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Building Diverse and Inclusive Teams

Company Culture

26 November, 2019

Jossie Haines shares how focusing on inclusion, comprehensiveness, and accountability will further your organization towards diverse and inclusive teams.


Through my experiences I have come to the conclusion that diversity and inclusion are super important to the effectiveness of individuals and to the success of an organization as a whole. And I don't need to convince anybody about this, most people will agree with me. But how do you build a diverse and inclusive team? What challenges do we need to overcome to get there?

Actions taken

I realized that there's not just one area that you need to focus in on when dealing with inclusivity and diversity. You must take a holistic approach in order for your efforts to be compelling. For example, if you build an inclusive culture but then you don't work on your external messaging, then you can forget about hiring diverse candidates. On the other hand, if you focus only on getting diverse candidates in the pipeline but don't have inclusive practices in place in the office then those diverse candidates will end up leaving. So, after careful rumination of these contrasting circumstances, it dawned on me to look across a bunch of different areas. We need to think about this matter all the way from hiring to how to make your employees feel included for the long haul. Here are the areas that we need to look at.

  • Defining Culture - Your culture needs to commit to inclusion, it needs to have transparency, and work-life balance should be prioritized. But this isn't just about presenting your culture internally, it's also how you present your culture externally.
  • Implementing Culture - Use your team to build the culture, develop a code of conduct and an employee handbook. On top of that, encourage employee resource groups.
  • Employee Lifecycle - Do you have inclusive and transparent hiring practices? What does onboarding look like? Is it ongoing? When you are building teams, are you thinking about inclusion? Are you providing mentoring and sponsoring opportunities to underrepresented groups?
  • Hiring - have a broad range of recruiting sources, inclusive job descriptions, eliminate biased language, 2:1 interview panels, standardize the decision making process, and develop a consistent feedback process.
  • Onboarding - set and communicate expectations upfront, as well as performance goals.
  • Fair Compensation - Decide whether and how to allow compensation negotiation; Use benefits to shape company culture.
  • Provide Feedback - This should be done in a clear and empathetic manner. Use standardized systems to measure performance, implement performance improvement plans, and create a clear org chart that has a consistent promotion ladder.
  • Measure Progress - use diversity metrics and surveys, be transparent with the results, publish metrics one or twice a year, repeat survey regularly.
  • Training Managers - Managers are the ones who are making the hiring decisions so it is important that they are instilled with the notion of valuing diversity and inclusion. As a result, provide ongoing support to managers with an open discourse.

Lessons learned

  • It's important to focus not just on trying to get more women in the door. Obviously women are an important underrepresented group, but what is really important is intersectionality. If you concentrate too much on women in tech then you are likely excluding other underrepresented groups. So it's important to be thinking inclusive and intersectional.
  • We all have unconscious biases, in some way or another. What needs to happen is everyone being better allies for underrepresented groups as a whole. This means knowing how to pronounce someone's name correctly, using inclusive language, sharing stock photos from underrepresented groups, and standing up for others in meetings.

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