Scott Pagan, President and Chief Operating Officer and Maija Michell, SVP of Human Resources, share how diversity and belonging can come together to form a harmonious, productive, and inclusive workplace.
At Descartes, diversity of thought and people form the foundation for our success. Our decisions are guided by the best arguments that support an idea. The value of this approach is that it organically fosters a vibrant environment to grow, to be heard, and to be seen. We know that to thrive, individuals need to find a place where they can truly be themselves – and be appreciated for their differences. Descartes is that place for people passionate about sharing their perspectives and contributing to how we scale.
Diversity, equality, inclusivity, and belonging (DEIB) at Descartes is the result of bringing together people from different backgrounds and experiences to play critical and active roles in our organization. We look at diversity and equate it with opportunity: the chance to learn, expand our thinking, and increase our potential.
To build inclusive teams, foster diversity of thought, and nurture a culture of belonging, companies need to look inwards, not just outwards. This includes training on unconscious bias, and ongoing introspection on how we hire, support, retain, and promote people. A critical piece at Descartes has been to diversify the hiring panel. While we work to change the uniformity of our leadership team, we are including representation across levels, genders, and backgrounds in our recruitment process.
We have ambitious growth targets, so we need to be more diverse and inclusive every year. We need to improve and to do so; we continue to take action: from open opportunities to sharing ideas to succession planning to provide hiring managers with access to multiple viewpoints. These are all very tangible ways to access and include more different diverse voices, helping us get to the next stage in order to scale and grow our market share in the ways we want to. To support our diversification in talent acquisition, we are targeting groups of people who haven’t had the same opportunities to grow prior to Descartes. For example, we’re working with CircaNow/Diversity Jobs to tap into 250 niche organizations where we can post our roles in the US, increasing visibility to individuals who previously might not have considered applying for our teams. Our entire hiring intent is to expand the pool from which we select. In addition, we are giving voice to and sharing the experience of our employees, such as the Women of Descartes series hosted on our careers page. We want a positive image generating positive dialogue that validates our focus on belonging. We have 2100 employees across 26 countries so by the nature of our global presence, we are diverse, but we are always striving to do better.
Our goal is to form a team with a wide range of expertise and opinions to bring our collective focus – on organizational growth and increased success – to life. But, while that starts with hiring, it goes so much further.
What makes us stand out are the steps we take to invite individual contributions and diverse choices that better our business results and our people. For example, we offer flexible working arrangements that enable more parents or people outside urban hubs to join us. It also empowers our global teams to connect at different times.
What has gotten us to this point in our success might be different from what takes us to the next level. To that end, we are authentically seeking access to feedback and innovation. We want to shift the way we operate to incorporate more ideas that will yield better results for us and benefit the individuals themselves. The people who make up our global teams are encouraged and empowered to contribute their thought leadership, feedback, and solutions by drawing on everything they have done up to this point while also feeling valued.
Working for an organization committed to DEIB is fulfilling, decreases at-work stress and tension, and increases satisfaction. We recently surveyed our people in December, with a 73% response rate; we’re confident in the responses that tell us we are doing the right things. Over 80% of the respondents indicated that they feel encouraged to offer opinions and feedback and that they are supported, empowered, and engaged at work. We are thrilled to know that our people are happy bringing their diverse experiences to help foster innovation and create opportunities for themselves and others at Descartes.
As 2023 starts, our primary goal is to recruit a wide range of people who will make us stronger now and into the future while we continue to grow as an organization.