How to incorporate inclusion and diversity into your career
Propel inclusion and diversity passions into your role to evoke change
Nov. 30, 2020 | By: Alicia Jessip
As our nation continues to fight against institutional racism and face challenging conversations in order to heal, many individuals are motivated more than ever to address the changes we all desperately want to see. I’ve been having countless conversations with people who have asked what more they can do to be inclusion and diversity champions within their career and job roles. But the truth is, you don’t have to uproot your career or change industries to make an impact. In fact, with a newly heightened awareness of equity and diversity, you may have the biggest impact in your current role.
For example, in the technology space, I see many Black and Latina women who are compelled to dedicate their career to inclusion and diversity, energized with the idea that they can be a pioneer in the space. And while you certainly could be by leading strategy and growing equity programs in conjunction with a company’s overall goals and business mission, being a successful technologist or IT consultant is being a pioneer in and of itself. The diversity demographics of women in technology or people of color in technology is a large piece of the inclusion and diversity puzzle because we are witnessing a mass exodus of women in the technology industry—and I believe part of it is due to the fact that many women in technology aren’t seeing themselves represented in their fields.
You don’t have to be in “leadership” to lead—every individual is a leader in their own right, regardless of hierarchies.
The emotional tax of equity and justice, along with underrepresentation, is heavy. To relieve some of it, filling up your personal cup and creating change within your organization can be a starting point.
3 ways to activate inclusion and diversity at your organization
1. Dig deep into your passions
You’re good at what you do—now, it’s just about layering an inclusion and diversity veil on top. Ask yourself what it is you’re truly passionate about as it relates to what you do. If you’re really passionate about financials and are money-motivated, maybe that translates into fighting for pay equity and working with your HR team to begin a conversation around salaries, marginalized groups who are underpaid and benefits. If you’ve always been driven to get into a leadership position and finally got there, maybe you can use that to help create more opportunities for underrepresented people in your organization to grow and reach their full potential. Pause, dig deep and discover your authentic self.
2. Get involved in your organization
Dive into your company to discover more ways to get involved and amplify your voice. Are there employee resource groups or affinity groups? Virtual networks? What does it look like to get involved? Building an inclusive environment begins at the individual level—contributing to greater business objectives from an inclusion and diversity perspective can help you connect with what you personally want to achieve. Find where your individual piece can fit into the whole piece of the pie you want to contribute. You don’t have to be in “leadership” to lead—every individual is a leader in their own right, regardless of hierarchies.
3. Embrace meaningful disruption
The idea of confrontation tends to be negative, but in a truly inclusive environment, you’re going to naturally have confrontation—people will feel empowered to openly challenge one another. Of course, there are positive ways to do this diplomatically and tactfully, and now more than ever people need to feel empowered to ask thoughtful questions to spark meaningful dialogue. If our goals are to ignite change and fuel the best outcomes possible, we need to encourage fluidity and flexibility. Embrace the idea of disruption at your organization and encourage others to compassionately share and engage in different perspectives. When that happens, learning occurs and innovative solutions are created—we’ve seen this come to fruition firsthand with TEKsystems’ own Conversations That Matter initiative. Learn to disrupt with the goal of having diversity of thought be the common denominator.
The opportunity to create change is right in front of you
We all have a role and responsibility to play within workplace activism—whether you want to trailblaze the way for new policies and action or provide a platform for other vulnerable groups to elevate their careers, there are so many ways to fuel your energy to create change and actively support the current modern-day civil rights movement. You don’t need a new set of tools or a new role to grow and foster equity—the opportunity to push forward is right where you are.
Alicia Jessip is an inclusion and diversity manager at TEKsystems. She is passionate about building a more inclusive community for underrepresented people to realize their personal and professional potential and goals. With multifaceted experience and moxie, Alicia works to identify and attract diverse talent, build platforms and operational plans that increase employee engagement, create programs that drive professional development opportunities and explore opportunities where diversity strategies align.