Why CBT Values Diversity and Inclusion
Have you ever thought you knew the answer until someone else shared a different perspective? In business, in school, and in life people are looking for the opportunity to create solutions, influence decisions, and solve problems. It’s a natural desire to prove yourself right or to be the one that made a difference. What’s more difficult is being open-minded, considering alternatives, and proactively seeking different perspectives. In this new “Diversity & Inclusion – Why it matters and how CBT is taking action” blog series, we will discuss diversity and inclusion’s importance and impact in the workplace as well as ways CBT is putting them into practice.
Innovation is defined as “a new idea, creative thought, new imagination in form of device or method” and is also viewed as “the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs or existing market needs.” 1
Diversity not only demonstrates an organization’s core values and approach to equality, but it also is proven to deliver improved company performance. As a company founded and led by a woman, CBT’s approach to diversity and inclusion stems from a time when very few women were working in the tech sector, let alone leading companies. More than half of CBT’s management team is female, doubling the tech industry average of 25%.2 According to McKinsey’s “Delivering through Diversity” research, it is clear that gender and ethnic diversity is tied to improved profitability:
Similarly, when considering an investment in a start-up a recent study from Boston Consulting Group found that a female founder can produce higher returns with less capital as compared to male counterparts. The results shown were that for every dollar of investment raised, female-run startups generated $.78 in revenue, while male-run startups generated only $.31.3
As a technology company, CBT provides innovative solutions to a broad spectrum of users, ranging from heavy equipment machinists to medical doctors. It is essential that our teams are able to understand the challenges our clients and partners face and are able to ideate, test, and deliver unique solutions every time. The key ingredient in success: a culture founded on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
1) the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness (diversity of opinion),
2) variety; multiformity,
3) the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.,
4) a point of difference4
When defining diversity in the context of an organization, the tendency is to look at common profiles based on protected classes (e.g. gender, age, etc.), but there is much more to consider. Diversity in thought is what is most valuable in the innovative process. Different backgrounds in work experience, geography, education levels, and even work style can contribute to a more refined product or solution.
CBT values diversity because we have reaped the benefits in our team’s ability to empathize with our users, brainstorm and whiteboard ideas, and make our products and services more accessible, valuable, and useful. We have seen such positive results from establishing a more diverse workforce that we have invested in an educational, mentorship, and internship program that reaches individuals that may have gone undiscovered. Not only is it important that CBT brings a diverse team to the table, but we also ask our clients to invite individuals from all levels of their organization to participate in our discussions. We have found great success in identifying key technology issues and opportunities as a result of the input from those working on the front lines of the industry.
- The quality of being fair and impartial5
While diversity is important, equity is another element of CBT’s culture that ensures our teammates are recognized for their valuable contributions. A diverse workforce only means you have a variety of perspectives, but equity is what ensures that each individual is treated equally. Compensation is one area of focus for equity but there are many other aspects of the typical work environment that benefit from an equity-minded organization. For example, in meetings, it isn’t enough to just have a group of different viewpoints involved, it’s that each viewpoint is given a fair portion of time to express their ideas, feedback, and questions. Ensuring that projects are delegated fairly so each individual has an opportunity to contribute is another example.
Equity can be measured and it is best to have some HR data available to track trends and provide insights into how different leaders or teams are performing. As a technology company, CBT values this data and uses it to make adjustments and course-correct when needed.
- The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure
Inclusivity is what makes diversity work in the workplace. This is the core value based on a foundation of mutual respect between colleagues, customers, and partners. No matter what role an individual plays or their background, their voice is needed, sought out and brought into the project. It is natural for each person to approach a situation or conversation with biases that they may not even be aware of. The way the human brain works is to associate and classify information and patterns, serving them to the person in the form of assumptions or educated guesses. This is an incredible feature of the human condition but also can breed ignorance and exclusion.
At CBT we make a point of asking more questions to better understand not only what our teammates and stakeholders are thinking, but how and why they arrived at that thought. By engaging in more inquisitive conversations, we trust one another more deeply and can better align priorities, product features, and services to the benefit of our customers. The concept of inclusivity is simple, but putting it into practice takes work, holding ourselves and each other accountable, and the ability to pause and patiently listen to one another. Exclusivity is what oftentimes attracts people. Whether that’s joining a club, or purchasing a limited edition product, or being accepted into a college or university. Exclusivity in the workplace; however, broods resentment, hostility, and overall lack of motivation. An inclusive workplace fosters creativity and fun and confidence, leading to faster, more effective product development. It also generates a deeper sense of loyalty from employees.
- An affinity for a place or situation
One of the worst feelings in the world is to feel like you don’t belong. Whether you’re feeling out of place at a party or the last one selected for the kickball team, the anxiety that develops is distracting, hurtful, and instills self-doubt. These feelings manifest in a lack of confidence and poor decision making. As a business leader, the last thing you need is for your team to be operating in a poor emotional state. Creating a sense of belonging is the only way to address this issue.
Inclusion is the foundation for belonging. It ensures that everyone gets invited to the right meetings, has the opportunity to speak and be heard, and gets fair access to the information needed to be successful. However, these are all actions performed by the business and do not necessarily tie directly to the sentiment of the individual.
Belonging is the result of an inclusive environment. Not only does the individual have the opportunity to speak, but others appreciate their perspective, and their ideas get incorporated into the project. Not only does the individual attend the meeting, but they are an integral part of the conversation. Belonging means you can be yourself, belonging means you can live and work freely in a shared space. This may mean gender-neutral bathrooms are added to the office to accommodate all users, or all areas are accessible for those with disabilities, or the variety of food and beverages provide sustenance for those with dietary restrictions or varying lifestyle choices. Belonging means it feels like home, and this can only be the case when our teams practice compassion.
- Empathy in action
Treating others with compassion is a choice, though it may not be obvious to many. Each of us has biases that we may or may not be aware of. This leads to assumptive thinking, over-generalization, and judgment. Adding to the diversity of a workforce can generate conflict. When newcomers feel unwelcome, it sometimes escalates and becomes negative or hostile. The majority may feel intimidated, uncertain, or uncomfortable around new cultures, backgrounds, or different ways of thinking. This is normal. Change is hard and so it is not unusual for this to become a learning experience for the entire workforce.
It is important to conduct training, provide resources, and coaching around compassionate communication and behavior. Listening skills, word choice, patience, and tolerance are all factors that can make an environment where newcomers and long-standing employees alike can feel a sense of belonging. CBT practices compassion at all levels of the organization and has articulated the importance of doing so from the executive leadership level. We believe that by treating one another with respect, we gain trust, loyalty, and commitment. We believe that compassionate thoughts, speech, and action are investments in our success.
What you need to know about Diversity:
Many independent firms have conducted studies to measure the impact Diversity has on organizations. We are proud of the progress we have made in this space and look forward to sharing more of our initiatives and insights with you as we implement them. To further understand the advantages and how you can benefit, here is some statistical information: