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Improving organizational diversity by focusing on 3 key areas


Building an inclusive culture is a point of pride at Table XI. But when we look around the room at our leadership meetings, it’s clear we haven’t done near enough to make our team truly representative of our society.

Women and people of color leave tech at a higher rate, often citing uncomfortable work cultures and lack of opportunities for growth. We can’t be a part of that problem. For BIPOC, Black and Indigenous People of Color, to feel truly a part of Table XI and see a path to leadership, we have to make space for them. Anti-racist talk isn’t enough, we need to take action and keep taking it — even if we trip up, even if things quiet down around us.

We’ve improved on a number of fronts, particularly on gender, but we don’t have a single Black person in a management position. That has to change.

We know it’s hard work, and we’ll have to pace ourselves to keep it sustainable. But it's hard work we're committed to doing.

Bringing organizational diversity to Table XI on 3 fronts

We built our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, or DEIB, roadmap at the end of last year in partnership with ETHOS talent and at the request of our DEIB team. In the past few months, we’ve updated the roadmap to reflect the new pandemic reality and the calls to action we’re hearing from the Black community.

See more of our anti-racist work Anti-Racism next steps: Partnerships and committed introspection Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at Table XI Table XI stands committed to anti-racism

Together, we picked three areas of focus where we feel we can make the biggest difference. Each is meant to address our own shortcomings as people and as an organization, while creating more opportunities for Black people to thrive in the organization.

Purposeful Hiring

As a mostly white, mostly male organization in a mostly white, mostly male industry, we can’t have inclusion without bringing more people in the door. Our first priority is changing how we recruit and making Table XI a more attractive company for Black people.

Anti-Racist Education

We’ve consistently brought in partner organizations for anti-bias training, and driven internal conversations as well. Now, we want to be more intentional, focusing specifically on dismantling our own privileges and biases. To be an anti-racist organization, we have to start by educating ourselves.

Organizational Accountability

A mostly white, mostly male team has resulted in mostly white, mostly male ownership and leadership. It’s time to change it directly, bringing new people into the ownership and management structure so new voices drive, and benefit from, company growth.

The goals and timeframes below are specific enough to give us a plan we can act on and adaptable enough to react along the way. In this way, we hope to hold ourselves accountable not just for the work, but the outcomes as well.

Hiring a more diverse team

Short-term 2020 goals:

  • Review our apprenticeship program Look for ways to make the program itself more sustainable, and to make it more accessible and effective for BIPOC.
  • Draft job descriptions for new roles to lead the company We’ll be hiring a full-time Chief People + Equity Officer to drive our efforts going forward, and adding new members who can bring new perspectives to the Table XI board.
  • Change our sourcing strategy Like a lot of companies, we recruit via word-of-mouth. That has clearly resulted in a mostly white and male staff. We’re vetting methods for bringing in candidates that better match the broader world, starting with our jobs open now. Especially with senior roles like this delivery lead position, we’re reaching out directly to encourage BIPOC candidates to apply. So far, it seems to be working!

Long-term 2021 and beyond goals:

  • Relaunch the apprenticeship program
  • Train interviewers to reduce bias We’ve worked extensively on our hiring process over the years, but implicit bias requires constant work. We need each interviewee to have an equitable shot at the job, and a comfortable interview experience that makes them want to take it.
  • Hire more Black people Not just in junior roles but in senior leadership positions as well — for true inclusion, we need to make sure everyone can drive company strategy.

Educating against organizational bias

Short-term 2020 goals:

  • Give management new tools to put DEIB principles into practice To give the Table XI management team a framework and training to lead with DEIB principles, Table XI has signed up for the inaugural DEI Leadership Institute at Loyola University. The program will bring 12 companies together for education and coaching on how to incorporate DEIB into every aspect of the organization.
  • Find partners for DEIB/anti-racism training across the organization A company's culture is made up of the life experience of its people. To make ours better, we need to address the built-in biases head-on. We will be rolling out anti-racism training across our entire company, with the goal of bringing folks into a shared language and understanding, and of identifying and dismantling any harmful behaviors.
  • Continue company-led discussions We need to bring in outside voices for new perspectives, but we also need to do the work of examining our privilege and challenging white supremacy within our organization. We’ll continue to make space for hard conversations on our own team, and encourage individuals at Table XI to lead discussions on the topics they find most relevant and pressing.

Long-term 2021 and beyond goals:

  • Revamp company-wide training and onboarding By building anti-racist frameworks into the training and onboarding of all staff, we’ll set clear expectations from the beginning and reaffirm them regularly.

Diversifying organizational ownership and leadership

Short-term 2020 goals:

  • Investigate new ownership opportunities With mostly white and mostly male owners, the people who drive the future of Table XI at the highest level — and benefit from its success — don’t represent the company or the community. To fix it, we’re investigating how to open up ownership to everyone on our staff, not just the longest-tenured folks, starting with a bank evaluation.
  • Develop an annual accountability report All these plans are great, but we also have to make sure they get done. We’ll be following the lead of companies like Atlassian, Microsoft, Slack and Glitch by publishing an annual report that makes our efforts and results transparent to everyone.

Long-term 2021 and beyond goals:

  • Bring new people into the management team Inclusion depends on involving Black people in major decision-making — and that means adding new people to our management team.
  • Install a Table XI board to keep efforts moving Without accountability, even the best plans can falter. We’re just starting the work of establishing the structure for a board that will keep track of our social and financial goals and hold management responsible for meeting them.

These are the highlights — you can see the full roadmap for our anti-racist future here. As we follow it, learn from it and update it, Table XI will start to better reflect the values we champion.

Published by Lloyd Philbrook in disability

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