Nurturing a More Diverse Workplace

1,752 total views, 9 views today

I probably don’t need to tell any Pink Petro readers that being a woman in a male-dominated industry can be hard. I’ve layered on the PPE and gone out into the field with the best of them, but the everyday work of advancing a career in energy is challenging for anyone, let alone those of us who have a bit more to prove.

Unconscious bias exists in everyone

Fun fact: gender parity is not just a problem in industries such as energy and tech. A study that recently caught my eye found that accepting women musicians into symphony orchestras leapt from 30% to 55% when auditions were blind. Now that’s not a jab at orchestra conductors — it’s simple proof that unconscious bias exists. It exists in all of us. Stemming from our upbringings, our educations, the societies we live in and numerous other sources, unconscious bias shapes our perception without our awareness. But it’s something we can also change.

Gender balance: it’s not about the problem

Improving gender parity in the workplace starts by identifying a company’s strengths. Many businesses diagnose a problem and fixate on what needs to change first, rather than identifying what’s working well and using it as a springboard for leveling the playing field. Just like with people, change comes from within. Leveraging positive constructs and processes already in place is a much healthier starting place for identifying opportunities to achieve greater parity.

Diversity begins with inclusion

A more diverse working environment includes much more than gender balance. People’s ethnic backgrounds, their gender affiliations, their ages, and many other factors go into diversifying an organization’s talent pool.

I was recently approached to be an executive sponsor of our internal diversity and inclusion initiative at Wood Mackenzie, and I jumped at the chance. I believe that people at all levels of the organization, from executives to marketing managers, data analysts to HR, must begin to nurture a culture of inclusion. This means raising our awareness of unconscious bias (WoodMac offers training on this), soliciting other people’s opinions, considering their perspectives, and being open to new ideas.

If you build a culture of inclusion, diversity is the natural result.

We need you

I’m thrilled to help give a voice to issues of diversity and inclusion at my own workplace, but change starts with you. Whoever you are, wherever you work, whatever your background, however you see the world — we need your perspective. Business leaders must use the strengths of individuals to grow, and your ideas? They’re the only ones that haven’t been heard yet.

I’m challenging everyone reading this to share an idea this week — with a colleague over coffee, at a meeting with an executive, running by your manager’s desk before they can ask you to do something else — whatever works! Because openness — inclusiveness — in the most everyday ways, is at the heart of truly diversifying our work environments.