Diversity, Equity, Inclusion – living our values as a small business

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion – living our values as a small business

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are priorities for DevGlobal. As the world navigates a new way forward with the pandemic and many of our communities pursue long awaited racial and social justice, the following questions represent a reflection between a learning leader who is learning and excited and most importantly committed to global diversity, equity, and inclusion for better outcomes – better outcomes for our team, our clients, our partners, and ultimately, those we hope to serve.

The following is an interview between Lucie Tran and Matt Manning. Lucie is an external diversity, equity and inclusion consultant engaged by DevGlobal to help advise and facilitate DEI efforts across the organization. Matt Manning is the Executive Director and Founder of DevGlobal, a small business sharing our aspirations and lessons learned on our DEI journey.

LT: What was the reason(s) you agreed to prioritize and invest in DEI?

MM: Honest answer is I listened to my team. DevGlobal was in a period of transition and growth. I was no longer a one-man shop or very small business. Understanding this and learning how to listen to the team made it obvious that DEI needs to be invested in and committed to. We are in a tough social and political position as a country and world. It became more and more apparent that DEI needed more attention and commitment. Even as a small business, with limited time and resources it is important to listen and respond to the voices and needs of the people. DevGlobal is trying to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges, and we’ll only succeed if we have diverse teams, inclusive coalitions, and equitable outcomes.

LT: What were your biggest concerns in doing so?

MM: That I would make a mistake or do things wrong. I also was concerned that some of the team and company would not understand why we are using resources on an area that we were already talking about, committing to and doing our best at and realistically may not directly connect to and add value to our existing client work. But I had to step back and realize the importance to invest in people and into DEI as an organization. This commitment does relate to our work and will add value to our client work This effort is not just short term, but also long term to make it core and anchored in who we become.

LT: What have been surprises, good or challenging, along the way?

MM: As I read and think about this question, I find myself reflecting and thinking about how a US based firm was traveling around the world performing services in countries that had talented leaders that can do that same work better, faster, and cheaper. This realization prompted me to seek out partnerships like DevAfrique and DevIndia and collaborate much more closely with leaders in-country to put forward the best absolute team for the client.

My other lesson learned was that the loudest views or positions are not always representative of the entire organization, and I needed support to do this well. I surrounded myself with other leaders that had been on their own journeys and brought their perspective and experience to the table to help me grow and help our organization mature. What is stated in the news or presented in a textbook, podcast, lecture or paper is not always applicable to the real-world situation we find ourselves in. I was very pleased and somewhat surprised that most people understood that I was really trying but am not perfect or know everything I should do or could’ve done.

LT: What hopes do you personally have for DEI at DevGlobal and beyond?

MM: Diversity, equity, and inclusion for better outcomes. I am 100% a true believer in the likelihood that if we commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion in a scalable, sustainable manner it will lead to better outcomes for our clients, our partners, and the communities around the world we hope to support. I do not want to check a box or just do something because I am supposed to. I also hope to keep learning and getting better.

We are in a new place socially, politically, and personally. No-one really knows how to act or what to do, and now more than ever, it’s important to bring in diverse experiences and perspectives. At DevGlobal, we all belong, and everyone has a voice that is valued. As a leader I want to continue to have hard discussions, want to listen and learn, and take bold bets with my team. This is how we will all grow and get better together.

Matt asked Lucie the following questions:

MM: Who do you see as being important to be involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at an organization?

LT: Organizations that invest in DEI must have support from very top leadership that flows through the entire organization. It must be a priority in the culture and lifeblood of the organization. Top down and bottoms up DEI efforts are rarely successful that may find success in some pockets of teams/groups. For an organization wide success, there needs to be buy-in and commitment from the organization as a whole.

MM: What was your first impression of leadership at DevGlobal and its readiness, and willingness to pursue diversity, equity and inclusion? 

LT: My first impression was an organization who saw the benefits and value of DEI but was unsure how to engage and how to address natural conflicts that arise as DEI is discussed. Every organization that first wants to learn about DEI will have conversations that may be tense and have conflict. Leaders should expect some tension and be open to talking through it and finding a path to shared understanding as to why DEI is essential not just for DevGlobal but for all organizations. 

MM: What was most surprising to you as you leaned into learning about DevGlobal, DevGlobal leadership and the overall DevGlobal team?

LT: I was pleasantly surprised by how many at DevGlobal wanted to invest in DEI and have a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. They wanted that to be a priority but were unsure how they could get there as a small but growing firm.

MM: When do you believe DEI will become run of business and part of how businesses operate moving forward?

LT: I wish I could say a date in the near future. However, it’s not likely. Many organizations want the benefits of what DEI organizations achieve – high morale, high performance, and low attrition. However, they don’t want to do the work and invest in what it takes to have an organization that is truly diverse, equitable and inclusive. Many will hire one person into a DEI leadership role and wonder why that isn’t enough. One person can have an impact, but they need a team of allies, representing the community, to achieve a workplace that meets the DEI metrics and needs. An investment in DEI will take time and a community rallying around it.

MM: Where do you see diversity, equity and inclusion efforts leading to for DevGlobal?

LT: I appreciate most that DevGlobal is doing the work itself. I have already seen a change in hiring/interviewing practices and casting a wider net to a more diverse applicant pool. I see us educating the DevGlobal team so we can have conversations about race and set up that team of allies that I spoke about above. When the culture is primed for DEI, it can flourish for current team members and as more team members join DevGlobal. DevGlobal as a result will realize more of the benefits of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive team – individuals who can bring their whole selves to work and share in their experience and ideas as a competitive advantage.

MM: How does DevGlobal compare to other organizations you have participated in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at as an employee, consultant/advisor or other?

LT: DevGlobal is investing in doing DEI comprehensively. Organizations that I have worked with and for in the past typically are looking for a band-aid or fast approach that helps with immediate increase to metrics. What I appreciate the most is that DevGlobal is interested in learning about how to be allies and create the culture that allows DEI to thrive.

MM: Why should DevGlobal (and like organizations) be funding and committing to assistance and advisory with diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts?

LT: It’s amazing to me that despite countless research that shows how essential culture is, that organizations still don’t invest in the culture itself. An organization and culture that values and prioritizes DEI sees a lot of benefits with the workforce itself which impacts their work and the bottom line. When people are valued at work and can be their authentic selves, they bring their best selves to work and are willing to put in discretionary energy, bring unique ideas and take risks. That is what most organizations should want from their employee base. DEI allows for this and DevGlobal is already seeing the benefits of this shift.

— If you would like to learn more about how DevGlobal is building DEI into our client work, read more about our support for vaccine equity and smallholder farmers worldwide[RP1] . If you’re interested in joining our team and being part of our DEI journey, check out our open positions here[RP2] .