Diversity is a word we are hearing more and more in the Enterprise world as well as in media. Hopefully for the best, as talking and debating about a social problem is likely to drive progress.
To be honest, I was not really aware of this topic until I became a manager. Four years ago, when I got promoted to lead a team, I focused on getting to know my people, creating an environment where they could thrive and deliver great performance.
Then, by knowing more each individual and trying to foster creativity among the group, I realized that something was wrong. I mean, the team was doing great but something was missing. This team was comprised of 4 white males with all the same background, 20+ experience, most of those years working for similar companies (software vendors), good skills, same nationality (Swiss) and same mother tongue (Swiss German). Nothing wrong about that…
My background was a bit different: 10 years younger on average, French, not speaking a single word of German (let alone Swiss German…) and first experience working for a software vendor.
I felt like the “stranger” and the one pushing new ideas, exploring other approaches and willing to disrupt for the better.
I slowly started to think about it and search for articles on the Internet or videos (TED is always a good source).
I found this article published on ScientificAmerican very compelling and it resonated very well with some of my intuitions.
When the time came to hire a new person on the team, I desperately looked for a new profile. Very difficult to find… Switzerland is a great country that I love a lot, equally, it is still very conservative in the business. I did not get any application from women or people with a different origin.
Last year, I relocated to the United States, more precisely in San Francisco where diversity is a reality.
I have experienced it here myself as my team is comprised of people with different origins, background, experience, and age. But all men…
We are doing great together and I really value all our team meetings where we brainstorm together and plan next activities. We are all coming from a different angle and we exchange our ideas. That’s really a great experience for me.
However, I have still the same problem. How can I attract women in the team? Last time, I had a new opening in the team, I got only 50+ male and only 2 female applying: one was a waitress with absolutely no experience nor diplomas (nothing wrong but she did not read the job description) and the other one was simply not a good match (bad attitude, condescending…).
There were several speakers sharing their experience including males promoting diversity. It gave me even more confidence that it is the way to go.
I wonder how to make that happen now. I have a new open position in the team, I’ll do my best to promote it to different Evangelistas who hopefully will be able to relay and help me finding the right profile!