Liam McNally is the Diversity & Inclusion Partner at GitLab Inc. Liam has over 10 years of experience in the People and Talent space, leading large teams through large growth. Liam started his career as a recruitment consultant within the finance industry, and then switched to tech when he moved to Australia in 2014. At GitLab Inc., Liam is instrumental in building programs to elevate D&I. In his role, Liam is responsible for DIB initiatives to ensure that employees can have their voices heard and listened to.
In an exclusive interaction with us, Liam, who will be speaking at People Matters TechHR SEA 2021, shares his views on how can leaders tap the value of inclusivity and how did Gitlab create a broad appeal for its D&I initiatives in the current environment.
What do you feel, are D&I plans slipping down companies' agendas or is it actually popping up, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic?
D&I is now firmly in the minds of many executives at companies. We can see this is in the increase in D&I specialist roles and the uptick in Chief Diversity Officers. The conversations being had are no longer simply how we hire more diverse talent and teams.
“The conversation has moved towards how do we engage our current team members from under-represented groups, how do we help team members become better allies to those team members and how do we build a truly inclusive organization.”
This means companies are now looking at the whole team member experience (employee experience), day-to-day process, compensation, talent development, and communication policies. Attraction and retention are now on equal footing.
How can leaders tap the value of inclusivity, especially with the current fragmented workplace in which more staff work from home?
Remote work and Diversity & Inclusion are great partners, if they were star signs they would be highly compatible. The reason is remote working gives you options, it allows you to hire anywhere in the world, it allows you to dive deeper into talent pools who find it very difficult to get into offices i.e. people living with disabilities, people who are primary caregivers or parents in need of flexible working arrangements, the list could go on.
Having a remote environment that is designed correctly (you can view our remote playbook here) you can create a workplace that is truly reflective of society at large. Then build remote D&I initiatives, be that inclusive benefits, L&D opportunities or allyship programs.
How did Gitlab create a broad appeal for its D&I initiatives in the current environment?
As one of our Collaboration sub-values is Asynchronous communication, we utilize that in our D&I initiatives. Our Team Member Resource Groups have excellent engagement globally; the majority of the communication is done via Slack, Gitlab Issues, or Gitlab Merge requests. This doesn't mean we don't have synchronous meetings, but it allows team members to engage in D&I initiatives in a manner that fits their working day.
“We also use data to influence what we build; we are currently building an Allyship program because our D, I&B Advisory Board saw our team members screaming out for this.”
We saw some initiatives that had a particular audience not having attendance from would be allies, because they were unsure if this was their space. By using data we are creating meaningful experiences for team members to uplift.
What do you think are some top tools and tricks to engage remote employees with D, E & I?
As mentioned in the prior question, data is key, conduct a large annual survey and then follow up with a smaller bi-annual survey to see if any uplift has occurred on key questions. Use data of initiative attendance and uptake to see what can be improved or you need to have more of. We use CutureAMp
“Have different modes of learning. Cater for those who are visual, written for those who are introverts who may not do great in roundtables. Really think about how you can engage with the whole company population.”
Personalization, many companies use off-the-shelf products, but think about what the company needs. We created our own D, I &B certifications you can view the content here. We knew that we were different and had certain challenges, so don't be scared to truly address those challenges with your own bespoke programs.
What is one idea/ step that you would #ChooseToChallenge to empower your employees at work in 2021 as far as the diversity front is concerned?
“I challenge D&I and HR professionals to go beyond Diversity & Inclusion and look at Belonging.”
Belonging has a lot of power, including team members is not enough. Psychological safety, being heard with fear of negative consequences, and the elimination of bias & microaggressions is so important. Belonging is truly when you start to think about what it means to be a Diverse & Inclusive company.