Diversity 101

January 29, 2018

 

How do we tackle diversity? Edwina Dunn told us at The Times Tech Summit in November "We can't be what we can't see." As a woman who's worked in both Information Technology and Security, not having mentors to look to can be extremely challenging.

 

As my professional career progressed, I often found myself believing others when they said I deserved to be treated the way I was, because I chose a male dominated career; I felt like I wasn't going to be good enough. I was often convinced that men were better equipped to be in charge; women could use emotions to take care of the house.

 

I have had a rainbow of job titles, and worked at many different companies with vastly different environments. For me, the best places to work were not the ones I had to write entrance exams they were not the organisations that valued purely technical abilities. 

 

Edwina told us that diversity can be narrowed down to two points: 

 

1. You can't measure only one metric, and 
2. We need to reward supportive and diverse culture 

 

Speaking with my colleagues I have found of the women, they are less likely to apply for a position that they don't fully meet the requirements listed; while my male colleagues more often submit CVs anyway. 

 

We cannot have a standardised entrance exam - as the saying goes "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." We are all different, we must be measured in different ways to allow for diversity alongside success. 

 

We "hire in our own image" according to Edwinna, meaning what we identify as intelligent or valuable is often skills we ourselves have. In my article announcing my new position, New Adventures, I discuss Baringa Partners, how we're focused heavily on culture.

 

One of the ways Baringa achieves this is having workshops and courses such as Unconscious Bias. This course aims to raise awareness in our own bias which unintentionally can impact our conversations, reactions, and decisions. 

 

Diversity isn't solely gender.

 

My background is in Network Architecture, and as you well know, I'm from Canada but working in the United Kingdom. Working in a team of DevOps or WebDevs, I often would come from a different point of view or approach. When I first moved to the United Kingdom, my boss asked me to do a task "if I had the time." As a Canadian that meant (1) complete all your ongoing tasks, (2) if you have time in the work day left over, do this (3) if not, don't worry about it, this task isn't urgent. Born and raised British, my boss expected me to drop all current tasks and complete that one by end of day. 

 

This incident, and others that ended in quite hilarious events, was due to the cultural differences. Whilst both of our countries were English speaking, our cultures interpreted the same sentence differently. At times, diversifying the cultures in a team, age, and even technological backgrounds you can create a more inclusive and resilient solution. 

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ZOË ROSE

©2019 by Zoë Rose.