What does 2023 look like for your organisation? Will the organisational culture flourish, or will it need a significant transformative shake-up? To ring in the new year and kick off the 2023 series of Happier at Work, Aoife is joined by Siobhan Sweeney. Siobhan is the head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at software giant Hubspot and joins Aoife to discuss organisational cultures and all things diversity, inclusion and belonging.
Throughout the episode, Siobhan shares the tick-box exercise mentality that businesses need to banish, discusses the challenges and opportunities that arise within a diverse and inclusive workplace and unpacks the power of listening and creating a safe space for open dialogue. Further key points throughout include;
– An introduction to Siobhan Sweeney
– What do diversity, inclusion and belonging mean in the workplace?
– The reevaluation of leadership styles
– How diverse teams can outshine homogenous teams
– The investment of nurturing: Innovation and blue sky thinking
– The effect of workplace tokenism
– Building psychological safety and bringing your best self to work
– Steps to create an organisation of belonging
– The power of a listening tour
– Values alignment in the recruitment process
– Why you should avoid taking shortcuts on your D&I journey
– The power of storytelling in business
– What being happier at work means to Siobhan
“I don’t have to be in the room for my leaders to discuss DNI. It’s grained in everything they do. It’s part of the conversation now. So it’s there, which makes it really authentic. But more than that, it enables teams to talk about it more, because they know that they have that buy-in from leadership.” – Siobhan Sweeney.
THE LISTENERS SAY:
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Aoife O’Brien 00:00
You’re listening to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host Aoife O’Brien. This is the podcast for leaders who put people first. The podcast covers four broad themes, engagement and belonging, performance and productivity, leadership, equity, and the future of work. Everything to do with the happier at work podcast relates to employee retention, you can find out more at happieratwork.ie.
Siobhan Sweeney 00:25
I think it’s so powerful speaking to different people gathering themes, really listening as well builds that trust, builds that psychological safety, lets people know who you are, I think as well and you can open up and let people see that vulnerable human side.
Aoife O’Brien 00:43
Hello, and welcome to this week’s Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host, Aoife O’Brien. And I’m delighted you decided to tune in today. My guest this week is Siobhan Sweeney, from HubSpot, and we talk all things diversity, inclusion and belonging. And this show really is for you today, If you’re interested in moving beyond kind of a tokenistic box ticking exercise at work to create a lasting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, initiative support within your organisation. As always, I will be doing a synopsis at the end of some of the key points that we talk about. And there were some bits that I took down that we actually continued the conversation after we stopped recording. So I’ll share a little bit more about that at the end as well. I really hope you enjoy today’s episode. And I would love for you to get involved in the conversation on social media, you’ll find all of my social channels on the website happieratwork.ie. LinkedIn tends to be the one that I use most. So if you would like to connect with me there, you’re very welcome to do so. Siobhan Sweeney, you are so welcome to the Happier at Work Podcast. I’m delighted to have you as my guest today. I think we’ve been connected on LinkedIn for a year or two chatting about DCU, chatting about the masters. I see you popping up all over the place doing talks and talking about how great HubSpot is to work and diversity and inclusion. So do you want to give people a little bit of a background as to who you are, how you got into what you’re doing? And yeah, we’ll take it from there.
Siobhan Sweeney 02:19
Brilliant. Thanks, Aoife. Thanks for having me on. I’m delighted to be here. And really looking forward to the chat today. My name is Siobahn Sweeney, I use the pronouns she her in terms of inclusivity, which we’re going to be talking about today, I’m just going to give a brief visual description of myself. I have long black hair. I have black glasses on today, I have a black polo neck, and then I have a cream and navy and there’s brains in there have a cardigan that I’m wearing today. In terms of my career history. I spent a lot of my growing up I say in AIB Allied Irish bank, where I held numerous different roles, lots of change and transformational roles. And then my last role in there would have been leading diversity and inclusion. As part of that role. I went out on the continent for a year and a half to set up an amazing nonprofit called the Open Doors initiative. And I would say that was really when I got to immerse myself working with people from underrepresented groups. So asylum seekers, migrants, and people with all disabilities and disadvantage youths, so members of the traveling community, ex offenders, LGBT plus. So that was my year and a half that I spent on the continent there. And actually, I got to work with so many amazing different companies as part of that time at the Open Doors Initiative. And one of those was HubSpot, which I ended up coming out and working with HubSpot. So I’m very year now working in a global role leading diversity, inclusion and belonging. And I’m sure that we’re going to get into that in more detail in a few moments. And on a more personal level, I am a wife, I’m a mommy of three kids, twelve, eleven and nine, and I’m calling in today from my home office here in Dublin.
Aoife O’Brien 04:26
Brilliant. Yeah. And I think like, like you say, maybe a great place to start is having a look at what those terms actually mean to you. This idea of diversity, inclusion and belonging because, you know, some of the different stories I’ve heard about what they mean, but I’d love to get your perspective on the difference between them and why they’re important at work.
Siobhan Sweeney 04:27
I think that’s actually a great place to start and when I’m doing presentations as well, I would always start off with explaining the definitions as well because I think that’s, I think, we can all have a different per perception of what diversity, inclusion and belonging mean to all of us. So when I look at diversity, it’s embracing difference. And that’s all types of difference. And when I think about inclusion, it’s feeling welcome feeling part of a group, feeling like you can bring yourself to that group. And then when I think of belonging, it’s more so tapping into that psychological safety, where I feel like my voice can be heard, where I feel like I’m respected where I feel like I belong, or where I can see like, I can show up and do my best work.
Aoife O’Brien 05:37
Love those as definitions. And when you were talking there about the inclusion of feeling welcome. I was like, oh, where she gonna go now with this idea of belonging? And you know, because it’s slightly nuanced. And so belonging is the sense that you feel like it’s okay, that you can speak up. And I know, psychological safety is something I’ve spoken about a few times in previous episodes of the podcast. I’d love to know them. From your perspective, maybe from any research that you’ve done, any companies that you’ve worked with, why is it so important? And, you know, is there maybe is there such thing as too much diversity as well?
Siobhan Sweeney 06:12
I think that I think that the way that we are now coming out of COVID-19, we were remote for such a long time. Now, we’re still in the bridge of that hybrid work, hybrid world and organisations trying to figure out their ways of working and what’s gonna work best for them. Now, going into the future. I think that when it comes to diversity, inclusion, belonging, but especially inclusion and belonging, I think that’s more important than ever now. As we, as we interact with people. And as we interact with our colleagues and with our teams on a day to day basis, I think it’s integral. And one of the things actually, that’s, that’s come up a lot, right in this ephah is leaders reevaluating their leadership styles, which I think is, is so important, actually. And I was only speaking to somebody last week about this that I was talking about. When I’m in a real, when I’m presenting, I use my body language a lot, I use my hands, I tend to walk around when I’m presenting. It’s very different when you’re doing that. And when you’re going through a slideshow when you’re when you’re presenting to, to your colleagues on on zoom, or teams or whatever platforms you use. And I think that’s, that’s sad as well for when you’re having one to one meetings with colleagues as well. And in terms of that communication style. So I’ve definitely noticed that alot of leaders are commenting on reevaluating the way that they would communicate. And also bring in a more human centered approach to their conversations. Like, you will know before, when you run an office, people don’t know that your home life or what’s going on. But since we’ve all been working from home, we’ve had multiple different distractions go. And if you haven’t had distractions, you’re very lucky. But like, in my case, working from home, we’ve had my kids come in, or my dog barking or somebody coming to the door, where that opens up the personal side over lives a lot more, as well, and brings a buyer to who we are as humans and our real authentic selves to the to the forefront. And that’s something that I know that my leaders have talked about a lot more and tapping into that to get best not only out of themselves, but to get the best out of their teams as well.
Aoife O’Brien 08:44
Yeah, yeah. And in terms of like, I know, You’ve done a lot of research in this area. Have you seen anything that equates you know why? Why should someone embrace these types of changes at work?
Siobhan Sweeney 08:57
For so many different reasons. And there’s so much research now out there, I’ve done it myself as well, in terms of why it’s so important to tap into diversity, inclusion and belonging, it will increase your you will increase your profits number one, it will the more diversity that you have within your organisation, it will increase your market share. I’ve noticed that customers want to see it more. Customers want to know, do the people that you have working for them resemble them? Are your employees like the customers that we serve on a day to day basis stakeholders, stakeholders are demanding it more. And then it brings around so much better decisions and innovation. We know from even going to go back to my days in in the bank financial crash. One of the main findings that came out of the Central Bank of Ireland was down to homogeneous teams and that group think that was present. So the more diversity we have the better. But with saying that Aoife, it doesn’t come easy when you bring people together that are from different cultures, different backgrounds, and you pop everybody together. It’s not like this innovation and, and great decisions and blue sky thinking are all going to just pop out and start to happen automatically. It doesn’t work like that. It takes, it takes time it takes, it takes effort. And I definitely takes a lot of focus from the leaders to make sure that they’re actually getting the best out of their team, and nurture that talent that they have there.
Aoife O’Brien 10:40
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m so glad you said that. And you brought up this idea of homogeneous teams as well, which is something that came up in the research I did, as part of my master’s, just for anyone who doesn’t know, we did the same masters, but we did it at different times. And so we were kind of chatting about findings. And you know, what it was was the course, like all of this kind of stuff. But that was one of the things like when I was looking at values, a big piece of the research was, if you bring people together who are all alike, you know, what happens then in the organisation is that it becomes slower, it becomes underperforming the race, this mentality of groupthink, and maybe people don’t feel safe to speak up, because this is how we’ve always done things. And I don’t really feel safe to challenge how things are being done here. So it’s really interesting that you bring that up. And it’s kind of addressed by this sense of belonging, I’m also so glad that you said that it’s not easy. Like, it’s not a case of just bringing a whole load of people together, and then plunking them together, and it’s all gonna magically appear, you actually have to have leadership skills in place to be able to extract that. And, you know, kind of going back to my earlier point about this idea of values that the pain that came out there was if you bring people with similar values, so you’re assessing people based on their values, not based on their background, not based on their skills, but based on the values that they have. And check also for diverse thinking. So do people think differently? You know, you your background is in a bank, you came from a bank, there’s probably people from lots of different areas in HubSpot, who came from loads of different industries, and they bring that thinking with them, they’re thinking a little bit differently, maybe they have different backgrounds to yourself, all of these things, I think, can happen. So any thoughts initially on that, before we move on to like, Well, how do we, how do we do something about it?
Siobhan Sweeney 12:35
Yeah, I think that I think that a lot of organisations want that. And like the idea, just a theory, but talking about that they liked the idea of innovation, they like the idea of bringing together better blue sky thinking and better decisions. But and there’s there’s a big but there, that investment isn’t always made when it comes to nurture, even though we know that that as we talked about, if the findings are there in terms of this is what our customers want, this is what our stakeholders want, it’ll bring us more profit, it’ll it’ll make us better as a as a business and increase our shareholder value. Although we know all the positives are there. I haven’t seen it that in foot, the full investment across the board. Yes, from customers, from businesses, sorry. And it is very much a journey. And there is not a final destination, I have been in this work for a long time. And there is no final destination. When you read all of these books or you do X amount of research, you’re going to know everything. That’s not the case. It’s constantly when it comes to when it comes to people, when it comes we’re constantly evolving. And there’s better ways to do things. And that’s why we always need to, I guess, keep on top of their research and continue to learn and be inquisitive. But the one thing that I would say is organisations need to move past the tick boxing exercise of this is a this is great. And this is where we’re going to have diversity and inclusion in your organisation. And these are all the things that we’re going to do and have that down on paper or as part of as part of their website but not actually do anything substantial about it. Because yeah, if you’re just saying that your your staff know, the your employees know, your customers will soon know that it’s only tokenistic in terms of what you’re actually talking about.
Aoife O’Brien 14:41
Yeah. And that’s, it’s so funny that you say that because there’s a few things that kind of pop up for me and this is the first of all related to the research I did on the work that I do with the organisation in organisations in relation to values and that they say one thing on their website, and they say one thing Seeing across social media, they put things out there saying these are our values. But when you get to the organisation, when you’re actually in there and experiencing the behavior of the people who work there, it’s it doesn’t align with what they’ve said that the values are, there’s a complete and utter mismatch. So that’s the first thing that kind of springs to mind. And then the second thing is we touched on it very briefly before we started recording is this, what I’ve seen a lot of people talking about is green washing. And then just yesterday, I think it was I saw someone post about wellbeing washing, when people say, Oh, this is such a great place to work with a great life, work life balance, and you’re going to, you’re going to be really looked after here, and you get into the organisation, and you realise that they’re understaffed. And that’s not the case at all. And you’re going to have to end up working hours and hours. So like, is it the same with diversity, then? Is that what you’re saying?
Siobhan Sweeney 15:49
Absolutely. As part of my research that I did, when I was doing my dissertation, I looked at why organisations are getting involved in diversity and inclusion strategies. Aoife, this was, this was a real eye opener for me, I feel that when it comes to diversity, inclusion in blogging as part of it’s part of my DNA now, I was so intrigued by talking to 25 people, right, from CEOs to Chief people, officers trickling down in the hallway through organisations to get a real feel on this was, this was multinational organisations as well, to get a real feel of what, why they were involved, first of all, and what it actually meant and how it transpired within the organisation. On my main finding that came out of the research was that it was that it was tokenistic, that people that the organisations were doing it because they wanted it to be part of their mission statement, and have on their company website. Another reason was they wanted to win win deals with their customers. And this was something that customers were looking for when it came to diversity and inclusion. And then also was really interesting. Some people spoke about their actual leaders within their within their departments, actually trying to sway them away from being involved in Employee Resource Groups, and telling them to concentrate on their main job, that that will get them the promotion or that will get them to the next level, the additional involvement with your ERG’s wouldn’t. So it was, it was very eye opening in terms of hearing it, hearing people’s perspectives, also a main thing that came out of it, especially the more senior year went up in the organisation with fear. Fear was a huge one of almost backing away from diversity and inclusion, because people were so scared of doing or saying the wrong thing, that some senior leaders just shied away to shied away from it completely. So they wouldn’t find themselves in a situation that they didn’t want to be in.
Aoife O’Brien 18:10
Yeah, yeah. So did they kind of expand on what that might be? Like? What What were they afraid of? Or is there something in particular that they were afraid of saying?
Siobhan Sweeney 18:20
Yes, so there was there was lots of there was lots of different things. Terminology was a was a big one. And certain people felt that there was so much terminology, and almost to the point of jargon, that they didn’t know what it actually and they were scared to ask questions and ask questions in a big group. Because they felt as a senior leader within the organisation, they actually should know about it. That was actually probably one of the main things that came up was around the terminology. And, and also fear of saying something to a person, and in case it was taken off the wrong way. And and they will get brought up in front of hate or then for, for saying something that was inappropriate. So in saying I think to a person that would just totally shy away from it.
Aoife O’Brien 19:16
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So shying away from having those sometimes difficult conversations. In case of the in case, they say the wrong thing, and get brought up to, you know, greater fear of being brought up to hate you because you’ve said the wrong thing. Yeah. So it was really it was really interesting and just hearing it from different people’s perspectives. And one of the main things for me I did that was meeting people where they actually are on the journey. When it comes to organisations. Even though you might want to jump to a certain place and rollout all of this training, your organisation might not be ready for that and that’s okay. Yeah, it’s getting consensus from your stakeholders in terms of where they’re at listening and actively listening, not listening to what you want to actually hear, and listening to where they’re at, and meeting them there. So like that that’s something that I did when I came into HubSpot really worked with the teams really listened to what they needed. And a lot of the things that I started doing were sessions, like q&a sessions, talking about my own background, my history, like we’re having a conversation now, and then inviting people to ask questions to ask, well, maybe it was different terminology, to ask about disclosure, reasonable accommodations, and getting more getting more conversation flowing around the topic. And just something just something that you said a few minutes ago was when you were talking about your values, and where the organisation thinks their values are, where they actually really are. That’s, that’s one of the things at HubSpot that I absolutely love is diversity, inclusion, belonging. It’s one of our strategic priorities set out by our CEO Yamani. She has five strategic priorities, diversity, inclusion, belonging is one of those. But I don’t have to be in the room for my leaders to talk about DNI. It’s grained in everything that they do, it’s part of the conversation now. So it’s there, which makes it really, really authentic. But more than that, it enables teams to be able to talk about it more, because they know that they have that buy in from leadership. Yeah. So I mean, there’s so much to unpack there with what you’re saying. And I love this idea that it’s about meeting people where they are on the journey. And, you know, the temptation I think with with someone like myself, especially is I know, I know what I want to do when I’m working with organisations in relation to values and happiness at work in general. And I want to kind of jump there straight away. But I love this idea of listening to where people are and seeing where they aren’t on the journey, wash, maybe taking a step back before we move on to the solution. But what is the impact then, that if people are afraid of saying the wrong thing, and they’re not having those conversations, because of that, what’s the impact on the organisation, if something like that happens,
Siobhan Sweeney 22:25
You’re not getting the best out of people, you’re not. And I know, some people don’t like talking about bringing your whole selves to work, or don’t believe that you can bring your whole selves to work. And when you think if I bring in your your your whole self to work, I don’t mean, I don’t mean bringing the kitchen sink, and my three kids and everything into the room here with me. When I think about bringing my whole self to work, or think about bringing the best of Siobhan to work today. Yeah. And that’s the way I think about it. I think that if people have if people have a fear, or if they have questions that they don’t feel that they can ask, well, then they’re not bringing their best selves to work every day when they have all of this modeling over in their head. And maybe that’s for a variety of different reasons, either. Maybe that’s because they don’t feel like that their leader is listening to them maybe that they don’t feel like they have that, that psychological safety to speak or to learn to contribute. Without people maybe having perceptions of them. So there’s, I think that there are so many things that you can you can dive into in terms of the why then why don’t feel that they can ask these questions.
Aoife O’Brien 23:47
If you are a longtime listener to the Happier at Work podcast, you will have heard me speak previously about my signature happier at work program. The program has now moved beyond the pilot phase. And it’s for organisations who want to maintain a really great culture that they already have. They know that their staff are really, really important. And they want to retain staff for as long as possible, and drive a sense of better engagement at work. Overall. Ultimately, what the program does is create a happier working environment using research backed methods. What that means is we look at the current state of play, what needs to change, and then we measure the effectiveness of that change during the program. And also when the program finishes. The program itself is very practical. It is designed with coaching as well in order to embed the learning into the organisation. I love this idea of it, you know, and this has come up a lot on the podcast recently actually this idea of the wholse self and the hotel is not like I’m bringing all of my anger with me and that’s just who I am. It’s about bringing your whole self but I love this idea that it’s bringing your fast, it’s actually bringing your best to work and being able to perform at your best because you feel like you’re being listened to, because you’re in that psychologically safe environment. And, you know, with the work I do around imposter syndrome, with the work I do around values, what I find is that we expend so much energy, if we have impostor syndrome, or try to conceal it in some way. We’re overworking, we’re trying to, we’re trying to hide and we spend so much energy doing that kind of stuff. If you’re in an environment where your values don’t align, or the they’re saying that the values are one thing, but they’re behaving in a very different way, trying to mask who you are, takes up so much energy that could be spent working that could be spent not worrying. And, you know, it just uses up so much of our resources by trying to conceal ourselves or trying to hide who it is that we are,
Siobhan Sweeney 25:50
Yeah, absolutely all that worry and anxiety that we’re putting in, and we’re not bringing the best version of us. To wherever, wherever we’re going, if that’s not going on remotely or going into the office, I think, yeah, there’s, there’s so much there that we could actually tap into.
Aoife O’Brien 26:06
And then maybe move on more to the solutions. So if this is the case, you know, if we’re meeting companies where they are on that journey, what are the some of the things I love this idea that you’re talking about doing a Q&A, Doing an Ask me anything? Like any other? Yeah, maybe first steps that people can take on on this journey?
Siobhan Sweeney 26:25
Yeah, one of the first things that I did when I when I came into the team year, and it’s if it’s a global, my remit is global. So it’s EMEA, the Americas and J. Pak, one of the first things that I did for each of the regions that I was working with was through a listening tour. And I just think that’s just so powerful meeting with different people from the region. And again, confidential conversations, but gathering all the teams, and what are the key themes that are coming out of those conversations for for each of the different regions, and you will definitely see, well, you should definitely see different trends I know that I have, and it just enables you to get a clearer idea of where you will need to focus on where your energy should go. I know we, we talked about it there a few minutes ago, sometimes you might have loads of ideas in terms of where you want to go, and where are you where you’re really want to dive into. But by doing this, it can also highlight and pop out areas where you really need to where you really need to focus your energy on first, or could be working with leaders within that, within that region to concentrate on initiative might need to put in straightaway if there if there is something burning there without comes out of. But I think it’s so powerful speaking to different people, gathering themes, getting really listening as well builds that trust builds that psychological safety, lets people know who you are, I think as well, and you can open up and let people see that vulnerable human side. And yeah, I think that definitely gets you supporters. And not only that, it allows people then to reach out to you, when you start to build that one on one trust as well with people, if they have queries, or they want to do something within their region, and stuff, one of the first things that I would say definitely do the listening tour, work with your leaders that as well within the area. See what’s been done in the past, because there could be different initiatives that have run in the past, see if there’s any measurement in terms of what was the success of those initiatives that have previously previously run before you. Or if you’re starting, if you’re starting a scratch, work with the leaders to see what they what their ideas are, what they would like to do. And I definitely think by as well, if you can have focus groups and small focus groups where people can share their thoughts and their opinions with you. And then I love starting off than within with a q&a session or an AMA session, if you have questions lined up already. And then open it up to the audience center ask questions. And yeah, that was definitely that. There definitely is, if you a few things that you can do to start the journey.
Aoife O’Brien 29:27
Yeah, I mean, so I think with a lot of things, the listening part is so important. And one of the more recent things that I’m thinking of and that I’m encountering with the organisations I work with is they’re struggling with this shift to hybrid or bringing people back into the office and every organisation is looking to see what other organisations are doing and they want to kind of emulate that. They want to copy that. And what works best is if you ask your people, what do they think is working what’s not working? What will work and try and navigate it from that perspective, rather than trying to take a framework of something that someone else has already done and apply it into a situation that might be very, very different? Yeah. So that’s kind of a, you know, we could apply the same thinking to this particular situation when it comes to diversity and inclusion. It’s not about taking a framework and doing it all the same. It’s about listening to what people say, what ideas do they have what has been tried before? Maybe it was the wrong time, then maybe we could try it now. And it’s the right time. And you know, you’re further along on that journey. And I’d love to know, like, Do you have any particular milestones that that are recognised along this journey? Like, I mean, for me, with most things, it starts with an awareness of what’s actually what the current situation is. And then we we sort of take it from there.
Siobhan Sweeney 30:51
Yeah. And we’re really lucky at HubSpot, there’s a huge investment in people. It’s not, it’s actually it’s not like any other organisation where we’ve ever worked before in terms of how much investment is there and how much people need tools within HubSpot. So within people operations, we actually have a culture team, we have an ESG team, we have a diversity and inclusion team. So we have practitioners. So just like you’d have your HRBPs within organisations, we have diversity and inclusion leaders that are assigned to different areas of the business. So all of us practitioners would work with different areas of the business and actually meet them where they’re at. So for marketing, for customer success, for sales, and so on. And then we have another half of the business that works with our communities. So our communities, our other employee resource groups, they would look at really creating communities within HubSpot to whatever groups that people align with, whether that’s our black hub, or people of colour group or women at. And I know that on the more functional side, as I was talking about with the practitioners that we have that work with each of the business areas, again, its gender, gender focus has been a huge word for us to make sure that we’re getting to piracy. And as a company, we’re extremely close to that. With there’s there’s huge strides that have been made there, we focus on there’s a huge focus on under representative groups as well, within HubSpot, including people of color, LGBTQ y plus. So all of that is measured on a consistent basis in terms of how we’re doing. And we would really, really, we would work really, really close with the leadership teams within those departments. Then on a yearly basis, we publish our diversity and inclusion report that’s published on our website as well. So everybody can see and go through the progress that we’re making year on year when it comes to looking at diversity, inclusion and belonging as a whole, and see the progress that we’re making. But again, as I talked about, it’s we all play that part. It’s not just the diversity and inclusion team, as I talked about, when it’s a strategic priority within the organisation, every it’s everybody’s job, it’s not just ours to make sure that we’re moving the dial in terms of the progress that we’re making, but also in the environment that we have now. The way the macro environment is and the way the talent is, as well, like there’s such a huge focus on hiring the best of the best talent in what we have. We have amazing talent, we want to make sure that we’re retaining that talent. And something that we talked about a lot at the stars Aoife was when we were talking about it being a tick box exerciser, greenwashing for wellness or for DNI. That’s something that comes, that’s something that comes up a lot from a recruitment process. When we’re interviewing people, I’m finding that more and more people want to know, well, what are you doing with diversity inclusion? And what does that look like? How can I be involved when I come into your organisation? And the wellness perspective as well, like, tell me Is there really unlimited personal time of does that really exist? We have a week off as well, where our company should stay in in July. And that’s one of our mitigations against burnout. We all shut down laptops, and people can add on to that if they want to as well. But I’m noticing that more and more potential candidates, new hires want to know, is this really real when they’re coming through? And if it’s not, I think that if it’s not for organisations, and if there is that it’s only a tick box, more and more and more people, especially that top talent are happy to walk away from jobs. It’s not career where you are there for your life for anymore? Definitely not like it maybe three to four years now in one job, and then people move on to the next. But if it’s not what it says on the 10 people, people move on.
Aoife O’Brien 30:51
Yeah, I think it’s very telling Siobhan that they, they’re asking is this really real? And it’s like, to me, it’s suggests that maybe they’ve been burned in the past where they’ve gone through this recruitment process. And they’ve, the company has made a lot of promises, and the situation hasn’t turned out to be what they thought it was initially. And so now they need to double check, like is this actually, you know, you say that this is the case. But is it really, and I think, from an individual’s perspective, if they’re going for a row summary, there are ways to figure it, like, you can tell whether people are just sort of going along with it, that they’re really desperate to get you in the into the organisation versus if they’re like, Okay, and we have this program, and we have this and we publish our diversity statistics. And, you know, it’s really important for us to to promote that type of culture here. But, you know, again, this sort of ties in with the the research I did around values, and when people decide not everyone decides to leave an organisation, I have done it in the past, and I’ve talked about that, on the podcast, I’ve done it a couple of times, where this is not a good fit for me. So I walked away. But those people who will stay in that situation, ongoing, and you know, it’s disruptive to the organisation. But the other thing I think worth considering is like, you’re saying the best of the best talent, they have options. And even if it’s like it’s it’s a quite a buoyant market at the moment, for from a candidates perspective, it’s, you know, there’s quite a lot of jobs going so. But even when it’s not such a candidates market, people who are really good and in high demand will have absolutely no problem leaving an organisation. So I suppose it’s never to think that it’s okay to to not have these initiatives in place, because it’s, you know, people are desperate for jobs, and we can kind of treat people, however, however we want, we can treat people like they’re a number as opposed to a human being as opposed to an individual. Yeah, I yeah, I absolutely. I couldn’t, I couldn’t agree. I couldn’t agree more. Brilliant. Look, we’ve we’ve talked about why diversity is important. We’ve talked about the impact that it has when it’s all in place. And we’ve touched on steps to take in order to make it happen. Is there anything else that we haven’t kind of covered that you wanted to get across in relation to diversity and inclusion at work?
Siobhan Sweeney 37:41
Yeah, I think I think one of the probably the things that we haven’t gone into in a lot of detail is, again, kind of linking back to what we were talking about in terms of window dressing. But in terms of the initiatives that organisations are taking, when it comes to diversity, inclusion, belonging, I would say, again, when it comes to celebrating days, I know like International Women’s Day, Pride, whatever it is, just make sure that it’s that it’s authentic in the way that you’re doing it. And that you that it’s that you’re living and breeding it within your organisation. So if it’s, I would probably reverse by saying, what’s the impact of the days that you’re celebrating? And the why? Because otherwise, why are you doing it? That would be one of the things that I would say. So again, like the different initiatives that we want to roll out within our organisation, it comes back to the why, like, why are we doing it? Is it the right time? Are we doing it? Just because we think our customers will want to see it? Are we doing it because we think we have to do it for employees? And then again, what’s the impact? I think that when it comes to, when it comes to looking at the things that we are doing, sometimes we do a lot of things, and there isn’t the return on investment in the things that we’re doing. And then again, it can also if there’s any people that are on the fence when it comes to diversity and inclusion, again, we might even be showing real value if we’re only doing certain days within the calendar year. Again, it comes back to the why that you’re doing things and how you’re getting return on investment for the bottom line as well I think is so so important. And you’re bringing people on that journey with you. Because if we’re only do and we’re only celebrating days, we’re not actually going on a journey, it’s more so window dressing that we’re actually doing.
Aoife O’Brien 39:55
Yeah, yeah, really good points. And I was going to, like what springs to mind, you mentioned about doing the days was, but are you doing anything for the rest of the year? Are you just saying this one day, this is what we’re doing. But actually the rest of the year, we’re not really doing much to support this, this cohort of diverse people or to support people in general in the organisation. So I think that’s, that’s a really valuable point to share based on that. I mean, we could probably spend a whole other podcast episode talking about the ROI and how to measure the ROI. And for me, it comes back to why are you doing this in the first place, what it is, what is it that you’re trying to achieve, by implementing these initiatives, and, you know, it could be food for thought that someone who’s listening today is trying to jump ahead on the journey, rather than listening to where they really are currently, and how to take that kind of the change a little bit more slowly, smaller steps, and listen to what people want on on that journey. Like my background is in research and data analytics. So when I did the the masters and was doing all the research around that stuff, like my eyes just lit up, not everyone loves spreadsheets and data, but I do. So like looking at impact, and turning that into a story of how it has impacted an organisation, that’s something that really, really lights me up. And I think it’s really important to consider the why, like, why are you actually doing this? And, you know, again, going back to earlier in the conversation, when people are doing it for selfish reasons, like maybe the selfish reasons aren’t always bad reasons. But really, it’s in the interest of the organisation to have these types of initiatives. But it’s also in the interest of individuals because we feel more fulfilled at work. And, you know, I suppose the whole premise of this podcast is that people feel happier at work. And when you feel happier at work, then you’re happier and lots of other aspects of your life as well, because we spent so much of our time doing work that, you know, if you could be happier for those eight hours a day, or whatever it might be that spills into every aspect of your life.
Siobhan Sweeney 42:08
Yeah, absolutely. And I think I think that as well, just just to add to what you had just said there Aoife, if we want to skip ahead, we want to, if people are thinking, Okay, well, we haven’t done much, let’s just skip ahead and, and get ourselves even halfway down the road. It’s, as I mentioned, already, it’s all about that journey. And if you decide that you want to skip ahead and be halfway on that road already, you haven’t brought up people on the journey with you, you’re just going there yourself. And the most important thing that you do is you bring people along the way because one person, one person themselves can’t change your whole organisation and the way that they do things, you need everybody, everybody has a part to play in that everybody has a role within bringing diversity, inclusion and belonging along. And that’s why we need to kind of meet people where they are in order to move along. And that’s in that’s in terms of everything that we’re doing. Like the we talked about the why there and the impact. There’s no point just celebrating calendar days, if you’re not going to do anything else. We don’t hire people in because they’re good talent. They’re gonna ask questions just like we would in terms of well, why are we doing this, like just today? And we don’t do anything else? Like, what are we linking it back to? What’s their overall Northstar that we actually want to get to as an organisation, what does that look like? And are we telling our staff that? Are we telling them where we want to go and the steps that we’re going to take to make that happen? Because if we don’t, people won’t be coming along that same journey with us. Wondering why then we’re not picking up followers along the way and bringing in the widows and why more and more people aren’t getting involved are raising their hands to speak up and to role models. And unless we do that, right and work and unless actively listen and meet people where they are. That’s not going to be possible.
Aoife O’Brien 44:16
I love that. And it left me feeling really inspired, and I’m excited for the future as well. And again, it probably could be a whole nother podcast episode talking about bringing people on that journey and storytelling, like I know in some previous podcasts episodes, we’ve talked about the power of storytelling, especially when it comes to business and people when they feel emotions about things then they can really get behind it rather than seeing kind of stats and figures when you can talk about and share individual people’s stories. I think it makes a huge, huge difference at work.
Siobhan Sweeney 44:47
Absolutely. It definitely does. I think the more real that you can be and the more authentic especially with storytelling. I was only talking to somebody about this as well the other day storytelling and the power of it. People warm to you. And people want to know more. And people are interested in learning there as well. When you’re talking about it from your own personal experience, rather than theory or research, reading it in a book, the more authentic that we can make, we can make in terms of storytelling, the better it is. Yeah,
Aoife O’Brien 45:21
Absolutely. Now Siobhan, the question I ask everyone who comes on the podcast, what does being happier at work mean to you?
Siobhan Sweeney 45:27
Being happy at work to me means doing what I love to do to the best of my ability. So showing up doing of doing diversity and inclusion work with leaders. And I’m doing it to the best of my ability with, with no boundaries really in place, or yeah, not feeling like I have any boundaries or walls around me, getting to work, getting to work and be my best when I show up every day. I’m bringing my authentic self the best version of Siobhan to the table.
Aoife O’Brien 46:06
Love that. Love it. So yeah, I mean, going back to what you had said earlier, it’s about this showing up as your best self and being in an environment where it’s okay to do that.
Siobhan Sweeney 46:15
Aoife O’Brien 46:17
And if people want to reach out if they want to connect with you, if they want to find out more about what you do find out more about HubSpot, what’s the best way they can do that, you can do that through LinkedIn, I’m on LinkedIn. So Siobhan Sweeney, you can find me on LinkedIn. And then also, if you want to check out HubSpot, you can check out our website and go on to our career portal as well. We’re hiring at the moment. There’s lots of great roles there so people can go on and have a look Brilliant. Thank you. Thanks so much for your time today. I really, really enjoyed the conversation. And you know, there’s a lot of things that I think people can consider when it comes to D, E, I and B initiatives. So diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, any of those kinds of topics. And there’s so many things that that I think will spark. So a bit of inspiration and people listening today. So really, really appreciate that. Thank you so much for your time.
Siobhan Sweeney 47:08
Thanks Aoife, I really appreciate you having me on.
Aoife O’Brien 47:15
That was Siobhan Sweeney from HubSpot. And I really hope you enjoyed today’s episode. As per usual, I’m going to be doing synopsis, I suppose thinking about it, I’ve gotten some great feedback on on doing these summaries at the end, and I’m happy to do them. It’s something I quite enjoy something I’m I’m been told I’m quite good at. But really, it’s to help with the learning. So rather than just listening to the podcast episode, it’s about hearing again, what some of the key points were. And what are some of the immediate action steps that you can take to effect change in your own organisations. So I do hope that you are taking advantage of this, that you’re getting the benefit from it as well. Another way to do that as well is to get involved in the conversation on social media. Typically, I would post on LinkedIn, as well as Instagram, about all of the key points from the episodes that I put out there. And Do feel free to comment to, you know, ask questions or anything like that. I also go live weekly on LinkedIn, I’m mixing it up these days with either video or audio live audio being that you can come up to a stage and ask questions and a little bit more interactive. But the downside is that it’s live only whereas the video, LinkedIn lives, it’s harder to ask questions. So you can put comments in that are read out. But you can watch the replay, which is a really great benefit. And you can also ask questions in the replay as well, which is great. Now back to today’s episode. Now we kind of started talking about some of the definitions. So diversity being embracing difference. So people’s differences, then inclusion is about feeling welcome, and then belonging, about tapping into that psychological safety. And I know certainly, this concept of psychological safety has come up again and again, on the podcast, it’s so so important to create that environment where people feel safe, that they feel they can speak up that they can challenge how things are currently being done. The second point I wanted to make on this, then is that it’s not easy. It tends to be a journey and there’s no destination that you suddenly arrive at and you know, you you’ve made it. And you know one of the things that we talked about was this idea that organisations like the idea of innovation and blue sky thinking they like the idea of all of the benefits that are associated with what we were talking about with diversity and inclusion and creating an or an organisation of belonging, essentially. But the investment isn’t always made in nurturing that kind of environment in order to create that environment where people will really thrive, work. And really it’s about knowing where you are on that journey before you can start making any sort of changes. We talked about this idea of, yeah, you know, some organisations are moving beyond this tokenistic box ticking. I know, certainly in my own experience, I’ve seen a lot of organisations that just want to tick a box that they’ve got someone and to talk about well being that they’ve got someone and to talk about some of the challenges around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. But if they’re not doing something in the longer term, to drive home, those changes to actually actually make that paradigm shift towards the kind of environment that supports that. One of the things I really liked about what Shavon said today, was this idea of a listening tour. So having confidential conversations with people, and understanding what are some of the key themes that are happening around the organisation, it shows, I suppose, from both sides, this more vulnerable human side at work. And that’s something that I think is really, really important when it comes to creating these kinds of environments is the permission to be human at work and to be able to bring your whole self to work as well. Now, perhaps some of the questions that you might ask when it comes to this subject of diversity and inclusion is thinking for your own organisation? Why is it actually important in the first place? What is the impact of it when it’s not in place? And how do we actually go about doing it? So some questions to kind of, I suppose, leave you ponder, and think about, well, what does that mean specifically for me? whereabouts? Are we as an organisation on this journey? And what can we do about it? What is the next step that we need to take in order to make this a reality? Another thing that really came through from the conversation is that it’s not a one person’s job to really drive this, everyone has a role to play in creating this kind of environment. So don’t feel like you have to do it by yourself. It’s really about bringing the bringing people on that journey with you through those questions, you know, why is it important to us? What’s the impact of not having it? And how do we actually go about doing it? So So actually, asking people those questions, I think can be a huge benefit to you. Now, I did promise that we were going to share what we spoke about after we stopped recording. And this was this idea of employee resource groups. And I know certainly I have been involved when I worked in corporate in the employee resource groups supporting LGBTQ I also women, the Women’s Resource Group, as well. So the ERGs. But, you know, it’s thinking about how to use them strategically. And certainly, from my own experience, we didn’t really have the investment behind what we wanted to do how we wanted to educate people. And it’s one thing to have an ERG and to have it set up and for people to be volunteering their time to be running it, to be setting up events. But it’s another thing completely to have the investment and the buy in and the senior sponsorship behind running those types of groups within organisations in order to really drive the change that you’re talking about. So something to really think about, how much are you actually investing? So are you just talking about having diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at work? Or are you really putting money where your mouth is by investing in employee resource groups to bring those people together, and to bring in experts to talk about those kinds of topics, and how to actually affect change at work. And certainly, I’ve worked with quite a number of forward thinking organisations, especially with their women’s networks around impostor syndrome. So unlocking that confidence for women, especially at work and empowering them to succeed, to get to those higher positions, that they’re really really after. And I suppose this is just one example of how to use ERG’s effectively in organisations. That’s it from me today. I would love for you to get involved in the conversation. If you have any questions or thoughts of your own, do feel free to get involved in the conversation on social media. Feel free to send me an email directly. All details you can find them on my website happieratwork.ie. and I’ll be back again next week.
That was another episode of the Happier at Work podcast. I am so glad you tuned in today. If you enjoy today’s podcast, I would love to get your thoughts – head on over to social media to get involved in the conversation. If you enjoyed the podcast, I would love if you could rate, review it or share it with a friend. If you want to know more about what I do or how I could help your business, head on over to happieratwork.ie