All of Us: Challenge Complacency

Julie Warburton shares why creating a culture of diversity and inclusion can be difficult.

by Christie Chew

posted on 03-21-2019

Just ahead of National Women’s Month, six of our Adobe leaders served as delegates to The MAKERS Conference, joining 600 other leaders in critical conversations about gender at work. This year’s conference theme was #AllOfUs, the message being that it takes every individual, both men and women, to drive positive change for women in society.

We talked to Julie Warburton, VP Adobe Customer Solutions EMEA, about why diversity is so critical to Adobe’s success, how creating a culture of diversity and inclusion can be challenging, and why we all need to play our part to make a difference.

Why do you think diversity is critical to Adobe’s success?

By default, it makes us more innovative. A more diverse culture brings differing perspectives, thoughts, experiences and ideas. We are therefore challenged, maybe even stretched sometimes, but all for the greater good of collaboration and driving results for the business.

This is even more important in the digital era. The online world allows us to connect more easily than ever with people from all over the world, to work and collaborate from anywhere, and to share and inspire through social media platforms. The digital world reaches everyone and helps us identify individuals whom perhaps we might not have reached out to before. I believe today’s world helps us embrace diversity. It allows people to put forward their thoughts and ideas; and it allows people to listen, observe and learn from others.

What tend to be the biggest roadblocks/challenges in increasing diversity and inclusion?

I think the challenge lies with all of us to not be complacent. It takes energy and focus to have diversity at the forefront of our minds all the time. For example, as a leader, it would be easy to know that you have met your measurements or targets when it comes to recruiting and think that’s all we need to do. We are guided by targets across all aspects of the business, and we may have targets in place such as increasing the number of female hires. But we all need to see this as a continuous journey and an ongoing challenge.

What are some approaches that you find work for either attracting a diverse team?

To attract a diverse team, we need to value people for being individuals, and make sure that when we enter into dialogues with potential new team members, we are looking for their uniqueness. We don’t necessarily need to recruit people with the same skills and values that we already have, especially if we’re just doing it because that’s the easy approach. I believe you have to work to understand each individual’s story, experience, values, and opinions, and how these things can enhance a team rather than having already formed thoughts based on someone’s resume or application. It’s about challenging our unconscious bias all of the time. I am committed to diverse hiring and insist on diverse candidates throughout the hiring process.

What about retaining a diverse team and fostering inclusion?

For me, to retain a diverse team is about us continuing to challenge each other and allowing all voices on the team to be heard. If they are not, encourage everyone to speak up. Having diversity brings a wealth of opinions, thoughts and values, and everyone needs to be encouraged to speak up, create energetic conversations, and healthy debates to move forward. Similarly, fostering inclusion needs the same level of encouragement but we also need to be observant of those around us. If people aren’t participating in social events or meetings, think about why and help these people have a voice.

The theme of MAKERS this year was “All of Us.” Why is it so important for everyone to play a part in creating positive change with regards to gender in the workplace?

It’s important for everyone to play a part because it is down to us all. Not just managers, leaders, or an executive team, but every single individual has to take ownership of diversity. This must be embedded in all of us as one of our core values. We must be ambassadors for diversity and understand that we all have a part to play to continue the positive impact being made on gender balance.

Topics: Community, Diversity & Inclusion, Career Advice