Reflecting on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion During a Year of Change

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Here we are in July. That means we are at the half-year mark already, six months of change and continuing to work at home. Throughout this time, it’s been front of mind for most of us to look out for one another and support all forms of diversity. Whether that’s with family, friends or the people we work with.

At the start of 2021, we had a year of great learning under our belts. 

There was the pandemic first of all: It completely changed the way we work and how we engage with each other. Next, there was the economic crisis. Quickly off the back of this came the racial injustice crisis. This brought much-needed conversations home and to the office more than ever worldwide. 

In 2020, not only did we learn that the unthinkable can happen, we also saw what humanity is capable of: good and bad. 

As the New Year arrived, the EMEA HR team at RingCentral wanted to take the experiences of 2020 onboard to open up the conversation around diversity, equality and inclusion. Before I explain the DEI initiatives RingCentral runs, let’s define what we mean by diversity. 

What is diversity? 

Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. It’s all about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education and national origin.

Diversity allows for the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It means understanding one another by going beyond simple tolerance to ensure people truly value their differences. This allows us to embrace the diversity within each individual, and place a positive value on diversity in the community and the workforce.

Each individual in an organisation brings a diverse set of perspectives, work and life experiences, and religious and cultural differences. The power of diversity can only be truly understood when we recognise that we are all different and learn to respect and value each individual for all that they are. 

DEI initiatives all year round 

To raise awareness of social movements and the importance of DEI, we run webinars, panels and discussions. But we also ensure we promote a diverse range of people; we embed this into our hiring process and training and development. Here are just some of the highlights from 2021 so far. 

International Women’s Month 

March marked a whole month of celebrating women’s contributions to history, culture and society. We ran a panel discussion with women across EMEA, including Katie Lyon, Melodie Smite, Aldona Ogrodnik and Sonni Hayes. 

Our team also launched a campaign around inequality in the workplace and why businesses need to make change happen. As part of this, we created an education page, and the steps companies should take. Some of the initiatives supporting this are our women’s education group, our RingCentral Women in Leadership focus group, and our Women & Allies Leadership Coalition.

Stephen Lawrence day

On 21st April, we held a gathering for Stephen Lawrence day to support our black community in the UK. Members of the RingCentral BE@R employee resource group hosted a webinar to reflect on this annual national day of remembrance. This included Emmanuel Ayemoba, Melodie Smite, Kitson Locke, Alwayne Powell, Jonathan Evans, Danita Oliver and Solenne Thomas. 

This day commemorates the life of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993. Lawrence’s death marked a watershed moment in cultural life and race relations in the UK. Since 1993, wide-ranging changes have been made to policing and the law thanks to the tireless efforts of Lawrence’s parents, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Neville Lawrence.

Diversity

Pride Month 

 

 

Throughout June each year, people worldwide remember the Stonewall riot, a pivotal moment in LGBTQIA+ history that eventually sparked a movement for equality. We reflected on this point in history, dedicating various activities to the theme ‘Love is Universal.’ 

On 10th June, Sheevaun Thatcher hosted the Rainbow Room panel with Karl Benson Molina, Kira Arnold, Liz Pedro and Stefan Rosentrager. We also ran our first-ever drag show, Be Fabulous, with our guests Delighted Tobehere, Aunt Rose and Todrick Hall. 

We also encouraged everyone to write letters of support. These were thoughtful notes that colleagues created to show their support and acceptance for a friend, family member or colleague. 

At the end of the month, on our pride panel hosted by Steve Rafferty, we heard from Cathy Mullan, Susie Griffin, Ali Al-Attiyah, Ben Pintilie and me. We shared our personal stories of overcoming barriers in society and heard from allies about their experiences, including why they want to understand more about LGBTQIA+ communities. It was a heartfelt and uplifting session that we hoped would help people understand the discriminations that still go on in society today, and from the feedback we’ve had, it really did help. 

Equality

Diversity, equality and inclusion isn’t just a date

While there are many awareness days in the calendar, education and support is something we continue every day. As we look ahead, there will be plenty of opportunities for employees to learn about different cultures, abilities and communities. 

Our employee resource groups are such strong communities; they are made up of RingCentral colleagues passionate about educating others. From our Rainbow Room (LGBTQIA+ community and allies) to RingCentral BE@R (black employees support), PAN Asian, and so many more (SaaSy women, HUGS (humble understanding group support), Generations, Hola, Women in Leadership and Indigenous group.) There are always colleagues to share ideas and experiences with. They run workshops, webinars and interactive events to provide a network. The groups became crucial during a time where we are distanced from each other. 

We’ll also be running a new initiative. We will launch letters of support for all new employees, so they feel included when starting, regardless of their background. The letters will come from current employees who will pass advice and tips on settling in. 

What does DEI mean to us? 

We believe that people should bring every part of themselves to work because we recognise they are so valuable. The results for our employee satisfaction survey (Ringtones) make it clear that DEI is a priority, as it is one of the highest-scoring areas across EMEA. It’s now more important than ever to invest in diversity, equality and inclusion for all our incredible colleagues. So many teams and groups make this possible. This includes the EMEA talent acquisition team (Mags, Nima, Paul, Martin, Sonni, Chrystelle, Amy). But this also includes Candice on the PeopleOps team, responsible for onboarding and people operations. These efforts are crucial to the future of our business. 

Jason Allen-Lane

Author

    Jason joined the RingCentral London office as it’s first sole HR representative in August 2018. Jason looks after all HR-related matters for the EMEA region and has over 12 years HR experience covering: Financial, Medical, Education and Broadcasting Industries. Jason enjoys the challenges of managing people processes as it’s constantly evolving, just like the technology and communication sector itself.

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