Our latest Salt Session was all about Diversity, with four industry-leading speakers; Entrepreneur Ben Towers, Bullhorn’s Managing Director, Shaun Weise, Depop’s Director of Finance and Operations, Zoe Wong and our very own Salt APAC CEO, Jacqui Barratt. They all shared their experiences and tips about diversity in the workplace. I came away with lots of amazing tips and stories, so I have written my top five takeaways including tips that you can implement yourself, straight away.
What are the benefits of diversity?
Apart from it being the right thing to do, some businesses are failing to have a diverse workforce, and missing out on the many benefits. By employing the same people, it results in the same eyes and same solutions. Diverse teams can bring a range of experiences, skills and differing views to appeal to your audience. Bullhorn’s Shaun Weise’s ‘Unusual Suspects’ are a group of diverse people put together who prove that they perform better than a non-diverse group, as studies have highlighted.
Commercially, diversity is also beneficial. More people are becoming aware of diversity; therefore, clients and customers want to see and know what you’re doing for diversity. People like to see people who are like them and if they don’t see that with your organisation, they will go elsewhere. Zoe Wong, from Depop, shared how they recruit from their community, which better reflects your target group and appeal to them more.
2. “The key to diversity is listening.”
You may think you’re doing enough for diversity, but have you listened to what your customers and colleagues are saying? Check in with your colleagues regularly to continually get their feedback and find out what matters to them. This is something that Depop do consistently; they are open to feedback from their community and constantly champion their community too. This all leads to improvement and innovation. They also listen to their colleagues by having regular surveys and feedback to everyone, which fosters accountability.
Our speaker, Ben Towers told us how a teacher had said to him he should stop working on his website development business, as he would not be successful. Thankfully, he did not stop and is now a successful entrepreneur. I think this highlights the impact of words on each other and we should be more considerate of our word choice, making sure we’re not excluding anyone’s views, no matter how trivial it may seem.
3. “Diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility.”
Diversity is owned from the top, but it doesn’t stop there – everyone must feel safe to be themselves at work and call out unacceptable behaviour. It must be a whole workplace effort.
It’s important to create a culture a self-awareness in your workplace. By making people more aware of people’s characters and feelings, it creates a safe environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves. It could start with little steps such as software that highlights gendered words. If you’re not in a senior position, Shaun Weise suggested starting conversations on your coffee break and then you could feed back to management.
4. “Look inside first, everyone is too focussed on what you look like from the outside.”
It’s crucial to drive diversity internally and make sure the whole workplace is on-board. Most companies now have values, but it’s important to make sure they’re carefully considered and not there for the sake of it. Also, make sure the whole company knows and agrees with them too. At Salt, company values are something we live and breathe. They determine how we interact with each other and are a great guideline for everything we do.
5. “Embrace diversity.”
It’s about being mindful and embracing diversity. Whether it’s age, race, gender, sexual orientation, background, disabilities – it’s important to think about how inclusive your workplace is.
Jacqui Barratt from Salt shared some fascinating statistics such as, 75% of disabled people are out of work but 65% are very willing and able to. Why not give people a chance? She also shared that men will apply to a role if they match 50% of a role, whereas a woman will only apply if she matches 80%. Without realising it, you could be excluding a variety of talented applicants by word choice.
It’s being open to looking at things from a different perspective which can bring positive changes, for example when Maria Raga joined Depop, they went from 25% of women in Senior Management to 63%.
Diversity is not about ticking boxes and having 50/50 representation. It’s about looking at things in a different way. What are you missing? What’s turning people away? Is it good for your business?
As Shaun Weise said, “We all need to think like a nine-year-old where there is no bias. Your actions must be meaningful and authentic – people will notice if it is not.”
All the speakers encouraged the audience to stop talking about it and act on it today.