Seerfest 2022 Session Recap
Tomas Flier, the Global Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Google, became inspired to dedicate his career towards dismantling systems of privilege while working as a volunteer math teacher in Argentina. His experiences there revealed that oftentimes an individual’s talents and value are underutilized or underappreciated due to societal structures that overlook the voices of marginalized communities.
This led him to question:
“How can we build more inclusive and equitable companies?”
This idea became his “why” - the reason and purpose motivating his work every single day. At Seerfest 2022: Do Good, Do Well, Tomas shared with us how Google implements the “why” into their work and how a purpose-driven business model has led to even greater success for their company.
“When we have purpose, we give meaning to what we do.”
Developing a purpose-driven business model is all about giving greater meaning to the work that you are doing - the “why” behind the “what.” Proactively thinking about your business through this lens gives your workplace a greater sense of community and therefore gives your colleagues and employees greater motivation to work together towards a mission.
The fact is, if you’re trying to work towards your goal through only your singular lens, those around you may be less invested in the vision, but by bringing people together as a collective and ensuring that everyone has a voice, your goals and your mission become molded by others and thereby become shared purpose with others. This purpose will lead to greater motivation in the workplace.
So how do you, as part of your business’ collective, uplift all voices and instill greater purpose into the workplace?
As Tomas shared, the 3 P’s of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a strong methodology that is also a cornerstone of Google’s efforts.
The 3 P’s of DEI
The 3 P’s of DEI are People, Processes, and Products. These pillars are intrinsically linked and each offers its own unique opportunity to improve the way a business is run.
Most decision making inherently includes unconscious bias. This is because our brains can only consciously process a small fraction of all of the information that gets thrown at us every single moment, so it often relies on stereotypes and biases as automated shortcuts for mental processing.
In businesses, unconscious bias may come into play within hiring or evaluating performance, but in order to foster a sense of purpose in the workplace, we need to prioritize building a sense of belonging within the organization. Creating a community of belonging means working to make sure all individuals feel welcome, respected, supported, and valued.
Remember: you don’t have to be a DEI professional to lead with purpose or encourage a sense of belonging in the workplace! Nor do you need to be a business leader or manager, although it is important that leaders within an organization pay particular attention to their platforms and places of power. Try starting by asking yourself some simple questions:
- “Who is in the room?”
- “Who is represented here and who isn’t?”
- “How can I give the floor to another voice?”
By looking for opportunities to bring new or often underrepresented voices to every business conversation, you can start to create a greater sense of belonging into your workplace.
Another great way to foster a sense of belonging within your workplace is to establish Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are affinity groups for underrepresented or historically marginalized communities. They serve to build community, create safe spaces, highlight unique challenges or opportunities, and give unique perspectives to your business.
If you’re looking for a quick way to start developing Employee Resource Groups in your workplace, try sending a company-wide email asking your community to submit groups they’d like to see and if they’d like to volunteer as a chat room moderator or admin (these submissions could also be sent via an anonymous form). Once you have your submissions, create public chat channels within your internal communication tool so that everyone can join, share resources, and get the conversations started!
Creating more diverse business processes is NOT about policing or political correctness. As Tomas clarified, it is not about calling people out, but rather calling people into the conversation.
Everyone has a voice that can be used to influence inclusion.
Take some time to reflect on the business processes that you are responsible for or that you participate in - are there possible inequities that exist in that process? What influences who gets hired, promoted, paid a certain amount, asked to join leadership conversations, retained, etc? Use data to reveal inequities in your process.
For instance, Google publishes an annual Diversity Report which helps them learn more about the equity of voice in their company and also promotes transparency in their methods. Set measurable goals around your processes that promote inclusivity. Question the leverage points in every business process, including hiring practices, product development, and even marketing strategies.
Business leaders have a particular opportunity to encourage DEI into business processes by creating space for their teams to include it into their roadmap and holding them accountable to their goals.
Above all, they can provide a supportive environment where everyone has a voice and can feel comfortable surfacing conversations around inclusivity.
When it comes to product development, Google prioritizes the idea,
“Build products for everyone, with everyone.”
When businesses prioritize building products for all audiences, they ultimately grow their business and make themselves accessible to new, untapped opportunities and markets. Inclusivity can be integrated into all parts of the product development process: research, ideation, testing, marketing, development, etc.
You can insert this into your own business by creating opportunities for diverse voices to enter the conversation in every phase, providing insights that may have otherwise been overlooked.
Does your business make assumptions about its audience? The research phase is a perfect opportunity for businesses to bring data and assumptions to the table, then test them. Ask yourself, “Which target users could I be doing more for?” For marketers, consider, “What stories might be missing from these use cases?”
Some of the segments to consider for your product stories include gender, geographic inclusion, ethnic, socio economic, age, cultural, disability, experience/seniority, and more. Consider usability within these lenses as early as the product ideation phase. When you build products with diverse lenses in mind, you end up benefiting more users. As Thomas explained, a great example of this is the “curb cut” effect.
The curb cut on paved sidewalks may have originally been intended for one use case -- elderly pedestrians who have trouble stepping up. Building this accessibility feature, however, ended up benefiting many more segments of users including cyclists, skateboarders, individuals with strollers, wheelchair users, and more. The same can be said for closed captioning.
Normally associated as a tool for those with hearing impairments, closed captioning also serves those whose first language doesn't match the audio -- providing additional support and understanding about what they’re hearing and what it means.
Why Diversity is Better for Business
“Building a diverse and inclusive company is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business!”
Consider some of the following data:
If companies ignore the world’s changing demographics and fail to include diverse audiences, it could mean big losses for customer acquisition.
"Not only is DEI good for business, it’s arguably essential for business growth!"
What’s more, integrating DEI into your business can also impact cost effectiveness.
Prioritizing belonging and purpose within your organization can help ensure that your colleagues remain motivated in their work and are less likely to seek employment elsewhere, saving the business from having to invest in hiring and onboarding new talent to replace them. By being transparent about your commitment to DEI, you will also attract diverse talent to your company.
- Creating a purpose-driven business model means finding the “why” behind the work
- Highlighting more diverse voices leads to creating better, more inclusive processes and products
- Integrating DEI within the 3 pillars (People, Processes, and Products) can help your business grow while simultaneously bettering the world by encouraging change in our societal structures and hierarchies