Last week, our roundtable event delved into the crucial topics of building diverse teams and creating accessible software. Participants engaged in a meaningful dialogue, sharing valuable insights and perspectives on overcoming challenges and fostering inclusivity in the workplace.

Key Discussion Points:

Challenges in Immediate Diversity:

Acknowledging the current shortage of diverse talent, there was a consensus that overcoming diversity challenges requires proactive strategies.

Strategic Job Advertisements:Sian-Louise Montgomery emphasized the need to diversify job advertising. Placing ads in new places can attract a broader range of applicants, addressing the issue of repetitive applicant profiles.

Changing the language used in job descriptions, such as removing terms like “desired,” was highlighted as a way to encourage a wider range of candidates to apply, particularly women who may feel hesitant if they don’t meet all listed criteria.

Empathy for Everybody:

A core theme for the day was fostering empathy for all individuals. This extends to the language used in the application process, urging companies to consider diverse backgrounds and needs at every stage.

Candidate Feedback and Representation:

Several speakers stressed the importance of candidate feedback for improving the recruitment process. Gary Conner of Wardwiz Distribution, shared an observation about the unintended consequence of having a particular type of person in the interview process, leading some candidates to hesitate. This emphasized the importance of diverse representation in the interview stages.

Taking time to review and ensure clarity in core company policies, such as defining terms like “flexibility,” can contribute to a more inclusive environment.

Hiring for Skills Gaps:

James Heggs from Tech Returners made a compelling point about high-performing teams and the need to hire to fill skills gaps. Tools like Belbin or self awareness tools like Lumina Spark can help identify current team gaps and guide the search for diverse skills in the next hire, ultimately promoting team diversity.

Addressing Unconscious Bias:

Mike Lehan from StuRents highlighted the significance of regularly reviewing hiring processes to tackle unconscious bias. Rather than anonymizing the process, the emphasis was on facing and identifying bias to work against it effectively.

Accessibility in Digital Products:

A staggering 7 million people in the UK have a disability, underscoring the critical importance of accessibility in digital products moving forward.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) was recognized for leading the charge in requiring accessibility, serving as an example for the private sector to do more.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were recommended for quick guidance in ensuring digital products are accessible.

Advocates were identified as the driving force in smaller teams, and there was a call to champion these individuals to help drive change.

The symbiotic relationship between diversity and accessibility was emphasized, highlighting the need to work hard on both fronts.

Instead of solely focusing on budgetary reasons, the conversation shifted towards bringing compassion as a driving force. Demonstrating real-life benefits of doing accessibility right can foster a more empathetic approach. Highlighting people and stories makes it real!

Product teams were recognized as pivotal in leading the way for digital products, given their close connection with the user base.

Emphasizing accessibility in digital products was highlighted as a strategy to attract talented individuals to organizations, reinforcing the link between accessibility and building diverse teams.

Compassion, sympathy, and empathy were reiterated as key elements in doing a good job in the realm of accessibility.

The roundtable discussion provided valuable insights into the multifaceted aspects of building diverse teams and creating accessible software. By implementing these strategies, companies can move towards a more inclusive and equitable future, fostering innovation and success through diversity and ensuring software is accessible to all.