To be a trusted client partner, Wipro looks beyond business solutions. The Wipro vision is realized by integrating people and planet concerns in all client transformation journeys. To accomplish this goal, it is necessary to decode diversity and inclusion challenges to unlock opportunities for all. Many organizations often overlook the possibility of creating differentiated products and services designed for everyone, as well as the impact of exclusion on innovation. For example, how many technology projects and teams are reviewed in the context of adopting diversity and inclusion practices? Is the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) index determining the success of digital transformation initiatives? Decoding these challenges plays an important role in project success by including diverse perspectives that can unlock enormous value in product development.
Promoting Inclusion Drives Innovation
Promoting inclusion through the daily routine of a development team will have a larger impact on the products being developed. Engineering inclusivity helps nurture teams to embrace ‘beyond the obvious thinking’. This is critical for creating new value and new business models that embed environmental and societal challenges as new business opportunities. For example, in one client project, it was observed that a squad could not deliver their commitments for two consecutive sprints. A review of the situation found that one engineer had been attempting to share her ideas to simplify a complex user story, but the ideas were not considered. The engineer was new to the squad and didn’t have as much technical experience as other team members. It took another two sprints, with the help of a culture champion facilitating internal discussions, for the team to adopt the small change of listening to each other and considering all ideas. This change resulted in accelerated incremental releases of the product, and more importantly, better value to the customer.
Openness Fosters Innovation
Whether solving a climate, customer, business or technical problem, technologists should consider tapping resources from global communities to build innovative solutions. Technical teams tend to work in islands and typically only take input from internal project teams. This leads to a short-sighted approach that yields short-lived products having less traction in the market. Openness not only refers to opening up to the ideas within other teams and other parts of the organization but if possible, utilizing open source communities throughout the world. Networking with global communities helps look at problems with a wider, inclusive design lens.
Moreover, contributing to these communities as a technologist is a key success factor for accelerating innovation. Engineers need more coaching, mentoring and support. Contributing to an open-source community can expose technologists to new ways of thinking. For example, an internal review of the Wipro open-source community found that only 20% were women and only 5% of those were contributing at the leadership level. Wipro created a framework for focused efforts around women-in-tech to enable this under-represented group to become a more valuable and transformative part of the open-source community at large. This is a core tenet of Wipro’s commitment to integrity and respect for all individuals. It requires that everyone’s voice is heard and that everyone has a seat at the table.
Reversing the Matthew Effect for Sense of Belonging
In the context of a working team, the Matthew effect results in some dominant team members getting all of the accolades and becoming the predominant voice in solution design. The overshadowed technical team members tend to hide their opinions for fear of rejection, condescension and more. The result is the inadvertent exclusion of diverse thoughts and ideas that are prevented from feeding into the product development life cycle and contributing to product innovation.
To combat this long-standing practice, organizations need to include DEI principles at the team level. While having transparent conversations helps, each team needs to understand and embrace the importance of a safe and inclusive environment that allows everyone to be heard. To end this cycle, organizations need to adopt new performance-based rewards that effectively account for each team members’ impact on the team’s success. This can be accomplished by adopting a framework for values-driven coaching with the addition of mentoring sessions that include diversity and inclusion.
Wipro has an integrated framework for how to navigate DEI culture adoption and connect our high-performing teams with global communities. DEI culture champions and HR partners are embedded into each engagement. Focused communities for under-represented engineers and teams are anchored by DEI culture role models. The framework introduces how a high-performing software engineering culture can include DEI as part of the performance measurement for each engineer by adding DEI metrics in the context of software development. Moreover, the framework helps engineering leadership, working with information risk security management teams, flatten the aged policies. It provides flexible avenues for all technologists to contribute to their teams and in open-source communities without any barriers. It is the companies that maximize diverse perspectives and accelerate inclusion that will help achieve the goal to make the world a better place for everyone.