Are our members at the forefront of Diversity and Inclusion?
We wanted to know where the industry is on Diversity and Inclusion, and what issues members come across when moving forward on it. So, we asked our members.
We ran a survey, did interviews, and listened to members at our membership summit at the Data Cloud Global Congress in Monaco. We are keen to strengthen our support for members in this area, so – based on the findings – we set up new projects. Let us share what we found, and what you can expect from us.
Why Inclusion is Important to our Industry
In an inclusive industry, people feel valued, safe, welcome, and have equal opportunities for participation and advancement and that’s when diversity of thought thrives. Those diverse perspectives will help to solve complex issues that will move the industry forward at pace. Being inclusive also helps to attract and retain the talent for a greater digital future.
Why we have to move forward on inclusion
An overwhelming majority of members told us it’s important that we do more and move forward on inclusion as an industry. This is what they said about why we need to move forward:
“Otherwise we become like dinosaurs: extinct”
“We are a traditional industry, and are behind other industries.”
“Companies not moving forward will end up at the back. Others are doing this.”
“The industry needs modernising, if we want to grow we need to include everyone.”
“We can’t afford to restrict the pool, we need the talent.”
“If we don’t change, women and young people (and others) will leave.”
“Global working will fail if we don’t make an effort to understand the countries we work in.”
“If I wouldn’t be diverse I would lose clients, they want to see someone like them in my team.”
“In today’s culture one misstep can make or break your organization.”
On the contrary, some people felt enough was being done on inclusion already.
There was a wide variety of views on how diverse and inclusive the industry is; this is clearly a matter of perspective. Most agreed the industry is more inclusive than in the past, yet a lot of work needs to be done.
Many members remarked on the lack of inclusion in the industry, sharing examples like:
“We had to pull a team off a project as our Black staff was harassed.”
“I constantly hear older men talk about what Millennials want. Why not ask Millennials? I feel overlooked.”
“As a woman at events I feel overlooked. It’s tiring and dispiriting.”
“As a Black person I feel limited in my options as whom to work for.”
“Leaders seem to assume others will take D&I forward. It is frustrating.”
“As a white male I feel constantly criticized.”
“I don’t know why women stay in this industry. The culture is just not welcoming.”
These negative experiences within the industry are detrimental to not only retention, but also performance and attracting new talent.
That said, some young women felt it is already very inclusive as new people are welcomed because it’s such a small world. Moreover, they mention the industry is growing so fast there is space for everyone and they felt their opinion is asked and heard. It’s encouraging to hear that some people and companies are getting this right already.
Biggest Issues Moving Forward
So, if we want to move forward, then where do we need to focus? Members told us their biggest issues when trying to move forward on inclusion are engagement and culture. Specifically they talked about engaging more people by communicating why D&I is imperative and shifting to become more inclusive beyond “box-ticking”.
What iMasons can do
We also asked members what areas they would like us to focus on.
- Attracting more members from underrepresented groups to the industry by outreach, partnerships, create pathways into the industry, signposting training and education opportunities and lower barriers into the industry (eg. by grants and making the industry visible)
- Engage members from underrepresented groups so they feel welcome, stay in the industry and see fair progress in their career by showcasing role models, offer networking events, training and mentoring
- Move the industry forward by sharing best practices and enabling conversations
- Lead by example, so members can learn from experiences at iMasons
This aligns nicely with what we already do. Our Education Committee offers outreach to students, scholarships to industry certifications and partnerships to bring more people into the industry. We have Membership Resource Groups that attract, and engage members from underrepresented groups. We offer a D&I Best Practice Guide and an annual Inclusion champion award recognizing those who are directly changing the industry for the better. But of course we can do more.
New iMasons Diversity and Inclusion projects for this year
Below are some of the key projects we have already started working on as a result of what you told us.
Best Practices and Lessons Learned
- Quarterly ‘Senior Leaders Roundtable on D&I’ to enable collective growth and learning
- Publish D&I Case Studies and a D&I Frequently Asked Questions page on the website to unlock shared industry knowledge on successfully implementing D&I.
Increase Reach and Impact of our Membership Resource Groups
We are increasing support of our MRG’s to help them get more people involved, organise more events and activities, start more MRG’s and ensure continuity of their work for specific member groups.
Lead by Example: Inclusion at iMasons
We are also looking at furthering inclusion of diverse people at iMasons events, committees and initiatives so as to lead by example. We now have a D&I strategy and a D&I Program Manager and our team is actively learning more on the topic. This has already led to new actions such as a Code of Conduct for events, use of inclusive language in our job adverts, adding diversity as one of our selection criteria and a review of our approach to outreach. We are also adding inclusion guidance for local leaders.
Read more about our Membership Resource Groups:
Meet the Author
Inge Woudstra currently serves as the iMasons Inclusion Program Manager. She brings over 10 years of experience working in gender balance, mostly in the tech and engineering industry. She applies her deep expertise in gender difference to partner with clients to develop a gender inclusive culture and gender inclusive processes; thus increasing performance.