Enter the role of “Head of Diversity and Inclusion”

Part 2 of Technology, Diversity and an Ageing Workforce – a cocktail of workplace change.

Uber released their first ever diversity report in March last year and it has made diversity headlines, and not necessarily for the right reasons. “It’s no secret that we’re late to release these numbers,” Uber Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey wrote on Uber’s blog “And I’d like to thank our employees for their tenacity in arguing the case for greater transparency — because what you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”

 

The TL;DR (internet speak for “too long, didn’t read” or “in a nutshell”), is that Uber, like many other tech companies, is predominantly white and male.

But, what are they doing about it? In the press call on 21 March 2017, Liane Hornsey elaborated what she feels will lead to true diversity and inclusion:

  • Hired a Head of Diversity and Inclusion

  • Publish the first-ever diversity report

  • Improve their recruitment processes to remove biases

  • Rolling out training to educate and empower employees

She finished the call with: “Change starts with action.  And while it is still early days, we’re starting to put in place programs that will help change our culture and the workplace environment at Uber.  I am exceptionally upbeat about what we can achieve.”

 

While Uber is one of the world’s most famous current tech companies, back in New Zealand, Spark appointed Rhonda Koroheke into the newly created role of Head of Diversity and Inclusion in July 2016.  In her interview with the NZHerald, “Embracing diversity in a rush” she reveals that Spark has introduced company-wide celebrations for Ramadan, Diwali, Matariki, Chinese New Year and Sign Language week, as well as having a company float in the Pride Parade for the first time and being on track to achieve the Rainbow Tick - well under the 12 months-plus it generally takes. Top of her agenda for 2017, is pay parity, building up gender balance at the leadership level and boosting ethnic representation in leadership.  Rhonda concludes the interview with this sentiment: "I know that this isn't always going to be a walk in the park and I am ready for the doubters or those that think we're on the wrong path.  I'm absolutely ready to challenge and understand where they're coming from and to help influence their way of thinking because it's all about changing mindsets and awareness." 

 

Damien Hooper-Campbell, eBay’s first Chief Diversity Officer, who also held a role at Google as its Diversity Strategist, suggests that organisations take a different step first.  “It will seem cliché to some or too simple to others, but the first — and most often skipped — step is to humanise this issue.”

 By this, he means: have a conversation with your employees.  And for Kiwi businesses who don’t have heaps of cash for diversity managers or training programmes this approach has significant appeal.

 

In his article, in The First Round Review, Hooper-Campbell shares his steps to humanise the diversity issue in your organisation or business.

Step 1: Redraw the Circle of Trust

The circle of trust was made famous in the Meet the Parents movie starring Robert De Niro, the cynical over-protective father, who introduces the “circle of trust” to Ben Stiller, his daughter’s over-eager boyfriend.  (I’m sure you’ve seen it). The point here is that we are often in places where we don’t really know each other.  We see each other, sometimes every day and spend hours working side by side but don’t get beyond those surface-level conversations.  The goal is to draw wider and wider circles of trust, to quickly create an environment that is conducive and safe for open conversations about diversity and inclusion.

Step 2: Define what diversity actually means to you

Conceptually, we all understand what diversity is, but what does it mean in your world, in your business.  As the leader, allow your team to share their opinions before sharing yours.  The conversation could narrow down to gender, or race, or LGBTTI – but diversity is more ‘diverse’ than these well-publicised attributes.

Step 3: Define what inclusion means to you

And this time, ask the question like this: “Talk about a time when you felt excluded, regardless of when and why”.  Allow everyone a turn to share how they felt at being excluded due to being too fat, or not being invited to a party, or not being picked to play on the best rugby team – or being too old for the young company culture perhaps. Nearly every person has felt excluded at least once in their life.  Hooper-Campbell then says: “now ask your team: How many of you have ever been responsible — intentionally or unintentionally — for excluding someone else?  If people are really in the Circle of Trust, you’ll see just as many hands go up.”

Step 4: Start here

“That’s what you want to fix at your organisation. I'm not asking you to start with a training. I'm not asking you to take money and throw it at the problem.  I'm asking you to simply start with a human conversation and a commitment to use your positions of leadership to never knowingly — either directly or indirectly — allow anyone in your sphere of influence to feel the adjectives of the excluded,” says Hooper-Campbell.

 

At the time of writing 5,167,072  people have viewed “All That We Share” on YouTube.  It was published in January 2017 by Denmark’s TV2.  The introduction to this incredible video says: “we live in a time where we quickly put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think? Introducing All That We Share.”  I think the video underlines what “humanising diversity” is trying to achieve.  Watch it, and let me know what you think.  Perhaps it could be a good scene setter in Step 2 above as you start the conversation with your team.

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Verna Myers, VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix

 

Continue reading Part 3 - Adapt Recruitment practices to address skill shortages

 

 

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