Our employees have shown us that diversity and inclusion is what they really care about, and we’ve discovered we all still have a lot to learn. Thanks to the Diversity and Inclusion Festival they organised, Adaptive is on the path to becoming a more diverse, inclusive and socially conscious workplace.
Although the concept of diversity and inclusion has existed for some time in the workplace, traditionally, companies have broadly focused their corporate initiatives on gender equality and non-discrimination. Thanks to movements such as Black Lives Matter, race has also become an area garnering increasing attention. What the concepts of diversity and inclusion represent in our minds is changing and broadening by the day. If the concept of diversity and inclusion was an onion, the outer layers would be gender equality and non-discrimination in a broad sense. Yet, the more you peel, the more you realise we also need to look at ageism, neurodiversity, race, disability, religion, socio-economic background, and the list goes on.
At Adaptive, we encourage individuals to drive change, and we are pleased to see employees have much more say over the issues that matter to them and what action companies should take. So when some of our employees asked to organise a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Festival to educate everyone on these issues and see what we could further do as a company, we jumped at the opportunity.
Held earlier this year, the Festival was a series of events dedicated to learning about different D&I initiatives, led by expert speakers. During the Festival we had the pleasure of learning from published authors, TED Talk speakers, and renowned experts on issues such as ageism, social mobility, gender identity, race, neurodiversity, mental health, disability and LGBT issues.
An eye-opening experience
The Festival was rich in content and ideas on what makes a truly diverse workforce. To give you a snapshot, these are some of the things we learnt:
· Diversity and inclusion doesn’t only relate to gender, sexual orientation, race or faith, there are many other factors that should be considered.
· Neurodiverse people can and should also be a component in our teams as this drives innovation and performance. We should make it easier to include neurodiverse people into our teams and learn from them.
· Professionals in our sector tend to be younger than 40 years old. This uniformity is a blindspot for companies who do not even think this is ageist. Yet this is precisely the problem: older generations are not at all part of this ever-evolving industry. However, with age comes experience. New approaches that include people from all generations should be the new normal, and we must ensure this issue is addressed so that we don't silently accept ageism as our norm.
· Glass ceilings are difficult to destroy unless we acknowledge them and take action. Whether related to socio-economic differences, race, gender, or something else, these glass ceilings (or downright roofs) anchor society in a discriminatory model and prevent companies from accessing an even wider pool of people. To truly create an inclusive and diverse workforce and allow true equal opportunity, we must help as many people as possible realise the opportunities in our industry exist, and equip them with the skills and experience that will enable them to succeed in our industry.
· Individual education and self-awareness are the first steps to end discrimination and harassment. With education comes respect; diverse teams translate into innovation pools. When we apply our knowledge on these issues and respect each other, we can proactively address inequality in all its shapes and forms.
· Last but not least, we’ve learnt that just like technology needs to be adapted and future-proofed, diversity and inclusion initiatives need to continuously evolve to create a genuinely welcoming and fulfilling environment for all.
Nearly 90% of our colleagues attended and participated in the Festival and almost all said it was a positive experience for them, providing confirmation that this is an important issue to all our staff.
A vast body of research shows that a more diverse workforce increases employee happiness and productivity. It makes perfect business sense when you think about it: the more tolerant and inclusive we are, the better consultants we will be to our clients, and the more cohesive and innovative our teams will be. Also, in a world where competition for talent is fierce, a diverse and inclusive environment offers a unique competitive advantage as we will be able to attract the best talent for our workforce. Not only that; businesses are becoming agents of change, and we can, and should, impact societal issues by becoming an active agent in driving those positive changes forward.
Turning learnings into action
As a business, Adaptive has a clear purpose: creating a great, fair and equal place to work, and we are working relentlessly towards that goal. As we continue our journey, we believe we must continue to educate our people and ourselves on the importance of broadening our collective and individual awareness of the changing world before us.
We are proud that many Adaptive colleagues are already driving D&I initiatives that are making a real and positive impact in this regard. We are:
· financing IT programmes and mentoring refugees who arrive in Barcelona through Migracode;
· helping young disadvantaged people in London’s inner borough schools by mentoring and opening up teenagers to new career perspectives under the Tower Hamlets Education Business Program;
· and helping many young people through our early careers/graduate programme, to name a few.
We are active in the communities in which we operate; we want to do more, and we want to do it in a way that has a maximum impact. A great place to work is also a place where we let our employees create this impact and support them in doing so.
We have felt powerless during this pandemic, but if there is one thing we’ve done right it is to reflect and learn on diversity and inclusion. From now on, we plan to further our knowledge on diversity and inclusion to understand the problem better, as we know that education is the key to drive societal change. Moreover, as championed by some of our employees, we plan to be more present in our communities to lead the change on the ground through mentorships and support to help break glass ceilings. As managers, we will create safe spaces to talk about issues regarding diversity, and we will enlarge our talent pool sources and platforms in order to attract from a more diverse pool. We will actively seek to address any possible biases we may have.
Thanks to our employees, we’ve come to realise we know so little about diversity and inclusion, and our policies, although effective, only address the problem to a certain extent. At least we know that now. More knowledge is needed, more awareness on the different topics, and targeted action to address them. As trend-setters, job creators and economic actors, companies have a significant role to play in ending discrimination and exclusion. We encourage all companies in our sector to work on increasing their diversity and inclusion knowledge and drive changes in order to create a fairer society, and also because it makes business sense.
Operate Delivery & Transformation Manager,
Adaptive Financial Consulting
COO and co-founder,
Adaptive Financial Consulting