This week Diversity Mark hosted a panel “The business case for Diversity & Inclusion” at Northern Irelands largest tech event Digital DNA. Thanks to the fantastic panelists Gareth Quinn, Ritu Bhatt and Fergal McFerran for joining and imparting their advice, experience and practical tips to our audience. Our Interim Head of Business Nuala Murphy led the conversation. See her wrap up below.
Gareth Quinn shared the need for a diverse team to represent his diverse customers for KairosTech Solutions, a scheduling platform for elite athletes. He shared his challenges of being in tech, sports tech and how recruitment has been tough. I mentioned networks like Women of Wearables (WoW)® and connecting up with individuals such as Marija Butkovic.
We all know Gareth Quinn as founder of Digital DNA. Indeed it’s how we first met when he asked me to be on panel for marketing while I was Head of Marketing at Totalmobile Ltd. Back then Gareth understood the need to have more representation at conferences and ensured focus was placed on that each year. As someone who walks the walk when it comes to the business of Diversity and Inclusion, he shared just how tough it is and how he continually tries to do better.
Ritu Bhatt MD of iEngageIT a tech company that is diverse by nature with teams in Belfast, London, India and soon to be Belgium, shared her motivation to start brownscafe to celebrate the successes of brown and non white people in Northern Ireland and the need to inspire the younger generation. She also shared the reality that smaller businesses see D&I as an overhead but if you are thinking of building a global company you need to have D&I embedded in your culture right across the board.
Businesses need to create safe spaces for all staff to feel a sense of belonging. The business benefits are clear; better performance, higher returns, more product teams, more innovation, staff retention….the list goes on. So why is it so tough?
Fergal McFerran from Stonewall a non profit that stands for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people everywhere, shared how organisations are afraid to get things wrong. He suggests they listen to their staff and understand them and what they need. He also shared the importance of commitment right across the board and true collaboration with organisations and groups. What does that look like? Accepting getting things wrong is part of the process but listening and basing action on insights will see change.
As an independent assessor with Diversity Mark he talked about the importance to start on a structured journey, to focus on one or two things and do them well. Spreading yourself too thinly doesn’t bring success. Personally, as interim head at Diversity Mark I have seen a shift from “good thing to do” to “business need” when it comes to company’s trying to build more diverse teams, boards and organisations. It’s a no brainer for sure and I’m encouraged to see commitment in this area.