At the end of the day, when you are designing or implementing a Diversity and Inclusion strategy, you will need to make an impact. These are the stories and data that show how the resources at Practical Diversity and Inclusion has made a difference.

Impact stories on Diversity and Inclusion

Here are some of the impact stories of how I have embedded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into teams, processes, programs, recruitment and management throughout my career.

Recruited and managed a diverse and inclusive software engineering team

The experiences of establishing and growing a very diverse software engineering team in 2017 that at one point consisted of 4 women (including 3 students and 3 women of colour) shaped my thoughts on workforce planning and diversity and inclusion in organisations.

Re-designed the formation process of an international community’s steering committee

The Capability Maturity Model for Diversity in Organisations was used as a framework to setup the initial 2019 committee for the Research Software Engineering community in Australia and New Zealand. The end result of this was that for a community that was overwhelmingly male (91% male respondents to a 2018 survey), they collaborated to agree on two capable co-chairs that were gender, culturally, and intersectionally diverse. These are also now in use at the University of Manchester.

Nick Golding, a member of the Research Software Engineering interim steering committee at the time said about the framework: “It’s really useful to have this all so clearly written out, and have a clear pathway for improving diversity, and why that’s important.”

Designed and implemented the DEI process for the recruitment of the Melbourne Data Analytics Platform at the University of Melbourne

During the setup of a new data analytics group at the University of Melbourne in 2020, there was no cultural diversity in the interview panel. By reaching out to my network of culturally diverse colleagues in many interviews we ended up with one or more culturally diverse interviewers.

The result was that we ended up having 44% of the initial recruitment being culturally diverse with multiple people from intersectionally marginalised groups.

Developed and implemented the “Mentoring for PoC aiming for Senior Leadership positions program”

I setup and ran the Mentoring for PoC aiming for Senior Leadership positions program that had an intake in 2020.

The biggest challenge was ensuring the mentors were culturally and intersectionally complement to not trigger or cause distress to the mentees.

For example, there was a man of colour who was potentially going to mentor a woman of colour. I had to meet with him to ensure he understood the extra “Degree of Difficulty” she faced from an intersectional point of view. It turned out that he was lovely and it all worked out, but I had to make sure as the mentees need to be safe and secure with these mentors.

The feedback received was positive. “Thanks a million for your understanding and your support Rowland, I truly appreciate it.”, said one mentee.

Developed and facilitated the international panel “Missing narratives around diversity and inclusion in Research Software Engineering”

In 2021, using the framework, I co-designed a panel “Missing narratives around diversity and inclusion in Research Software Engineering” that centered intersectionally marginalised and ensured that they were offered an honoraria for their efforts. In this panel, it was highlighted that we need action and what this action could look like. The two key question that was asked to panelists were:

  1. How did someone center and advocate for intersectionally marginalised perspectives, and how did that make a positive impact?
  2. When did someone redefine merit and how did that make a positive impact?

There was a carthatic moment in the pre-panel session that showed that by centering marginalised perspectives, we can start having honest and authentic conversations. Yanina Bellini Saibenen, the Community Manager at ROpenSci, put it eloquently in her role as a panelist “… it makes me wonder what people like me could achieve if we weren’t wasting out time breaking through all these barriers”.

Designed and delivered a challenging presentation to an international audience

In 2021 I wrote and delivered a short presentation “Unconscious bias – does it really matter?” that was based on the framework for Open Life Science, a not-for-profit based in the UK.

The feedback was extremely positive with the most common feedback highlighting that “this was very powerful”. Fabienne Lucas, a participant, said “This was very, very powerful and I really appreciate you sharing this and being so open and vulnerable about it. You taught a very important lesson… “.

Co-designed an international recruitment campaign for an international Not-For-Profit

In 2022 I co-designed a recruitment campaign using the framework with Open Life Science a not-for-profit based in the UK, to help them recruit a single person to fulfil two roles, a programme coordinator and a community researcher. I extended best-practice in DEI by creating a recruitment process that centred the applicants’ perspectives to make this opportunity attractive to diverse international candidates.

This led to over 120 applicants from Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia. We ended up interviewing 6 applicants from Europe, Africa, and South America. This has raised the bar and the changes are now part of their standard recruitment process. This recruitment process was also successfully used by MetaDocencia, a not-for-profit based in South America.

Dr. Laura Ación, Executive Co-Director at MetaDocencia said about the recruitment campaign: “Thanks to these tips, MetaDocencia ran a very successful recruitment process, receiving around 150 applicants in only 2 weeks. Most of the applications received were from people who did not know MetaDocencia before and we had a highly diverse pool of high quality candidates. We were openly praised for the way our job call was written, which helped reach out to more persons across all of Latin America. This social media postings were the ones that received the highest engagement ever in our social media history.”

Designed and delivered short and long presentations to an international audience

In 2022 the framework was presented in a lightning talk at the international 2022 Vive la différence -research software engineers workshop that was based in the Netherlands. This generated enough interest that a public presentation of the full framework was done. This led to the framework being disseminated via the University of Manchester’s new flagship anti-racism programme and it being used in the School of Engineering there.

Professor Caroline Jay, Head of Research in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester said “As the Head of Research in the School of Engineering, I am using these resources to inform our approach to developing research leaders. The materials have been useful in numerous ways, from raising awareness in the research leadership team and helping to explain issues to colleagues more generally, to providing a foundation and rationale for targeted support. They’ve also really motivated me personally.”

Designed and facilitated session for the leadership team of a complex, multi-national Not-For-Profit

In 2022 this framework was used to facilitate an exploratory session with a well-known internationall not-for-profit. The session was co-designed with MDF, an international consultancy firm based in the Netherlands, for their Global Leadership Forum that consisted of 20+ international leaders from 5 continents.

The session was considered a success and Matthias Fecht, Head of HR and Facility Management said “The goal was to start educating us on this crucial topic and potentially laying the foundation for our future steps. Rowland’s participation had a huge impact on our leadership team. It made it clear to us as a group that further work would be important. Accordingly, diversity and inclusion will now continue to be a topic of focus within our senior leadership team and beyond. I will most certainly not forget the session we had with him. It was really impactful!”.

Co-chaired and designed an international conference underpinned by intersectionality

In 2022 as the co-chair of the international Research Software Engineer (RSE) Asia Australia Unconference, this framework was used to underpin this event from the ground up. Again this extended DEI best-practice by commissioning a high-level accessibility report for the conference, the establishment of an Accessibility Partner, provision of an accessible report, having a participant-centered focus, and an intersectional approach to identifying keynote speakers.

This was considered a success as the community is small, yet 141 participants were registered for the unconference across 6 countries. Some of the feedback provided from international participants included: “Thank you so much everyone. I am really glad that I attended this conference. Thanks for enabling the closed captions.”.

Sponsored migrant Women of Colour with their careers

In 2022 I had the opportunity to help three migrant Women of Colour with finding jobs and creating opportunities. One lady I was able to help create an opportunity for her as a student intern with an honorarium, one lady I helped get a new job with better conditions and pay, and another lady I helped to get an interview even though she had been away from the job market for many years.

Re-launched Not the Only One, a website with over 9,700 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion articles, stories and quotes

Not the Only One is a website that allows people to search over 9,700 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion articles, stories and quotes.

Some people aren’t exposed to microaggressions and agressions due to their privilege. They are surprised when they find out that this event isn’t the only one.

People from marginalised groups can sometimes wonder if they are the only one who is feeling like they are being treated differently. It can be cathartic when they realise that they aren’t the only one feeling this.

Both of these situations can make people from one or more marginalised groups feel helpless which can lead to increased risk of health problems.

This solution captures, curates and shares stories and data about how these groups are marginalised so that people can understand that this is systemic and these incidents happen continously, these events ares not the only ones.

Provided recruitment advice for a Business Analyst position description

In 2024 we provided advice for a Business analyst position in a Medical Research Institute for a complex new project.

When we first talked to the hiring manager they were leaning towards another title for the position. After understanding the environment that the position was going to work in, as well as the skills provided by the third party vendor, we realised that this would be more a position for a business analyst then the original title.

As part of the review of the position description, we rewrote and refocused introductory paragraphs, key accountabilities,and essential requirements, based on conversations with the hiring manager. This is where we encouraged the focus of having a slightly less senior role, we suggested a decrease in weighting of experience, and increased the weighting of continuous improvement skills.

The result of this was that there were over 50 applicants for the position and all of the applicants had a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background. While we think that our suggestions made a difference, we think there were other factors as well, including a visibly diverse hiring manager.

As part of the interview process, we recommended streamlining the interview questions and highlighting some best practice approaches to future recruitment.

The successful applicant ended up being a migrant Woman of Colour with a strong set of skills that were very much aligned with the position description, and a solid background in dealing with external technical vendors, clinicians, and dealing with clinical data from external sources.

Associate Professor Ashley Ng, the hiring manager, said: “Rowland provided exceptional advisory services for a new position we needed to fill. They adeptly adjusted the job title and specifications to better fit the project’s environment and skills needed, which not only broadened our applicant pool but also attracted a diverse and highly skilled set of candidates. Their strategic insights were crucial in hiring a perfectly aligned and exceptionally qualified candidate, enhancing our project’s success.”

More Positive Feedback Received

“Rowland has insights about opportunity and inclusion that have potential to change how you think.” – Vanessa Sochat

“So much respect to you for undertaking a challenging feat to open up difficult conversations. These conversations are extremely important and it’s a shame they are not a part of occupational health and safety procedures.” – Priyanka Pillai

“As a stupendously privileged white male whose life has essentially gone the easy-route to success, I would like to compliment you on this work. Seriously.” – Sven Dowideit

“Thank you for spending the time and mental effort to articulate these uncomfortable truths so clearly in front of an audience that needs to hear it.” – Anonymous

“I was truly grateful to have a safe space to ask my awkward questions. And, I am very grateful for your kindness and feedback.” – Anonymous

“Fantastic talk, Rowland! So grateful for the real people example! It’s amazing how much more this presentation talk[s] to me than some random theoretical talk!” – Anonymous

“Your presentation on diversity/inclusion really got me thinking and I was wondering if it’s possible to get a copy of your slides please. There were some really good, practical ideas and I didn’t have time to write them all down.” – Anonymous

“Thank you so much Rowland, even in spite of “content warning” – it looks like you can never get prepared enough in these vulnerable things” – Anonymous

Your work is *enormously* helpful to put down to concrete actions all the well-intentioned DEI words I’ve seen prolifically circulating. Citing your work every chance I have since I listened to the panel you moderated at #SeptembRSE. – Laura Ación