The innovation behind an inclusive workplace
In this guest article, Amy Lynch, Head of DEI at Thoughtworks, discusses the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in an evolving workplace.
As the workplace evolves there has been a significant shift in the way we view diversity, equity, and inclusion. Not only is it the right thing to do, but there are significant business benefits that directly impact innovation and overall success.
In the UK, October presents lots of opportunities to reflect, learn and push for progress. Not only is it Black History Month, but we also have Ada Lovelace Day (celebrating achievements of women in STEM), World Mental Health Day, Coming Out Day and World Menopause Day.
Whether this is a panel discussion around Black & Belonging in AI, leaders sharing their mental health experiences or providing tips to colleagues about how to support those experiencing symptoms of menopause, we focus on uplifting voices and experiences that often go unheard or overlooked to uphold our inclusive culture, improve psychological safety and drive meaningful change.
But, it is vital to look beyond moments in time in the calendar.
Fostering a culture built around different perspectives is essential to the success of the tech sector. Catalyst, a global non-profit, found businesses who adopt inclusive policies are 59% more likely to see an increase in innovation, creativity, and openness.
The tech industry was built on rapid change and new approaches to age-old problems. Including a range of minds is an invaluable resource for every organisation. The tech sector has much to gain from the boost that diversity and inclusion can offer to innovation and creativity.
Making DEI a reality
Organisations need to make it easier for people from diverse backgrounds to enter the tech industry. Existing underrepresentation can be attributed to various factors such as historical biases, limited access to educational opportunities, and societal stereotypes. Driving data driven change means DEI can be embedded in every department, rather than sit on the shoulders of just the leaders.
As a result, there is a smaller pipeline of talent from diverse backgrounds. For example, Tech City UK found that as few as 13% of women entering the talent market hope to work in the tech industry. This means that despite earnest efforts, tech leaders are struggling to turn good intentions into reality.
Overcoming these challenges can be achieved through various means, such as implementing inclusive hiring practices, proactively recruiting from underrepresented groups, partnering with educational institutions, and embracing flexible working. Diversifying their talent pool enables organisations to bring a richer range of skills, perspectives and experiences into their business.
Holding businesses accountable
To make the tech industry more diverse, inclusive, and in turn more innovative, leaders must begin with setting actual tangible goals, just as they would any business objective.
Similarly, companies must be transparent about their targets and initiatives, constantly gathering feedback and input from employees and sharing real-time progress with stakeholders and the wider world. At Thoughtworks, we aim to maintain 40% gender diversity in tech roles. Each of our regions has additional focus areas for diversity within underrepresented groups in their countries, for example honing in on race, ethnicity, disability, and/or LGTBQ+.
Championing an inclusive work environment
Including a diverse range of voices in business will improve creative outcomes for organisations.
Creating an environment in which employees feel comfortable challenging assumptions and sharing stories takes necessary work; but by appointing executive “owners” of specific diversity areas, companies can focus expertise through training, mentorship programs, and workshops catered to under-represented individuals.
At Thoughtworks, we aim to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels respected, heard and valued by providing all important channels for our employees to engage with one another. For example, through our employee resource groups and our DEI council colleagues and leaders are encouraged together to listen, learn and unlock knowledge.