Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts used to be given lower priority within companies and organizations. However, the global discourse surrounding DEI in recent years has prompted a shift in perspective for many industry players. This has nudged them toward embracing DEI and placing these values at the forefront of their mission.
Despite this, the implementation of DEI-focused initiatives is a challenging undertaking. Oftentimes, companies struggle with how or where to begin. To stay on the right track and optimize the outcomes, it’s favorable to work with a knowledgeable and experienced partner.
General Assembly aims to spearhead the much-needed change in organizations worldwide, starting with its own DEI initiatives. Leading the way is CEO Lisa Lewin, who believes in the mantra, “In a world on fire, we need more firefighters.”
This ethos suggests that all leaders have a responsibility to tackle the world’s most acute challenges. Yet, doing so creates a choice between sprinkling a drop of water on every single fire or “focusing one’s firehose” on the issues upon which one is uniquely positioned to have an outsized impact.
“At General Assembly, we’ve ‘focused our firehose’ on diversifying the global pool of tech talent,” says Chauncey Nartey, Global Head of DEI at General Assembly. “General Assembly is special because DEI and our mission—indeed, our business imperative—are inextricably linked. They are one and the same,” he continues.
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General Assembly’s Practical Guide to Improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
When it comes to DEI, General Assembly strives to walk the walk. It is passionate about DEI and constantly looks to transform DEI principles and ideas into action, both internally and externally.
The General Assembly Standards Board, composed of discipline leaders from various industries, has created a practical guide called the DEI Principles for the Organization. It is a playbook underlining seven principles based on feedback from DEI experts, General Assembly instructors, staff, and more.
The guideline works two ways: first, as General Assembly’s guiding light, and second, as a resource that encourages other organizations to reassess how they are implementing DEI efforts. It can also help organizations learn how to provide equitable access to skills and viable career paths for their employees.
Below is a general overview of the seven principles:
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are operational imperatives. It is the right of every individual to feel supported in developing an enlightened workplace where all individuals are valued.
- Set the stage for learning and unlearning.
- Be transparent about the areas of difference you are cultivating.
- Move your organization beyond its legal mandates to actively promote equity, justice, and respect.
- Actions over words and outcomes.
- Curate a culture of dissent with consistent actions.
- Cultivate and grow your future employee base: Diversity starts long before an interview.
“We break down what DEI means internally and externally. Internally, diversity means representation—making sure our people match the rich tapestry of the world. Externally, it means diversifying the global pool of tech talent.” Chauncey said.
“Internal equity applies to our processes, such as promotion, compensation, and hiring. Externally, it’s about employment equity and helping other companies make sure they are connecting the dots between great talent and opportunity in a fair and competency-based way.”
“Internally, on the inclusion front, it’s about high performance and inclusive culture where people feel like they belong and can do their best work. Externally, it’s about inclusive product and program design,” he continued.
General Assembly’s Employee Resource Groups
General Assembly has made DEI a vital part of its company culture and workplace environment through initiatives like Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These are identity- or experience-based networks offering the chance to connect, collaborate, and work on personal and career development.
At the moment, the ERGs that exist within General Assembly’s walls include:
- Asian ERG
- Black ERG
- Latinx ERG
- LGBTQQIA+ ERG
- Women ERG
- Parents/Caregivers ERG
- Disability-Impacted ERG
“ERG leaders are strong performers and culture carriers. They are essential in building community and in helping people feel a sense of connectivity to one another, and the organization.”
DEI Programs by General Assembly
The school believes that a good DEI culture is fully inclusive, authentic, and communicative. General Assembly partners with organizations and companies to promote these values and bring them to more people. One of the ways it’s done so is through community reskilling programs.
“We’ve done a number of community reskilling initiatives. To date, we’ve had over 3,600 individuals who have been reached through upskilling and reskilling programs in Atlanta, Louisville, Buffalo, Sacramento, and we have intentions to expand more throughout 2021,” Chauncey shared.
“These are models where we are providing full scholarships for Immersives to individuals in partnership with companies like Adobe, AT&T, and Interapt. We are constantly asking ourselves, ‘How can we make learning, upskilling, and economic opportunity available to every member of the global workforce?’ Things like public-private partnerships are one of several models we think has the potential to get us there,” he continued.
“We’ve also been hearing a lot from non-profit partners that are hungry for high-quality learning for their fellows, students, or the population that they otherwise serve. To this end, we’ve donated over 1,100 on-demand licenses to education and workforce providers focused on serving overlooked and under-tapped communities.”
“What we fundamentally do is connect talent to opportunity. We focus on upskilling and reskilling for the future of work. Our real ambition and goal is to be the world’s top provider of diverse talent for hard-to-fill digital jobs of the future,” he said.
General Assembly has made large strides in bringing DEI initiatives to more communities, and it will continue to move forward in this direction.
General Assembly: Leading the Way in Diversifying Global Talent
Prioritizing DEI is no longer a choice for organizations and companies. It has become a necessity. The good news is that more companies are embracing the challenge of putting DEI principles into action. One way to do this is to diversify their own talent pool by reskilling their existing workforce, making a lasting impact on both the company and its employees.
General Assembly is steadily working towards its goal to become a leader in diversifying global talent. If you are part of an organization that needs help in this area, General Assembly can help improve DEI within your organization as well. Talk to General Assembly today or check out General Assembly reviews to learn more about how it can work with your organization or community.
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