Inclusion -- Past, Present, and Future

Let’s jump in our time machine. We won’t go back too long in case it’s dangerous - let’s only go back 10 years to 2010. Apple was releasing the iPad and we were sadly using this amazing technology to play Angry Birds. Unemployment was high and good jobs were scarce, remote work was just emerging, employees were expected to leave home at the door when they arrived at work and Human Resources was still called Human Resources. Diversity initiatives existed as more of a check-the-box program and were primarily focused on race.

Yikes, let’s get back to 2020. We are still spending a lot of time on iPads, but there’s less Angry Birds. There’s been a complete flip from an employer’s job market to a candidate market due to low unemployment rates and the disruption of many industries. Work and home life have never been more intertwined. Remote work has become commonplace – and might very well be the difference between companies that feast or famine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our HR departments are called People & Culture or some other variation. Diversity has expanded beyond race to include any defining personal characteristics like age, gender identity, and sexual orientation. There’s an acknowledgment that while having a diverse workforce is important, it’s not enough. The shift has been to focus on creating an inclusive workplace for all to feel they have equal access and fair treatment. My, how the times have changed – for the better.

How did we make it here to 2020 as Best Workplace for inclusion? At Security Compass, we start everything with trust. We have two-way, transparent communication in a variety of channels. We redefined culture fit as value alignment in our hiring process. We have flexible work policies so that our team members can find a way to make work integrate with life in a way that works for them. We celebrate our differences. We do these things even when they are hard, in fact, especially when they are hard. Leadership admitting a mistake at a townhall or saying no to the most qualified candidate because of value misalignment takes a lot of courage and discipline. It’s tempting to cave, but we don’t. We are all in, all the time trying to be a truly inclusive workplace. We were lucky, our founder and early leaders made this a priority for us from the start. They did this before it was fashionable and before it was well known how good it was for employee engagement, productivity, and profits. They did this because it was the right thing to do. While we did get a head start and have inclusivity engrained in our culture, we have to continue to make this a top priority and focus on more systemic inclusive initiatives like creating and empowering our employee resource groups, equity reviews, training and much more. We had 42% employee growth last year and we are continuing to hire in all areas of the business, so we have to evolve and fast.

Now let’s jump in the time machine again and try to get a glimpse of the future. We are already seeing a shift beyond inclusion to belonging. The concept of belonging ensures that all have a feeling of being listened to, valued and truly free to be ourselves at work. This will involve creating space to be vulnerable and authentic at work, bringing empathy to the forefront of conversations and much more. We have a strong foundation for this with our feedback-rich culture, strong leadership and focus on inclusive decision making, however, this will require its very own systemic review and approach. The future of everyone feeling like they belong at work is a worthy pursuit and I’m excited to hear what other companies are doing to make this future a reality.

About the Author

Michelle Brooks

In Michelle's role as VP of People & Culture, she leverages her 15+ years of experience focusing on talent acquisition, workforce planning, training, and talent management to harness the best of the Security Compass team. Prior to joining Security Compass, Michelle worked in a series of progressively senior leadership roles within industry-leading recruitment firms, before making the transition to corporate human resources and corporate training in the tech and consulting sectors. Michelle specializes in building high-performance teams within rapid growth companies and leading them to success through her passion for innovation and collaborative change management. Michelle has completed her certificate in Adult Education at Brock University.

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