It’s no secret that the tech industry has a long way to go when it comes to diversity.
However, guilt is an unproductive emotion and we should not be leading the conversation through force and alarm. Instead, we should celebrate our wins in navigating this difficult and complex subject. With growth comes discomfort after all.
In writing this article I delved into the metaphorical can of worms that is diversity news, and many ‘diversity’ dubbed articles featured hollowing facts around the stark nuances in society. This felt bullish to readers and transported you back to the naughty step of your youth if you weren’t already ticking the complex list of diversity targets at the point of reading. It’s no wonder why many employees switch off when the subject of ‘D&I’ is brought up as a priority for the company, and then not a word is done about it.
My approach to diversity and inclusion is different.
We must approach the subject in a positive light, looking for the opportunities as opposed to dwelling on the weaknesses. When we arrive at this destination, we can inspire others to make change on their own accord and authentically advocate the closing of the diversity gap (teach a man to fish and all…).
Create an open and inclusive culture for employees
The first port of call is to curate a diversity and inclusion strategy. For example, focus groups create laser focused priorities for a 5 year plan and the launch of an internal network will propel, monitor and drive forward changes and cultivate a culture of transparency. It’s also important for diversity & inclusion to stay in the headlines of the business through acting like a movement (not a moment) and a positive force for change that employees and leaders genuinely want to be a part of and that can be tracked accordingly.
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Audit your brand
An audit will help to develop your brand’s position and identify the strengths and opportunities across your company. This will determine the positioning of the business and identify the opportunities to improve to continue rooting diversity within it, whilst celebrating the small and meaningful wins along the journey. When auditing, take a look at every touchpoint, from path to purchase and examine how you can diversify your offerings authentically.
Understand your responsibilities
Building a trustworthy environment is fundamental, and this will fall flat if senior leadership isn’t a part of the conversation (and frankly won’t do much if all your employees can see is an all white male board). Ensure your leaders can cultivate a safe and supportive environment, which will help to retain employees and shine a positive light on underrepresented voices.
Education cannot and should not be limited to unconscious bias workshops. Whilst they create a foundation for individuals to eradicate their hidden assumptions, what is fundamental is storytelling. We must be open to listen, learn and reflect from different points of view, which will ingrain empathy and a positive and open dialogue.
Opportunities invite people from all walks of life into the conversation. Consider where you are advertising your jobs, your apprenticeship schemes and how you can diversify your staff base and move away from hiring those with similar backgrounds.
Written by Shana Gujral, Founder of Lila
Instagram: @ThinkLila @ShanaGujral