Building inclusive teams gets more attention from CIOs

Conversations about gender and racial equality aren’t just happening in the political and social sphere, they’re also happening in the C-Suite. Kristi Lamar, managing director and U.S. CIO program leader at Deloitte, said interviews with business and IT executives for a recently published CIO survey veered naturally to the importance of building inclusive teams.

“I think because of the many things happening in our society today, the investment and the mindful deliberateness around building inclusive teams is more paramount than ever,” Lamar said. “[CIOs and business executives] realize that’s going to be beneficial to changing or enabling the culture of high performance within IT.”

The research bears this out. Earlier this year, McKinsey & Co. released a follow-up study documenting how gender and ethnic diversity continue to correlate to higher profitability. And a Boston Consulting Group study reported that more diverse companies tend to be more innovative than their counterparts.

The business benefits of building inclusive teams have taken hold at some of the world’s leading technology companies. Aanchal Gupta, director of security at Facebook, told my colleague Mekhala Roy, that she’s taking steps to expose a broader segment of prospective job candidates to the field of cybersecurity — from engaging with colleges and schools to hosting hackathons worldwide.

So, what are some other ways CIOs and business executives go about building an inclusive team? Lamar gave a few broad brush stroke ideas. She suggested that companies be deliberate about exposing those with diverse backgrounds to professional development opportunities and mentoring.

And she suggested they look at business-as-usual processes, such as recruiting, for other opportunities. Indeed, one executive told Lamar that he began encouraging employees of diverse cultures and backgrounds to join the recruiting team and become a visible, vocal part of the recruiting process. Doing so helped bring in a more diverse pool of candidates — and, ultimately, of hires — practically overnight.

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