At Presidio, our future success hinges on building a community of diverse voices, experiences, and talents. We recently interviewed our Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Juliette Austin to learn more about her role and how our company is cultivating a culture of inclusion where the expression of all our differences is valued, celebrated, and adds to our collective achievements.
Why Did You Choose to Join Presidio?
Juliette Austin: I have an affinity it seems for the tech industry. We live in an increasingly technology-driven society and the possibilities for the future are endless. Which means this is a sector where the presence of diversity is exceptionally critical. Presidio is growing as an organization and the leadership team is looking to learn and hold themselves accountable in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. Presidio offered me the opportunity to come in at a very strategic time putting in place the building blocks for what the future can hold in cultivating an inclusive culture. It’s an opportunity to ensure Presidio is taking a stance in a meaningful way in building its DE&I culture.
What’s Missing in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Today in Tech?
JA: What’s missing in the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion space, specifically in the tech industry is representation and overall retention. Meaning, we have to improve as an industry in getting people, not just through the door, but retaining them and really creating a conducive environment for people to thrive. Historically the tech industry hasn’t done a great job of that. What’s missing is the ability to retain some really brilliant minds in the space, especially in an industry that continues to evolve, continues to grow, and has implications through all facets of our society. Without representation, without the ability for people to fully be valued and included in the process, we just miss a lot of potential. It’s a loss of creativity and innovation. I think it stalls the industry at times.
What Can We Do to Help with Representation and Inclusion?
JA: There’s a lot organizations can do. While organizations can be seen as a microcosm of society with hard challenges to solve for, it also is an opportunity for organizations to implement practices to counteract those realities in a way our larger societal systems often fail to do. The pandemic has opened a window for companies to expand their ability to source and hire outside of their normal geographic locations and further diversify their talent pool. The last year has been challenging for all of us. But we also learned how to operate differently and flexibly while still being effective and efficient. How we view and approach work is forever changed and that creates new possibilities.
It also forced us to think differently about what it means to have a healthy workforce. Acknowledging and addressing mental health and wellbeing during these unprecedented times helps people feel less alone and encourages teams to find supportive approaches to work. It’s opening up a lot of opportunities for discussion and things that we can do to impact people’s experiences. Everything from the design and delivery of products to how we think about what we do and who it serves is something that this industry should acknowledge its impact on. What is being developed and how it is serving people all has implications to our society, including implications for justice and fairness. Some of the technological advances can exacerbate discrimination, so the industry needs to consider what it is producing, for whom, and why. Whether it’s a literal product or a service, it will either contribute to or will solve disparities in our society.
What are the challenges of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion?
JA: One of the challenges with Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion is we often view it as a separate entity or department within an organization with sole ownership and responsibility for diversity and inclusion. While yes, leadership and structure is absolutely necessary to drive meaningful progression, it is also important to remember, individual people make up organizations. We all have a role and can do something to impact culture and experiences within our own spheres of influence. While larger change processes are taking place, each of us are also accountable to how we show up and the decisions we make. Consider how you are welcoming the new hire on your team. How are you providing feedback and development to your direct reports? Do you celebrate wins or recognize achievements with your peers or others? How do you support your colleagues on projects? These are day-to-day actions and decisions which we all have the ability to do. Be a part of and contribute to the type of culture we want to see and experience. It’s the things we wish other people did for us that also lead to change and belonging.
What’s on the horizon for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion?
JA: If I were to think about what is leading-edge right now in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, it would be embracing neurodiversity. Seeing value and opening spaces for people on the spectrum of brain function. Some who often do well in technical roles. Second, the racial pandemic punctuated in this last year has also, exposed how hollow organizational efforts are not going to cut it or be welcomed. I think more companies are now willing to have deeper, tougher conversations and do more meaningful work for actual impact. Attempting to do better. Lastly, an ever-expanding and evolving remote workforce means organizations will need to adapt to this new paradigm and consider equitable approaches to working from home. While this expands the available talent pool for certain roles, it also means finding creating ways to bring remote teams together and building an inclusive culture. Meeting people where they are and providing what they need.
Presidio is on a trajectory for continual evolution. Learning, growing, and renewing. Putting into practice our core values, creating pathways for development, and increasing the presence of women and underrepresented groups in leadership.
Learn more about Presidio’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.