Due to the recent #MeToo campaign and subsequent high-profile, multi-million dollar payouts to top executives, I figured it's the perfect time to write about the future of creating a more inclusive work environment for all, so that no one ever has to feel like the only one in the room, nor do they have to worry about sexual harassment.
This past summer, I made a dedicated effort to meet with in-person and speak on the phone with, top leaders in the Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) space in Silicon Valley. After reaching out to more than 20 people, I was fortunate enough to meet the:
Head of D&I at YouTube
Head of D&I at Zendesk
Director of D&I at Ernst & Young
D&I Manager at LinkedIn
Recruiter at a D&I Consulting Company
Based on these informative conversations, the main takeaway is as follows.
Overall, the goal of D&I is to create an environment that attracts and retains top talent by ensuring that they feel valued and respected, as a human being.
Furthermore, I asked how these technology representatives viewed the future of Diversity and Inclusion. And this is what they said:
Viewing diversity and inclusion with a more holistic lens, focusing on the intersectionality of various affinity groups, and creating a more humanistic, people-first environment.
Creating a space for affinity groups, while also creating an inclusive space for everyone!
For those who may not know, “intersectionality” is best defined in this Medium article by Jennifer Kim as:
“Intersectionality considers different systems of oppression, and specifically how they overlap and are compounded. This is increasingly important because more companies are giving attention to D&I than ever, but often with a narrow, single-minded strategy: 'We’re focusing on women first.'”
In summary, in order to create a truly inclusive environment, where every single person truly feels welcome, then it's critical to understand the various forces at play by having a more comprehensive and holistic perspective.
In the recent MicKinsey “Women in the Workplace” 2018 report, the authors conclude that companies “need to treat diversity as the business priority it is. Until they do, meaningful progress remains out of reach.” This is a strict warning for companies to take diversity and inclusion seriously, creating real initiatives and programs to reduce the feeling of being the ‘only one’ in the room. And the McKinsey report emphasizes that “real diversity starts with real numbers.”
Thus, if companies truly care about people, then they will take D&I seriously by creating scalable and sustainable, long-lasting change.