A transparent diversity & inclusion program makes a difference
- Posted on September 26, 2016
This is the second part of a two-part Diversity in Technology blog post written by Sarah Adam-Gedge, Managing Director of Avanade Australia, in celebration of Avanade Australia’s TechDiversity Award.
Without a clear Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy that forms part of a business’ DNA, it is easy to think of the approach as an extra-curricular add-on.
The breadth and depth of our program impressed the judging panel as Avanade’s initiative not only supports gender initiatives, but provides a comprehensive and holistic view of our employees and their associated needs. Having grown rapidly, our workforce has changed and includes an array of diversity and inclusion interests.
As we developed our D&I program, two key aspects were important: (a) that the program was flexible and allowed for growth and change as new challenges arose, and (b) that the program was sustainable and had the support and influence of the employees, meaning anyone and everyone could participate. Interestingly this is not a program grown from HR, although we work significantly with them, but a program instead supported by team members passionate about Avanade and its culture.
Our learnings included:
- A committed and focused core leadership team reflective of all geographies.
- Identification of issues that are developed into work groups and resourced by passionate employees.
Avanade chose: (a) Gender; (b) Family-friendly policies (c) Culture; (d) Corporate Citizenship; and (e) Outreach (ecosystem/STEM). Since the initial structure, we have further grown to include (f) Male Champion of Change; (g) LGBTI+.
- Clear responsibilities and goals identified with planned outcomes.
- Lots of communication through many channels, which is very important for organisations like Avanade who have over 300+ employees working largely offsite. Due to this active communication, we experienced significant internal recognition, including a (90+%) recognition of our D&I activity in an internal ‘pulse’ survey.
- Engagement with clients through cultural positioning, credentials and events, such as
support for a client function focused on International Women’s Day.
- Have vocal and committed Leadership champions actively sponsoring the program
So what can you do?
The response to Avanade’s program has been outstanding with employees, partners and clients. We are proud of our decisions, strategic plan and the recognition they have received. Most importantly, though, we hope that the success of our program and the experience we have had can assist others in our industry. If we, and the other nominees of the TechDiveristy awards, have only started to scratch the surface, imagine what could happen if all technology companies and teams began to really look at and do something about supporting their teams.
It is clear through the activities of TechDiversity and the contributing organisations that D&I cannot be treated as an add-on – it must be part of the corporate plan, and it must have an associated strategic program with visible leadership support. Every stakeholder needs to be aware of the program and its importance to the future leadership of the company, including financial outcomes and the attractiveness for the best skills and talent Australia has to offer. It is time to modernize our thinking and meet the needs of our future workers, and we will not be able to do that unless we mobilise effectively and broadly. So, what will you do to make a difference?