Future Collars – Winner in the “Gender” Category of the Polish Diversity Awards 2023! Conversation with Raisa Ghazi on Diversity Management in the IT Industry

Author:
Team Future Collars
On June 6th, during the Polish Diversity Awards 2023 ceremony organized by My Company Polska, the founders of Future Collars Competency School - Beata Jarosz and Joanna Pruszyńska-Witkowska - received an award in the "Gender" category for their outstanding approach to hiring and career development of employees regardless of gender in the IT industry.
Future Collars - Winner in the "Gender" Category of the Polish Diversity Awards 2023! Conversation with Raisa Ghazi on Diversity Management in the IT Industry

Future Collars breaks stereotypes related to gender in the IT industry by creating a range of initiatives aimed at encouraging women to work in technology. Additionally, the company implements mentoring programs that help women advance their careers in the IT sector. The Polish Diversity Awards are the only recognitions in Poland that appreciate companies, organizations, and individuals who promote diversity, equality, and inclusivity within their structures and in the business market.

- We are incredibly excited that Future Collars has been honored in the prestigious 'Gender' category at this year's Polish Diversity Awards 2023. It is undoubtedly a significant achievement for our company and evidence of our commitment to promoting equality and inclusivity. We are proud to break gender stereotypes in the technology industry by creating diverse initiatives that encourage women to work in the IT sector - commented Beata Jarosz and Joanna Pruszyńska-Witkowska.

Diversity, equality, and inclusivity are not only the goal but also the foundation of Future Collars' business strategy.

 

Diversity Fund in IT

An example of Future Collars' activities is the Diversity Fund in IT, which has been implemented for several years. This initiative aims to provide individuals facing financial limitations and difficult life situations with the necessary competencies and skills to work in the technology and IT industry.

As part of the program, scholarship recipients receive funding for Future Collars courses and have the opportunity to benefit from mentoring and English language learning. Upon completion of the course, participants can gain employment or internships with Future Collars' partners.

Recruitment for this year's edition of the program is planned for the autumn.

 

Diversity Management in the IT Industry

One of the ambassadors of the Diversity Fund is Raisa Ghazi, an international speaker, moderator, women's leadership trainer, and creator of the program "Women's Leadership in Technology." Raisa shared her experiences regarding the importance of diversity in companies:

Future Collars: How do you understand the concept of diversity, and what are your observations regarding diversity management in the IT industry?

Raisa Ghazi: The most crucial practice in diversity management within organizations is the ability to listen - asking and listening. It's something that is often lacking. However, if we look at what the most advanced companies in this field are doing, they investigate what is happening among their employees.

Regarding observations on diversity management in IT companies, I notice that they are very innovative. For example, when no other company was talking about neural diversity, most technology companies were already discussing it. Examples of such companies include ASAP, Oracle, and Salesforce. They serve as role models in this regard.

Future Collars: How do you assess the implementation of diversity management principles in different countries?

Raisa Ghazi: The implementation of diversity management principles varies depending on the region of the world. In some regions, it is still challenging to even discuss this topic, while other regions engage in the specifics of this field. And that makes me happy. I try to convey the message from one region to another so that everyone can learn from each other. However, it is essential to be aware of the culture and traditions of each region. There are reasons why regions respond differently to these issues. It is important to respect that and be tactful and sensitive. Therefore, conducting extensive field research before going to a new country is crucial. I spend about thirty hours getting to know a new region before giving lectures. It takes a lot of time, but it is the right approach if you want to have a real impact.

Future Collars: What are the biggest obstacles to implementing diversity management in organizations? What are the benefits for employees and employers resulting from the implementation of diversity management principles?

Raisa Ghazi: The biggest obstacles in implementing diversity management in organizations are people. Some are simply not ready or unwilling to embrace inclusion. Another obstacle is systemic exclusion, which also plays a significant role. We can change people, but if the system doesn't change, nothing will change. The most challenging thing for employers is finding resources. Many pretend to be open to this topic, but there always seems to be budget constraints. The benefits of increased inclusivity are well-documented - greater innovation, profitability, and better customer service. It also helps with employee retention.

Future Collars: Which company would you consider as a role model, and why? Do you believe that diversity within a team can positively impact a company's results? How?

Raisa Ghazi: I wouldn't specifically point out one company as it is challenging for everyone. What may seem obvious on the surface may not be the reality in day-to-day work. Diversity definitely has a significant impact on a company's results in terms of both profits and innovation.

Future Collars: Do you have any advice for employers regarding step-by-step diversity management? What are the most significant challenges that employers face in implementing diversity management principles?

Raisa Ghazi: I would say that the ability to have a growth mindset is one of the most critical skills for managers leading teams with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. It's not just a hunch; research shows that high-performing teams have a growth mindset.

Future Collars: What qualities and skills are particularly important for managers leading teams with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences?

Raisa Ghazi: For managers leading teams with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, it is essential to have good communication skills, empathy, and openness to differences. Managers should be able to listen and understand diverse perspectives, as well as create an atmosphere of mutual respect and collaboration.

Future Collars: You have become an ambassador for the fourth edition of the Diversity Fund in IT implemented by Future Collars. The program aims to provide individuals facing financial limitations and challenging life situations with the necessary competencies and skills to work in the technology and IT industry. The program is open to applicants from marginalized or digitally excluded backgrounds, including refugees, caregivers, mothers returning from maternity leave, unemployed individuals, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, transgender, and individuals aged 50+.

How do you assess this initiative in terms of supporting diversity in the job market and building an inclusive and diverse environment in the IT industry? How would you encourage individuals to apply for the program?

Raisa Ghazi: I consider this initiative to be very positive and necessary. The Diversity Fund in IT program implemented by Future Collars provides an opportunity for individuals facing financial limitations and difficult life situations to acquire the necessary competencies and skills in the technology and IT industry. By supporting diversity in the job market and creating an inclusive and diverse environment, the program opens doors for individuals from marginalized backgrounds. People such as refugees, caregivers, mothers returning from maternity leave, unemployed individuals, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, transgender, and individuals undergoing gender transition can find the necessary support for their career development in the IT industry. It offers not only a chance to acquire essential skills but also a chance to change lives and open new possibilities.

For those who are hesitant about applying for the program, I encourage you to overcome your fears and take the step forward. The Diversity Fund in IT offers not only funding for Future Collars courses but also mentoring and English language learning, providing comprehensive support in the learning and development process. Through this program, individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences have a chance to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for working in the technology and IT industry.

Do not let uncertainty hold you back from applying. Diversity in the workplace brings numerous benefits for both employees and employers. Creating an inclusive environment fosters innovation, creativity, and better teamwork. Employees with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences bring diverse perspectives and ideas, which can lead to better company performance.

Therefore, I encourage all individuals interested in technology and working in the IT industry who meet the program's criteria to apply. It is not only an opportunity for professional development but also an opportunity to overcome barriers and change your life. Let the Diversity Fund in IT be the path to achieving your goals and fulfilling your dreams.

 

***

Raisa Ghazi is an award-winning and internationally recognized public speaker specializing in inclusive and women's leadership topics. Forbes has recognized her as a leader in her field, and the Dutch Social & Economic Board included her on the "Top Women" list. Raisa is also a guest lecturer at Nyenrode Business University, one of the most prestigious universities in the Netherlands, and a columnist on women's leadership for the Dutch Social & Economic Board. She has spoken in front of dozens of organizations, inspiring tens of thousands of professionals to develop inclusive leadership. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano and going on surfing vacations in remote places.

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