#SubscribeToDiversity at Subscribed London 2018: Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

By Erika Malzberg October 5, 2018

How do you create working cultures that allow everyone to feel comfortable being their true selves? How do make it safe for those with visible and invisible differences?

This was the focus of this year’s diversity and inclusion panel at Subscribed London 2018.

Karen Gaydon, Senior VP of ZEO Success at Zuora hosted the discussion by sharing why diversity and inclusion is important to us at Zuora. We have ambitious goals as a business, but we know we cannot be successful unless everyone can bring their true best selves to work and has equal opportunity.

Diversity and inclusion is hard, but that’s exactly why we all have to talk about it. And that’s why we love to do events like this.

So Karen joined a collection of experts for practical, thoughtful, and heartfelt responses to critical questions about diversity, inclusion, and the heart of every business: its people.

We were very proud to welcome Roland Chesters, Founder Luminate and Author of the bestselling book Ripples from the Edge of Life; Ray Coyle, CEO Auticon; and Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter.

Here are just a few highlights from a tough—but thoughtful—discussion.

“This is hard stuff. It’s complicated. It’s personal. You can make mistakes. One of the best ways to look at it is to have conversations. When you have conversations, people can listen to different perspectives, and understand more.” – Karen Gaydon, Senior Vice President of ZEO Success at Zuora @karengaydon @zuora

“When it comes to diversity, we need to discuss less and less how it matters, and more and more of how to do it. How do you make people feel comfortable? How do you break down the barriers?” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“We need to get businesses to look at themselves to see what they’re doing wrong. For example, for autistic people, interviews are hard. They are a test of social interaction skills, and not a valid test of ability to do a job. By interviewing, we perpetuate stereotypes in our business. Businesses need to look at themselves and think, ‘Are we doing things in the right way?’” – Ray Coyle, CEO Auuticon @auticon_en

“In terms of diversity, people tend to run around with their shopping list: I need a woman, I need a minority. The way to start isn’t to start with diversity, but with inclusion. Make sure that everyone who’s already in the organization feels welcome.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“We don’t have to say that diversity is a good thing to do, there are great stats. Diverse companies are 40% more likely to have a higher revenue share. If you have a diverse company, you have a 70% chance of capturing new markets. When you combine the right thing to do with a good business model, people start seeing business in a very different way.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“Most businesses work because they have processes in place. But people aren’t processes; people are different. You can’t put people in a little box with a label attached to it. You have to look at people as individuals. It may take more time, but you’ll get more out of that individual.” – Roland Chesters, Founder Luminate @roland_luminate @roland_luminate

“Companies will start at the top with diversity, with a big announcement, but you’re going to change culture over coffee. It’s the winning hearts and minds. The larger the company, the more vital that is.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“People with different perspectives, working in a culture that allows them to express their true point of view—that’s what makes a business successful.” – Ray Coyle, CEO Auuticon @auticon_en

“To make this happen, there are two important things to do: 1) understand your own workplace—and you can only do that if people have the confidence to open up, and 2) you have to attract people that want to work for your business.” – Ray Coyle, CEO Auuticon @auticon_en

“Attracting people starts at the beginning. How do you describe the role? How are you quantifying? Is your criteria excluding others from the workforce? – Ray Coyle, CEO Auuticon @auticon_en

“Find out what’s going wrong – where people don’t feel accepted. Start these conversations to discover what you need to change. After that, it’s how you tell your story externally.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“Leadership at the top is just one small piece of it, but it is important. It sets the stage.” – Karen Gaydon, Senior Vice President of ZEO Success at Zuora @karengaydon @zuora

“Walk into any office…You can smell the diversity paint drying when it’s really thin.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“Approach diversity like a startup. User research, A/B testing. What if that user was your potential employee? And what if you rethought that whole journey?” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“1 in 4 of us will have a mental health issue at work. It’s so easy to stop someone in the corridor and ask how they’re doing and really listen to what they have to say. Stop, listen, empathize, respond. It’s not that difficult. Just do it.” – Roland Chesters, Founder Luminate @roland_luminate @roland_luminate

“Role models are important but they have to feel natural. Policies are important but what happens on the ground is what really matters.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“It’s a big problem that businesses don’t want to take risks, get outside their comfort zones. YOu have to be imaginative about how you overcome that. We can say that businesses shouldn’t be scared, but that doesn’t work. You have to find the means to help businesses get over that fear.” – Ray Coyle, CEO Auuticon @auticon_en

“Organizations need to support people who are ready to have these conversations. Make sure that your people are supported in having these conversations.” – Roland Chesters, Founder Luminate @roland_luminate @roland_luminate

“There’s a diff between a risk that is real and genuine and a fear. The first can be mitigated and is a good thing to plan for. And the other is using the data to overcome the fear. Every company faces dozens of risks but they don’t stop operating. It’s worth that mitigation.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“Thinking through, how do you define risk? Worried that the person that you might put in might be disruptive? I bloody hope so!” – Ray Coyle, CEO Auuticon @auticon_en

“You bring in people to shake up and do things in a more innovative and disruptive way. We should welcome the opportunity to rethink how to do business.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“There’s no real reason not to start on this journey, and everything to gain. It’s practical and it’s human.” – Debbie Forster, MBE – CEO Tech Talent Charter @debbieforster @techcharterUK

“Everybody in this room knows things that you could do, and that you could do better. You don’t need experts. Take a look at your own businesses, and you will see things that you could do and benefits that you could gain from bringing more inclusion into your workforce.” – Ray Coyle, CEO Auuticon @auticon_en

And a final quote from Roland Chesters that sums up a discussion full of heart and kindness and sensitivity….

“I’m going to share a quote: ‘Life is not about being afraid of the thunderstorms, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.’ If you see someone out there alone dancing in the rain, please go out and dance with that person.” – Roland Chesters, Founder Luminate @roland_luminate @roland_luminate

For more about how we #SubscribeToDiversity, check out the full panel from this year’s Subscribed San Francisco Diversity and Inclusion breakfast.