Recently, the world celebrated National Inclusion Week, and we couldn't help but be inspired by the remarkable efforts of BAE Systems Digital Intelligence. For them, diversity and inclusion isn’t a tick-box exercise, but about taking action and making a real impact.
In this blog, Theresa Palmer, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, delves into the fascinating initiatives and practices that BAE Systems Digital Intelligence has embraced to foster a truly inclusive and diverse workplace. From innovative hiring practices to empowering employee resource groups, they're leaving no stone unturned in their quest for equality and growth. Let’s dive in!
When did you first discover your passion for advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion?
I have always been deeply intrigued by the dynamics of change and transformation within the business realm. Whether it involves external endeavours or internal initiatives, I thrive on confronting challenging areas and delivering unparalleled service to our esteemed customers.
This is where my expertise truly shines.
In my current role as the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, I focus on providing exceptional internal service, and this mindset seamlessly aligns with the principles of DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). Once I dove headfirst into discussions on this topic, there was no turning back. Some may call it a passion, but I approach it with a healthy dose of scepticism. Who knows what new passions will come along and which ones will fade away? But one thing's for sure: my commitment to this cause is rock-solid and unwavering.
If you could choose one myth to bust about DE&I, which one would it be and why?
The myth: it’s a fun and fluffy role. The reality: it's intense.
Much of it is uncharted territory, and it lacks support both in terms of time and finances. However, in most organisations, results are heavily scrutinised, creating an imbalance within them. While some organisations handle it well, as a generalisation, it is an uncharted and challenging area for people to navigate.
Another tough aspect is that the metrics take longer to shift compared to traditional business areas. What works for one organisation may not work for another on the same topics. It's not just about tweaking processes; we're talking about changing how people operate, and people are naturally resistant to change. DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) touches upon deeply personal topics for individuals. This aspect can make business decisions and conversations in this area very difficult, as they impact employees on a personal level.
This is not an area for the faint of heart. It requires grit and determination from all stakeholders involved, including change management and maintaining relationships. So, instead of thinking of it as fun and fluff, it is important to view it as an area that demands resilience and tenacity.
What steps is BAE Systems Digital Intelligence taking to promote diversity and inclusion in its hiring practices?
We utilise programs like Mindweaver to incorporate inclusivity into our recruitment process. We team up with inclusive recruitment partners, joining forces for events like Black Tech Fest, One Tech World, Coding Black Females, Code First Girls and Tech Returners. These initiatives aim to bring in diverse candidates and show them why BAE Systems Digital Intelligence is the place to be.
Our hiring process is next-level. We make sure our hiring managers and recruiters are trained in inclusive recruitment practices, and we're all about diverse and open interview panels. While we may not always get it right, inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do. We offer candidates the option to disclose any conditions or specific needs during an interview; however, it’s not mandatory. If a candidate does choose to disclose, we tailor the interview process to accommodate their needs and ensure they can perform at their best.
We make sure our recruiters and hiring managers are well-versed in our employee resource groups, so they can handle any basic questions that pop up during interviews. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. By tapping into diverse talent pools and crafting an inclusive process, we're creating a workplace that champions diversity and inclusion.
Can you provide more details about the ‘Ask Us Anything’ pilot program and its purpose?
We've got an exciting pilot project on the horizon, showcasing our unwavering commitment to improving our inclusive recruitment practices. We're flipping the script and giving candidates the chance to interview us, getting a real taste of our culture and inclusivity.
We've teamed up with our employee resource groups (ERGs) to bring this initiative to a specific stage in the interview process. Due to the high volume of candidates, we have to implement screening processes to ensure that the workload on our ERGs is manageable. This pilot is all about finding the perfect moment to introduce this opportunity. It’s optional and has no impact on the outcome of the interview process or job offer from our perspective, but it just might for the candidate in their decision making.
We’re giving candidates a chance to speak to a diverse member of our team from a specific resource group, without requiring any disclosure. They can ask any questions they have in mind and have a more informal and casual conversation, and see if our company culture aligns with their preferences before accepting a job offer.
We believe interviews should be a two-way street, where both interviewers and interviewees have the opportunity to evaluate each other. Our goal? To give candidates the raw and unfiltered scoop on what it's like to work here. We value real-life experiences and recognise that different team members have different perspectives on our culture and work environment. We're all about options and empowering our candidates to make the best choice for themselves because it's a win-win situation.
How does BAE Systems Digital Intelligence collaborate with employee resource groups (ERGs) to support diversity and inclusion efforts?
I don't manage the ERGs, I manage the relationship between them and the business. Our ERGs are driven by dedicated volunteers and employees, making collaboration the key to our success. We have regular chats with the Chairs, and each ERG has an executive sponsor within BAE Systems Digital Intelligence. These executive sponsors fully connect with the ERGs they represent. Plus, we get all the Chairs together for regular collaboration meetings – talking about what's working, what's not, and all their interests.
The executive sponsors have the power to drive the ERGs and represent them in board meetings. We give them funding and time support, while always checking in to make sure they've got a good balance between their day job and their ERG work. At BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, we empower our ERGs to make a real difference, because we believe in the power of collaboration and the strength of our diverse workforce.
Can you explain the concept of the ‘Inclusion Exchange’ and how it benefits BAE Systems Digital Intelligence and its customers?
The ‘Inclusion Exchange’ is my brainchild; a project born out of my background and love of customer engagement and relationship management. We bring together a diverse mix of people with different grades, experiences, and interests to delve into DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) topics. Our aim is to expand, hold retrospectives, and keep each other accountable.
The ‘Inclusion Exchange’ is a bold new way of collaboration. We're bridging gaps, forging partnerships, and redefining how we work together. We're all about building relationships that stand the test of time. No product pitches or sales tactics allowed. Just genuine conversations, shared challenges, and collective problem-solving. It's a positive and engaging space where discussions thrive, and we encourage a new way to connect with our customers and build our lasting, trusted relationships on more than traditional frameworks.
How does BAE Systems Digital Intelligence ensure that all employees have equal opportunities for growth and development?
DE&I is a journey without an end. What was considered fair and equal two decades ago is not the same today, and it won't be in the future. That's why we're all about constant growth and evolution.
We're committed to providing diverse learning opportunities in various formats. Our action plan tackles the gender pay gap head-on. We're determined to diversify all areas of our business and ensure inclusivity. We listen to our teams, constantly improving and adapting because feedback is our fuel for change.
Together, we're finding solutions and building a sense of connection and ownership. We're not just training, we're upskilling our managers and giving everyone a chance to shine. We understand that growth and development mean different things to different individuals. At BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, we believe in keeping minds sharp and souls fulfilled, no matter where you're at. So even if you're happy where you are, we've got something for you. It's all about tailored development that fits your goals and circumstances. In a nutshell, we're taking bold steps to address DE&I at every level.
Get Matched to BAE Systems Digital Intelligence
If you’d like to join the team at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, then create a profile on the hackajob platform, where they’re currently hiring for a variety of roles or log in to your profile here.