Shared D&I Strategies & Resources

 
 

Getting C-Suite Buy-in

  • People follow the leaders, you need your C-Suite to live what you’re preaching or it won’t be taken seriously

  • Not only are there added benefits of diverse teams, but you also reduce risk of tone deaf marketing, product design, etc… If you want to share an example, think about how Snapchat launched this filter to millions of users

  • Mix big splashes with small nudges. These small nudges can be effective inside your existing systems/processes, but if you're unveiling a brand new training program - make some noise.

    • Example of a nudge: adding preferred pronouns to the HRIS system and/or slack. This led employees to ask more questions about D&I and get them thinking about gender from a new lense.

Structural changes you can make

  • Evaluating team members’ contributions to an inclusive culture with this rubric from Chelsea Troy

  • Having a dedicated Culture Ambassador or Diversity Champion in your company

  • Having inclusive parental policies and support systems. Anna McKenzie wrote the incredible “Expecting Playbook” to help tech companies navigate this

  • Anna also worked with Amanda Munday and Nora Jenkins Townson to put together the Parenting Playbook, it’s an excellent resource if you're thinking about putting a parental policy in place, or you would like to start a conversation with your employer.

  • Help employees create their own Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)  by making the process simple. (See this in-depth guide created by the Canadian Center of Diversity & Inclusion, the “first steps to take” section is on page 20)

  • Leadership should support but not lead ERGs, they are for employees by employees

  • Changing physical spaces, ex: gender neutral washrooms and accessible facilities

  • New policies and procedures, Project Include has some excellent work to look through for this

  • TWG and TechGirls Canada put together an excellent diversity guidebook for startups and scaleups

  • Make your office a safe space. Check out this guide.

How to make remote workers feel more included

  • Provide flexibility when it comes to meeting times (especially if they're in different time zones)

  • Keep them engaged on Slack and in other group communication. Example: “Team Trivia Tuesday” where you post fun questions in slack like "your worst childhood haircut”, “your favourite food”, etc…

    • This led to people organically sharing photos and creating inside jokes that wouldn't happen on slack otherwise

  • Ensure one person doesn't own an entire conference call so that everyone can contribute their opinion, especially making an effort to ask people who are soft spoken or introverted what their thoughts are.

  • When remote workers visit the office, make sure they don't miss out on the fun. A few things you can do is to schedule company events during these times or make them care packages to take home.

  • If you have a lot of international employees or you are hiring new immigrants, it can be very helpful to have cultural norms training to make them aware of Canadian speaking style, common phrases, etc...

  • Using Donut to introduce people who might not otherwise talk. You can then gamify it by encouraging people to post photos of their donut with opportunities to win prizes. (note: 3 weeks is found to be the best turnaround time)

Improve Your Hiring Process

  • Writing inclusive job descriptions, check out this article.

  • Have D&I questions as part of your interviews to see where potential employees stand on the importance of these practices

    • Check out this guide by Jason Wong

  • Quick tip: after every interview ask the question: “If there was anything biased in that interview, what could it be?” (Larissa Holmes, Borrowell)

  • People assume the pool of candidates they look at is diverse and they just "hire the best person". You need to ensure that your applicant pool is actually diverse

    • If you're using agencies, explicitly ask for diverse candidates

    • Attend and sponsor community events, ex: Venture Out, Girl Geeks TO, etc…

  • Using tools to debias the process

    • Applied - a recruiting platform that removes unconscious bias from the recruitment process.

    • Textio - to remove bias from the language used in job description

    • Unbiasify - to remove bias from profile information while searching LinkedIn profiles

Diversity & Inclusion Surveying

  • Stephanie Little created an excellent framework here

  • Here is an example of what Vimeo did, they’ve published all their results online and explained their D&I strategy very thoroughly

  • Here is a guide to Designing forms for gender diversity and inclusion from UX Collective

  • Be mindful of survey fatigue with employees. Once or twice a year for long-form surveys or bi-weekly one question pulses seems to be manageable, but this will differ from company to company

  • There are lots of survey tools out there, ex: Culture Amp and Tinypulse

Diversity & Inclusion Training

  • Have everyone go through a basic training at on-boarding, but don’t stop there. To get past the "checkmark" of your annual survey and training session you should use some form of extended digital training, discussion groups, events, etc…

    • Example: Crescendo provides short-form content to employees directly within Slack every week. This content is focused on real people’s experiences, not skits, helping them become more empathetic to the perspectives of people who are different than them.

    • It’s good to have your ERGs lead these with the support of HR and a C-Suite executive sponsor.

  • Google re:Work training is a good resource for internal sessions

  • Everyone is susceptible to bias no matter what their background is or how far along their D&I journey they are, so it’s important to have unconscious bias training for everyone

  • Creating conversation guides or frameworks to help people navigate challenging situations or how to properly address others, but don't become over reliant on scripts or it feels robotic.

    • Make sure that these comments and conversations are guided by empathy.

How to have conversations around Diversity & Inclusion

  • It’s important to create conversation about D&I, but make sure that you’re not tokenizing marginalized people at your company.

  • Intersectionality and socio-economic diversity is something that should be more openly discussed

  • Don't ask marginalized people how you can help them. Come to them with a variety of things you can do to help and they’ll let you know what they’d prefer.

Calling out and calling in

  • Marginalized people are already oppressed so you can't expect them to call everyone out on things, people in positions of privilege need to help as well.

    • Have allyship & bystander education so people feel like they can interject to point out inappropriate behaviour and/or language

  • Have an agreed upon way for people to bring up these issues to each other so they actually feel comfortable speaking up or pulling a person aside afterwards. This is particularly important when there is an imbalance to the power dynamics of a relationship.

    • Here is a great framework shared by Emily Nguyen from Wattpad:

      • 1. Ask for permission to talk to them about the situation

      • 2. Start with facts "I observed that this happened"

      • 3. Discuss impact it may have had on people in the room

      • 4. Provide a call to action on how they can improve

  • Encourage people to have interpersonal discussions, bringing things to HR can lead to escalation and the feeling of "why didn't you just come talk to me directly". Ideally you’d like to have a culture where everyone can hold each other accountable, but when situations escalate HR needs to step in.

    • It is important to repeat this at town halls and discuss it openly so that it is viewed as acceptable behaviour.

    • From a leaders perspective, you can help by constantly asking others for feedback and asking people to call you out if you do something inappropriate

    • Installing this feedback into weekly standups is great. A simple framework to do this involves everyone going in the team sharing 1 praise and 1 point of improvement with a different person every week

Showcase team diversity and an inclusive culture without tokenizing employees:

Alan Peters shared some excellent thoughts on this topic.

Short-term approach:

  1. Get stories from three functional leads about what it's like to work at the company and on that team, take some nice photos, and put together a landing site. This can easily be used by recruiters to showcase your culture.

Medium-term approaches:

  1. Social Proof. Glassdoor reviews and Workplace awards help.  

  2. Humanize the leadership profiles more. Personal stories will create a better path to connection.  

  3. Add some other cultural content on the site regarding workplace values, ERGs, other efforts to invest in team.

External promotion of Diversity & Inclusion

  • Setting up your branding and marketing messages to incorporate D&I, not only will it show that you’re thinking about this, but potential employees and customers will resonate with it.

External events material

  • Shannon Myricks of Mapbox put together this fantastic D&I toolkit that you can download, it has lots of helpful templates, including an Inclusive events checklist and an Events Code of Conduct!

Early stage company pitfalls to avoid

  • Founding teams hire from their networks, which are usually homogeneous, try to branch out and pot jobs in a diverse range of community groups

  • Founder meetups need to talk more about D&I and stress the importance of building a diverse and inclusive workplace from the beginning.

Book Recommendations

  • Technically Wrong - a deep dive into the effects of non-diverse teams on the products they build

  • Delusions of Gender - drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars.

Other Resource Banks:

  • Check out the Mercer D&I Tech Report here

Contributors

Stefan Kollenberg