Nurturing an Inclusive Environment – Live Plato Event

Plato diversity and inclusion eventToday’s podcast is a recording of a live panel that I moderated which focused on nurturing an inclusive environment at technology companies. It was part of a larger event put on by the tech mentoring company Plato.

The fantastic guests that I had a chance to discuss this with were:

  • Shivani Sharma, Senior Engineering Manager at Slack
  • Nick Caldwell, VP Engineering at Reddit
  • Nidhi Gupta, SVP Engineering at Hired

I have interviewed both Shivani Sharma and Nick Caldwell on previous podcast episodes and I encourage you to go to my podcast archives and listen to those episodes.

Listen on as my panelists discuss the current challenges with diversity and inclusion at tech companies and strategies for helping to foster a more inclusive environment.

A special thanks to Plato for sponsoring this great event and for allowing me to use this for my podcast.
Plato matches tech managers to highly experienced engineering leaders to help resolve their challenging management situations. If you would like to find out more information about Plato you can visit their website at where Shivani and I are also mentors.


Show Notes:

Plato Website
Video Of the Panel Discussion
Medium Article about the event

Christian McCarrick Plato

Read Full Transcript

[0:00] I want to let your car I left you a freak woman introduction about the subsidy case.

[0:08] My name is Michael Scofield.
Panama City County at the fire if you haven’t.
Holiday Marketplace at the next.
What that means for everybody in the audience is if you’re looking for.
Gummy bears into for the tablet to come up with an answer.
Only thing I can come up with a woman issue or a black issue or a lever issue.
So we should be talking about it and that context that’s the reason why I’m here today and sent it to talk to you but I just wanna Sharma and a senior manager at.

[1:16] And I currently leave the user experience team so we are focusing we had a lot of organic breakfast black with the developer community in the first couple years of class and now my team is tasked with.
Showing the value of slack to other types of knowledge workers and other non vulvar technical role.

[1:36] Because I think about the diversity aspect I think for me I’ve been in the tech for over 10 years and.
Black is the most diverse and inclusive environment that I posted and.
I didn’t realize what I was missing out on all of these years I kind of just went to the status quo I tried to ignore and just fit in wherever I was so it’s really great that these past few years.
Been more openly talked about and.
Now being a leadership position I have the power to make changing people’s lives as well as if that’s what I really enjoy.

[2:15] Caldwell and VP of engineering Reddit.
Reddit if I had to describe it to think Lee Reddit is a site where 320 million people come from once we show them cat pictures.
Weather on the ones that they like.
We should try that you haven’t checked it out diversity is important issue for me I used to work in Seattle before I got the CD Giga Reddit I was at Microsoft for 13 years.
I’m losing you live in Seattle you can.
You’re busy because I actually don’t like people in Seattle so don’t look for things that you know happened I don’t Michael is in a fan of San Francisco but I kind of enjoyed seeing other people like me to a little bit ago.
They gave me some hope that we might be able to I personally might be able to get involved in improving diversity in Tech.
So I’ve been doing that a lot lately I’ve been participating in deaf people hear shut up.
I start my own charity events like this where I can help shed light on what we’re doing.

[3:33] And thank you but I’m really know how to say modern that I could be moderating a panel type in front of all you guys as well on SCT of insuring it could be Taylor,
required to run larger in teams or throughout the world podcast let’s focus on improving the craft event during their shift code central leadership that I.

[3:54] To hear that.
What are the new Theory search 28% of software Engineers today are there only gone up 3% for the last 15 years even worse women leadership role I’ve only got 2 points.
African American 2% and most underrepresented group of women is Happy is Latinos about.

[4:27] You know I think I said you said you was at the shows that we have a lot of room to grow in a lot of improvement to go for.
You’re one of them is going to bring out into the for I pulled you out here dude.
What are the groups that were sexier are underrepresented groups what are the groups that you consider that can be and are potentially discriminated enough for not represented well in engineering or any.

[4:53] Black women right color gender death disabled people absolutely and what else.

[5:02] Discrimination right arm above that 40 year old Mark now with his age as I’m right beside the sexiest thing. Anyone else.
Transcribe absolutely anyone educational rights amazing again happening at the grievance answer right anyone else.

[5:21] Is here too so we have to talk about the instant ancestry national origin religion right is another aspect.
Pregnancy are you pregnant if you have children at home air conditioners mental help people with HIV or Aids disability status.
Political affiliation.
Okay status of domestic violence order for stalking reasons the case of extreme introversion try to think.
Add music to something to talk about.
It is illegal to deface that diversity is good to take a note.
Richie Ray startup can generate 35% higher Financial returns of what it was.
Women that starred up Sandra 16% higher Financial return than what those running supposed to be by men.
Libertine Pub deliver work on product has a market share and really they’re just more complaints were that right.
Two-minute warning to not foundersfcu rice put some of your managers or text please.
How can you still make an impact with your camp.

[6:52] Plato a conclusion the title later they will talk about a fire in this town really going to focus on how do we Foster a more inclusive work environment.
For employees but we also want to work at so it’s hard to know where you stand and track progress without data,
you know you’re supposed to be statistic that your company does anyone know.
That’s pretty decent percentage right there’s any of your company’s policy update of publicly next turn.

[7:27] Very Progressive what do you think about that.
The company should publish it to show think by publishing it you can show that you are a place that is actually making.
It’s worth it if you share. By progress as from year to year as well and by seeing that if if I know that hey there are 30% women engineering managers.
There’s other people like me that maybe I will have the support and has hope that I can connect with.
And actually fly there so I didn’t think it’s a way for folks to identify with you. You have the numbers.
Are still being worked on cuz it’s never enough there still a way to see someone and yourself maybe if you wanted to really try to prove it but your numbers don’t look so good.
So I think in many ways showing.
Is a folding up a manner to say yes you can teach me about this issue so high. Separate.
One is our internal diversity.

[8:59] In addition to that we also publish our and turtle wage Gap we also publish because.
As we talked about that.
So and higher the platform that takes attendance. Knowles attendance journey through the entire process so we can publish our date.
Leave her to the industry in terms of what you see on the platform and we’re singing the industry and I think it’s.
I don’t expect anybody.
For 6. I don’t expect anybody to say yes this is what a perfect mix looks like because.
You wouldn’t be here talking about this issue if that were the case.
Most people have a manager that is probably not a member of an unrepresented.
What are some advice you would give to a taxi to a manager who is not a member of an underrepresented group to help apostle.
What would you do.

[10:18] What would you what are some of the things that you would tip to give to a manager who is not a member of an underrepresented group to help him start fostering inclusion and diversity in that group oh that’s okay I think.
The first thing I give a manager who is not a member of an underrepresented group who works for me.
Is that some caring about this issue is important to me we’re going to take that as our starting point.
And go from there because there’s many other places to work including is one like I’m seriously like I remember the.
The first couple weeks and read it was very very important that I as a hiring manager that I express isn’t how important this was going to be to me personally.
And to the women that we haven’t seen in particular we don’t apologize that’s publicly yeah and looking forward to doing that.
But I made it very very clear internally that there were message that we were going to move so I think.
First making it clear now that you’re going to continue to make this an issue until it’s salt.
Where you start the second thing in terms of you know just more once you kind of get underway if I tell managers that.
People who are underrepresented groups they’re going to naturally feel excluded until the higher problems gets all that’s open.

[11:50] It’s also you need to be conscious of what they’re thinking and whether or not they’re issues are being included I think the biggest challenges were where this happens to me honestly around things like what’s my name.
New managers tips when you’re planning the route of it don’t assume that everybody drinks reasons,
and the other place where it comes up is when you’re when you’re talking to your team that you think about.
And besides are you thinking about how what you’re saying is going to be interpreted.
Five different groups of different ways of of it I think that the final thing I would say is when you’re doing product it matters a lot.
That if you’re going to have been having like a diverse and inclusive team if you don’t think about ways to involve them in a proposition.
I am done without being blunt.
I try to make sure that the managers make sure that they know that there’s a diverse opinion on their team they find ways to put out that doesn’t mean like an egg you’re the one black guy in the road.
But there’s more so ladies do that and I think the other building better product with you learn to leverage to get unique strengths the people on your team.
So I haven’t managed many managers quite yet but I can talk about how I do it as a manager.

[13:21] I switched teams a couple times it’s black and it’s like I said earlier it’s the most diverse place that I’ve worked slice and dice.
The problem any of the categories that you already talked about Christian and.
I make it I make sure that I get to know the people on my team I think buildings on Frost.
Building. Mutual respect understanding where people are coming from that means getting to know them on a human level because.
Their culture their background all all of the all of the things that make these make everyone’s Iverson their own what is the length and which saves you the world and how are the perspective that they bring to.
So that’s part 1 part 2 when I talk to Polly do also is that I was noticing.
The more dominant group of people ever company.
How do I get free one contributing to discussions and so it actually tried different brainstorming techniques where people to think fast or slow or any more props in time.
Are birth certificate shout things out or false there more different styles and try and get brainstorming techniques that everyone feels like they can contribute to these product ideas,
which never mentioned a couple tactical things that I do and that’s work really well but it’s actually pretty filled up.
Quitting job and contribution and my current seems very happy and healthy and very proud of that.

[14:58] I think values fit is very important and often times of these days of the passages referred to as.
Al Packer Ford used to be eaten a hundred for this person and if the answer is yes.

[15:14] I think Johnny’s fit is way more important and yes and a plenty of jobs in the valley to the point that you made. The conversation of whether he needs. Org teams or not is over.
When you’re interviewing your body company you are equally empowered as the hiding.
Remember that he’s acting like that and you should be exploring the.
Truly value diversity and put the money where your mouth is go somewhere else.
Same thing from 4 from 100% one of the things we do I tired is actually do about it.
Make sure that the people we strongly believe in. The baby, we want to make sure that the people were bringing in into the organization.

[16:18] I think the nomenclature is important too and I know I’ll ask him in a big shift recently from going from culture to values right and I think you’re right it’s really the culture.
How many people have guns formal diversity training.
What’s your view on diversity training is that something that you think is valuable for employees and managers.

[16:46] I don’t know that I think you made a really good point about culture diversity training and so far as.
I need to get round off to the list early on all the different ways that people can be considered a inclusive underrepresented.
I cannot remember that all the time I had to save my life and I think having like a refresher course I’m at every once in awhile I was really in the Bible.
The other thing that I think is really valuable that included in the Indiana train tells me more about how you.
Can you take list with people who are different intros to learn how to talk to introverts for example for me was a big Lou.
And then another one comes up which is really valuable as you get kind of hiring your career is.
Sometimes you have to do with culture that are just want to know a different way you have to manage remote teams and to me like thinking about D and I wrapped all that in and those are really really valuable things.
I said I’m going back to the earlier point about culture.

[17:53] There’s no fundamental thing about about diversity that I was upset.
Come to believe since my time and talk about it which is why I get to see all of the opportunity we have here.
You know that’s just the place just generates opportunity is insane to me and the idea that but a place on the planet has more opportunity more wealth creation,
did any other than any other place and it’s not fairly distributed.
To me that that’s like the tickets and I don’t even know you don’t need to be trained sometimes right and wrong like I think sometimes.
Sometimes the training mask the more fundamental thing which is like do you have empathy yes or no and I don’t know if there’s training for that but I do support.

[18:39] So they want to talk about is if you want to improve diversity we need to promote and make more members of underrepresented groups into leadership position.

[18:50] Should I go to the whole promotion practices inside of companies.
And the promise come on your breakfast today they tend to be in Casino they promote the people already so promote it alright to send it to you. So how to.
Promote self advocate.
Four members of underwear to send in troops to help them on their career path to help them get into in a higher level positions in them.

[19:17] I personally funny bunny and believe that if you have to sell about the kid to be promoted that’s not the right Organization for you.

[19:25] Every organization to redo the entire Dugas both from an interview process and flowing as well as for the promotional standpoint.
Then it is very clearly articulated career ladder there’s very clearly articulated.
Criteria in terms of what you ought to achieve in order to get to the next level.
And I think that removes a lot of subjectivity and I’m big booty we all be all to do is that we create individualized fruit plant so every single engineer and everything went well. The company.
Hi Google which maps to wear their tops to wear these to get to a zebra. But they want to get to.
And what the Gap is and what they need to do to get the.
If you take all of these steps and second.
I think go back to self advocacy point that you made.

[20:30] It’s a big issue especially IP for women especially for women,
who are many women are introverts and I’ll give you an example for my organization today we had a calibration discussion promotion and one of them was a promotion,
and then we have to challenge each other.
And I think it’s important to have that,
visitation and kind of back to the definition that you have if you have a definition can go back to that document and refer to it,
in order to make sure that take that Saturday in dumps the decisions you’re making.
Let’s see the past 6 months I promoted it.
6 people out of a cube on my team so I’ve been very involved with the promotion prophecies for the last two cycles.
The things that I do for my team or two.

[21:40] To build grow plants with each of them on so I look at what they’re referring to whether they want to be technical lead manager and one of them into management or whether they just want to move up with the technical pass and go from a senior engineer.
What does a big job and there’s a lot of responsibility there.
I think what’s really great about our particular career path is that you can demonstrate leadership and strategic alignment and communication different ways.
Suppose that aren’t the type that are going to do internal Tech talk since you know he’s allowed 20 presentation person but also share great technical content.
You’re not everyone’s like that we do have some people that are very good at that in a company and are very visible but there are other ways it’s,
mentoring people small working group,
running excellent documentation and sharing that with your functional area would therefore you’re a step back and Engineering sharing that with the rest of the documents near.
All the other back in the gears in a company if so I’m bleeding design discussions so depending on what the individual is comfortable with I try to create a plan that still aligned with their career path.
For them to Lover’s their strength instead of trying to improve what they would they do they’re not good at or don’t want to do.
How to get a $0.02 or more points before this time and temp today in.
Chocolate cake. So it’s something that I think is very loose much in the news and it’s 64 part of having exclusive environment.
Roster report said women in computer programming they said he sent $4 dinner in the Hispanic and African-American men make about $0.80 on the dollar.

[23:16] Same place next to you what do you think of this work to be done from short actual Cummins compensation app.

[23:24] I can tell you what Reddit.
To my knowledge is is good the most accurate performance because I’m aware Reddit has two things which one is a note Association policy.
And if you get an offer to Reddit that is off there is no. End of story but this is how much when I give you and I think that.
The literature suggests that women are at a disadvantage if you don’t know the policy like that in place so that’s the first thing we do the second thing is.
RN salary is directly maps to the job with her bike again. Sorry so that we danced at salary bands are your salary be identical like if you know somebody.
So there is no there’s no wiggle room for negotiation or bias everyone at the same ladder is being paid the same thing.
I think the way it’s another there are additional things that we do to make sure that people are at the same time.
Weather quick thinking about 2 about 40% of women in Tech end up leaving for technology and some jobs at some point. Careers so.
Are you water in one of the big family support right to how can companies really help support women two guys stay in career and not sorry.
Sorry so I had my daughter 8 years ago and I took a break and after I came back I started to interview I went to.

[24:59] Talk to some of these search form and most of the swords from said we are shocked that you’re coming back.
It’s really pathetic so some of the things that we do I hide. I think I’m very attractive.
Michael mentioned this earlier and just go out for drinks make you mentioned it earlier.
I think the other thing there are other things like returning policy so they should be equal to.
But you have a child the couple has a child not just the woman.
There should be there should be equal and reasonable accommodation regardless of your gender.
Jennifer support Harris.

[25:58] You don’t need support working from home that are flexible work hours.
My daughter has spring break to his room now so I’m going to work from home half the time and that’s okay I think creating more flexibility is going to enable you to see it.

[26:18] Chinese near me, I agree on the policies being equal.
It’s like we have a lot of.
Photo center in their young family stage so I feel like there’s a lot of folks going on maternity and paternity I think of also being equal is important because he can also have same sex couple.
They can also have adopted a child so I think that’s not also have a bunch of inclusivity that’s important.
That are seen and.

[26:57] I know I don’t have any children yet but the fact that spot is supported on who make all of us managers.
Cover the teams in the projects for the other folks that are going on paternity maternity leave I covered for one of the engineering directors.
What are Joshua Project last timer for 2 months while she was out and you know what I think we were kind of like a family and we help each other out so that things are running smoothly and say don’t have to worry and when they come back again.
Stop. So I hope to be able to have a family have that flexibility and still be Xbox one that happened.
Excellent question.
Questions for the panelists after today.
Are we doing fine on this concert is okay when should you start focusing on diversity and early stage when resources are scarce.
What’s a turkey.

[28:08] So when I showed up there was only 30 Engineers we started focusing on diversity day one but I don’t I want to get like that.
A real answer as soon as possible is the right answer and that is probably going to be after you get your first customer like there’s a.
Disappointed your startup where you need to survive and get scratches.
But very very early phase I would say immediately after the extraction I would start focusing on.
Making diversity of part of your hiring plans cuz if you don’t want to get into is a situation like I Michael was talking about earlier.
Where you hired like you 300 people and now you care about the person that is a really difficult problem to solve after the fact.
But I read it but I can’t I wish I could share numbers if you guys have been talking about when we done.
But if you get it while you’re growing it is definitely like a extractable problem and we and I think we you should do that as quickly do.

[29:06] You decide to. I think he’s getting you just quoted several studies that have shown greater to terms so if you really want or startup to have.
The higher the more diversity the higher the likelihood of your startup actually seen it so that should not be an issue in my mind that would not be an issue. Put something later.
All the forms of adversity that we just talked about what are they promoting their ultimately promoting diversity of.

[29:42] You want to make sure that they’re supposed to be of thought because you want to reach out your the Wonder product reach out to a far greater audience than you yourself in dreams.
What’s a star.
One thing I’d say is that was an early stage start start up if you got dreams to hit the international market and you want to have you want to have that Billy dollar story that is a difference Market you know the cultural differences.
Done in translation of two companies and.
The way that people work in Japan of the way people work in India are very different the way you work here so if you have representation from all these different cultures we’re going to be able to.
More cheaply equipper that your product into this instead of production I think something to do user research getting feedback on Salah more expensive to do nothing like that.
Absolute Craig much money in the group with whom I don’t share interests.
Around on work-related stuff for you to mention a little bit.
Saturday. Work right.
I think you’d look I see Bonnie mention this earlier I think I could have made the same mistake for the longest time in my career where I just did what I were to fit in.

[31:15] I play a mean game of stop puppies days because I would say.
This conversation is happening if he’s fortunate to be living in this era and not like 20 years ago.
Where does opening.
The reason why the community is happening in the reason why diversity is important is because we want for you to be you.
So you don’t have to just be yourself just articulate and your true being.
And if you still feel that you’re not.
If you can speak your mind and walk out the door and find someplace else and there are plenty of places that buy authentic your own authentic shoes.
It’s this damn thing I know Dad on that is.
I can’t get to the house of organization one thing you really want to try and do is just make sure that people have roots that they can identify an employer Resource Group so far.
In that like a really weird like the company’s only like 440.
Like interest groups any people are doing all sorts of different bike game night from people like there really an oysters.

[32:55] And those tribes talk about any huge difference Xbox through that and cross-cultural communication.
A channel for pretty much every troop and they’re all public channels so they said anything about seeing you in Florida is like the first couple weeks is that you’re not in.
And so you have time to start to find of people and I also encourage all new hires.
The office to take that time to actually have coffees with people say hello to people last elevator go to.
Are happy hours if you have every Thursday and.
Different network of people her Leon part of the do that later when you come it’s been sitting there waiting to schedule a company that’s bye bye.
Let’s agree to enter your legacy ranseur.
Panel that have a gravy slacked off if anyone says Hey guys or any of the Pacific gender things they should have said hey maybe you should reword that it’s actually not very friendly.
Call Chris.
You got your hiring process for not a computer science degrees and are not wiping handed you train your rhr team.

[34:20] I can take that is so one of the things that we do not just from a hired as a company Sandpoint.
Sandpoint as we having boys on the platform be guide then not too biased towards pedigree the.

[34:36] Interesting data point one of my best Engineers on my team actually was a long-haul truck driver.
He eventually went made his way in his career to an app to App Academy and now he’s one of my best engineer.
You will find these hidden gems in non-traditional places I think it’s each of our responsibility to make sure that we don’t buys the word pedigree I know that,
as a filter is a powerful filter because we all decided managers want to be efficient.
There are blank bonds that do not buy.
And you don’t want to buy some more ticklish because if you keep mice and keyboards degrees,
you will keep select say that select group of individuals who are fortunate enough to get to the Stanford I didn’t go to a Sanford and I think I’m doing pretty well.
I would say that one thing I think we do really well as we work about boot camps and we don’t.
We look at boot camp says it has a sorcerer a lot of different positions like some of our best manager asked if we can still do something like that no coming from.
Hi my previous role we didn’t work out a lot of boot camp doesn’t Microsoft and in one thing I kind of love about the Bay Area is that you have this.
This different just different form of pipeline that way it gives me hope that you can actually get.

[36:11] A handle on this phone this versus problem and groups like hackbright or code 2040 like we have them in our office is all the time I think that’s good for two reasons.
What would you like some larger companies up about boot camp as if you ever actually had one of your office to understand the story like that these folks will tell you ain’t you know what the fact that they have.
Put so much effort into one career track or simply trying to switch it to another one and I judge them on the basis of.

[36:45] Energy that you can put into it and unless you understand.
Did I take it that’s a big change from you in the past two years but I think what we do really well as we integrate those who can’t control her Paw Patrol.

[37:02] We going to wrap up with the little anecdote taking my daughter I have three daughters all I’m getting the salmon.
And I took one of Michael Jackson One Cirque du Soleil show ever get to see it’s a wonderful show affection very inclusive to it.
Inspiring but I asked her what her favorite part of that was her favorite song was she said why.
11 year old saying well she realizes that if you see something wrong it’s not going to change by itself.
And you were someone else have to be the one to start that changed I thought that was a very kind of an 11 year old to have that I think that’s kind of where we are today.
We are on the way here could be deceived the fact that we want to make it a better place and we want to change and that really does start with us.

[37:51] So I want to thank everyone for my time and thank you all for coming tonight but it stinks.