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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: 4 key takeaways

We recently hosted a live event that took a deep dive into the current state of diversity and inclusion, both outside of the workplace and within. Technology presents us with new opportunities to create more inclusive workplaces by supporting and promoting diversity across the business. So, we brought together four influential thought leaders from around the globe to share their stories of how technology is helping them advance D&I at work and at large.

Colleagues discussing diversity and inclusion in the workplace

#ChooseToChallenge inequality in the workplace

The call for an inclusive working environment that promotes equality is growing ever louder, and 2021 is the right time to make this a business priority. The topic of diversity is a broad one, covering - but not limited to - gender, age, race, religion, accessibility, and sexual orientation, so it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Running with the theme of this International Women's Day, #ChooseToChallenge, Matthew Boyd, Unily’s product evangelist, bought together four experts in D&I to give their thoughts and advice as to how enterprises can advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Thanks to the interesting insights shared by Advita Patel – Co-founder at A Leader Like Me and Comms Rebel, Nancy Speidel – Co-founder and CEO at iSAW, Lynn O’Connor – Director DEI for UK&I at Sage Belong, and Joanne Skilton – CCO at Unily, we learned how organizations can begin to accelerate change and shift the dial on equality.

4 key takeaways to focus on to promote D&I within your organization

The hour-long webinar was packed full of interesting insights, information, and anecdotes from the panel, covering everything from how technology help promote D&I in the workplace, to advice for women as to how to not feel like an imposter in their role.  

There was a vast amount of knowledge shared on the day, so we’ve pulled out four key takeaways you should know to begin to promote true diversity and inclusion, both within your workplace and outside of it.

#1. Actions speak louder than words

It’s shocking to think that the World Economic Forum has predicted that achieving gender parity will take a minimum of 99 years and for some countries more than 200 years. The conversation around D&I has become louder over the past years, but it’s not enough to just be a part of it. Putting actions in place to begin to make a real change for accessibility and diversity within your organization is a must.

"The challenge I have is that people are listening and paying attention, but I’m not seeing any real action. We did the women gender pay gap reports – there’s a notable gap –but I couldn’t tell you which organizations are doing some good work to rectify this. Organizations shared positive quotes on International Women’s Day, but if you look on record where you have to declare the pay gap for those same companies, it’s shocking. What are you actually doing to make a difference in the place you’re in and in your own personal life?"

Advita Patel - A Leader Like Me

"Everyone is talking about D&I and inclusive environments – but what’s the outcome? That’s why we need to start changing the conversation. When we talk about the value diversity brings, not only economically, but socially, it justifies change. It’s not just about being nice to women. It’s about what women bring when they get a seat at the table. The conversation needs to evolve into the value of diversity, not just the fact we need diversity."

Nancy Speidel - iSAW

#2. Cultural change is the enabler

Having an inclusive culture is essential when thinking about tackling D&I within your enterprise. Company culture can make or break an organization, so making sure yours is a positive, inclusive progressive culture should be high on your priority list.

"Real inclusion is about getting everyone in a room and listening to everyone’s thoughts without bias. While people drive change, culture is incredibly important. We talk about technology as being the facilitator of change but really it’s about embedding a positive and inclusive culture in an organization that helps facilitate change."

Jo Skilton - Unily

"When I talk to leaders I encourage them to look out of their narrow minds. If everyone sat around the table is of the same age, color, and gender – you have a problem. It always seems that the higher you go up the hierarchy, the more diversity filters out and you think: What’s going on? There needs to be a cultural change. Create a safe environment in your organization where people can ask uncomfortable questions and raise situations without the fear of being reprimanded or ignored for bringing it up."

Advita Patel - A Leader Like Me

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#3. Technology is the bridge to move the dial forwards, faster

Investing in the right technologies can make creating an inclusive workplace a much easier task. Employee experience platform technology gives everyone in the organization a platform to be able to get involved, make a change, and educate themselves on what it truly means to be inclusive.

"Technology when used correctly can be a game-changer. There’s information everywhere yet no one knows about it. We need to use technology to get this in the hands of everyone, by changing the way we give and source information and making it accessible. You should think: How do I learn? How do I make awareness? How do I solve the challenges we face? In some cases, we can only reach people through technology, in their local language, in a local context. If we want to move the dial forward we need to use technology."

Nancy Speidel - iSAW

Work meeting with employees discussing ways to use a Unily extranet to advance gender equality

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"Another interesting aspect of technology in regards to having difficult conversations that should be happening is the advent of social – both inside your organization and externally. The social aspect of technology gives a voice, democratizes the conversation, and gives a more level playing field to have the conversation. Social is really powerful. It gives new opportunities to communicate and be educated, learn, and be involved in the conversation."

Matthew Boyd - Unily

"Technology has completely enabled workplace participation in a way we haven’t seen before. When you think about what remote working has meant for D&I, it’s phenomenal. Groups that couldn’t participate in the conversation previously can now do so in a more inclusive way thanks to technology. It’s played out to organizations having fewer hierarchies and more teams. The future of work and the role technology is playing in those global communities is game-changing"

Lynn O'Connor - SageBelong

#4. Build a sense of belonging

It doesn’t just end with having the technology in place, though. Businesses need to know how to use the technology in order to create a sense of belonging and inclusion within the organization. Without this knowledge, it can lead to not only a lack of diversity and knowledge, but also a negative employee experience on the whole.

"I’m always pro-technology because it’s helped change so many different things and given a voice to those who haven’t been heard before, thanks to social media. But it can only help you belong if you allow them to below. If you have the tech and raise a question and are ignored or dismissed by your employer it can do more harm than good. Giving employees the access and telling them that every voice counts, but then not demonstrating this in business behavior can create a toxic culture. You need to acknowledge and recognize their voice. Tech and access points mean there is no reason you shouldn’t educate yourself."

Advita Patel - A Leader Like Me

Coloured ducks on a wall symbolizing diversity

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Top tips from the panel:

  • “When you think about success, don’t think about individual success, think about collective success. Collective success that is done through empathy, understanding gives better outcomes.” – Nancy Speidel, iSAW
  • “When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a more inclusive organization. Be the change agents in terms of the change we want to see.” – Jo Skilton, Unily
  • “Challenge the stereotypes because they are dangerous. Without challenging them they are shaping our decisions for the future.” – Lynn O’Connor, SageBelong
  • “If you were everyone’s cup of tea, you’d be a mug. You’re not there to be loved – as long as you’re doing the right thing, step into that space, have that conversation and support.” – Advita Patel, A Leader Like Me / Comms Rebel

Begin to fuel diversity, inclusion, and equality with technology

Now is the time to make the changes need to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace for all. You can watch the full webinar, ‘How can technology power diversity and inclusion in the workplace?’, for more tips and insights on-demand here:

Man and woman working together using laptop

Webinars

How technology can power diversity and inclusion in the workplace

The social movements of 2020 cemented a worldwide shift in attitude towards diversity and inclusion, both outside of the workplace and within. Technology presents us with new opportunities to create more inclusive workplaces by supporting and promoting diversity across the business. In this webinar, we bring together four influential thought leaders from around the globe to share their stories of how technology is helping them advance D&I at work and at large.

Watch webinar

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