“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with,
and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.”
– William Sloane Coffin Jr.
As a manager in Tech, I am passionate about finding ways to increase diversity and inclusion in our industry – a topic that is front and center in any discussion about workplace dynamics these days. More and more studies show that, beyond just the right thing to do, inclusion and diversity are key drivers of innovation and increased productivity. I’m fortunate to work for a company that shares this belief. But I also know it’s crucial that all people leaders do their part to foster diversity in hiring and to create a truly inclusive culture where every employee can do their best work.
Knowing that each of us has a personal responsibility to create the culture we want to see, I’m sharing a few of my own ideas about how we can foster more inclusion and diversity in the workplace:
Have a strategy to mitigate unconscious bias. Look for ways to support diversity and inclusion at every stage of the hiring process. Cisco is innovating in this area with their Diverse Talent Accelerators (DTA). These include a solution designed to neutralize bias in job advertisements that results in more diverse candidate pools, and another that enables hiring managers to build interviewer panels with diverse employees. I also encourage each member of the interview panel to send me their opinions directly – prior to a broader team discussion on the candidates – to help mitigate bias and ensure everyone’s feedback is heard.
Attend conferences focused on diversity. Watermark, the Better Man Conference, wNorth, and Grace Hopper provide allies with a ground-level perspective on the key challenges faced by diverse groups in the workplace. Commit to implementing two to three concrete actions to support diversity and inclusion based on what you learn at these conferences.
Seek to understand. Speak and listen to diverse audiences to gather more perspective. Sometimes, it’s the story we tell ourselves that gets in the way of growth.
Actively mentor, coach, sponsor individuals from diverse backgrounds. Supporting diverse employees provides me with immense satisfaction and gives me an appreciation for how inclusion leads to the best team results. Again, Cisco is innovating in this area with The Multiplier Effect Pledge. This initiative encourages leaders at all levels to sponsor at least one diverse individual in their career and to challenge their peers to do the same. This is one action everyone can take now to create a pipeline of diverse talent for the future.
Spread the word. The more of us out there preaching and sharing our success around promoting diversity, as well as sharing the challenges we face, the better.
Check your own equality barometer first. Examine your own environment and recalibrate constantly as needed. Keep a group of trustworthy friends who will give you honest feedback on how you’re doing.
My hope is that everyone reading this blog will take at least one step to promote diversity and inclusion in their own work environment. And I hope you will share your own ideas on how you think we can foster this change in Tech and across all industries.