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Continuing the Conversation on Diversity in Enterprise IT
No doubt, 2020 has been a pivotal year for diversity and inclusion — a particularly important topic to me as someone who identifies as transgender. But as we heard last month during a diversity and inclusion networking session and the Women in Communications roundtable that took place as part of the Enterprise Connect Digital Conference & Expo, there still isn’t enough being done to address this issue in the enterprise generally, and in IT/technology departments specifically.
The problem seems to be twofold: Failure to recognize and promote diverse talent within an organization, and difficulty of finding diverse talent. During the Women in Communications roundtable, Jennifer Berry, PMP, architecture director of voice infrastructure and contact center engineering at Cigna, shared an example of the former. Within the services organization only three of 30 directors are women — and they’ve all taken on the role only within the last two years she said. When Berry pointed out bias to her manager on how women were generally given project management titles over infrastructure or architecture ones, he was shocked. "I don't think that they really think of it until they see the data," Berry said.
To the latter issue of finding talent, Gauri Bhalerao, senior manager of collaboration, networking strategy, and engineering for Yum! Brands, noted how difficult it is to find diverse talent for some IT positions, like in infrastructure.
On a positive note, participants in both sessions highlighted simple ways to approach the diversity challenge. To combat implicit bias in the hiring process, for example, long-time IT leader Kari Mattek, senior director of digital product management, UC, and content services for Northwestern Mutual, suggested having HR or the recruiter remove applicant names before sending to the hiring manager for review, to rule out bias based on a name. Another approach came from Kristina Russell, UC director at MedStar. Russell said she won't even begin reviewing potential candidates until she has a diverse pool of applications. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, “If you want diverse teams, hire diverse talent,” Mattek said, quoting LaFawn Davis, VP of diversity and inclusion at Indeed, and one of her co-panelists on the diversity session at Enterprise Connect 2019.
But building a diverse team is only one piece of the puzzle — the other is supporting the talent once they’re in the role. Discussing women IT leaders specifically, Kim Corazzini, senior director of CX transformation for Capital One, stressed the importance of making their voices heard during meetings. Along those lines, finding allies within an organization is important, added Bhalerao, noting that her biggest supporters have been men, and that the ability to build relationships regardless of gender is a crucial skill to have. These tips can be applied more broadly too. Regardless of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc., enterprises need to give professionals a space to share their unique voices.
As we saw at Enterprise Connect, IT professionals are taking diversity seriously and working to create a more inclusive enterprise. And here at No Jitter, we’ll continue the conversation on diversity. To share your thoughts, feel free to comment below or contact me at [email protected].
Also, to share your quick informal impression on the diversity issue, please answer the below poll question.