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If someone had told me 20 years ago that my employer, Capgemini, would send me to New York to march with our company for World Pride: the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, I would have suggested that person had sniffed too much fairy dust. But there I was, boarding the Qantas flight to New York in June to meet up with 8 million other LGBTQ+ people from all over the world to celebrate, remember and respect those who had come before us.
What an amazing nod to the work I, and my amazing team, had been doing as chair of OUTfront, our LGBTQ+ employee network and to start in my new role as Head of diversity and Inclusion for Capgemini Australia.
Like many large companies Capgemini in Australia had been relying on diversity and inclusion strategy from our global group counterparts to steer our journey in this space. But through OUTfront and our [email protected] group, we started to see the need for more active inclusion at the local level within our workforce and our workplace.
OUTfront had set a lofty goal at the start of the year to be a leader in LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion throughout the organisation by the end of this year and to help us achieve this we worked with Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only not for profit organisation to assist Australian employers with the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) employees. What we have found is the LGBTQ inclusion work we have undertaken has laid the groundwork for an inclusive culture of other minorities and underrepresented people in our organisation. And, we have proven that great innovation is born from inclusion of all.
The LGBTQ inclusion work that we completed in 2019 spread across policy and benefits, corporate language, mobility, recruitment, marketing, allyship, community engagement, visibility, systems and processes, individual and company accountabilities, reporting, training and fundraising. With some highlights including full reviews on all our policies to ensure the inclusion of LGBTQ staff members and their families and developing new policies for people who wish to affirm their gender while working for us. We are proud that we are one of few employers who provide paid leave specifically for this purpose and to be able to provide a small wardrobe allowance so employees can feel safe and comfortable in the workplace following any transition and/or affirmation.
We have invested in ensuring all our staff members have access to inclusion training, conduct celebrations of days of significance for the LGBTQ+ communities and host external guest speakers regularly to help our whole team understand each other better. Capgemini has an extensive Ally network which asks people to take the ally pledge to ensure everyone is responsible for an inclusive culture and we hold stalls at community events and industry functions so potential employees can come and learn all about or company and also our inclusion efforts. We also very proud to help our communities offering pro bono support to important organisations and events.
One of the most engaging pro bono opportunities we undertook was helping Sydney Mardi Gras win their bid to host World Pride in 2023, We developed a cutting edge, futuristic digital inclusion strategy for 2023 which revolved around ensuring the event could be experienced by anyone around the world where distance was not a deterrent.
Another highlight was the sponsorship of Solara, a non-binary young person, at the Strong W(o)men in Future Technologies (SWIFT) Program in Adelaide this year.
Our CEO and Managing Director of Capgemini in Australia and New Zealand, Olaf Pietschner, is an exceptional ally and supporter of diversity and belonging in the company. He fundamentally believes that great innovation comes from difference and what we realised very quickly, over the course of this year, was inclusion and diversity should not just be limited to the people in the company and the environment in which they work, but also be extended into the design of the work product we deliver in the company. With work product being defined as anything produced of value.
It was on this basis that we developed a strong relationship and partnership with Dr Manisha Amin, the CEO for the Centre for Inclusive Design (CFiD) where, we presented at the annual pride in practice conference in November on Inclusive Product and Service Design.
The presentation recognised that the world wasn’t inclusive of everyone and as such we needed to continue to ensure Diversity and Inclusion in our workforces and workplaces was recognised and celebrated, but now also consider inclusion (and diversity) in the context of a whole approach to business. This means the DNA of all work systems, products and services that companies produce and the diversity of the suppliers producing them.
For Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation, the Future of work is now. And in a time where AI and Automation are changing the way we all work and Big Data is driving “majority based” automation decisions, just who are these systems and services built by and for whom?
We all need to start asking questions about the products, services and experiences that we produce everyday in our jobs. Who is making the decisions on how these are going to work now and into the future? Those decisions that are now somewhat Implicit to humans will become explicit decisions by machines. Based on the data on hand, the historical way and the culture of the people programming the machines. This may not necessarily be as inclusive as we would like to believe. We need to start asking how the data sources are being screened for Bias. When do one groups experience get traded for another and who gets the final say? Do systems favour one group of people over another?
Do we know we are producing systems that are exclusive? If you are not explicitly designing for everyone and being inclusive, you are inexplicitly being exclusive!
And the value of inclusivity can now be quantified. The CFiD released a report in 2019 “the Benefit of Designing for everyone”. Which looked at Inclusive design from an economic perspective. What they found was every stakeholder wins when designing for individuals on the edge as standard practice. Inclusively designed products and services that have edge users in mind, can reach and benefit up to four times the size of the intended audience. Across Australia there are people that are constantly unable to appropriately access products and services because of poor design, where there is inappropriate availability, usability, utility or desirability. At least five million Australians are vulnerable to exclusion based on the number of Australians living with disability and the elderly alone. They possess over $40 billion in annual disposable income, a significant portion of which is untapped due to design exclusion. Within the retail industry, this could see increases of over $4 billion in ‘household goods’ and ‘clothing, footwear and personal accessory sales’ due to non-inclusively designed products
The partnership with CFiD allows Capgemini to bring a known methodology and expertise to our product and service design which then helps us design to the edge of diverse groups and experiences. A more inclusive design that brings the world together.
This innovative approach of merging inclusive design into the AI, Data and Automation process and providing a more inclusive experience is being developed not from the technology or design perspective but from the Diversity and Inclusion lens of the company which in turn, is providing a new way of thinking and service offering in itself.
A more inclusive experience, much like World Pride where over 6 million people came together to celebrate and fight for a more inclusive world. It was an experience that I will never forget. An experience that led to more innovative thinking and building of environments and people and products.
The diversity and inclusion movement can not be limited to just the people and environments of our companies, it must include ways to ensure that the products and services and experiences that companies build and provide are inclusive as well. The world has to continue to develop to be inclusive for everyone.
Steph Sands is the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Capgemini in Australia. She is also the former Chair of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and ACON Community hero recipient for 2015.