As it should be, making workplaces more diverse, equitable and inclusive environments is a big focus today. Besides just being the right thing to do, nurturing and elevating underrepresented voices in our industry is what will make us stronger.
Investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives is about bringing together different points of view, different experiences, different life lessons to create those constructive conflicts in the boardroom, offering various ways to attack a problem to bring about innovation, creativity… and ultimately, success. Conversely, lack of diversity only encourages pats on the back in an echo chamber; and how can we possibly evolve without the injection of something new?
I know it’s hard, and sometimes tempting, to think that if we ignore it, it’ll eventually fix itself. This is a complex issue and when trying to figure out how to bring any type of change, it seems daunting… and maybe just easier to not address it. After all, what can one person do to lead the charge for change? Well, LOTS.
First of all, as you’ll find out, there are many ‘one persons’ in our industry. Daily, I’m connecting with people of all diversity dimensions who have a passion for strengthening our industry by embracing our differences. Put us all together and suddenly we become a pretty powerful force for action. I’m lucky that I’m coming from a company who deeply believes in harnessing diversity to drive innovation, and chances are you are too – if you start asking around. There are so many studies linking diversity in the workplace to business success, that it’s a strategic imperative for any company looking to be competitive.
As Head of D&I at Irdeto, let me share with you how we got started:
#1. Start small – everything matters
There are many aspects to creating a diverse and vibrant workforce, and they all matter, but we knew that we couldn’t boil the ocean. So, we took a pragmatic view of how our existing tools could help (or not), what types of data we had, and what we could realistically (and legally) collect to determine where we could start.
We ended up choosing three dimensions of diversity that we felt would make us stronger and more innovative in the industries in which we play. We bucketed different employee groups based on scope of influence (different groups needed different action plans!) and came up with a 3×3 grid. Good news is that on some aspects we’re tracking incredibly well, but there are some aspects that absolutely require work. Each ‘box’ has a specific set of goals and metrics, or a ‘watch this space’ reminder, and we adapt our plans depending upon how we’re tracking. The point is to start somewhere. D&I is a journey and *anything* you do makes you better than you were yesterday.
Pro-tip: Figure out which dimensions of diversity matter to your company – each diversity aspect will have varying degrees of importance to you. At Irdeto, we took an honest look at which diversity aspects we felt would create diversity of thought for our business in the short term, and focused on those. We wanted to create an inclusive environment in which all types of experiences and backgrounds when put together would approach things differently, create positive conflict and ultimately an innovative approach.
#2. Recruit your friendlies
Let’s face it, D&I can be a sensitive topic for some and not everyone will be an advocate. From those who feel personally targeted, to those who feel it’s defocusing from ‘real business’, you will run up against detractors. You need to find those people in the organization who believe in your vision, who can help plan and execute on programs and activities to move the needle and who will champion positive change at every level. You can’t do it alone; find your friendlies and create the journey together and you’ll see that the farther you go, the more people you’ll have supporting change.
Pro-tip: Build a cross functional core team to help you. At Irdeto, we’ve got key people from HR, Internal Communications and Marketing, Events, Data Analysts and Talent Development to help execute on our vision. Together, we have diversity of thought within our own team, and passionate owners of various work streams that drive internal and external initiatives as well as championing inclusion throughout the company.
#3. D&I is an ongoing business driver, not a checkbox
Like any other initiative where you want to get resources, approach your D&I strategy like a business plan. While D&I initiatives are certainly the right thing to do, there’s always going to be a conversation about focus for the business, and sometimes building a diverse and inclusive company culture might not top the list. So, build your D&I initiative as a business plan. What I mean is, start with why it’s important to the success of your company, collect case studies or proof points on why changing can help your company. Anticipate resources (people and money) you’ll need to get started, goals for where you want to be (and where you’re currently at) and a timeline of activities.
Highlight the correlation between diverse leadership to increased financial performance. Show how underrepresented voices can act as talent acquisition and retention advocates. Provide data around how purpose-driven organizations are becoming the most successful organizations today, that given the ‘Great Resignation’, most employees are looking to work for a company that cares about them and their community. A compelling business case is key to getting buy in and approval to start to make change.
Pro-tip: Make D&I part of your objectives. I personally have objectives around increasing underrepresented voices, as do other key executives at Irdeto. This ensures that you not only have full support from the top, but that you’ll also have support in execution and prioritization of projects.
Bonus tip: You can’t manage what you don’t measure
As leaders in cybersecurity made up of about 70% R&D, data and tracking is critical to Irdeto. We needed to be able to collect and analyze our data if we wanted to affect any kind of change. Not only did we need to baseline where we were, but we also needed consistent tracking to see if we were moving the needle and an analysis of why – or why not. For us, we benchmark externally once a year, but measure against our targets quarterly and with qualitative data through our Employee Engagement survey tool, we are able to see what’s working or not.
Diversity and Inclusion is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ initiative in the Video Industry (or in any industry for that matter!). We need to work to become reflective of our world, and that means giving underrepresented voices a seat at the table and input into decisions and processes that will make us all healthier and more successful. It’s the right thing to do – so start today!
Let’s continue the conversation – I want to hear from you, please do share your ideas! https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencerlisa/