With diversity and inclusion being a driving point of today's headlines, how have you championed diversity in the workplace?
We've seen tremendous benefits in our organisation with a shifted focus from "culture fit" to "culture add." It's been a great way to shift the way we've looked at talent as we've worked on hiring for our teams. It involves the interview panel focusing on all the ways a candidate can complement the team, not just be like the team we already have. This may sound obvious, but when we're all so busy, it can just feel easier to lean into candidates you're quick to find a connection with. But the reality is that the more your teams rely on this shortcut to feel comfortable about a candidate, the more susceptible your teams will be to groupthink and the bigger challenges they'll face in innovating. The frisson of disparate views is often a creator of breakthroughs — and if you can create an environment of psychological safety, this will be a much more common outcome.
I've also focused on creating a lot of discrete and varied options for people to opt into in order to learn and participate in sharing their observations and experiences in a psychologically safe way. We're really lucky at Google as there’s a ton of great learning content for folks to engage with that’s available on demand for everyone. We've spent time creating recommended learning journeys through content. I've also hosted sessions where we've all watched the on-demand content in the same window and then had a group discussion about it. This has been super rewarding because of the richness of the discussion. I've also ensured there are venues for people within the org to share their own stories around Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI), and they're supported with guidance on how to tell their stories. The sharing of diversity narratives within my organisation has been one of the most moving and inspiring experiences in my time at Google.
What does cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce look like today?
There are four main pillars that are critical in cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce: representation, progression, retention and inclusion. Representation is really about who is in the organisation, and ensuring the workplace really reflects the broader community. Progression is ensuring equitable growth for everyone. That means parity in performance reviews as well as promotion across lines of difference, such as race, gender identity or physical ability. Retention is a focus on reducing attrition in what have been historically under-represented groups. And, fundamental to success across all of these areas is inclusion, which means creating a place where everyone feels like they belong.
This sense of belonging is often undervalued, but it’s really the secret sauce in any successful organisation. Frankly, it’s been a significant driver in my own success. As someone who was adopted, the concept of a sense of belonging touches me to the core. The very fact that I was adopted meant that someone didn't want me. But at the same time, it was my parents who really defined for me what it means to feel like you belong. There I was, in a family that also had a biological son, but there was no discernible difference in our family between the two of us.
Belonging doesn't just mean someone has "included" you or made a space for you in some way — it means your contributions are embraced as an intrinsic part of what the group is. I say this because it’s the other hallmark of belonging, which is the ability to be free to criticise the group without being afraid of being excluded from it. Even as a teenager with angst who often disagreed with her parents, I never had any fear that a difference of opinion would result in them abandoning me.
The breadth of my parents' embrace of me has been such a gift in my life. It taught me that every day we can make choices that transcend birth and background — and build connections that are unbreakable.