Soft light on an audience in red theatre seats, the focus centres on one man in a blue shirt and glasses
In the audience at Inspirefest 2017. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

3 reasons why your leadership team can’t miss Inspirefest 2018

11 Jun 2018

HubSpot’s chief people officer outlines why she thinks a ticket to Inspirefest 2018 is a passport to a better workplace culture.

There’s one word that’s top of mind for leaders, organisations and employees today: diversity. Companies with diverse teams and employees are proven to perform better, but what’s equally as important is that creating an inclusive company culture is the right thing to do for the future of technology, for our communities and for the world.

The challenge is, as we talk more about ‘diversity and inclusion’, it becomes more ambiguous. What do we mean when we say diversity and inclusion, or D&I? At HubSpot, we think of diversity as the current snapshot of representation by demographic in our organisation. Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes, including age, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity.

Equally important is inclusion, defined as how comfortable an employee feels bringing their authentic self to work. That’s why it’s critical as leaders to push ourselves to move the needle on diversifying our companies, but also to ensure we match the effort behind diversity to the attention we pay toward meaningful inclusion.

‘Talking about change is one thing, but showing up and being part of that change is what’s truly going to alter the landscape of diversity and inclusion in the workplace’

So, how do we start to do that and think critically about diversifying our teams and our companies?

One great place to start is by listening and learning. We don’t have all the answers, and we won’t find them unless we look outside ourselves. That’s why I can’t wait to attend Inspirefest 2018. This global event is on a mission to empower diverse ideas and people in science, technology, engineering and maths. This year, more than 3,000 attendees from 38 countries will come together in Dublin to hear inspiring talks from more than 60 speakers, participate in workshops alongside global leaders, and attend presentations aimed at innovation and thought leadership.

HubSpot is proud to be sponsoring such an admirable event, and I couldn’t be more honoured to be one of the festival’s speakers. HubSpot is a company that encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work and hire top talent from many different backgrounds, but we’re still working on our own diversity and inclusion efforts. We’re nowhere close to being the diverse company we strive to become, but we’re setting benchmarks every year to get closer to our goals.

Here are some of the ways I plan to use Inspirefest as an opportunity to grow as a leader, and to help our organisation become a more inclusive one.

1. Learn from diverse speakers

One of the speakers I’m most excited to hear from is Taylor Denise Richardson, a 14-year-old advocate, activist, speaker and philanthropist. I don’t know about you, but at 14 I was still worrying about getting my braces off and figuring out my locker combination, never imagining that I could change the landscape of gender norms as Richardson is doing today. Her dream is to become an astronaut, and she encourages girls of every age to follow their own dreams no matter how big or seemingly unattainable.

If you haven’t heard of Dr Easkey Britton yet, google her. Britton is a five-time Irish national surf champion and has a passion for connecting people and the ocean in order to promote social change. The award-winning documentary Into the Sea follows her journey through Iran in 2013 where she brought the sport of surfing to women and local communities.

A few other notable speakers at this year’s Inspirefest include: Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital; Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, co-founder and CEO of Stemettes; Sheree Atcheson, UK expansion director at Women Who Code; and Tim Leberecht, co-founder and co-CEO of The Business Romantic Society. There’s so much diversity among these speakers and their industry backgrounds, and I promise you’re going to walk away from Inspirefest feeling nothing short of inspired.

2. Network with passionate people

Inspirefest surrounds you with leaders thinking the same questions as you: What is D&I? How can I inspire change at my company? What can I do to begin diversifying my team? How do I talk about D&I with others? How can I get involved in D&I employee resource groups (ERGs)? Where do I even begin?

You’ll have an incredible opportunity to network with like-minded industry leaders and influencers in the D&I space, hearing how other organisations have started diversifying their candidate pools, implementing programmes and initiatives for LGBTQ groups, women and more; and who in their company leads the charge with D&I, whether that be a programme manager, someone within HR or its own dedicated role.

You’ll hear about the challenges these people have faced, the strides they’ve made and how far they still have to go to create a truly inclusive workplace, so that you can learn from their mistakes and successes. You’ll walk away with new ideas and perspectives to galvanise your team’s thinking.

3. Stand up and show your support

Talking about change is one thing, but showing up and being part of that change is what’s truly going to alter the landscape of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Inclusivity needs to start at the leadership level. We need to lead by example and encourage our teams and companies to make changes so that everyone feels welcome from day one.

It’s time to walk the walk and show your company’s support. Attend events such as Inspirefest, but also attend with intention. Learn one thing you can go back to your company and do differently or better. Have a bias for action. Be an upstander, not a bystander.

Ignite the change and begin diversifying your teams. Not only will it help your organisation grow, it’s simply the right thing to do.

So, here’s my call to action for you: embrace diversity and inspire inclusivity in any way you can. Learn from other leaders and organisations, network with passionate people, and show your support at events such as Inspirefest.

It starts with one person. Let that one person be you.

By Katie Burke

Katie Burke is the chief people officer at HubSpot. For inspiration from extraordinary thinkers, catch Burke and more at Inspirefest in Dublin on 21 and 22 June. Get your tickets now.

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