Diversity & inclusion Needs to be a Priority, not just For HR Functions But For All Business Units

Updated: Feb 17, 2019


Last week I attended HubSpot’s EMEA for their event ‘Cracking Inclusion’.

Global Chief of People, Katie Burke, opened HubSpot's first official Diversity & Inclusion Event. At the event the panel looked at what it takes to foster an inclusive work environment. In today’s society it seems like a hot trend, whereas I left the event realising the importance of it to ensure a healthy organisational culture.




The panel on the night:

Ivan Penas Romero: Services Manager and Employee D&I Advocate

Ivan was born in Barcelona but moved to Ireland over 13 years ago. Ivan explained his first-hand experience of being part of a minority group. Ivan is one of HubSpot’s only 2 managers in the success org whose native language is not English. He is also the only externally hired and gay manager in the success organisation.



Karla O' Brien: InspireFest Speaker 2016

Karla is one of the main reasons I attended the event as she is a family friend. Being a transgender woman on the brink of graduation Karla shared her research and thoughts on inclusion in the Tech industry today. Karla received a standing ovation at Inspirefest 16' after she spoke about her hopes for the future of STEM. Karla's contribution on last night’s topic left me with food for thought.


Furkan Karayel: Founder and CEO @ Diversein

Furkan is a women in tech, diversity and female founder’s ambassador. Award-winning software engineer turned into an entrepreneur.

Furkan is an active speaker at international events about her journey into the tech world as a woman, her recommendations for women in tech issues and power of diversity and inclusion at workplace.


Frank Auger: Chief information Officer, HubSpot D&I

Frank heads up both the Customer Success and Business Enablement organisations at HubSpot. He recently took on the role of Executive Sponsor for HubSpot’s POCAH (People of Colour at HubSpot) Employee Resource Group, where his focus is developing an open, inclusive environment within work.


The take-away's for me were:

The importance of using inclusive language – Frank gave some great examples and explained to use language that avoids the use of certain expressions or words that might be considered to exclude particular groups of people, esp. gender-specific words. Another example was to be careful bringing humour into a conversation to build a rapport with someone you don’t necessarily know. He said if you have a mutual respect and your intention is good it’s fine, however if it’s someone you just met and there’s no substance or your joking, it’s not.

The definitions of Diversity and Inclusion – Furkan gave a simple way of explaining the two.

Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance. 

Karla spoke about how the two are very much linked and that diversity is giving the same opportunity for everyone and inclusion is having your voice heard.

The panel discussed if one was ''easier'' to achieve and each gave their own opinions.

The panel spoke about we can embrace diversity and become more inclusive at work. Although more companies are discussing the topic Furkan said if we look at the numbers from 2006 -2016 the different nationalities in the workplace hasn’t changed and therefore we need to be doing more. The panel said that the next step would need to be moving the conversation out of like-minded people and into the other domains to drive action.

Treat it like a problem and we’ll take it action.

The panel also discussed what other companies are doing:

It was mentioned that one company gives the same amount of paternity leave as they do for maternity leave. More companies are creating and funding employee resource groups and building workshops around the topic.


Karla spoke about what’s being done in colleges – they are trying to get more woman in technology and create networking events. At present, 8 out of 100 are woman in her computer science course, she feels the numbers are steadily rising.

The panel spoke about the fact that D&I needs to be a priority, not just for HR functions but for all business units and that leaders need to be taken accountable for results. A good example that was brought up was to measure a team’s hiring process to be sure that it’s a diverse team. If any organization is wondering how to become more involved as Frank said ‘’if you don’t engage with employees, you don’t know how to make it more inclusive. Don’t think there’s a one size fits all solution. The first step is to ask people to be involved.’’



Rebecca Brown is a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Bank of Ireland, Direct Channels (Secondment)


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