There is no doubt that diversity in the workplace is integral. Diverse workplaces produce better work thanks to the unique ideas and perspective their team members bring, enjoy good reputations and more successfully retain employees. In fact, so essential is workplace diversity, the European Commission has anointed the entire month of May as EU Diversity Month to celebrate workplaces that build equal and inclusive environments.
Last year, we at commercetools highlighted our overall team diversity during EU Diversity Month – after all, that’s where much of our strength lies – but this year we want to focus specifically on the next step of psychological safety, in which we foster a culture of openness.
The importance of psychological safety
What’s great about having a diverse company? Having a diverse company where every single employee feels a real sense of inclusion and belonging. Even though a company may make a deliberate effort to have a diverse workforce that includes a spectrum of different ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities and sexual orientations through their hiring practices, this does not automatically equate to inclusion, much less openness to express opinions and ask uncomfortable questions.
To properly leverage the diversity of employees, it’s important to draw out different opinions. But sometimes employees feel uncomfortable speaking up. Or they’re afraid to suggest their ideas due to fear of rejection or making a mistake. That's why creating a work environment in which respect is prioritized is an absolute necessity because it gives a sense that there are no mistakes. This kind of work culture encourages people to make decisions, to try new things and to learn from previous experiences.
It is okay to make mistakes. Each mistake, you learn something from it.
Head of Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding, commercetools
Employees that fear to speak up lead to real business repercussions, as businesses then lose out on diverse opinions, ideas and perspectives. Psychological safety, a term coined and defined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, supports a workplace culture in which employees have no fear of humiliation or retribution for speaking up with questions, concerns, ideas or whatever is on their minds. It’s all about enabling openness.
Another essential aspect of psychological safety in the workplace is when employees can express their whole selves, no matter the race, gender, religion, sexuality or any other part of their identity – without judgment.
This is the kind of workplace commercetools aspires to have and is actively working toward.
Let’s talk it out
One aspect of diversity and inclusion, particularly in the tech world, is women in leadership roles. Many women have experiences with misogyny in the workplace, but this makes it all the more important to freely discuss their experiences out in the open to give each other encouragement, support and advice.
At Shoptalk 2022, commercetools hosted a series of fireside chats, one of which was about the topic of “Women in Tech,”* with Jen Jones, CMO of commercetools and Mihaela Mazzenga, SVP of Technology Strategy at Valtech. Both Jen and Mihaela began their tech careers over 20 years ago and described the hardships they experienced, as well as the (sometimes slight) improvements they’ve seen within the tech space over the course of professional lives. Their candor speaking about such a minefield topic epitomizes how we at commercetools encourage our employees to be their authentic selves and be honest about their experiences.
There were a lot of jokes about me being the token woman in the room. We’re truly only scratching the surface, we still have a lot of work to do.
SVP of Technology Strategy, Valtech
Other commercetools diversity initiatives
We want every commercetooler to feel proud of their authentic self and share who they are, as well as their ideas and opinions, with us freely and openly! That’s why we do our utmost to foster spaces where we encourage discussion, like our DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) Mediaclub that tackles subjects from economic inequality to black history and encourages dialogue afterward, as well as trainings on unconscious bias, a virtual no-judgment roundtable on diversity and a weekly #Iamremarkable campaign that celebrates the achievements of our employees. We try to give every opportunity for our employees to speak their minds with no fear.
But there’s always more to do. So while we’re proud of how diverse and inclusive our workforce is, as well as the psychologically safe environment we foster, we’re always striving to constantly improve and expand our current initiatives, as well as also introduce new ones, to ensure all of our employees feel respected, heard and safe.
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