By Rachel Cox, VP of People and Talent at Liberis

Every year, businesses across the UK celebrate National Inclusion Week, celebrating diversity in the workplace and promoting inclusion. It’s an opportunity for businesses to take greater steps to encourage diversity and inclusion – whether through events and workshops or by reviewing relevant policies and responding to the needs of employees.

Diverse and inclusive workplaces are beneficial for everyone, ensuring we all are able to work in a positive environment, increase our productivity, and collaborate with team members of all backgrounds.

For women in tech, this is an opportunity to use your voice and tackle biases in the workplace, sharing the changes that need to be integrated and highlighting the benefits of inclusive workforces. Whilst the technology workforce has increasingly diversified in recent years, women still only make up a quarter of roles in tech, and there is a sharp decline when considering race, religion, sexual orientation, age, neurodivergence and disability – especially in leadership roles.

Here are five tips for women working in technology and seeking more inclusive places to work:

Seek out employers that align with your values

Interviews are as much an opportunity for the employer to find out if the role and company are right for you, as they are for you. What are their workplace ethics like? Is this the right type of working environment for you? Is this a diverse team, with leadership roles being occupied by a wide range of different people? Are they genuinely committed to hiring and nurturing employees from all backgrounds?

Asking yourself these questions can ensure you end up working at an organisation you trust, and who you’ll have the opportunity to have a rewarding career with. Knowing your organisation truly values you, your colleagues, and the work you achieve isn’t a ‘nice to have’ but is integral to enjoying your work and feeling supported – even at stressful times. It’s why I’m so happy to work at Liberis, and why we pride ourselves on an open, positive, and inclusive team culture.

Find a mentor that inspires you, and return the favour

One of the most important things for me in reaching a leadership role was mentorship. Think about who inspires you in your workplace, in the tech industry, or just someone you admire on LinkedIn, and reach out to them. Having a mentor is invaluable, teaching you not only about the skills you need to excel in your sector but also as a guide on how to set boundaries, enabling you to grow both personally and professionally.

In being mentored, you too will be able to pass along these experiences, whether it’s to a junior member of staff or in creating a diversity mentoring program. Giving employees who may have experienced exclusion in the past the chance to share their feedback and be included will be instrumental in strengthening teams, delivering better results, and improving communication and the experiences of employees.

That said, it’s important to remember that you won’t just learn from people more senior to you. Reverse mentoring programmes can be an excellent addition to the more standard type of scheme, and can help team members to integrate thinking that may have otherwise been missed out on.

Ask questions, and listen

No one knows it all, but you’ll be surprised how much people do know. Ask your colleagues, managers, those you manage, those who inspire you, and take the time to listen. Technology is complex and ever-changing, and everyone has their own way of working – which means there’s always something new to pick up and try out.

Being able to engage with people, genuinely listen, and learn, is such an important skill set in not only improving your knowledge and helping you to work more efficiently but also in developing your people skills and ensuring you are able to collaborate with a wide range of people. Great leaders are great listeners and are able to implement what they learn and apply this to their goals. In my workplace, we set time aside for dedicated listening sessions. These have become an integral part of the feedback cycle and avoid any assumptions being made about what people are thinking, and feeling.

Consider how your business can be more inclusive

There is an abundance of technology that can support making workplaces more inclusive and using these tools demonstrates to employees that their needs are being considered and addressed, improving retention. Regular surveys and opportunities for employees to highlight their access needs can have far-reaching benefits, particularly as we continue on our path of hybrid work. On top of our quarterly engagement surveys, we also survey our people specifically on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging topics so we can understand what we do well, but, more importantly, what we need to do better.

Be a part of the change you want to see in your workplace

There is always room for improvement, and you’ll be surprised at the power you have in the workplace to help others. At Liberis, we have a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Council, made up of employees across our global workforce, which strives to ensure the rights of workers are respected and transparent. Look out for these initiatives when job-seeking or be part of implementing them in your current role, helping to level the playing field for everyone.

Get together with your fellow employees and consider what changes will benefit your workplace and make it an inclusive place to work. Ideas could include widening your hiring pool, making a commitment to reduce the gender pay gap, nurturing upcoming talent through skills or leadership training, or raising awareness through cultural recognition and diversity workshops. And, by empowering people to create groups for topics they feel passionate about, a greater sense of community, compassion, and shared understanding can grow in the workplace.

It’s not just about having these initiatives in place, but about ensuring the impact of these programmes is measured in a way that goes beyond virtue signalling. For organisations implementing programmes, it’s important to regularly check in on their value and results. Take leadership development for example – how many employees have been able to reach leadership roles as a result of the development? Has it helped improve the diversity of who is working in these more senior roles? What improvements can be made to ensure these programmes are both invested in and carried out with genuine intentions, and deliver results that better the experience of employees? Having these metrics in place, and tracking them regularly gives actionable results that can inform future plans, from where you’re thriving to what needs improvement.

National Inclusion Week takes place from the 25th of September to the 1st of October, and whilst being an excellent way to kickstart these conversations and make changes, progress should not just be limited to awareness events in the calendar. Action needs to be taken year-round, maintained and reviewed regularly to ensure that there is real-world impact for employees, and for the technology sector as a whole. Find out more about how to get the best out of National Inclusion Week, and drive inclusive strategies in the workplace by visiting their website here.

About the author

Rachel Cox is VP of People and Talent, and joined Liberis in 2021, passionate about making the workplace a phenomenal place to work. Before joining Liberis, Rachel held global People and Talent leadership roles​ in industries ranging from Financial Services to Consumer Goods. Rachel is passionate​ about creating a positive global people experience.

Liberis is a global leader in the embedded finance space, and provides their partners and financial solutions with hyper-personalised and accessible funding, empowering their small business customers to grow their revenues. Liberis’ global partner network consists of e-commerce platforms such as Klarna and acquirers such as Barclaycard, Worldpay from FIS, Clover, and Global Payments. These partners integrate with Liberis to offer up to 1 million SMEs personalised revenue-based financing.

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