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March 18, 2020

Diversity and Inclusion from Different Perspectives- my learnings from the panel

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Over the past few years, we’ve joined our partner She Loves Data at several events aimed at supporting women to pursue careers in Data & Technology. These events are always over subscribed by talented women who are serious about their career progression.

It’s our pleasure to be able to connect their community with our Endorsed Employers and share their inclusive, next practice policies, benefits and open roles. The best part for me is hearing from women who land exciting roles through WORK180 and are thriving in their careers!

I wanted to share some key learnings for both job seekers and HR & D&I professionals from an event that I had the pleasure of moderating, called “Diversity and Inclusion from Different Perspectives” for the She Loves Data community.

The Panel

I was very excited to have Kathryn Bergstrum on the panel. You may have read her story on the WORK180 blog about her resilience during a ten-year job hunt with Cerebral Palsy and her successful career at Laing O’Rourke. Her presence was also a great reminder that diversity is about more than just gender, and we shouldn’t need visible reminders (like Kathryn’s wheelchair) to keep the breadth of diversity in our minds.

We were also joined by the following inspiring D&I champions, who reminded us that we need to focus on intersectionality and move the discussion beyond policy to real life stories;

  • Ricardo Patana from Google shared that they live by the mantra, “If you do not intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude”,
  • Michael Ewald from Contino spoke about the need to see an increase in accessibility of flexibility for men in the workplace, I couldn’t agree more!
  • Lynn Dang from Microsoft bravely shared her own lived experience of being a minority from a young age, and diversity going beyond gender.
  • Ross Wetherbee from TAL Australia, shared his approach to building the business cases internally to support D&I initiatives

With these diverse perspectives and insightful participants, we discussed a few key ideas around diversity, inclusion, and what they look like in practice.

Creating Inclusive Hiring Processes:

We started with a conversation about removing bias in the pipeline and ensuring diversity in the hiring process.

  • TAL Australia implemented a 50/50 target and are working to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles, initiating a series of nudges through their processes to challenge bias, with the Executive Team challenging when and why diverse candidates are not in the pipeline.
  • Microsoft they have also changed the end-to-end process to remove inherent bias, with a key adjustment of ensuring diversity on the hiring panel. Additionally, asking the right questions to be aware of and target unconscious bias is important, and looking for ‘cultural fit’ is a bias in itself. Instead, looking for ‘cultural contribution’ is advised.
  • Kathryn shared her experience of worrying about interview access, and being treated differently by panels because of her disability, and highlighted the need to look beyond just gender when considering our approach to diversity and inclusion.
  • Inclusion is a muscle, and as Lynne suggested, if you practice inclusion you will get stronger at it.

The D&I Cycle

The panel were candid in their experience seeing a focus on diversity and inclusion being in favor and ‘the right thing to do’, then out of favor as companies and leaders focus on ROI and the cost of implementation for D&I policies.

Highlighting the benefits on teams, productivity and commercial outcomes of inclusion, so it goes beyond being a social justice issue and benefits everyone can be a way to engage leadership. Also, make the discussion about your competitors and why they may be ‘winning’. Sometimes it does take significant time and cost to implement D&I changes, and learning how to outline the value for the budget-holder is key.

“If the commercial approach doesn’t work, make it personal and ask what legacy leaders want to leave for their own children,” the panel concluded.

Creating Cultural Change

Culturally, change comes from leadership and needs to be supported with empathy and
true behavioral change. Riccardo challenged everyone in the room to speak up and use their voices, and shared Google’s OKRs that prevent Executives slipping into old behavior patterns – but this only works if we give and receive honest feedback!

At TAL, Ross shared, there is a management competency around culture. Managers must know their people and have an open door to allow for difficult conversations. Additionally, mentoring someone different to you builds your own rounded awareness and identifies where your bias and blind spots may be.

Ross suggested that government could do more to change society’s gendered views, and that the predicted 208 years to close the gender pay gap is not good enough. Michael agreed, and said we need to move away from Maternity and Paternity Leave to Paid Parental Leave benefits to remove stigma around both men and women taking parental leave. Normalizing everyone taking parental leave will move us away from outdated ideas such as ‘mothers’ hours’. Riccardo agreed, showing that all the men on the panel support breaking down the ‘boys club’ with senior people leading the change.

Kathryn reminded us we need to move beyond gender, pointing out that many jobs focus on Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders, and companies need to have a similar focus on all diverse groups. Authenticity is key, and companies need to walk the talk. Kathryn spoke about the support Laing O’Rourke provided her with in order to set her up with success in her role, which you can read about here.

“When it comes to diversity, inclusion and the real-life impact, be yourself, be authentic, and be passionate,” Lynn summed up for our guests.

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About the Author
WORK180 promotes organizational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace. We only endorse employers that are committed to making real progress so that all women can expect better.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.