Written by: Meghan M. Boots, Senior Consultant, bluesalve partners
From bluesalve partners’ inception in 2019, we’ve recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I). We want to recruit and retain a team as diverse as the communities in which we operate. We want to build a culture where all team members get fair and respectful treatment, where they’re empowered to contribute equally to bluesalve partners’ success.
As a small consulting firm that is client-focused, there are challenges. “Living by our values” sounds great but we live by hard deadlines. Also our team members draw on longstanding relationships to help clients succeed; often, those relationships were built in the homogeneous business environments of the past. Every month we’d check in and discuss our (lack of) progress; in my busyness, I was hoping new hires would magically make us more diverse.
Through my work with the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA’s) D&I Working Group, I know other businesses face similar challenges. This summer, I participated in the CTA’s panel discussion entitled “Launching a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.” Panelists in all different stages of our D&I journeys shared our experiences so I’m sharing some of our firm’s here in hopes of helping others.
“The CTA D&I Working Group serves as a space for our members to share best practices on advancing diversity and inclusion in tech. New ideas are fostered by tech industry leaders – and we collaborate on finding innovative ways to implement diversity initiatives as a key business imperative. bluesalve partners’ engagement with organizations supporting underrepresented groups in tech can serve as a blueprint for other organizations hoping to launch effective internal and external diversity and inclusion programs.”
Senior Manager, Diversity Initiatives
Consumer Technology Association
My Firm Becomes My Client
My work at bluesalve partners not only includes business strategy and marketing; I enable D&I programs as well. By deciding to treat bluesalve partners like one of my D&I clients, I found the right perspective – and carved out the intentional time – to get our D&I program underway. It’s early days for us, but we’re entirely committed to building diversity. We struggle to meet our objectives, but it’s heartening to have launched a formal program.
To begin bluesalve partners’ D&I program, I first made sure I had my colleagues’ full endorsement. Buy-in was important; so too was creating an opportunity for all colleagues to contribute their own ideas to the initial strategy.
- Check your sponsorship. Cultural change needs strong sponsorship.
- Know your budget. Know your requirements, know what’s authorized, and manage accordingly.
- Know why you want a D&I program. For us, it was this:
- We’d serve clients better with more diverse perspectives, because we’d solve problems more creatively.
- It’s the right thing to do.
- Statistics show correlation between diversity and financial performance.
- Learn about D&I fundamentals before hiring a pro – like underrepresentation, intersectionality, and both historical and present social injustices.
- Focus. What does “diversity” mean to you? What groups will you center around and why?
- For us it was focusing on the most underrepresented groups in the tech industry: Black and Latinx. In 2018, 11.9% of all workers were Black but only 7.9% of computing and math professionals were. Hispanics made up 16.7% of all workers, but only 6.8% of computing and math workers. This is what underrepresentation looks like in the tech industry.
- Know your objectives. Include measurements, timelines, and accountability, so you know when you’ve succeeded. Be realistic about timelines. D&I is a long-term investment.
Our plan has three parts:
Lay the program’s foundation, recruit and hire, and talent retention.
For our “Lay the foundation” phase, one point is to educate ourselves and prepare our “house” for new hires. I wanted us to get uncomfortable by placing ourselves in situations where we are the minorities in the room. Through doing this I wanted to give back, experience personal growth, and expand our network.
To accomplish this we’ve paired each partner with one of the following organizations that further the advancement of underrepresented people in tech to give our talent and time:
- Hip Hop Science Show
- STEM Success Summit
- Urban Ed Academy
- National Society of Black Engineers
Finding Balance, Making Room
The good news is that we’re doing it! As a small firm it can be a struggle, but we’ve found a way to make room for this work because it’s important. Through our pro bono and volunteer work we’re helping our partner organizations in material ways, we’re growing personally, and building relationships.
I will continue to write about our bluesalve partners D&I journey as we work to create a more diverse team, an inclusive environment — and give our efforts the emphasis they deserve.
At bluesalve partners, we have an active product development process we can share with clients to accelerate and improve their batting average. Better outcomes are good for everyone, the firms, the industry, and their customers. Let’s all get better together.
Bluesalve partners is committed to accelerating change, growth and success for our clients.