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Opinions and skills – the right form of diversity

Following some events and announcements from company giants last month, we at Lab08 are sharing our take on diversity, equality, and inclusion. We took a step back to reflect and make our analysis, which we believe could come useful or at the least – intriguing to read. 

There are different means through which a company can support diversity. It can be achieved through the hiring process, the internal company culture, and as a product of membership in associations, where community programs are being developed and executed. This could happen collectively, but also through the company’s individual members, especially if the organization serves as a facilitator

When building a team, we believe that it is crucial to be aiming towards hiring different individuals and not particularly people of diverse social groups. There is no explicit guarantee that even if you set a target to hire a specific number of people from minority groups, various races, or more representatives of different genders, you will achieve diversity in your organization. You may provide equal opportunity, but not equal outcome. This should not be the main goal.

People are being hired for their competencies and their skillset. No matter their belonging to a social group, race, different gender, or perception of being. When you are hiring, you want to get the best talent for your organization. Oftentimes, the market on which a company operates is limited and there is even a struggle to find the right specialists for an organization’s needs. Imagine, striving to hire the same on a set target, based on gender, social or racial belonging. Choosing the people, in which you see the potential, passion, skills, and dedication, and setting categories aside, seems to be the better aim. An organization can support such talent growth, so it can bear the fruit of this action later on. Be it in the form of diverse ideologies brought to the table.

Each company has its own culture and set of formal and non-formal rules and habits. The individuals an organization hires can share the same general mindset and same work ethic. But these people can come from different backgrounds, cultures, interests, leading them to their passion of working for this organization or on their current roles. Thus, an organization can benefit from a richer perception of things and better products and services can emerge on the market. Diversity of opinions is what organizations should be striving for. 

Some may believe that hiring different people would lead to conflicts and additional difficulties for the management. Actually, this is why hiring managers often choose people, who are similar to them, being victims of their own biases. Ensuring diversity in individualities is what could lead to clashing opinions, resulting in an exceptional approach, better decisions, more innovative products. Being open to people, who are a reflection of various cultures and backgrounds is key.

Creating equal opportunities could also start with education. Some associations work on programs for integration and better education of minorities. The same is also valid for promoting less popular professions to representatives of different genders, races, social groups. A classically perceived profession for men may just very well suit a woman. There is no question that this is true for members of minority groups or different from the dominating race on a particular geo-location. Providing educational programs, which introduce children to professions, usually perceived as suited for males/females, supports the equal opportunities act. 

Lab08 is a proud member of BASSCOM, who has developed a program called ‘Profession Software Developer’. It encourages young women and men to be curious about software development from an early age, in order to break the stigma that this profession is reserved for male-only. We will continue to support this association and its long-term efforts in this and other directions for promoting the software development business and the diversity of individuals within this business. 

We want to see more skilled people in tech – regardless of gender, social belonging, a minority group, or race. Building better products comes from hiring responsible, curious, hard-working people. If we collectively work towards expanding the horizons, so that more people discover different professional paths, we would be able to bear the fruit of a more diverse workplace and perhaps surprising new horizons. The moment we start dividing, categorizing, targeting numbers of hires, based on categories, we are further contributing to a problem. Equality means either talking about all or not talking about any. We want the talk to shift towards hiring different individualities. 

We are and will continue to learn how to expand our teams and organizations. Unlearning is sometimes part of the process – discovering that something which seems right and egalitarian, ends up being more harmful. Placing a target and quotas on hires should perhaps remain only numerical and in relation to skills – not about gender, race, and social belonging. Lab08’s interview teams always discuss candidates, share different perspectives, and by doing so – attempt to minimize bias in decision making. We involve people from management and tech representatives, along with HR to ensure different views are brought to the table. 

With this, we believe we are on the right track of making good decisions and onboarding the best talent. And if we meet the people, who have the same goals and possess the desired abilities – we will not hesitate to hire, no matter where society places them on the category map. 

Author: Dinko Tanev, Managing Partner at Lab08