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DE&I: Drawing strength from our differences

DE&I: Drawing strength from our differences

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Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a pressing issue in today’s workplace. More and more companies are embracing it and implementing programmes to educate their staff. Intelligent CXO spoke to industry experts about this issue and how managers can enhance DE&I in the office.

Service King Collision is building for tomorrow together by partnering with Universal Technical Institute to implement diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) training for its leaders and team members.

The operator of high-quality auto collision repair facilities has created powerful changes within the organisation that will leverage external partnerships and resources to build a diverse talent pool and develop an engaging candidate experience. To further enable a strong, inclusive culture where the diversity of its teammates is valued, Service King will implement DE&I training for its leaders and teammates and establish employee resource groups in addition to partnerships with community organisations serving underrepresented populations.

“We know that a diverse workforce benefits us all – inclusive, diverse teams produce more innovative ideas, increase creativity and are more productive,” said David Cush, CEO, Service King Collision. “When we draw strength from our differences, we’re better able to meet our teammates’ and customers’ needs.”

Cultural awareness training is being provided for all teammates and DE&I training is being implemented in Service King’s Leadership Academy. Through its partnership with Universal Technical Institute, Service King is focusing on a talent attraction initiative, with the aim to expand career opportunities for historically underrepresented talent looking for growth within our organisation.

“We’re committed to establishing a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion because it empowers our most valuable asset – our teammates – to flourish,” added Lakeitria Luter, Director of Diversity and External Relations.

Building on Service King’s implementation and commitment, Intelligent CXO spoke to two industry leaders about how managers can further enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in the office.

Tijs van Santen, Chief Customer Officer, Uberall

First and foremost, what drives diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) at Uberall is inclusion. We believe that inclusion is essential to unlocking the actual potential of diversity. Uberall is made up of over 40 plus different nationalities, and since the pandemic, this diversity has only increased due to our ‘work anywhere’ policy, which has enabled us to hire from essentially anywhere in the world. What’s more, Uberall’s gender balance of 42% women and 58% men markedly exceeds the UK tech industry average of 19% women in the tech workforce, per Tech Nation research.

As a manager, diversity does come with its challenges and responsibilities. Team leaders need to find a way to bring their teams together in a way that allows them to thrive on the benefits of diversity. Our goal is to embrace different views and opinions and even communication styles while remaining true to our company values, consistent with how we make decisions and prioritise getting it done. By focusing on genuine curiosity and a collective commitment to learn and win together many amazing things can be achieved! 

Most people know employee happiness and performance are directly linked. Organisations that succeed in sustaining a workforce of happy human beings are highly likely to achieve continued, long-term high business performanceTransparency, consistency and a genuine commitment to have your people’s best interest at the centre of everything you do help create such environments.

To avoid unconscious bias in the company we implement de-biasing measures, like calibrating performance reviews. After a performance assessment, that review is normalised afterwards to ensure it isn’t being skewed by one subjective opinion. Instead, healthy debate and many views are included to safeguard against individual biases.

Likewise, differences in culture, gender and ethnicity can have a significant impact on how vocal an employee may be in advocating for pay raises. As a result, at Uberall, we conduct regular compensation reviews across the company. This way, it isn’t only the loudest, most extroverted employees that get pay increases – everyone is considered for a compensation review. 

It’s also crucial for managers to be more aware of their own biases. Uberall runs sessions around unconscious bias, whether related to cultural awareness, gender or other potential biases and it’s a great way to open the conversation and get team leaders thinking about areas in which they may need to improve.

Whether diversity is defined as cultural, racial, gender, age, disability, sexuality, neurodiversity or otherwise, we don’t limit DE&I to a numbers game. You can have the most diverse company, but if people don’t feel included or have a sense of belonging, then what is the point of being diverse? 

Kate Bourdet, Global Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Leader, Orange Business Services 

Diversity, equity and inclusion are important topics, but we also need to talk about belonging. Feeling a true sense of belonging within a team/company enables people to be their authentic selves. This is precisely when employees are strongest and bring the most value to their business.  

There is more than just diversity KPIs around male/female splits, for example, that managers need to focus on. While these are important – especially in the technology industry – there are many more factors that lead to a truly diverse organisation and a person’s sense of belonging. Type of education, religion, cultural mix and neuro-diversity need to be considered – not just gender and race. It is this diversity of thought and perspective that boosts innovation.  

We can no longer rely on similar groups of people making decisions for everyone else. If only one type of person is building the future, then the majority won’t belong and invest in it.  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a classic example of this. If AI is trained by similar people, then it will inherently be biased towards that type of person’s thinking.  

The key step for leadership and management is to address unconscious bias. Everyone has it to an extent, but not everyone is aware of it or actively looking to address it. It could be as simple as a (incorrect) preconceived belief that those with tattoos are unprofessional or that those without a master’s degree are not as smart as those that have them. But of course, unconscious biases can be much greater.  

At Orange Business Services, we are rolling out training internally to ensure that our employees realise that unconscious biases exist, what they are, how it impacts their work, the teams they work in and the people they manage. Everyone needs to be open to what colleagues have to say, no matter who they are, where they are from or if they think differently from us.  

Unconscious biases drive decisions that prevent us from moving as far as we can. Leadership and managers need to take the lead on addressing this to create safe, inclusive workspaces where people can be themselves and belong. Managers need to model the behaviour that they want their teams to exhibit.  

As a global company, we are inherently culturally diverse, but we cannot be complacent based on our geographic footprint alone. We need to leverage the varied and powerful insights of our rich employee base. This starts with recognising the need for unconscious bias training. Our number one enemy is ourselves and we as a business need to recognise this and facilitate all employees to also recognise and address it.  

Only when we look at belonging and how to make everyone feel comfortable can businesses start to address the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion.  

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