A number of leading industry figures with a specific interest in workplace inclusion attended an interactive event at Indeed's Dublin office.
The job site's inaugural European Inclusion Forum took place at their EMEA headquarters at St. Stephen's Green Office on Wednesday morning.
Indeed's senior vice-president of human resources Paul Wolfe hosted a panel including Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Dublin City University, Sandra Healy, Paddy Connolly, CEO of Advocacy Group Inclusion Ireland; and Marie Moynihan, Senior VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Dell EMC.
Building an inclusive culture has been established as a crucial component to running a successful firm, and the solution involves "creating the sustainable environment where people belong", according to Ms Healy.
"We have biases, we are human. It’s only through our own development that we can combat these biases." via Paddy Connelly from @InclusionIre #Indeedinclusion #DiversityandInclusion #Bias pic.twitter.com/rl6ccBezAG— Indeed Ireland (@IndeedIE) March 28, 2018
"Organisations start with diversity. Data and trends are examined, and benchmarks are set. But as organisations mature in their diversity planning, they focus on inclusion. Organisations need to create a culture where people want to stay," she said.
"This is the first time we have had four generations in the workforce which is unprecedented and each generation have different priorities," Ms Healy added.
"Millennials need to feel connected and engaged. Asking millennials for feedback is how you will keep them engaged."
The panellists also discussed how the creation of this environment requires breaking barriers associated with unconscious bias.
"We have biases, we are human. It’s only through our own development that we can combat these biases," Paddy Connelly told the audience.
"Integrity and self-awareness are critical characteristics of leaders. Leaders need to lead with integrity and demonstrate it. Be comfortable with the fact that you are giving away power. Know your prejudices."
Ensuring all voices are heard, and leveraging those voices - whether they are in-office or working remotely - is paramount, and will lead inevitably to productivity, according to Marie Moynihan.
"Technology increases choice, and choice increases inclusion...People might not want to work at home full-time, maybe one or two days a week...we find that, given that choice, employees are more productive," she said.
Meanwhile, Mr Connolly pointed out that only a small percentage of people with intellectual disabilities actually have access to internet devices - and that remote working doesn't always work.
"People want to be connected...but no matter how many developments in terms of remote working that are made, people won’t want to work from their bedrooms. They want to meet people," he said.
Independent.ie spoke with Paul Wolfe ahead of the Summit to discuss why 'Inclusion' needs to become the new hot topic for workplaces.
What's the important difference between diversity and inclusion - and how do they go hand-in-hand?
Companies are in this spectrum of pivoting between both at the moment. We can hire the most diverse people but if we don't create an environment that they are comfortable being their authentic selves in work, there's likely going to be an employee attrition problem. There's a phrase that I've become familiar with that explains this a little clearer: 'Diversity is an invitation to the party and inclusion is an invitation to dance at the party.
It's all about being productive. Personally, I'm most productive in either a social or work setting when I'm at my most comfortable. Employees need to be who they are in the workplace, so diversity is really a subset of inclusion. If we wish to attract the best candidate for a role, we need to make sure that underrepresented groups are represented in the company. It's an attraction story; if a black female engineer [who is performing quite high in the application process] talks to someone that they identify with within the firm, it really goes to attraction and engagement.
Attracting, and retaining, talent is hugely relevant across the Irish landscape at the moment as we reach full employment and are becoming a popular post-Brexit alternative for some large firms. How does having a focus on Inclusion set a company apart from the pack?
Part of it goes to attracting diverse talent - and seeing someone like themselves in that situation. There's an unconscious bias in all human beings; we just need to understand it and accept it, that perspective is really important. If people are comfortable with who they are in a work setting in terms of diversity, experience, opinion, it's a more productive environment. As you get to know people, and leanr about their background, their views, their opinions, their experiences; it's that kind of diverse thought that helps companies come up with better solutions. And better solutions translate to better bottom lines ; that's the ROI for senior leadership and shareholders.
How can a firm recognise, achieve and maintain an effective inclusion policy on-site when the culture is still being identified? How does it become something quantifiable and not simply a 'tick box' exercise?
Figuring out what you're going to measure and consistently evaluating that, you need to start at the foundation with focus groups and surveys, starting a conversation to find out how employees feel about inclusion. If it's doing well, how do we keep doing that well? If it's not, we need to bring in strategies around that. In each scenario, whatever we have identified needs to be remeasured it and checked at regular intervals.
This is not a tech industry challenge, it's a global issue. The best solutions will come from a groups of people and if the company stays true to their culture; not jumping on the bandwagon but embedding inclusion strategy into their culture. If you're not making progress in the right direction, try something different, anything, to try to move the needle. It's all about baby steps.
Many firms have a lot of their plates, not least with the upcoming GDPR rules, so how can they be convinced that taking the time, effort and resources to adopt an inclusion plan in their workplace will be beneficial for them in the long run?
For all firms, small or large, the inclusion issue is something that is paramount no matter what size, what stage of life, what industry, it's still something you need to shepherd. While some firms could spend hundreds of millions of dollars on this, there is no requirement for smaller firms to spend huge resources and time, they just need to have a transparent conversation. Something like a pay study, for example, is not a very costly exercise.
We have fallen into this rhythm of creating something that we can see, whether it be gender, nationality, colour. But there's a whole other spectrum about people, things that you don't realise unless you sit and talk to them. Whether it's growing up with a single parents or two parents who are married, divorced, whether you have a degree, a diploma, a certificate, work experience, what socioeconomic group you came from. I'm a white gay man but I grew up with single mom who worked for very little in her teaching job.
There's this whole other parts of inclusion that we don't have a conversation about, that we must seek to understand in order to make the world a better place.