Eileen Hughes is Regional HSE Lead (she/her) – Major Developments based in Houston, Texas. This is her story.
Diversity means our workplaces reflect the people and cultures in the locations where we operate. Inclusion is when we provide a way for our diverse workforce to not only be seen and represented but heard throughout all levels of the organisation. Together, inclusion and diversity bring forth a workplace where no-one stands out for not being a part of the lunch table, team meeting, conversation or leadership team.
I am a woman of colour who is also a lesbian. I have been talked about and I have been told to be less outspoken. But the thing is; being less direct doesn't erase my existence.
I think one of the key challenges we face in creating more inclusive and diverse workplaces, is that we don’t allow for cultural differences in communication styles. Passionate Hispanic people are often considered “not ready” for higher positions. Why? These are some of the questions we should ask ourselves. Over my career, I have delivered, yet don’t always feel I have progressed at the same pace as some of my peers. The reasons are never quite the same and never evenly applied across the board.
Everyone comes into a company with a resume. When we post positions, we need to work hard to look across our personnel for people who may have the skills we are looking for and not just focus on someone’s most recent job.
We also need to improve cultural diversity on our leadership teams and take deliverable action to ensure diverse people can thrive and progress in leadership roles.
Too often people are of the opinion that the only reason for someone’s progression is an aspect of their identity. Many times, parts of who I am, have been viewed as the reason why I received a promotion or the opportunity to lead a project.
For those who see the push for diversity as a threat or unfair, or who feel they’re missing out as the world becomes fairer for everyone, remember that diversity and inclusion programs are not about keeping anyone out. They’re about finally letting everyone in.