We all have a role to play in creating the inclusive workplace of the future

Last week I had the great privilege to participate in a few different sessions as part of the Capacity Europe event held in London – where the conversation on the importance of Inclusion and Diversity has featured.

At the Global Leaders Forum, we spent 45 minutes discussing the importance of an inclusive workforce for the future of the telco and tech industry, and what we can do together to help move this conversation forward. We’ve now formed a working group that will look at practical ways we can work together to achieve even more for the wider industry. Colt will be a member in the working group, so stay tuned for more details on these initiatives.

I also attended a breakfast for Global Women in Telco and Tech, and was on a round table discussion on Imposter Syndrome. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of what Imposter Syndrome is: “Impostor Syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’”. This is a pretty stark definition and is a mentally draining experience for anyone living it. While our discussion started with thinking about how individuals need to develop their resilience, and take credit for their work, our conversation finished with an acknowledgement of the manager’s key role in creating an inclusive environment for everyone to flourish. My key takeaways from this discussion were:

For Managers:

  • Invite everyone to participate in team discussions, but in a way that caters to everyone’s strengths. For quieter members of your team, that might mean asking them to present on something that they are passionate about, or have a particular strength in. Also make sure to tell them that this is the reason you are asking them to present on that topic.
  • Provide regular feedback and congratulations to individuals and the team on their achievements and successes, making sure that it is authentic.
  • Give people space to think – silence or quiet in the room is not a bad thing, especially if it is allowing people to think at a deeper level.

For Individuals:

  • Find mentors, coaches and sponsors who can help you to build some of your resilience and approach to different situations which might invoke imposter syndrome.
  • When someone offers an opportunity to do something different, take on a new challenge or additional responsibility, always say yes – even if you may feel inadequate to the task. If a senior person has asked you to take something on, they have faith that you can do it. If need be, find others out there who can help you be successful.
  • When you encounter that person, especially a senior person who gives you credit, highlights your good work, or promotes you to others, go out of your way to thank them for recognising you and your work.

I also participated in a panel discussion on Wednesday, moderated by Netflix and alongside panelists from Digital Realty and BT. Our focus was looking at the skills needed for the next generation of leaders that goes beyond just technical capability. As the talent shortage deepens, leaders of tomorrow will need to be focused on how to create inclusive environments that allow everyone to have a voice and to flourish. My conclusion from that is, while the tactical items to increase diversity in organisations are important, it’s equally important to recognise that as we go through life, we leave our mark on others, whether we know it or not. So we should be thoughtful about making sure that it’s a positive one.

And finally, I ended the week attending the Global Carrier Awards, where Colt won two of them, for Best SDN/NFV Deployment and Best Cloud Innovation.

It was a fabulous week, connecting with leaders from around the globe. I’ve been really inspired by the conversations this week, but more importantly the willingness of everyone to raise the bar when it comes to thinking about the inclusive and diverse workforce of the future.

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