Recently, we had the pleasure of participating in a diversity panel at the From Day One conference in San Francisco. And by “we,” that means our founder Tyler Muse.
The tricky thing is a lot of these diversity panels are heavy on boilerplate but light on real insights audience members and business professionals can take with them and enact in their organizations. Thankfully, this panel was the opposite–and we weren’t the only ones who noticed.
We’ll be spending some time next month digging into the data behind diversity & inclusion as well as sharing some of our thoughts on it–both why it’s a business imperative and some ways your company can enact positive change across your workforce–and this discussion is a tremendous jumping-off point. The video is embedded right below, but if you want an inkling of some of the key, actionable steps the panel highlighted during the talk, we’re including those below.
Weave diversity into your existing practices
Molly Ford from Salesforce brought this to light and it really stuck with us after the panel. When you’re trying to make steps to create a more inclusive, diverse culture, don’t start from scratch. Take what you’re doing already–the things that have made your business successful–and weave diversity and inclusion best practices into those.
Her example? Salesforce runs a ton of events. Anyone heading to lunch in San Francisco during Dreamforce is certainly aware of how well-attended those events tend to be. Asking if there are gender neutral bathrooms at the event is a simple but really powerful way to weave inclusion into those events.
This is a great step for every business. Is your sales retreat going to be fun for your whole staff or just a certain demographic? Are you treating all your engineers the same way or are you giving them learning and development to help them be their authentic selves? The list goes on. But what really resonated with us is that Molly’s point spoke so much to inclusion. After all, it’s not enough to have a diverse company–people need to actually be included in what you do.
People are willing to talk if you’re willing to listen
A few speakers brought this up and their companies all handled it in different ways. The point is, no matter how empathetic you are, you’re likely missing something. Your employees–folks who come from myriad backgrounds and cultures, with all the varying beliefs that implies–know and feel things you’re probably missing.
To uncover those opinions, all you need to do is ask. Make it anonymous so people are willing to speak their truth. Don’t feel like you need to keep it to just work topics either–it’s possible that some of your employees are deeply affected by current events or other things totally outside your control. But you can’t help them be happier and more at ease (and more productive) at work if you never know what’s holding them back.
Hire your users
This was a point Tyler made and, while we’re fairly biased here, we think it’s a good one. At Lingo Live, we made a concerted effort to hire not just great engineers, but engineers who would actually be Lingo Live users. That means, brilliant, capable folks who don’t speak English as their primary language. That also means that they’re like having built-in users on our product team. They have unique opinions about what we’re making it and how good a job we’re doing because they themselves would actually use our product.
There’s a lot of other great stuff in this short panel, but we wanted to share some highlights with you before you jumped in. A big thanks to the folks at the From Day One Conference and everyone on the panel. And if you’re looking for a few real-world strategies to make your company more inclusive, we think this panel is a great way to get the ball rolling. Hope you enjoy.