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The Plus Of Us: Diversity And Inclusion Learning Series Sparks New Ways Of Working At Atos

In 2018, I developed and delivered our first learning series devoted to Diversity and Inclusion, entitled Invest In Yourself. This program consisted of 8, 1-hour live virtual sessions, with accompanying videos. Those who completed the series had the option to take a test to become internally certified as a D&I Practitioner.

Courses included Communicating Across Cultures and Generations, Removing Unconscious Bias From The Decision Making Process, and Interacting With Differently Abled Colleagues. Interestingly, our gender balance was near perfect, with women as 49% of the attendees; no small feat for a company whose overall gender balance is 31% women. The balance was equitable amongst those who went on to obtain the certification as well, at 47% women, 53% men.

What did our employees learn from these sessions?

Comments ranged from “I never realized how often unconscious bias affected my choices.” to “My eyes were opened to the importance of understanding generational motivators so that I can inspire my entire team to action.” With each live offering, the size of the audience grew, so I knew that I was doing something right, and that spurred me to create the next D&I focused series, The Inclusive Leader.

Where did we go from there?

Based on the success of Invest In Yourself, I decided it was time to focus on D&I training for our leaders, and so the next series was born. The Inclusive Leader consisted of 5, 1-hour live virtual sessions and accompanying videos from Harvard Manage Mentor, but this time, if an attendee wanted to obtain a certification, they had to develop a presentation that showcased what they had put into practice from their key learnings; and describe the impact of those changes. Courses included Removing Gender Bias From The Performance Feedback Process, Interviewing Without Bias, Leading Differently Abled Employees, Leading Across Generations and Cultures, and Leading With Integrity. Sensing a theme here? The series was geared towards current global leaders; but was open to those aspiring to leadership as well, if they had completed the Invest In Yourself series and obtained the certification. Again, our gender balance was near perfect, with women accounting for 49% of the attendees, but there was a decided shift when it came time to obtain the certification; women accounted for 93% of those who delivered a successful presentation that met the pre-determined criteria.

What did our employees learn from these sessions?

Comments ranged from “I have implemented action plans for agents to assist me in what “they” need. This will assist them in reaching their career goals and meeting internal goals set for them. This enables me to personalize actions to best assist each individual employee.” to “Be careful of ‘Fit factors” to avoid to select only kind of people I am familiar with, which would lead to having a team with very similar people, which will be less diverse, less creative.” and “As an Atos Leader – through the Removing Bias From Performance session, my eyes were opened to being mindful in the way I should choose proper word choices in giving feedback by removing gender bias, and vague feedback. I now know that it is of upmost importance to give feedback that is equitable, and actionable. I will deliver feedback that is productive, & constructive, and remove words that are unproductive and destructive. I will deliver feedback that is free from gender bias, and equitable, and I will deliver feedback that is clear and actionable.”

As I begin to shape our next learning series, I intend to focus on addressing the double discrimination that women of color experience, acquired disabilities, and mental health myths, amongst other topics. Educating our employees on D&I topics is at the heart of the work I do on behalf of our company, as a company can be diverse but not inclusive, and I intend to ensure that all 110,000 of our employees understand that inclusivity is foundational to our company’s continued success and growth!

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