HR Strange But True

Unusual Workplace Mascot Lets Employees Know They Are Appreciated

Presentation, communications, and design—the company Duarte, Inc. in Sunnyvale, California, takes pride in being a company that “is more than just a place to work, it’s a place to express yourself, find your passion, fuel your creativity, and make lasting friendships. We’re a fun-loving, field-tripping, high-fiving bunch of people who support each other and enjoy spending time together inside the office and out.”

About 15 years ago, company founder Nancy Duarte asked one of her designers to come up with a statue that could be passed weekly to a staff member who deserved recognition.

Recipients were supposed to prominently display the award in their work area for a week.  However, employees started commenting that they couldn’t stand having the statue stare at them with its “evil eyes” for an entire work week.

Then, a stressful time hit the company, and Duarte thought more of her employees needed the encouragement the statue symbolized. She tried to come up with a something different to show the company’s support of and gratefulness for its employees.

Duarte had always liked giraffes, and they popped into her mind. Upon investigation, she found that a herd of giraffes is poetically called a “tower.” “When you stand together, a tower is a symbol of strength,” she told Ray Hoffman in an interview for his CEO Radio segment on CBS Radio. “I thought, how beautiful,” Duarte said, and she decided the giraffe would be perfect for the new awards.

Giraffes live in groups, are not territorial, and rarely get into tussles—which seems like a fitting symbol for a collegial work environment.

Duarte decided to make the giraffe the company mascot, and she purchased dozens of toy giraffes so employees could have them on their desks. And, a new name for the company’s employee appreciation award was coined—“Giraffirmation.”

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