Oh, What a Year It’s Been…
In June 2020, DINT was founded on the idea that, despite valuing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, many of us don’t really know how to implement, drive, or sustain such initiatives. In order to improve our own knowledge and encourage discussion within the tech industry, our founders set up a safe space for experts to share their wisdom with anyone from anywhere who wants to get to know a bit more about making our world (and workplaces) more open, accepting, and, ultimately, successful.
Despite the chaos of the world around us, the DINT community rallied together each month to focus on active learning and open communication, and we grew to over 800 members located around the world. We asked some important (and often seemingly impossible) questions: “How can we face difficult discussions about race? What can I do if, as a ‘majority’, I feel excluded from D&I conversations? What inherent biases do I have that are inhibiting my personal growth?” These conversations wouldn’t have been possible without our engaged, interested, and passionate community, and the DINT team would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has joined a slack conversation, attended an event, or taken the time to read a post-event blog.
And, of course, DINT events would not exist without our wonderful speakers, and we are so inexplicably grateful that they offered both time and knowledge to help the community grow and learn.
On Thursday, June 25, 2020, DINT premiered its first event, The Impact of International Hiring on Conflict-Affected Countries. In her talk, Zahra Shah said something which quickly became the unspoken mantra of all of DINT’s events: ‘To say that a workplace is diverse means that anything not white, straight or male is something out of the ordinary. And we need to change this meaning. The colour of your skin, your sexual orientation, and your gender are not what contribute to diversity — it is your thoughts, your life experiences, your ideas and your knowledge, skills, culture and traditions which contributes to a diverse exchange of ideas in any workplace.’
This concept served as a red thread flowing through all of our discussions, from Khushboo’s eye-opening talk on neurodiversity to Shola’s insightful workshop on the importance of empathy. Our first-ever panel in January 2021 began the year with a bang, and Mertcan’s discussion rounded out a wonderful series on starting a D&I initiative. SAY greeted the DINT community with unique perspectives on psychological safety, and Shahad and Randa gave useful tips on how to value diverse cultures in the workplace. As a wonderful year of events wraps up, we were proud to be joined by five wonderful speakers for our anniversary event last week.
Our Anniversary Event
On June 24, after 11 months of wonderfully informative DINT events, DINT was accompanied by the Beequal team and five speakers who led individualised discussions on an array of D&I topics.
Katie Pether led the anti-racism in recruitment discussion, and her personal experience working with the Department of Education to eliminate racism in the recruitment process supported the groups’ discussions. In order to encourage people to openly discuss overcoming racism, Katie recommended that workplaces introduce a safe space dedicated to talking about race, such as a day in which people are encouraged to discuss their life experience and offer ideas to how the workplace can support all races. She provided wonderful advice on overcoming racism in recruitment, recommending removing unnecessary job role criteria, using software to eradicate bias within text, analysing your recruitment process to see where fall-off occurs, and consciously challenging discrimination at every point within the process.
Mo Kanjilal hosted the inclusive communication table, where she shared her expertise in neuro-linguistic programming, diverse communication styles, and accessible communications. She detailed how important it is to acknowledge that people communicate similar concepts very differently, and detailed how important non-verbal communication is in everyday interactions. Discussions focused on how workplaces can overcome certain challenges in communication, and how leaders should consider these diverse communication types.
Cade Friedenbach ran discussions on supporting LGBTQ+ employees, and they provided some wonderful insight on how to create supportive environments rather than exclusive ones. Some tips include clear wording within policies and hiring documents that include LGBTQ+ communities, gender-neutral language in all cases, employee resource groups, and allowing employees to use their preferred name and pronouns in all workplace communications. The table engaged in important discussions on how different generations, countries, and work environments engage with LGBTQ+ communities and what these groups can do to overcome biases and challenges.
Khushboo Chabria returned to DINT, bringing an incredible background and a wide array of knowledge about neurodiversity. At her table, she shared that neurodiversity is the most common difference among all individuals, and should therefore be at the forefront of D&I discussions. Attendees asked Khushboo about the blocks for neurodiverse individuals in the workplace, and while she acknowledged that there are countless blocks, she suggested that hiring is the first, and therefore most prominent block. Enabling neurodiversity hiring programs and increasing knowledge about neurodiversity will allow neurodiverse individuals to thrive in the workplace.
Finally, Nicholas Mazzei discussed gender equality and how to include those outside of certain ‘minority’ groups in those communal discussions. Nicholas provided perhaps the perfect conclusion to the June event and a wonderful bookend for the year: ‘Everyone must be involved in the D&I discussion. That includes those who have differing opinions from you. Consider yourself a ‘change agent’ — someone who can create a better work culture and space for discussions with everyone around you, including those whom you may not see eye-to-eye with.’
The DINT community is full of these thoughtful, engaged, and empowering ‘change agents’ around the globe, and it is incredible to see how this community has grown. Thank you to everyone who has contributed your time, thoughts, and perspectives over the past year, and the DINT team is so enthusiastic to see you for our Autumn series in September.