With several injustices being brought to light, many organizations are going back, investigating their practices, and putting plans together to create healthier, more inclusive workplaces.

Are you looking to do the same but don’t know where to start? 

At this year’s Biz Systems Magic Conference we were able to virtually sit down with Kathryn Finney, author and founder of digitalundivided, and Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, to find out where you can start making change. 

Wondering what we learned? Here are our takeaways from the session (moderated by NY Times’ Jazmine Hughes):

You can watch the recording to catch everything Greenfield and Finney had to say!

How Can a Tech Organization Make an Impact?   

Based on their own experiences, here are some of the steps that both speakers recommend:

Establish your core values

When Greenfield and Ben Cohen started writing down their core values, they didn’t know what it would lead to. 

Greenfield explained that you can write core values but you need people in your organization who will back them up. 

As it turned out, their employees actually spoke up when a change needed to be made. 

Whether it was influenced by the core values, or not, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream line workers made an environmental stand when they saw all of the waste that was happening in their ice cream manufacturing process. 

That process was a catalyst for Greenfield and Cohen introducing an environmental program.

Actions items we recommend after reading this:

  1. Write down and share your core values. 
  2. Encourage your employees to speak up if you’re not meeting them.
  3. Let your employees know that they won’t be penalized for holding you accountable.
  4. Have a 360 review where employees’ voices are heard. 

Commit to diversifying your talent pool

A great question to ask when you’re hiring is whether you’re looking for truly diverse talent or simply a marginalized version of yourself. 

Stepping out of that comfort zone can help bring in talent with the different thoughts, ideas, and skills that can help drive your organization forward.

Here are a few actionable ideas that can help:

  • Tie Diverse Hiring to Pay.

Greenfield gave the example of coming out with a new ice cream flavor. When someone says that task will be done—it is and it’s done on time. 

He then explains that when it comes down to hiring a person of color, there’s not the same urgency. 

He recommends tying diversity recruitment to pay. 

Kathyrn took this idea further, discussing how Microsoft assesses managers based on whether they’re recruiting diverse talent. 

  • Look Beyond “Culture Fits”.

Additionally, Finney recommends letting go of the idea of a “cultural fit.” Diverse talent comes from different cultures and likes different activities. If a candidate doesn’t like to grab drinks after work, that doesn’t mean they’re not a great addition to your organization.

  • Recruit at Minority Populated Colleges.

Finney also recommends changing where you recruit. If you’re looking for black talent, try a HBCU, like Tennessee state or Tuskegee. For Latino talent, you can look at the University of Texas at El Paso, which she says is predominantly Latino.

Actions you can take:

  • Tie diverse recruitment to pay and KPIs. 
  • Look beyond cultural fits during candidate interviews. 
  • Search for diverse talent in minority populated universities.  

How Can One Person Make a Difference?

There may be overarching changes your tech organization needs to address, but how can you as one person help to spark social good in your tech org? 

Volunteer to share your knowledge

Finney explained the impact this can have by offering a personal story about her dad.

Several years ago, a man from IBM volunteered 6 weekends to teach displaced black factory workers C++. After that, her dad fell in love with it. 

Kathyrn explained that from that her dad got an unpaid internship at IBM, then a job at Digital Equipment, and ended up becoming an executive at Microsoft.

That volunteer took some of his skills and shared it and now it’s rippled into Finney’s dad’s life and likely hers as well. 

Be a sponsor

If you see a great person that has potential from a marginalized group, sponsor them! 

Sponsoring goes a step further than mentoring. Finney explains that a mentor will give you a roadmap, but a sponsor will walk with you. 

Actions you can take:

  • If you see great marginalized talent consider sponsoring them.
  • Give them warm introductions to the right people so that they know you’re backing your sponsee. 

What If I Get Pushback for Trying to be Socially Responsible?

Greenfield and Cohen proved that when you do what’s right, others will eventually follow.

For example, during the cold war in the 80s, Ben & Jerry’s came out with a peace pop. When marketing it, they encouraged the government to redirect 1% of the military budget to peaceful understanding activities. 

Early on, people in the organization were worried that they would be boycotted, and that stores would refuse to carry the product. But, as it turned out, none of that happened. And even the people who didn’t like the peace pop project respected that the business took a stand. 

On the other hand, there was actual pushback when Ben & Jerry’s supported the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016, but they kept going and they stuck to their values. 

Finney explained that Ben & Jerry’s have left a blueprint that many others can now use to be socially responsible. 

Just like the volunteer that helped Kathyrn’s father didn’t know the impact he’d have on one man’s life, you never know the good that can come from putting social responsibility into action at your tech organization. 

Hear what else Greenfield and Finney said by watching the incredibly entertaining session!

Tayleur Hylton
About Tayleur Hylton

Tayleur is a budding technology enthusiast helping to grow the business systems community.