Diversity and Inclusion in Tech is a Must: Is your HR Prepped?

2 Industry Leaders Weigh-in with Tips and Best Practices That Help Foster a More Diverse work culture

Deb Muller, CEO, HR Acuity
Jacky Cohen, VP of People and Culture at Topia










Diverse teams can complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses well, in fact, several studies have proven that diverse teams can be more successful and profitable on the whole.

The more inclusive a company’s culture, the better the overall employee experience. As more and more companies, not only in B2B and tech but even across other industries understand the importance and open up to the benefits of fostering a more diverse culture, there will eventually be a shift in how HR and hiring teams prioritize diversity hiring over skills.

Jacky Cohen, VP of People and Culture at Topia shares, “With an increased focus on D&I across the globe, many companies will develop diversity goals and strategies to create a more diverse pipeline. If all companies take the same approach, such as generating pipelines with targeted universities or partners, the challenge for top talent will continue and become even more constrained. It’s time to think differently and to be creative to ensure companies are truly expanding their search and tapping into pipelines of talent that wouldn’t have otherwise been considered.”

For companies who are starting to implement a case for a more diverse and inclusive work culture, what best practices can they start putting in place? Jacky shares a few tips:  

  • Create a safe and productive space for conversation. Facilitate a space where leaders and employees alike can discuss, prioritize, and strategize best practices for maintaining an inclusive culture. This will ensure that it remains a priority within the organization, even as employees are distributed and working from location to location.
  • Think and act as a global citizen.This matters as much for an organization’s internal staff as it does for external partners, vendors, and customers. In today’s hyper-connected world, few businesses can say they aren’t impacted, in some way, on a global level. It serves everyone to move from a micro to a macro approach to culture. Instill a global mindset within your organization and create ways for your team across the world to connect and bring diverse perspectives and ideas into your culture. Consider creating a Culture Catalyst team that partners with HR to provide feedback and to brainstorm how to enhance your culture continually.
  • Build diversity through hiring practices. Focusing on finding the best person for the job, regardless of location. Relocating an employee is not always an option for every business, but finding creative ways to open up the talent pool helps build a genuinely diverse workforce. Not to mention, a recent survey we conducted found that a majority (79%) of employees believe building a team with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints leads to more creativity and innovation.
  • Weave inclusion into performance management, rewards, and recognition. Leaders often overemphasize the end results, or the what, and entirely skip over the how. Ensuring that managers know how to discuss all aspects of performance, such as how individuals collaborate with others, is critical for ensuring inclusion is seen as a need to have versus a nice to have.  

With diversity and inclusion gaining momentum in tech and becoming a priority for hiring teams, will D&I initiatives become the new need of the hour in tech?

The Covid-19 pandemic and the recent #blacklivesmatter movement have created seismic shifts in the way companies and individuals are choosing to live and work in the new normal. Deb Muller, CEO of HR Acuity says, “Taking action against racism must start in your own backyard. Change is driven through behaviors (what we do) and our embedded processes (how we do it) that, without checks, can consciously or unconsciously support racial injustices. Organizations must hold themselves accountable by coming to terms with their current state and putting in place means to measure progress against established goals. We need more than words. We need action, we need data and we need metrics. Invest in Unconscious Bias training and remind your leadership that they set the tone for open and transparent communication by demonstrating their willingness to listen to different opinions, being open to feedback and empowering others. Especially at a time such as now, I encourage leaders to ask themselves: are you truly invested in a way that will drive systemic change?”

One of the fundamental basics to enforcing a more balanced corporate culture at a time when working closely with globally distributed teams is commonly seen in industries like tech / SaaS and many other models, lies in establishing a strong D&I culture. A strong D&I practice not only helps address sensitive issues, it also helps teams create better employee relationships at the workplace.

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“If companies are serious about reaching their strategic business objectives, they cannot ignore the data that exists on D&I, and it’s HR’s job to help highlight that. In a recent survey, we found that 1 in 3 employees believe companies need to hire based on prioritizing diversity rather than exclusively focusing on experience and capabilities,” shares Jacky.

 “It’s no secret that the challenges and strategies for hiring top talent are always on our minds as HR professionals. As B2B tech companies identify the benefits of having a diverse culture, more emphasis will be put not only on hiring but also ensuring they are focused on what happens once someone is on board. It’s critical to ensure that diversity and inclusion are key pillars of your culture and value and are woven into all aspects of HR programs and practices,” she concludes.

Deb summarizes, “D&I is not a new function for companies. Many organizations have been building inclusive workplaces for years, but now political movements and community focus have brought these efforts into the spotlight. For companies of all sizes, equity and diversity are now at the top of board agendas, leadership meetings and team discussions. This current focus is particularly important for industries that have struggled with diversity, including finance and technology. Many large technology companies have been reporting on diversity within their organizations for years but have yet to make substantial progress. Now is the time for entire industries and individual companies to step up and commit to addressing racial inequities – through actions, not just words.’’

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