Technology, diversity and allyship: Debra Christmas shares the essentials for inclusion in the workplace

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with the first day Leadership and Digital Transformation With the conference and awards in full swing, Debra Christmas, senior executive partner at Gartner, shared in a great chat about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

Welcomed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of IT World CanadaFon Annan, he commented on the need to discuss biases “hidden in us”, and the importance of “becoming more aware of this as we continue to have these conversations.”

Christmas opened her talk with some startling statistics. The tech industry is made up of 76 percent men and only 24 percent women. Nearly 50 percent of the 24 percent of women in the tech industry leave midway through their careers.

“We’ve been capturing these numbers for 30 years, and the STEM numbers haven’t gone up since we started recording them,” she said.

Christmas also noted the frequency in which internal favoritism, and the effects of micro-aggressions against team members, affect the ability to create a welcoming environment for all.

“We all have prejudice. Every one of us has a prejudice, and we’ve had it since the day we were born,” Christmas said. “So I want you to think about leaders, what about you?”

She raised the point that diversity extends beyond gender – religion, ethnicity, physical or mental disability, sexuality and gender identity all form the intersections where everyone lives.

“None of us is a unit,” said Christmas. “I am a woman, I am a Black woman, I have an Indigenous background, so there are three. Most of us have many of those characteristics.

The importance of diversity and inclusion is important for teams to adapt and understand, but also for the betterment of the technology sector as a whole.

“As a leader, you need to make inclusion a priority, and you need to make it a priority, not just because it’s a cool thing to do. We are in a talent crisis. are fighting for,” Christmas said. “Part of staffing is making sure you have an environment people want to come in.”

In a study conducted by Gartner, research showed that 67 percent of IT organizations did not include specific inclusive leadership competencies as part of their IT capability model. These figures are evident in Gartner’s global labor market survey, where 69 percent of employees do not believe their organizational leaders foster an inclusive team environment.

With these numbers in mind, Christmas highlights some solution-based approaches to creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

“We are imperfect human beings. Don’t get defensive. Don’t dismiss. Ask questions. Apologize. Apologize. We’ll get there. We’re all evolving,” she said.

Highlights from Debra’s presentation included:

  • Recognize minor offenses, including unintentional ones.
  • Reflect on how you take action to advocate for marginalized groups.
  • Open a dialogue with your colleagues.
  • Ask your colleagues or people in your industry/organization what challenges they have faced in their careers.
  • Consider your organization – what does it look like?
  • Be brave and ask the tough questions.

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