Diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIBs) are paramount at ServiceNow. That’s why every year, the company holds a ServiceNow DIBS Leadership Summit. The goal: to help leaders become agents of change to dismantle injustice in every form and to build an equitable world for everyone on their teams.
Nearly 200 leaders attended the 2020 ServiceNow DIBs Leadership Summit, including Craig S., vice president for global App Engine solutions sales. “This company at the leadership level believes in this topic and wants change,” he notes.
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Challenging unconscious bias
Leaders were sent on a multi-month diversity, inclusion, and belonging journey to go deep personally by challenging their own biases, assumptions, and patterns. As they learn more about themselves on this ongoing journey, they’re learning how to be more inclusive leaders in style and decision-making.
Amy L., senior vice president and global head of design, welcomed the opportunity. She understands that, by doing that, “you’ll ideally create an environment that’s inclusive of everybody, where they feel heard, and they can contribute.”
The summit covered key areas where most inclusion and belonging efforts fall apart. First, leaders went through exercises to understand how active listening is empathy in action. They learned strategies to address their own personal barriers to listening effectively. Then, they practiced listening to others’ experiences and realities. This exercise opened leaders’ eyes to becoming more compassionate.
The fully digital summit introduced the opportunity to use augmented reality technology. Leaders were put into real, life-like business scenarios where a team member shared a tough situation that had occurred. Mica M., vice president of global sales and business operations, says, “It was so real, in fact, that I do feel like I got sufficient practice of listening empathetically, being an ally, and having a crucial conversation with this avatar.”
Becoming an ally
The second group session focused on courage, allyship, and turning privilege into change. Ryan W., vice president of talent acquisition and growth, was surprised to see where he landed on the spectrum of responses most people have when inequality and marginalization situations occur.
The most helpful response is nestled between avoider and fighter: being a change agent. Being a change agent takes effective, strategic action when appropriate and addresses non-inclusive behaviors. Ryan’s takeaway: “The definition of ally requires a lot more action. I need to change the mindset from, ‘What happens if I do step in?’ to, ‘What happens if I don’t?’”
The summit wrapped up with inclusive design principles, where research determined that "designing for people with permanent disabilities actually results in designs that benefit people universally." By solving for one, we benefit many, much like the curb-cut effect. “I can actually design for everybody by simply designing in an inclusive way,” explains Marcus T., vice president of product platform management. “This is what being a change agent is all about.”
Toward a healthier work environment
Leaders’ different approach to leadership after the summit will significantly benefit their teams, improve their leadership effectiveness, and drive innovation.
Lisa M., senior principal service owner, says, “What I'm committing to doing is finding more diverse opinions and people to inform priority-setting solution design. She’s doing that by “actively seeking out people with different backgrounds, different ways of looking at the world, and different abilities.”
Jim D., senior vice president of operations, says the summit gave leaders “the operational framework that we need to really sustain the change that needs to happen.”
Craig S. agrees that seeing the company’s investment in leaders “moves us to think more deeply about what our responsibility is for our actions.”
ServiceNow takes this responsibility seriously and continues to invest in leaders through board-readiness programs, mentorship, sponsorship, career development and coaching programs, and continued learning and accountability practices. Mica M. summarizes her commitment to the DIBs journey, “I’m aiming to be more than just a better manager. I want to be a movement starter.”
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