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VMblog Expert Interview: Tucker Callaway, CEO of LogDNA and Ingrid Hadley, Principal of ILH Possibilities Inc.

interview-logdna-callaway-and-hadley 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion, commonly referred to as DEI, is at top of mind for many tech companies. CEO of LogDNA, Tucker Callaway, is one leader who's taking steps to advance his company's DEI initiatives by working with consultant, Ingrid Hadley, of ILH Possibilities. They will be discussing why this work is so important for startups in a webinar on September 24, 2020 at 1 pm PT. Their conversation will be moderated by Co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital, Alexis Ohanian. We caught up with Tucker and Ingrid to gain a preview of the content.

VMblog:  What do you think the state of diversity, equity and inclusion is in the tech industry?

Tucker Callaway: In my opinion, the tech industry has fallen behind over the years. Yes, people in tech now recognize the power of speaking up and supporting DEI efforts. Yet people of color and women are still under-represented in leadership roles and the industry as a whole needs to move quickly and make intentional changes. I think our future success lies with current employees (executives are employees by the way), and new entrepreneurs and investors that build their businesses with DEI at the core.

VMblog:  Why is it important for companies to focus on DEI initiatives?

Tucker Callaway: No matter the size of the company, this is an important topic. The smartest businesses recognize the power of having a diverse workplace and inclusive work culture because it also leads to a more productive, motivated, and engaged workforce.

Because DEI incorporates the knowledge and experience of a larger demographic group, it leads to more creative thinking and innovative ideas. Diverse teams are more capable of making decisions and troubleshooting ideas than those made up of like-minded individuals. And this is so important today, because for small and medium businesses, finding and retaining talent is critical to business success. The hiring process for small businesses is challenging so you want to do everything in your power to keep those employees once you've hired them, maintain their productivity, and keep them happy and working hard to make the company successful. 

VMblog:  What are three things that people in tech can do today to become better allies?

Tucker Callaway: We're working on a ton of things with Ingrid, here are a few of them.

  • Improve your hiring practices: In addition to having a diverse pipeline of candidates, tech organizations should focus on creating an inclusive interview process. For growing companies that are hiring too fast, it's easy to just go for specific sets of skills or experiences that you would typically hire for. Instead of asking experience based questions like, "tell me a time when you did XYZ" ask scenario based questions like, "how would you approach XYZ scenario." This helps you understand how people will operate in the role even if they didn't have equal opportunities in a previous job.
  • Create a more diverse business network: There has been a built in bias with networking that it should be done with like-minded members of the business community when in fact the strongest networks are built on diversity. When we surround ourselves with a homogeneous network it becomes difficult to make connections with new people that have a different perspective.
  • Build a culture around diversity: Building a diverse and inclusive team requires that we look internally to correct any practices or behaviors that are misaligned or exclusive. Creating a sense of belonging within the workplace needs to be a priority. This does not happen immediately as trust and respect are built over time. Show up for your team every single day with the goal of doing better and emphasize the importance of inclusion and support between all employees in the company.

VMblog:  Can anyone attend the webinar?

Tucker Callaway: Yes, anyone can join the webinar by signing up here: go.logdna.com/diversity-in-tech

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VMblog:  What do you think the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion is in the tech industry?

Ingrid Hadley: My immediate thought is we have work to do. Since 2014 when Big Tech participated in diversity reporting and published the results, only incremental progress has been made specifically with women, Black, and Latinx employees. The metrics are great, but there are no consequences for the lack of accountability. During this time of racial recocking in our country, there is an urgency to create opportunities beyond the status quo for women and marginalized groups. The companies that make bold statements publicly decrying systematic racism while holding space internally for social justice initiatives must understand they are being scrutinized and evaluated at a more significant level. Stating Black Lives Matter externally but ignoring the need for opportunities and economic mobility where Blacks are concerned is not only dismissive, it is problematic.

Additionally, the gap widens when we account for the lack of diversity in C-Suite and decision-making roles. I see this time as a fantastic opportunity to create space for the underrepresented in the tech workforce because we are working remotely. We can now solicit the best and most qualified diverse talent globally.

VMblog:  Why is it important for small companies to focus on DEI initiatives?

Ingrid Hadley: I am a big fan of leaning into the good of a company's culture and building a DEI strategy within it. Start-ups need to embed the ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion into its foundation and speak actively of these concepts every single day. Also, positioning DEI as a business imperative and not an ancillary dotted line to HR allows companies to think more broadly about how they show up in the marketplace. I read a stat in the Harvard Business Review that stated diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture new markets. By weaving DEI into every aspect of the business increases the potential for revenue growth. When looking at recruitment and retention, identifying those "culture adds" versus "culture fits" is essential. Applicants are looking to grow with employers that will embrace them as their authentic selves and be open to hearing their diverse ideas. If small companies embrace differences from the outset of their formation, they will get it right, and their possibilities are limitless.

VMblog:  What are three things that people in tech can do today to be better allies? 

Ingrid Hadley: The three areas I like to focus on include:

  • Encourage your leaders to become comfortable being uncomfortable by deciding that not being racist isn't enough. We must practice being anti-racist.
  • Understanding and embracing allyship is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and groups of people. It's not self-defined work and efforts must be recognized and embraced by those whom you are seeking to align.
  • Assume the best in marginalized or underrepresented people and work on developing an empathic ear by listening more and talking less.
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Published Monday, September 21, 2020 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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