How are companies in Ireland working towards diversity and inclusion?
What did many of last year’s ‘World’s Best Workplaces’ have in common? Overall, culture was a defining factor and diversity and inclusion played a massive part. Diversity and inclusion efforts have become a staple of any healthy business in more recent years, but they require focus, expertise and care if they are to succeed.
Though we still have plenty of learning and hard work ahead of us, many employers in Ireland have been working towards more inclusive workplaces. The goal is that support for employees will permeate working life fully, extending beyond one-off annual events such as International Women’s Day and Pride Month.
Conversation is critical. Achieving true inclusion and equality for workers in Ireland will not be possible without actively listening to people from different backgrounds and communities. Without that, it will be difficult for companies to move beyond the superficial initiatives.
Brendan Byrne, who leads Accenture Ireland’s LGBTQ employee resource group, recently told me that while many tech companies are making steps towards community acceptance, support for employees needs to be “ ingrained in organisational culture ” to truly have impact.
An important part of this, Byrne explained, is to be aware of “the gap between what you think is working and what your employees actually feel”. It is not enough for management to simply decide on a blanket strategy and pat themselves on the back for implementing it. Working towards diversity and inclusion must be an evolving journey with room for input, feedback and revision.
Women in the workplace
When I spoke to IWish co-founder Gillian Keating last year, her words resonated with me. She said: “Women don’t fear leadership, we have just been holding them back .”
There are many women working in Ireland who can attest to that. In Amgen, for example, senior manager Michelle Somers learned early in her career that “women can succeed even in less gender-diverse areas ”.
While that may be the case, women in STEM should no longer feel the need to “ prove themselves ” valuable to their field, and women in any industry should not have to bear the burden of imposter syndrome. The onus must be on employers to make women feel like valued members of the team, not the other way around.
Inspiring the next generation is important, too. Teen-Turn is one charity in Ireland helping young girls to get involved in STEM. Earlier this year, MSD chose Teen-Turn as its 2020 Neighbour of Choice. It pledged €88,000 to the group and encouraged MSD employees to volunteer by mentoring students in exchange for additional hours of paid annual leave.
Cultural diversity and inclusion
MSD’s work with Teen-Turn is just one example of how a company can give back to society and advance progress towards equality in the workplace. Another is Mastercard’s Intercultural Day , which is championed in Dublin by the...