Team to new managers, this program helps leaders tend to their own resilience while helping them develop the language, community, and tools to support their team members. Here’s what people have said:
“Unlike other management programs I’ve been a part of, which can feel more like data dumps, Mandala is an experience. It’s given me a safe space for me and my peers to introspect, learn and connect. And it’s helped me show up to hard conversations in a more centered and grounded way.” – Cat Miller, CTO of Flatiron Health [Read More]
“What makes Mandala special is that it’s given us very practical, easy-to-integrate tools that are informed by values that we hold. It has helped make us a stronger and better community that attracts and retains talent, and in doing so, it helps us create stronger and better business outcomes.” – Bruce Gottlieb, COO of Flatiron Health [Read More]
Resilience Circles: Resilience Circles support the emotional well-being of our BIPOC managers, in particular. These spaces are designed as 1-hour weekly Zoom sessions over the course of 10 weeks. Beyond the initial 10 week course, Mandala offers Resilience Circle graduates a monthly 1-hour check-in, blending meditation, journaling, sharing, and general reflection.
“I'm excited to try many of these tools personally and also encourage my 9 year old daughter to as well alongside me”
“It gave me a sense of community, and though culture often makes it taboo to discuss, it is reassuring to others' stories and to feel less alone.”
“The tools provided can easily be used (breathing, taking time to stop the stress cycle).”
“Taking the time to talk about the 'science' and process of stress... taking the time to do the breathing exercises also helped too!!”
Resilience Community: Mandala offers a monthly wellbeing space for all employees interested in engaging in general reflection, meditation, journaling, and sharing to help employees name stress, understand it better, and ultimately build a resilience plan that serves them. Here are a few quotes from people who have found value in this opportunity:
“Mandala felt like food for the soul. It became a safe place for me that I could go to every week. Before Mandala, there would be many days where I would’ve been a stress ball getting off to work. But now as I go through my day I’m decompressing, at the end of the day, I’m not this ball of negative energy. I’ll go grab my guitar off the wall, I’m smiling and energetic.” – Dwana Agosto, Compliance Manager.
“Mandala has helped me understand how I as a person of color navigate through life personally and professionally. And also, it provided me tools on how to be compassionate to myself, deal with my stressors, and be able to understand the world a bit better than prior to joining this.” – Amri Abuseman, Director of Engineering.
To hear some of the powerful experiences from those who participated, you can watch this video.
On a personal level, one of the most delightfully unexpected results of our partnership with Mandala has been working with their team. Meetings with them feel energizing and generative; to us, how they work represents a natural continuity from what they offer and why they offer it.