Diversity initiatives don’t work, but a diversity culture does

Diversity initiatives don’t work, but a diversity culture does

I love a good argument. At work, I want to sit in a room with people who have truly different opinions and argue an issue. If everyone comes from the same background or has a similar perspective then there’s no tension, and it’s from that creative tension that we often discover how to do something differently.

That’s why we set out to make Yellowfin as diverse as we possibly can. Bringing different mindsets together is core to what we do at Yellowfin – it’s what makes us tick.

Diversity is at the core of what we do

 
We don’t have diversity initiatives at Yellowfin, we have a diversity culture. We have steered away from creating a few specific initiatives to encourage diversity because we believe that approach will inevitably fail unless the organization supports diversity from the inside out. Any business can hire a diverse group of people, but if they’re not comfortable in the culture the business will lose them and the benefits that come with that difference. People need to feel safe and comfortable being themselves.

In my opinion lack of diversity isn’t a problem that can be fixed standalone. Diversity is symptomatic of your culture. Unless you fix the culture and underlying issues, it doesn’t matter what initiatives you implement on the surface.

Our Director of People Strategy, Simone Clancy, is responsible for ensuring that all the processes within our organization help us recruit, onboard and enable a diverse set of people to be effective within the business. We want to ensure that everyone has enough space to express themselves and that everything we do at Yellowfin helps grow our diversity.

When we’re recruiting, we keep diversity at the forefront of our minds. Of course, our primary goal is to hire the best people to work for Yellowfin, but we believe that the best people are those that come from different backgrounds and bring something unique to the organization.

It’s also important for our employees to feel safe in their work environment. Recently, an employee told me that Yellowfin was the first place they felt safe working in as a gay individual. I felt mixed emotions about that comment – it’s wrong that any workplace should make someone feel unsafe. But I was also proud that we have an organization where they can come to work, be who they are and contribute.

The biggest challenge to diversity is the candidate pool

 
Our biggest challenge in creating a culture of diversity at Yellowfin is actually the candidate pool. While we don’t have specific diversity initiatives at Yellowfin, there is one aspect of diversity that is a real problem for us – there aren’t enough female candidates in the software space. Last year we hired one woman from RMIT, which is one of Australia’s pre-eminent universities for software engineering, but she was the only female in her year. Out of perhaps 300 or more, there was only one female candidate in the pool – that’s just appalling.

This is a real problem for software businesses like us, so we’re working actively with organizations like Data Girls to broaden the pool of possible candidates into the future. Ultimately, we don’t want to have to fight for diverse candidates, we want the pool to be rich with quality candidates with unique perspectives.

A place where diversity is embraced openly by everyone from senior management all the way down is also a place where everyone is valued and free to express their opinion. You can then take the best of those ideas and bring them together to create an organization that really thrives. That’s what makes our culture of diversity so special, and something that we will continue to foster at Yellowfin.