A Small (or BIG) Step for Leadership Teams: Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

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Tasktop’s Mission: We are driving toward an inclusive company culture. We are building a come-as-you-are community of mutual respect and trust. We believe that diverse teams perform better and foster an environment of belonging and inclusion. We aim to continually learn, evolve and be better versions of ourselves.

Neelan Choksi (Tasktop President and COO) and I are both “old timers” at Tasktop. We have each helped cultivate the company’s culture and vibe. And, as a female (me) and an immigrant Indian (Neelan), we are like-minded on the importance and difficulty of attaining diversity in an organization. And Dr. Mik Kersten, our founder and CEO, undoubtedly values diversity; all of the author royalties of his best-selling book, Project to Product, go toward the “Project To Product Scholarship” and not-for-profit organizations supporting diversity, women and minorities in technology.   

But this last year has been one of reflecting and considering the difference between caring about diversity and inclusion, and taking action to improve diversity and inclusion. Caring matters, of course, but caring is not enough; action is required.

We wanted our action to be driven and shaped not by the executives in the company but rather by the individuals at Tasktop who share our values. We view our role as leaders as enablers, supporters, advocates and learners. But, while support is great, action is what counts. What could the management team do that can have instant effects?

Tasktop President and COO, Neelan Choksi, and his family.

The Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness

This summer, Tasktop kicked off our “IDEA” working group. IDEA stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness. It is driven and shaped by the team members – just as imagined. Neelan and I are the executive sponsors of the group and it has been a joy to see how quickly this working group has intensified engagement around this topic. In fact, 20% of the company feels strongly enough about this issue to participate in the IDEA group. Participants come from all walks of the company and every department is represented, from first-line management to individual contributors.

There is one aspect of what we are doing as leaders that is so crucial. It is actually a pretty simple action to implement but has a far-reaching and almost immediate impact. We have a company level Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) metric each quarter, specifically around diversity and inclusion. As we kick off our next fiscal year, we now have a top-level annual OKR for diversity and inclusion as well. The great thing about having an OKR like this is that provides identifiable and concrete progress on the initiative. And, most importantly, ensures that this focus and progress is visible not only to the leadership team but to the entire company on a regular basis. In fact, one of the first cascading OKRs from the company-wide OKR was for Neelan and me to write this blog, as requested by the IDEA group.

Why Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awarness Matter to Tasktop Leadership

The value of small but intentional steps like this cannot be underestimated. We strongly believe that this one small action—having a company-wide OKR dedicated to the work our IDEA group is doing—will serve us well as we continue on our journey. This OKR is not dedicated to the group’s work but rather to the company’s activities.

We’ve already seen a significant impact from the conversation we began in earnest only a few months ago. Everyone at Tasktop has taken training in unconscious bias and we’ve had Tasktopians volunteering to write more about that subject and others. We’ve instituted a more diverse “calendar” and volunteers are educating and even entertaining the company with monthly themed topics on things such as Mexican culture, arts, food and music. We have also added information about our mission and work in this area to our Careers page. Furthermore, the IDEA group is looking for ways to reach out to underrepresented communities with job announcements and remove any bias from our job descriptions and the way we interview candidates.

More has to be done and will be done, but we are proud of our employees and their enthusiasm to make our workplace as diverse, safe and inclusive as possible. 

#iamtasktop

Stay tuned for more blogs from Tasktopians, as part of our #iamtasktop campaign, where our employees share their worldview and their own unique journeys at the company.

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