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Over the past few months, Tessian has been taking steps towards creating a more diverse and more inclusive place to work.
Why? Because We’ve acknowledged that we’re not as diverse as we want to be. But, we’re committed to making a change.
Why is this so important to us?
Of course, there are many reasons (just a few mentioned by our very own Tessians) but the two main drivers are for:
- The individual: it’s the right thing to do. Diversity is infinite and everyone should feel valued for who they are and have the opportunity to bring this to work.
- Our future: With diversity of thought, we can be a better Tessian. This will enable us to not only challenge the status quo and stay ahead of innovations, but also create opportunities for more people to be a part of our journey.
We know this isn’t something we can change overnight, but we’re already making small positive moves in the short-term as we work towards those bigger, long-term changes.
Most importantly, we simply want to make a difference where we can. This is an industry-wide problem. That means it involves every single one of our Tessians.
So, where do we start? We believe the first step is understanding and awareness, combined with action and change.
This is what prompted us to begin our Diversity and Inclusion learning journey.
We partnered with Jeff Turner to build and deliver our D&I learning journey for everyone to experience together – to learn, connect and come together as one company.
Two key aims for the program were:
- Shared understanding: Part of the training was to socialize D&I terms; to not only get everyone ‘speaking the same language’, but also to create a safe environment for people to ask questions and learn about each other’s different perspectives.
- Building connections: We chat to some of our colleagues every day. But, how many times do you get the response ‘Good, thanks’ when you ask someone how they are? I bet almost every time! We wanted to give people the chance to build connections across departments at Tessian and encourage people to share deep experiences that they otherwise might not have.
The program consisted of three sessions (described very high-level below) and each were delivered two weeks apart:
- Diversity: Appreciating our differences and knowing that everyone brings value to the workplace.
- Unconscious Bias: Accepting that everyone naturally has their own biases which have formed over time based on our life experiences, preferences, education – all the things that make us who we are. And importantly, recognizing that we can make the unconscious, conscious by challenging our own biases when making decisions.
- Building Inclusion: Consciously ensuring our behavior is inclusive and learning how to appropriately call out exclusive behavior including microaggressions.
There were 25+ people involved in each session. Importantly, these people dialed in from all around the world. This enabled the sessions to be interactive.
We also learned from feedback that these smaller, diverse groups made people feel safe and encouraged everyone to share their personal experiences. No judgement.
But we didn’t want these sessions to be the only place where people talked about Diversity and Inclusion.
To ensure the conversation continued throughout the business, we sent out pre-reads with three key learning objectives and three things to think about ahead of the session and post-reads with the top three takeaways and suggested follow up actions.
What did we learn?
We’ve had exceptional feedback following the completion of this program and already feel like it has had a positive impact on our company culture.
The essence of the feedback is that the program genuinely encouraged deep self-reflection and learning. People have told us that not only have they already learned things that will change how they behave going forward, but that it’s been an amazing bonding experience with their colleagues – which means even more in this period of remote worklife.
A few direct quotes from our employees:
“Best D&I session I’ve had – it didn’t focus on the more obvious points of diversity but delved much more deeply into what makes each of us different.”
“IT WAS BLOODY AWESOME.”
“I love these sessions, they challenge your perceptions and make you know other people you work with better. I am honestly sad that there’s only one left.”
It doesn’t end there…
As we’ve said, there’s no quick fix here. We have to keep working together to enable change.
Our culture is highly collaborative and that’s why it’s so important to us that we’re co-creating solutions and actions with Tessians as we go – to find out what they want, what they need, and how we can learn together along the way.
Here are a few ways we’re continuing to push forward:
- Inclusion competition: We’ve asked people to submit their ideas for what we can do to create a more inclusive place to work. Ideas will be judged based on potential impact, scalability, and originality. We’ve already received some great entries so far. Watch this space!
- ‘Managing Inclusively’: In 2021, Jeff will be back to deliver an additional session exclusively for our managers. Here we will go even deeper – talking about privilege and the power that we disproportionately hold as managers, and how to use this power to create change.
- D&I report: For the first time ever, we’ll be internally publishing a D&I report to share key metrics and what these metrics mean. Transparency is an essential component. We expect to uncover a lot of home truths that will lead us to building the right solutions for Tessian.
We have a long way to go on this journey of creating a better Tessian and a better world. We will continue to share as we go along, and would love to hear from anyone interested in coming on this journey with us.