Ultimate Software Embraces Inclusion, Leads With “People First” Culture

HR tech provider Ultimate Software helps businesses manage their people and its "people first" policy has been paying off in a big way. The company started in 1990 with two women and two men employees and almost thirty years later, Fortune Magazine ranked them as #7 Best Company to Work For in 2017. Half their workforce (49 percent) identified as women and 40 percent as ‘minorities’ at that time and in 2018, that figure moved up to 43 percent.

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Cecile Alper-Leroux started with Ultimate nine years ago and recently addressed a crowd at DisruptHR NYC on the future of work. As the vice president of HCM Innovation, Alper-Leroux says she’s in good company: “Today, 29 years after its founding, Ultimate still has about an equal number of women and men throughout the company.”

They are leaders in the human capital management (HCM) software industry and much of that can be attributed to the unique blend of difference in workers that drives the company’s success. As founder and CEO, Scott Scherr stresses that Ultimate is in the business of simplifying the human resources process for companies – offering options for management of payroll, benefits, time and labor management.

Their flagship product, UltiPro, is a full-service HR cloud solution that delivers powerful functionality balanced with user-friendly flexibility. With 2018 sales up 21 percent to $1.14 billion from the year prior, it’s full-steam ahead for the Weston-based software company that includes big names brands like the Miami Heat basketball team, Subway, and Yamaha Corp. America as customers. It's worth an estimated $11 billion and competes with Workday and ADP.

As for Alper-Leroux, she is also an executive sponsor for Women in Leadership (WIL) – an example of Ultimate Software’s internal Communities of Interest. This group, along with others of its kind, serves as a social-networking group that fosters inclusivity, equality, respect and consideration for others. Women hold close to 50 percent of the tech firm’s frontline management positions and are looking to having that number grow.

“Community is a concept that Ultimate takes seriously,” Alper-Leroux shared. “Earlier this year, Ultimate expanded its work with WIL to launch Women in Technology (WIT) community group. Soon after its inception, Ultimate realized the upside of taking care of our employees and customers. If you treat them like family, they’ll be loyal, unfaltering and work as part of a unified effort to drive consistent growth and profitability.”

Ultimate’s team is always seeking new ways to meet the ever-changing demands of the clients they serve. They constantly ask themselves how they can be better prepared for the future and, in a 2015 blog post, reported that they dedicate 83 percent of their workforce to development and services and 20 percent of their annual revenue back into enhancing products and supports.

Alper-Leroux contributes to this mission by being the best leader she can be: “I regard myself as a servant leader. I’m dedicated to listening to my team. When I onboarded with Ultimate, I spent the first six months listening to and absorbing what the employees and customers said. I probed on how they felt and what they wished for. Only then did I take action. Listening is only half the job – the other half is being accountable for making the changes required."