Before Lenovo joined the Atlantic to host the Inclusion in the Workplace summit in New York on March 7, we invited employees to compete for a chance to attend. The call was simple: What does inclusion mean to you and how can Lenovo build a more diverse, inclusive company?
Employees across the United States applied, the responses were anonymized, and a panel chose the winner. Katrina Andrews, a project manager and test engineer in the Data Services Group, won the contest and attended the event. Read that winning submission below:
“The balanced workplace welcomes everyone. When I say ‘everyone’, I mean people of all backgrounds and walks of life; not just the youthful, energetic faces that are typically shown in company marketing materials touting a ‘diverse’ workplace. I’m talking about the less ‘sexy’ side of inclusion: the amputee veteran with PTSD, the person with a crippling chronic illness, the refugee from halfway around the world who came to this country with nothing more than the clothes on their back. The working class single parent taking college classes at night to make a better life for them and their kids. The member of a religion or culture that not a single one of their coworkers had ever heard of before. The gender nonconforming individual who shows their team how limiting binary thinking can be. The blind, the deaf, the wheelchair-bound. The ones who contribute in their own unique way, even if they can’t contribute as “much” as those around them. Everyone. The balanced workplace actively seeks out and encourages these otherwise marginalized folks to step forward and add their voices to the group. It doesn’t just ask if you’re a member of a protected class on a job application and that’s it. It amplifies these voices, all voices, consistently and repeatedly. And in turn, this helps to develop a more inclusive, well-rounded workplace and a better, more robust product for our customers. Real diversity isn’t just a collective of able-bodied, high-achieving, well-educated, privileged people whose only ‘diverse’ feature is the color of their skin. We tend to fall into this trap so easily in the high pressure, hyper-competitive, cost-focused tech industry. We worry so much about increasing output, driving down costs, and ‘doing more with less’ that without intending or even realizing it, we exclude so many people simply because they can’t ‘hang’ at our breakneck pace. What would happen if we stopped for a moment, looked around, and made a conscious effort to bring them into the fold? How would our workplace change? How would our products change?”
After the summit concluded, we asked Katrina to share a few thoughts and takeaways. Watch the video below.