Building Inclusive Dev Teams

We sat down with industry executives in a casual happy hour setting to discuss how to better implement diversity, equity, and inclusion within our dev teams to ensure the well-being of each individual.
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How do you think about inclusion and diversity on your team? Or in your product? How are you contributing to this global effort?

We’re constantly thinking about these questions at Uplevel. Glenn Block, VP of Product at Uplevel, hosted a casual happy hour for top development execs to share what they’re learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and how they’re implementing those learnings with their own teams. Together, we hope to apply these learnings to build healthier, happier workplaces. 

Expose yourself and your team to diversity

Imagine walking into the first interview of your dream job, a job you’ve been working towards for years. You sit down and look up only to be fronted by three people who look exactly alike — and nothing like you. 

The tech industry is ever-evolving and growing, and we must too. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, our discussion group agreed that we all need to do better in our own workplaces to help others feel welcome. 

Studies show that Black women are far less comfortable asking for promotions than white men. The 19th News states, “For every 100 White men promoted, only 58 Black women are promoted. Black women are also severely underrepresented in top leadership positions, making up 1.6 percent of vice president roles and 1.4 percent of C-suite positions, despite being 7.4 percent of the U.S. population.”

As managers and leaders, it’s crucial to listen to your direct reports and observe their work objectively. One simple change that multiple executives shared from their companies is ensuring diverse representation starting with the interview process. Allow women and people of color to sit on interview panels and voice their experiences within the company. 

This simple adjustment can change the interviewee’s perception of the company and help them feel more comfortable — and confident — joining the team. 

Inclusivity for the introvert

As leaders, we want everyone to feel included. But does everyone want to be included? A great question that arose in the discussion was: “How can we be inclusive for team members who are more introverted and don’t want to come to social events?” 

The consensus? It’s okay if people don’t want to be included. 

It can be extremely uncomfortable and draining for some people to attend social events. Furthermore, being engaged isn’t necessarily an indicator of happiness. If it’s optional, introverts are likely to opt out of social situations. Managers shouldn’t get discouraged at this but rather find alternative ways to provide inclusivity for these people.

A suggestion was managers could send packages or swag to team members who opted out of the social gathering. This way they don’t feel obligated to attend but still feel included in their own way. 

Create a safe place

Throughout the discussion, leaders wanted to know how to make their teams happy. And with burnout on the rise, team and individual health is more important than ever. 

It can be difficult to think about the signals for determining individual health in a highly distributed team environment. One suggestion for creating a safe place called for both employees and managers to take a step back and evaluate their work environments, rating their feelings on a 1-10 sliding scale.  

If you’re not at 10, ask yourself, “What will it take to get to a 10?”

Does your team seem content? What does productivity look like? Are people speaking up when issues arise?

By constantly evaluating oneself and team, you can continually help others feel comfortable and safe. This is especially important for setting healthy boundaries when new people join the team. 

What’s next

It’s one thing to have discussions about building inclusive teams, but it’s another to put it into action. Our small happy hour empowered attendees to learn from each other and take key points into their own workplaces. We all have a lot to learn, but we can learn and grow together. How will you contribute to this global DEI effort?