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Improving Diversity Initiatives

Company Culture
Diversity

30 April, 2021

Marissa Mocenigo
Marissa Mocenigo

Senior Engineering Manager at Taxfix

Marissa Mocenigo, Engineering Manager at Taxfix, discusses the importance of improving diversity initiatives and highlights three critical actions for ensuring a fair and welcoming workplace.

Problem

Diversity in the workplace is proven to have benefits for a company’s success, but many companies are facing a challenge in how to find and hire engineers from underrepresented groups. I myself attended an all womens’ university and was surprised to enter the tech industry and witness the lack of diversity firsthand, and I have since strongly advocated for and tried to promote diversity initiatives.

Actions taken

Create an environment that supports and recognizes contributions with greater equity

Evaluating factors in the workplace that might deter new perspectives or differences should be the first step for any company truly committed to improving diversity. It doesn’t matter if you can find and hire candidates if they leave the company just as quickly.

Even in cases where individuals contribute equal value, there can be many factors that contribute to unequal recognition. It’s important to consider your feedback process and ensure that performance reviews take into consideration objective, skill-based performance. In peer reviews, make sure the criteria for success and setting expectations is clear.

Diversify your hiring process itself

Unconscious bias training can help interviewers to evaluate potential candidates more fairly and to look more closely at what factors push them to prefer one candidate over another. However, the interview goes two ways and prospective candidates are also evaluating your company as a potential fit.

It can be hard to see yourself connecting with a potential role model or future mentor that may not have the same experiences or journey as you. Does your interview panel reflect the diversity you’d like to see in your candidate pipeline?

Support the community and promote a genuine commitment to mentorship

At the current moment, there are fewer female candidates entering or remaining in the tech workforce, but companies can help by working more closely with organizations that promote mentorship and training for underrepresented groups. These programs can be undervalued as a priority for current employees, as it can take time from engineers that might otherwise be dedicated to shipping features for the roadmap, but it has a lot of unseen benefits. For one, it helps to develop a better work environment, as per the first action. Individuals work more closely with people from different backgrounds and groups and can learn more about what struggles and limitations they face in their careers. Additionally, it helps grow individuals who may be potential candidates down the road and can have a long-term pay off to diversity in the industry as a whole. Lastly, it helps the company’s branding as a company with a genuine commitment to diversity and can help improve the candidate pipeline in the short-term.

 

Lessons learned

These steps are as important for a fair and welcoming workplace as it is for encouraging diversity. Diversity should not be treated as a PR move or a box to check and is instead a fundamental change to company culture and practices.

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