Following the success of our International Women’s Day event, we were excited to host our second panel event focused around embedding a culture of inclusion within tech.
To help us get the conversation started we were joined by 4 leading females in the industry, who began the evening by sharing their experiences and thoughts on the topic.
As an interactive event, following the panel discussion, we then split into three breakout rooms to delve deeper into how we can create a more inclusive workplace.
Panel Discussion: Embedding a Culture of Inclusion
Striving for a culture of inclusion and belonging is essential for the workplace. A great workplace is one that represents how diverse the world is. Organisations and communities alike should work to bring a variety of different perspectives to the table and create an environment where everyone feels empowered.
How well does the diversity in your company reflect your user base? Diversity is good for business as it leads to innovation. We all need to do more to ensure that the tech industry becomes more inclusive so that talented and motivated tech professionals don’t leave the industry because they feel like they cannot have a career in tech.
For new mother in tech, Pooja, it is important that more information and conversations are had around being a parent in the industry. Taking the time to understand how to talk about being a mother in tech, identifying potential struggles and how to normalise the experience is key.
As a leader of colour, Pooja mentions that she is often asked how she deals with racism and cultural stereotyping in the workplace. Whilst she conveys never knowing which of the two she is being judged on, Pooja highlights that as a result she has had to work harder both in her role and her appearance as a ‘professional’ in the workplace.
The basis of empathetic leadership is not judging people on first impressions. Diversity without inclusion doesn’t work. To create inclusion within the industry, we need to become more comfortable discussing other people’s cultures as well as looking for that invisible bias.
Belen was inspired to start her own company which utilises artificial intelligence in the hiring process in order to remove any potential bias, having experienced gender bias herself, in the industry.
For Belen, the key to embedding a culture of inclusion is to understand the biases that we all have, that we all share, and that actually harm all of us although not in an equal way. This starts with awareness, having discussions and learning from others. Then implementing processes during the hiring process, and also as managers, leaders and colleagues in the day-to-day workplace.
Don’t forget about the data! Utilising data and what data tells you is essential to creating an inclusive culture.
Moving from Israel to the Netherlands, Dana highlights the cultural difference in both countries. Speaking on her experience, Dana talks about having been accused of non-inclusive behaviour herself, due to these cultural differences. As a result Dana mentions how she needed to make small cultural adjustments in order to have her voice heard.
Which asks the question: how inclusive are we when dealing with non-inclusive behaviour?
Interactive Breakout Room Sessions
Following the panel discussion we split into breakout rooms for a deeper delve into embedding a culture of inclusion within tech.
Empathetic and Transformational Leadership
What does empathetic leadership mean? Fundamental to empathetic leadership is the ability to listen and not make assumptions. To do this you must put yourself in other people’s shoes and create a space where employees needs come first. Alongside listening, empathetic leaders ask questions; giving freedom with the answers.
A big part of empathetic leadership is fostering an empathetic culture within the team. Creating a culture where people feel empowered to help themselves and help each other so that it is not just all on the leader.
Following the discussion, one topic that sparked much debate was highlighting the career journeys of female tech leaders – in asking how something was achieved as a woman are we creating an inclusive culture with relatable role models or further emphasising differences?
Dealing with Non-Inclusive Behaviour
Talking about dealing with non-inclusive behaviour led to participants in the breakout room sharing their experiences on the topic – being interrupted mid-sentence, being ignored, or asked to take notes in a meeting – which led to a truly powerful conversation.
The main take-away from this breakout room was the importance of speaking out about your experience, whilst this can be challenging and difficult, no experience is too small or invalid. The key is to create a trusting environment where you feel comfortable to speak up about your experience. Workshops are a great way to start this discussion.
Diverse Hiring and Best Practices
Multiple areas of best practices for diverse hiring were discussed as part of this breakout room. Including;
- Are you non-inclusive language and content in our job descriptions?
- Are you including a lot of job requirements as part of the job description that could deter women from applying?
- What can you do if you want to diversify your team but have no positions available?
If you want to change and create a more inclusive environment, the first step is to be upfront about your intentions and admit; we may not be there yet but this is where we are going as an organisation.
Thank you to our fantastic panel speakers, Natalia, Pooja, Dana and Belen for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences, and for helping to make the event such a success.
Thank you to everyone who attended for sharing your opinions, advice and making the evening so interactive.
If you are interested in speaking at, or attending our W.I.T. Republic events, don’t hesitate to get in touch!