There is lots of evidence to suggest that diverse populations are best served by diverse teams. Designing and building digital experiences is no different. If you think about users in the digital space, it's easy to imagine that they come from different cultures, and have varying needs and abilities. With such differing perspectives to cater to, you might wonder how we can account for the diverse needs of our customers. The answer lies in fueling a culture that deeply supports initiatives for diversity and inclusivity.
In being named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the 7th straight year, it’s clear that diversity and inclusion has always been at the heart of TELUS. Here at TELUS digital we hope to build on this achievement so we can better empathize with our coworkers and customers. This will allow us to improve team dynamics, refine our recruiting processes, and help us build better customer experiences.
According to the Region of Waterloo, “Diversity is the range of characteristics that make individuals unique.” These characteristics include age, gender, ethnicity, education, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, level of ability, and much more. Inclusion on the other hand is about appreciating and valuing differences, thereby creating an atmosphere that evokes a sense of belonging and empowerment in everyone. Diversity and inclusivity can exist separately - where diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance. Inclusivity brings out the value of diversity by providing the necessary element for allowing individuals to feel comfortable in sharing their unique perspectives.
Everyone looks at the world through a different lens. By building a team with different backgrounds and from different communities, your team will be more representative of the customers you are building solutions and experiences for. In doing so, your team will have diversity of thought and have a more representative voice, which will resonate more with the target audience of their work. The tricky part however, is ensuring each individual voice is heard - this is where inclusion becomes increasingly important.
To date, we have demonstrated significant progress in advocating for women in tech, being a key sponsor for Ladies Learning Code and holding a women in tech panel at NBTC’17. We are also taking great leaps with accessibility with #a11yTO. Just last year we attended the Out On Bay Street conference for the first time in support of students and professionals of the LGBTQA community.
We also held an open discussion with the team to talk about what diversity and inclusion means to us, and where it fits within our culture. The dialogue was great in highlighting what we were already doing to support the initiative and what we could improve on.
Internally, we will continue to carry out these types of discussions through a series of guilds. These guilds will provide a platform for our team to work on identifying the barriers that inhibit us from achieving a diverse and inclusive culture, and develop practices to mitigate them. Our next session is on the topic of understanding what unconscious bias is and the types of biases that we may have. In this way we can uncover problems and iterate on our culture together, so we can tackle this initiative as a team.