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Lessons of The Diversity Roundtable

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A few months ago, we hosted a Diversity Roundtable in Atlanta, Georgia to encourage conversations about diversity and inclusion.

We discussed everything from self-awareness and support systems to the importance of mentorship.

When you take the time to talk about what diversity in tech is and what it means to you, implementing it at your workplace becomes all the more possible.

Although some of us wrestle with diversity issues every day because of our gender, color, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, or other identities that are more commonly associated with the word, diversity can also mean quite a few other things when we discuss how to be more inclusive in the workplace.

The Importance of Mentorship

For Napiya of The It Girl, diversity became important because of how she felt excluded. Her career as a developer nearly ended because she felt left out of the tech world as both a junior and a woman. She did not feel as if she had a mentor to support her as she entered her new position in tech. Her story is personal, but also universal: Without support, many developers who do not fit the traditional mold will leave tech altogether or find another company where mentorship is valued.

John Exume, a former Apple employee, echoed Napiya’s thoughts, championing “embracing mentorship deeply.”

For Katerina Skroumpelou of This Dot Labs, mentors were crucial to her growth. She shared that they built her confidence, pushing her to go outside her comfort zone and pursue development in every way possible.

Growing an Inclusive Workplace

Beyond the importance of mentorship, details about how to make our workplaces more diverse and inclusive were also discussed.

David Landsman of SAP said that the answer to inclusiveness was straightforward: “Committed intention, every day. Intentional mentoring and growth means investing time to mentor personally.”

I couldn’t agree with him more: Diversity and inclusion isn’t a quick fix or a fad. In fact, “Diversity is a full-time job,” said Kelly Carriere of Ifolio insightfully.

These thoughts led to a longer conversation about how to improve the pipeline for more diverse tech companies. Companies have to put in the work upfront during the hiring and recruiting processes to ensure more diversity down the line.

Making Diversity & Inclusion a Reality

Diversity starts with an idea: the notion that diversity isn’t just an afterthought, but a necessary part of making the tech world a welcoming place. But diversity becomes reality through mentorship and continued commitment among company leaders.

That’s why needs to be “commitment to leadership and bias training” in tech, said David Landsman. D & I is increasingly about collaboration within already-established communities. Growing a creative, diverse workplace culture is about continuous outreach and building on the resources we already have — but it all starts with great mentors and a strong commitment to doing what’s right.

A special thank you to all of the participants who spent their day collaborating and sharing ideas on how to change the ratio within the workplace.

This post was written by Kaelyn St James, a team member at This Dot Labs.

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