Worldwide protests of racial inequality sparked many companies to reevaluate just how diverse they truly are and to come up with solutions for more representation of all demographics in the workplace, especially at the board level.
Technology executives gathered at the HMG Strategy 2020 HMG Live! U.K. CIO Executive Leadership Summit on September 23 to discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as how they are actively working to fight discrimination and have more diverse representation across their organizations. The summit was co-produced with the UK IT Leaders, a community of innovative tech leaders from across the U.K.
The Diversity and Inclusion panel, led by Graham Spivey, Chief Communications Officer, UK IT Leaders, started the panel off by asking why diversity and inclusion in the workplace are imperative to fighting race inequality.
A lot of people are willing to fight to seek change. However, many aren’t sure what the best solution is, according to Ezechi Britton, Founding Member, Principal and CTO in Residence, Impact X Capital Partners LLP. Britton highlighted many obstacles that minority groups run into that are preventing them from having equal opportunities in the workplace.
A lack of representation across all different demographics on the board level is one example of exclusion in the workplace and shows the lack of equal opportunity faced by people of color and women, to name a few.
Among board members whose race was identified as non-white, Russell 3000 directors crossed the 10-percent threshold for non-Caucasian executives for the first time in 2019, compared to approximately 8 percent in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Everyone should have the freedom to fail as well as the freedom to succeed,” according to Britton.
Britton went on to discuss how anonymous cover letters should be implemented as the new norm because everyone has a set of biases and slight undertones of discrimination due to ignorance. This could propel those who have been discriminated upon and not gotten the job because they do not have common Caucasian names.
Dylan Roberts, Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO), York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, spoke about practical ways to be more inclusive that he uses in his company. One example includes actively targeting minority groups in specific locations or colleges and reaching out to them offering opportunities. Purchasing advertisements in minority-based publications is one of the ways Roberts has encouraged and sought out a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Another way off keeping track of diversity in the workplace is to look at the data that supports it, according to Britton. Not only is it important to have and interpret data regarding race, sexual orientation and gender in the office, but it is paramount to take note on how those individuals have progressed into senior-level roles, said Britton. This way, leaders can keep track of how inclusive they are all around, not just on filling entry level positions.
Fighting racial inequality in the workplace is more than just about fair representation of all employees. A lot of consumers feel their demographic is either underrepresented, or not being represented at all. Having a diverse workplace is the only way to properly embody a variety of demographics. If they don’t hold higher up positions where decisions are made, the company risks misrepresenting a group, or failing to include them at all. In other words, the executives representing the company to consumers need to have skin in the game in order to truly understand and relate to those demographics.
As Avril Chester, Founder and CEO of Cancer Central UK and Interim Executive Director of Data & Technology at RIBA shared, "As technology leaders, we have an incredible opportunity and a gift in our roles to strengthen diversity and inclusion. Technology requires a vast spectrum of skills from problem solving, creating, design, user engagement, project delivery to linguistics, analytics, mathematics and more. Such diverse skill requirements can only be achieved through inclusion - there is absolutely no excuse.”
HMG Strategy will be co-producing its next 2020 HMG Live! U.K. CIO Leadership Summit with the UK IT Leaders on November 24 at 16:00 GMT. To learn more about the topics that will be explored and to register for the event, click here.