“Diversity and inclusion are about progress, not perfection”

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How many companies are paying for diversity and inclusion in words?

Simply saying D&I is one of your values ​​without fully understanding the meaning of these separate values ​​and incorporating them into your operations is a problem, says Beena Puri.

Pure, digital innovation and partnership guide for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, leads the region’s digital inclusion strategy alongside GM Mayor Andy Burnham and his 10 local authority leaders.

“There is a problem with people saying that diversity and inclusion are built into their business, but their panels and content still reflect a different view,” he told TechBlast at the Digital Transformation Expo (DTX). Manchester.

“There are companies that don’t have the best practices – none are perfect – but I think you need to challenge it the right way, especially for those companies that are coming here. [to set up in GM].

“When we talk about ethical and responsible business, we understand that it is a journey for many. There is something to be said about moving towards progress rather than towards perfection. “

D&I defined

Diversity is about recognizing the benefits of a range of backgrounds and perspectives in decision making, while an inclusive work environment is one where everyone feels they belong – without having to conform – and are able to contribute.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a UK association for human resource management professionals, says that while UK legislation – which covers age, disability, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, among others – sets minimum standards , an effective inclusion and diversity strategy goes beyond legal compliance and seeks to add value to an organization by contributing to employee wellbeing and engagement.

“Are you really listening to your employees to understand their experience working in your organization?” asks Puri. “Having a diverse workforce isn’t about ticking boxes – it’s good for business. But there are many things we have to deal with.

“The danger is that it is everyone’s problem, but no one has it: is it a problem for the HR team? The line manager who is the first point of contact for the staff? The recruiting agencies that are the gatekeepers of people entering the tech industry?

“Companies also need to think about how to develop talent and leaders within their organization. I think culture is a huge part of this: it’s not just about recruiting, it’s about retention. “

Unconscious bias

Puri appeared in our sister publication BusinessCloud’s recent The 50 best tech transformers in the Northwest list.

The 50 best tech transformers in the Northwest

He has worked in the video game industry, in the technology sector and was part of the founding team of the organization for innovation, the Federation’s fair “tech for good” community. Global software consultancy Thoughtworks is based in the Federation building in central Manchester.

Puri says: “By unconscious bias, Amy Lynch, [head of D&I for Thoughtworks in the UK], said something interesting: “You are not responsible for your first thought, but you are responsible for your second thought and your first action.” I think it’s a very important thing to remember.

“I mentor young women early in their careers and the same challenges arise. ‘How do I speak to my salary manager? How do I use my voice? How do I recognize my values? ‘

“Is it about how you challenge cultures and practices, for example if you talk about not getting recognition within your own organization?”

‘Ask a stupid question’

Excluding people through communication is part of that, explains Puri.

“When I explain something, my measure is to talk to my mom: did she understand what I’m talking about? I used to work for a tech company that only spoke in abbreviations … that’s ridiculous, the kind of cultures allowed.

People don’t like to ask questions, but I’ve gotten to a point in my career where I’m not afraid to ask a stupid question because I guarantee that a lot of people in the room will think the same thing. We will not go anywhere if we are afraid to express our thoughts and ask questions ”.

He adds: “We all have a role to play in addressing diversity and inclusion within society, within our organizations and particularly in the technology sector. We need to understand our role in this.

“It’s about progress, not necessarily perfection: how do we use our levers to make a difference?”

“Diversity and inclusion are about progress, not perfection”

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