By Sheeva Ghassemi-Vanni, Mira Dewji
For years, technology companies of all sizes have set ambitious goals around cultivating a more diverse workforce. Immediately following the 2020 killing of George Floyd, companies and communities nationwide began to make more conscious efforts to address systemic racism and racial injustice. This is part of a broader series of social justice movements including #metoo, those supporting indigenous peoples and ongoing LGBTQ+ rights initiatives that have had a far-reaching impact on society and business. Small and mid-sized technology companies have been no exception, substantially increasing their focus on creating more diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) cultures.
As we approach the start of 2022, the New Year is a good time for these companies to assess where their current DEI efforts stand, how they can do more and to consider a few legal questions to keep their programs on track. Recently, we addressed this topic during a TechGC Private Virtual Dinner with more than two-dozen heads of legal departments at technology companies in attendance.
Every company is of course unique, and there are no shortcuts to creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce. However with the right foundation, an emphasis on strategic growth and a conscious effort to keep programs functional and above-board, DEI efforts can make a long-lasting positive impact. What follows are recommendations from our presentation.
Step 1: Getting the Basics Right
Getting started can seem daunting, but companies can see results by focusing on one or two building blocks, and developing better processes and habits. Here is a list of areas to focus on when getting started:
- Building a stakeholder map
- Analyzing your supply chains
- Focusing on talent pipelines
- Creating means for internal and external reporting on key performance indicators
- Developing employee resource groups
- Managing educational and social programs
- Establishing inclusive leadership competencies for managers and executives
This is a simple and efficient way to begin weaving DEI practices into various facets of your business model. By selecting one or two areas, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t as you expand. Be cautious about taking on too many projects at once, however, because you’ll need to measure and cultivate these programs in order to see successes.
Step 2: Measuring and Nurturing
Once you’ve selected and secured stakeholder buy-in for a DEI initiative, you’ll need to develop practices to keep your efforts on track. Here are a few potential mechanisms that you could strategically employ in the development of your programs:
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