No human left behind

No human left behind

For one year, Sumeet Singh Patpatia has been Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Schibsted. After collecting data one thing is clear – there is a lot of unleashed potential that could spur on innovation.

In a rapidly accelerating world, where markets, trends, customer behaviours and needs constantly evolve, companies must evolve as well. In addition to this, we face challenges of enormous complexity and scale – the climate crisis, energy costs, an uncertain macro-economic outlook and a war in Europe. Never has the need for different perspectives and inclusion been more urgent. With a greater range of diversity in the room comes a wider range of perspectives, ways of thinking, understanding behaviours – and greater responsibility.

No human left behind

Inclusion is about the ability to unleash the potential of all kinds of people, to make everyone thrive, feel seen and translate that to better products and services. And to have the right team in place to spot the relevant, changing needs. By broadening the range of diversity in our teams, the possibility to innovate and innovate even better increases.

Understanding how we can improve

That’s why we, for a year now, have been working on a plan to make Schibsted an even more diverse and inclusive place to work, a place where everyone should have a sense of belonging. We already do a lot, and in many ways, we are a diverse and meaningful home for more than 6,000 brave and adventurous employees. But it has also been crucial to really understand how we can improve. During the last year, we have been traveling around and meeting employees in every corner of the company to do some extensive data analysis.

We have conducted more than 100 internal interviews, three deep studies in three different organisations, and integrated the DIB-aspects in our internal survey. Our findings show that the majority of our employees find that we have an inclusive culture. But when 89% say we have a culture that is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination, you also need to consider that some still disagree.

And when in another survey, 9% find the environment evasive and passive and 3% say it’s segregating, you also need to acknowledge that people belonging to a majority feel more included than people belonging to minority groups.

Hidden diversity expertise

It’s sometimes easy to be satisfied with big numbers – but in order to really find out what is needed, you have to dig deeper. For instance, we also found out that there is a lot of hidden diversity expertise that is rarely or never taken into account. Such as people who have lived abroad, or perhaps people who are married to someone with a different culture experience.

No doubt, people do see the need for diversity and inclusion, and its connection to improved product development – and that curiosity is a key behaviour to support this. Our next step is to go from data to action, and to translate those perspectives into tangible value. We have also established local DIB groups in Finn, Blocket, Lendo, Aftenposten and our data and tech department already, and more will come.

And we have a DIB strategy in place – these are some of the actions we are focusing on now:

  • Developing inclusive employee life cycle processes, starting off with creating an inclusive recruitment process playbook.
  • Introduce programs and trainings to develop culture and competence within DIB.
  • Implement a DIB maturity index – to really understand our state much deeper.
  • Get insights about and understand customers that we don’t reach today.

But most important is to build competence throughout the organisation. In the end the responsibility to include all rests on both colleagues and leaders.
Because as humans, we exclude people consciously and unconsciously all the time. And being excluded is painful. It actually impacts our brain in the same manner as physical pain. Whether we weren´t selected in the football team as kids, never invited to the prom, or we find out that our friends, who we thought were close, got married and didn’t invite us. Whatever it is doesn’t matter – it all hurts.

When we feel excluded we limit ourselves

People around us may go to work and feel excluded every day. Having a feeling that they need to fit in to a specific culture, where you must park your unique perspectives in order to thrive. Perhaps not daring to share ideas in the product development room, lifting perspectives in the team meeting or always feeling misunderstood, because the context you are in doesn’t understand your angle.

We know that when we feel excluded, we limit ourselves. We might be afraid of opening up or sharing our perspectives or ideas. So, creating a culture in which everyone dares to share boils down to the responsibility of the leader and the colleagues. For colleagues, it is about our ability to invite and include perspectives (competence) of our colleagues with different experiences when we write or develop products. For leaders, it is about their ability to understand the full potential of everyone and making sure those perspectives are visible and that you as a leader listen to them.

Our vision in Schibsted is to develop the best workplace, a place where you can be you. And that is our main tool to empower all kinds of people in their daily lives. To make that happen, we need to keep on investigating, learning and following a clear plan.

Author Sumeet Singh Patpatia

Sumeet Singh Patpatia
Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
Years in Schibsted: 1