Yesterday, we hosted a Virtual Think IT Panel Event on the topic, Diversity & Inclusion: Starting the Conversation. A huge thank you to our panelists Karin Petty, Sr. IT Director, End User Experience at Abbott, Kelly Clark, Sr. Director/Chief of Staff, OptumInsight/Product Engineering, and Jake Krings, Vice President Marketing Technology at Target for sharing their company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and experience. Thank you to everyone who joined us as well! 

Some of the initiatives that the panelist’s companies are implementing are:  

  • Launching a page to a learning system 
  • Re-introducing diversity tools 
  • Small group listening sessions with the CEO and staff 
  • New DVP diversity and inclusion  
  • Diverse workforce 
  • Inclusive work environment  
  • Inclusive guest experience  

How do we get the entire company—including our leadership team—on board with diversity and inclusion initiatives? 

It helps to give people statistics and facts that they can refer to when learning about different diversity and inclusion initiatives. Leaders should also be pushing their employees to have the courage to start having these conversations about diversity and inclusion. The panelists agreed that when teams are diverse, they are more innovative. Getting a whole company to tackle a challenge can be difficult, but it’s important to establish diverse conversations within your teams.   

How can we influence the community to get diversity into the pipeline for candidates? It seems diversity is missing in the IT pipeline of candidates. 

The panelists agreed that one way to get more diverse candidates is to look at programs like Genesys Works or other boot camps. This will help represent what we want to see in the community, and it will also bring in new and diverse thinking. It also helps to have a diverse interview panel and have them look for problem solvers.  

What would you say is the most challenging part of implementing a D&I program? 

The most challenging part of implementing diversity and inclusion programs is recognizing that there is a need for them. Companies need to be courageous and identify where there is an opportunity for these programs to take place.  

What do you think of when you hear the term “Microaggression”?  

The vernacular that we use every day can fall under microaggression. We need to be careful not to let what we are talking about in our daily discussions be hurtful towards others. The panelists agreed that they need to be intentional about creating a diverse community and not make assumptions.  

The panelists looked at implementing more diversity and inclusion initiatives into their company. If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re not making progress.