In spite of its reputation for being a rapidly moving industry, the tech sector is still struggling to figure out how to make itself both more diverse and inclusive. Fortunately, there are beacons of hope as companies of all sizes recognize the importance and value of embracing a culture of diversity and inclusiveness.
This past Wednesday, we attended an evening session entitled Diversity & Inclusion: Going Beyond Gender to Build a Winning Team event presented by Discovery Foundation, BC Tech Association and BCjobs.ca at the Spaces location in Gastown, Vancouver.
With four insightful panelists ranging representing small to large-scale tech companies in BC, there were a lot of key takeaways in the discussion on hiring approaches, implementation strategies, and what it takes to have a diverse and inclusive team.
Diversity in the workplace goes beyond gender, and it extends to age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, beliefs, socioeconomic status and other elements. On the other hand, inclusion provides a sense of belonging, opportunity for increased work efficiency, and a space for people to be their true, authentic selves.
“Diversity is a checklist, [whereas] inclusion is belonging,” said panelist Stephanie Redivo. As the Senior Program Manager for SAP’s Global Diversity and Inclusion office, Redivo finds it imperative to have training programs, workshops, and communication governance among the company’s 97,000 employees across 130+ countries in order to break down barriers and embrace differences.
For fellow panelist Ainsley Robertson, Manager for Developer Experience at Clio, building and executing a culture and brand strategy for diversity and inclusion has been an important part of her job. Just last year, she was part of an initiative to improve her company’s hiring process to increase the number of women in their engineering roles. Although the focus of this session was to look beyond gender in building diverse and inclusive workforces, Clio’s experience with the initial implementation of scaling gender diversity for the company opened up the appetite for even more inclusive activities. Robertson believes that other firms can look to Clio’s experience and use gender diversity a launchpad for other diversity and inclusion considerations.
Manu Varma from Traction on Demand has been working as the company’s People Cloud Subject Matter Expert for People and Culture. In talking about how diversity and inclusion has been implemented at his firm, he believes that their culture of giving more weight to aptitude rather than experience in their hiring practice enables them to look beyond traditional hiring practices – something he fully believes gives Traction on Demand an edge when it comes to recruiting talent in a tight labour market.
Finally, VP Learning, Diversity and Inclusion at Hootsuite, Heidi Rolston, recounted her perspectives on diversity and inclusion challenges in the technology industry and stated that diversity inclusion are “not just about demographic differences, but also cognitive differences.”
Overall, it was an inspiring evening. Although there is still a long way to go, it is encouraging that small groups of individuals who are passionate about advancing diversity and inclusion here in British Columbia were able to converge to share their ideas as well as expand their own perspectives on what diversity and inclusion mean.
For our part, we have witnessed first hand the importance of having definition of diversity and inclusion that encompasses persons with disabilities, in particular those who struggle with mental health and addictions challenges. To help further the conversation and hopefully spark conversations and change with organizations’ hiring practices, we’ve put together a brief infographic outlining the benefits to companies and organizations when they become more diverse and inclusive.
It Begins with a Conversation
At Work With Us, we believe that diversity and inclusion is certainly not limited to the physical attributes of candidates in the hiring process or employees in the workplace. It also includes the unseen challenges and accommodations needed for persons with mental health issues, addictions, and other disabilities.
We’re always open to talking about how organizations can improve their own diversity profile by hiring our fully supported and highly-motivated staff on their path to self-sufficiency.