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INSPIRE 20 Podcast series: Building an inclusive and diverse organization

Linda Rosencrance Freelance writer/editor

The idea for the INSPIRE 20 podcast series stemmed from the desire of Micro Focus executives, their customers. partners, and other stakeholders to address the technology skills shortage by attracting more diverse talent into the industry.

Sponsored by Micro Focus, INSPIRE 20 showcases 20 executives around the world who are making a difference in terms of inclusion and diversity in their organizations, communities, and industries.

In this final episode of the series, Sarah Atkinson, director of environmental, social, and governance at Micro Focus, talks about the podcast and looks back at some of the issues that guests have raised throughout the series.

Lend a hand

For example, in one episode, technologist Anjuan Simmons, an engineering coach at Help Scout, discussed the idea of lending privilege, including expertise lending, which is providing a voice to someone without privilege. For example, this could be done by having a person who may lack racial privilege lead a particular project.

As technology becomes more pervasive, with artificial intelligence and machine learning starting to make pretty important decisions for people, such as individuals applying for mortgages or getting access to healthcare, it's critical that the talent creating those algorithms represents the communities that they're ultimately going to serve, Atkinson said.

Count everyone in

INSPIRE 20 also focused on equality and creating opportunities for everyone in the technology industry, because even though people have equal talent, they may not have equal opportunities.

As such, each of the INSPIRE 20 podcasts centered on what individuals can do to promote inclusion and diversity in their own lives and how organizations can do so at the very highest levels of their businesses.

In his interview, Sander van 't Noordende, a board member of Out & Equal, the world’s premier LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) workplace equality organization, said that progress is made by a couple of things, starting with the tone from the top. If the people at the top of the house set the right tone, are inclusive, and stimulate a belonging in the organization, that makes a massive difference, he said.

Mentoring matters

In her episode, Vandana Verma, president and founder of InfoSec Girls, an initiative that encourages women to pursue careers in the field of information security, talked about mentorship:

"Mentorship is finding your own self, finding all the jumbled thoughts that are running in your brain and just fixing it or aligning it in the right direction. I am also mentoring new people at my organization, outside my organization, and I am learning from them as well."

Allia McLeod, executive producer and head of development and editorial at Yahoo, also discussed mentoring in her interview:

"I think when you get to an executive level or you get to a position in a company where you have a bit of power or you have influence . . . it's so important to turn to the person behind you and say, 'How can I support you, and how can I lift you up?' So I'd love to see more of it. I'd love for people to be more vocal about mentoring."

In her episode, Sheridan Ash, technology lead at PwC who leads the company's women in technology initiative, said that the power of collaboration is the key to successfully effecting change:

"I do think that women are particularly good at this. Since we've rarely been in power, I think we've learned to be really good at working with others because that's how we acquire power and influence."

Atkinson agreed that collaboration is absolutely critical:

"Not just within your own company, but actually within your customers, your partners, and society more broadly. If we really want to drive change, we have to work together."

Listen in to the entire 10-minute final episode on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or Spotify. Plus: See all of the INSPIRE 20 podcasts here.

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