Cultivating a more diverse and inclusive company is a continual work in progress. At Highland, we have a long way to go before our Team Page accurately reflects the broad range of lived experiences we’d like to see represented on our staff. However, in the past few months, we’ve made a conscious effort to change our own behaviors in order to build a more diverse team.
This feels like an organic step in the direction our company has been growing for a while now. Last summer, we re-articulated our company values so that they felt more aligned with who we are and who we want to be. Our efforts around diversity and inclusion feel like an authentic way to live out those values, particularly ones like People First, Be Transparent, and Give a Damn.
As a deeply people-oriented company, we think it matters which voices are represented on our team, and particularly in our leadership. Having a diverse range of lived experiences at Highland means there’s a deeper well of knowledge to draw from when we’re connecting with a new client or solving complex problems.
In an effort to be transparent, we’re being open and honest about our growth process. Previously, our lack of awareness and self-reflection is what got us to our current, mostly homogenous, state. By sharing our experience of transformation publicly, we hope to encourage other companies — particularly those in the tech industry — to tackle diversity challenges they are likely facing on their teams, and to invite them to share what they’re learning with us.
Some of the actions that we have taken to become a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive team include:
Hosting monthly lunch conversations on the topic of diversity and inclusion. These have already helped nurture a company culture that celebrates diversity, and holds space for conversations about inclusion that can be difficult and vulnerable. We’ve also committed to bringing in speakers and facilitators to speak on diversity and inclusion once per quarter so we can continue to expand the boundaries of these conversations.
Making conscious changes to our hiring process. We want to ensure that more diversity is represented in our candidate pool when hiring for new positions. To do that, we’ve expanded the range of sources we recruit from. This includes showing up in spaces where we’re more likely to reach candidates who are historically underrepresented in our hiring process, especially women, people of color, and queer folks.
Changing our interviewing process to reduce bias. We’ve introduced a scorecard system to help mitigate subjectivity when evaluating candidates. We’re also committed to making sure that candidates can be evaluated using a broad range of techniques. This helps create the opportunity for candidates to show off their various skill sets which otherwise may be missed in a traditional sit-down interview.
As a team, we recently wrote a statement on diversity and inclusion that communicates our posture towards welcoming new team members and clearly articulates why this work is so important to us as a company. It ends with this paragraph:
“Highlanders encourage everyone to bring their whole self to work each day. We recognize we’re all human beings first. With a shared world, a shared future, and 99% shared DNA, we celebrate what unites us along with what makes us unique. Through our myriad of perspectives, backgrounds, identities, and ideas, we are creating richer local and global communities. We look forward to meeting you and welcome the opportunity to grow together.”
We’ve already experienced a number of powerful changes just by starting the conversation. We’re surfacing more issues and identifying tangible ways to address them, and are already noticing significantly more diversity in the pool of Highlanders who have joined our team within the last year. We hope that by sharing what we’re doing and learning, we can spark similar conversations at other like-minded companies.
Got suggestions for other things we can be doing to build a more diverse and inclusive team? We’d love to hear them.