Everywoman Forum 2022: inclusivity, support and participation

How increasing diversity and inclusion in an organization contributes to business value is a question often asked by those involved in promoting diversity and inclusion.

People generally agree that building diverse teams is the right thing to do, but are unsure of how and why this will move a company forward.

Eleanor Sim, director of security architecture at Bupa, hit the nail on the head at the Everywoman in Tech Forum 2022: “I’m a better employee when I’m more myself; I’m a better leader when I’m more authentically myself.”

When it comes to building a diverse workforce, many would argue that this is not possible without inclusion – there have been times throughout her career when Sim has struggled with inclusion in the workplace and it “achieved [her] worse at [her] Work”.

“For some roles, being myself wasn’t what people wanted,” Sim said.

Describing a summer lifeguard job that forced her to cover up her dyed hair during shifts, she said, “You couldn’t see beyond my looks the skills I had.”

Later in her career, when she felt she was in an environment where she could come out, challenge the language used by others in an organization, and be herself, she said she found that she felt better succeeded, “if [her] Values ​​are aligned with and of the organization [she] can be authentic [her].”

The value in complexity

When people feel like they can be themselves, they do a better job, which is good for the business — Sim said when organizations “see the value” in the “complexity” you bring as an individual, you perform the people more.

While role models are often cited as important to encourage young women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, encouraging more people to join the sector is just a stepping stone towards diversity, and Sim emphasized, that role models are also important to create a safe space where others can start working as themselves without feeling alone.

“By being visible in these spaces, challenging the culture and creating opportunity, I want to make cybersecurity and technology a better place to work for everyone,” she said.

Find your tribe

A common theme of the 2022 Everywoman in Tech Forum was maintaining a support system, finding your allies, and building the same space for others.

“One of my passions is being authentic and creating spaces where others can be their authentic selves, too,” said Sim.

A big part of ultimately creating that inclusive culture, she said, is the allies she found throughout her career who were willing to listen, change, and advocate for her.

Paraphrasing Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, Sim said, “If they won’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair, and I encourage you to not only bring your folding chair, but… to do it Use your elbows to make room for someone else.

Once people enter the technology sector, an inclusive culture becomes important to make them feel welcome and more likely to stay.

Without inclusion work, those who are not in the majority may not feel like they belong, cannot be themselves at work, or try to find a company or industry to work in, where they feel more comfortable and therefore more productive .

Viktorija Karciauskaite, governance manager and tribal leader at Virgin Atlantic, said this isn’t limited to women’s experiences in tech in a male-dominated environment – it’s anyone who doesn’t fit the “standard profile”, including people who do have done. Don’t take a traditional route into technology.

Karciauskaite, who has found herself in these situations throughout her career, said that a “strong support mechanism” is a “source of inspiration” for her, whether it’s from friends and family or another community.

Many of the speakers throughout the day recommended building a support network – either friends, family, colleagues, a mentor or a networking group – and then inviting others to be part of the group as well.

There are many women’s networks across the technology sector, as well as groups dedicated to people with disabilities or LGBTQIA+, all of which can help make people feel part of a community, and in many cases companies set up these groups as people in an organization.

Include everyone

A support network can be particularly important for under-represented groups in technology. As Sarah Chapman, application engineering manager at 3M, pointed out, there won’t necessarily be a role model in the industry that looks exactly like you, “because we’re underrepresented; We won’t find role models exactly like us and our teams won’t find people who have followed this typical path.”

But Chapman warned that people are often “nervous” about getting involved unless they fully identify with a network — another reason inclusivity is important.

At Thoughtworks, according to J Harrison, harbinger of change in technology consulting, internal contributor groups were designed to involve as many people as possible in the communities and networks so that it didn’t seem like an “us and them” situation, it just became one We situation. “We’ve expanded the scope of what diversity means,” they said.

This is what true inclusion looks like

Harrison went on to explain the key things that make a team truly inclusive: when people can “speak without fear,” for example, being able to share issues or issues without feeling like they’re being blamed; when teams make consensus decisions; when people listen before they speak; where there are equal opportunities to contribute – introverts and extraverts alike; and where “caring and safety” is part of the conversation—where people feel that their life experiences are relevant or helpful inputs, then a team begins to become truly inclusive.

“When you have those five things, you have a team that can work together,” they said.

Those who are in the majority in the technology sector, such as B. Men, play a huge role in building inclusion and equality, but can sometimes feel “anxious” to join a conversation or get involved.

Gina Wiley, Food Engineering Manager at Deliveroo, said she believes future success will mean the majority will ask what they can do to help, rather than being asked.

But for now, Wiley asserted that underrepresented groups in technology had the “opportunity” to be the first person to steer the leadership group towards a more inclusive culture by asking questions, having difficult conversations and introducing important issues that need to be addressed.

New Technology Era

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