Overcoming the Challenges to Grow a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
International Women's Day 2022
Version 1 is very excited to announce we are listed as one of the Ireland’s Best Workplaces™ for Women 2022. And, today especially, we at Version 1 are delighted to receive the honour.
As part of our International Women’s Day 2022 celebrations, Grace Dennison talks to Chloë Gillard, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIBs) Manager at Version 1 about this overcoming the challenges to grow a diverse and inclusive workplace plus her advice for businesses on their own DIBs journey. The Mission of Version 1’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIBs) team is to create a diverse workplace where our differences are accepted and we feel that we belong. A key focus area recently has been around belonging.
Version 1 is delighted to be listed as a Best Workplace for Women 2022, this award comes at a poignant time on International Women’s Day 2022 and following the appointment of our first Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Manager.
Q+A with Chloe Gillard - Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIBs) Manager at Version 1
1. As this is a new role at Version 1, can you provide some insights into your specific responsibilities?
Yes, this is a brand-new role, but an already committed company has made settling into my role as Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIBs) Manager all the easier! In short, my role focuses on making sure that DIBs is embedded into every single thing we do as an organisation. There are many elements within that, but if I break it down in the three letters of DIBs, I hope I can paint a good picture as to why Version 1 invested in my role.
The benefits of a diverse workforce cannot be disputed, such as innovation and better morale. Part of my role will look at the processes we have in place to ensure that we are reflective of the diverse communities we serve across all levels of the organisation. Inclusion is that everyone’s voice is heard and that as an organisation, we will look at ensuring that everyone is empowered to have their voice truly listened to. Last but not least, a sense of belonging focuses on ensuring that who you are outside of work is absolutely who you can be at work too!
2. We already have a very passionate DIBs team in place how do you plan on helping them to deliver more?
We have an incredible team of people who are so passionate about the work we do within the DIBs world, but the reality is, this is not their day job, and they have volunteered to drive this agenda on top of all their work – which is simply incredible! I consider myself very fortunate to have this group, as many organisations simply do not, I want to ensure that they have the time to drive the elements within DIBs that they are truly passionate about delivering. That means I want to take the heavy lifting off their shoulders so that they have the time to bring their ideas to life. I am in awe of how much they have done to date and hope this new chapter can take the DIBs team to a new level.
3. Did you ever see yourself working in tech? Is it what you imagined?
The great thing about the work I do is that there is a need in every industry, however, if I’m being completely honest, I did not see myself in the world of tech. Possibly this is my own bias talking (yes, even DIBs people have biases!), but I didn’t consider myself “techy” enough to be in the Tech Industry. Very glad to say now that I was completely wrong! Even before I joined, the recruitment team and interviewers spoke to me with complete transparency that the Tech Industry is not just for people with a tech background. That reassurance from Version 1 made me realise, that this company is a place that values a person’s skills and what they can add to the culture rather than fitting into a mould. So, for anyone reading this who may be unsure about whether they are a “fit” for the tech world, as someone with a background in sports, who has worked in a weird variety of industries (aerospace, investment banking, social housing, recruitment to name a few), I promise you, you there is something for you in the Tech Industry.
4. What advice can you offer to ensure that Diversity and Belonging is felt even when people are working remotely?
This is such a vital question, and for me, it comes down to two very simple principles: Remember that there is a human behind the screen and to be kind. Before the pandemic, we had this idea of having work life balance, but now our work and life are intertwined – some pick up kids during the day, others pray, others go to the gym during lunch. Our work and outside work lives are intersected. We need to appreciate that everyone has a different way of working and everyone’s experiences of this new way of working is different. Be someone who communicates with authenticity, take more time listening to someone than you do talking to them (especially when they need to vent or download to you), and be respectful of people’s boundaries. We must approach our new work lives with kindness and appreciate that we all work best in different ways.
5. How would you describe the changes you have witnessed regarding the D&I agenda in recent years?
I’ll try and keep this succinct, but I could talk about this all day long. I moved home from the USA in March 2018, and to say I had a hard time finding jobs within D&I is an understatement. To be honest, it hurts my soul that it takes a movement like Black Lives Matter to inspire the increase in D&I roles within organisations, but I am glad to see that times have changed. D&I is no longer a nice to have, it’s imperative to the success of any organisation, regardless of industry. As a society, we are slowly moving on from D&I being a tick-box exercise or target driven, to one that is human-centred and focuses on the lived experiences that people bring to an organisation. That is what made me accept my role at Version 1 to be honest. From my very first interview, it was focused on discussing the gaps we have as an organisation that is making us underserve our colleagues, and the fact that the company has invested in my position and is committed from the top to evolve our culture to become more diverse and inclusive, is something that I am proud to be a part of.
6. If you were advising an external business on their D&I journey, what do you see as the 2-3 key considerations to they would need to take?
I’ll give my top 3:
1. Be transparent – it’s okay to admit you haven’t done enough up until now, admit that and own it; set it as your baseline. Being transparent in what you need to do and when you get things wrong (as it will happen), is key to ensuring that you are working towards systemic change. As the saying goes, big ships turn slow, and things won’t change miraculously overnight.
2. Understand where you are – both in terms of data and in the sense of inclusion. Speak to people, look at your data, understand your current picture, as that will allow you to focus on the pain points that need addressing from day one.
3. Empower voices and don’t speak on behalf of different populations. We need to give the microphone to all voices, not just a select few. Intersectionality is such a big concept within D&I, so make sure you allow time for people to be listened to AND heard!
I’ll leave you with a quote from Pat Wadors – “When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organisation.”
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