Letitia Hatton on inclusive practices within the workplace

8th December 2022

Recently, we sat down with Letitia Hatton, the Diversity & Inclusion expert for Tempting Talent. She was able to share some useful insights about fostering inclusive practices within the workplace. Here’s what she had to say:

Can you tell us a little about your background and experience working in the diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) sphere?

I recruit for Executive Search and Recruitment professionals in the USA, specifically focusing on those who recruit in the technology industry.

We noticed some patterns within the recruitment market and started actively going through our statistics and internal database and saw that the insights were not as inclusive as they should be. I was able to approach my CEO directly and ask, “what do you think the reasons are for this?”, “what do you think we can do to make this better?”. He acknowledged that our internal DEI and external evaluation is not where we would like it to be, and we were quickly able to take accountability and action.

We discussed small yet helpful steps we could take to improve our processes. Being a small team, we realized we did not have anyone appointed to create an internal and external client strategy for our DEI initiatives. Following our conversation, I was able to take ownership over external and some internal DEI strategies shortly becoming Head of DEI. Ellie Millar – our Operations Manager also takes ownership over improving DEI internally. This is a team effort, though it’s good to have someone keeping on top of everything.

Have you found that your understanding of DEI differs from others working in the space?

Naturally, my understanding of DEI is going to differ from others, how I see things, how I do things and what I feel is going to be very different to those who do not come from the same background that I do. I also recognize my privilege and note that there are others who feel a deeper sense of frustration and pain with the discrimination they have faced.

To add some further context, someone who is a part of the LGBQTIA+ community is going to feel stronger about certain topics and that is not because I don’t care, it’s because I haven’t experienced the first-hand inequity feeling. I will always be an active ally and try to understand how all communities feel to the best of my ability.

In short, everyone will have a different understanding of DEI, but it’s about researching, listening, speaking up, and if you’re unsure about anything, listening to as many people’s stories as you can and showing support!

What advice would you give to staff in the workplace? How can individuals get involved with DEI initiatives?

One thing we’ve done internally is hold group sessions – we come together as a team and create a safe space to discuss relevant DEI topics or anything people have on their mind. For instance, recently, we held a short Learning & Development session on white privilege where I was able to mention a few things some of my colleagues were not aware of. I shared that I often think about how I’m going to wear my hair to meetings and whether braids are acceptable or whether my afro is suitable for the workplace. Thankfully at Tempting Talent I am fully encouraged to wear my hair however I feel though this is not the same at every workplace and nobody had an understanding about the anxiety I go through when styling my hair. Creating a safe space and having uncomfortable conversations can change some peoples thought process and help avoid microaggressions.

There’s a lot of discussion about how effective group sessions can be, but for us right now at Tempting Talent it’s working, but we do acknowledge as we grow different strategies need to be implemented.

Are there any non-inclusive behaviours that pop up in the workplace?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell. To be inclusive people need to be included. Often you can think you’re including someone in something, but actually they may not feel included at all.

For example, a lot of companies advertise going out for drinks and show it as a benefit, this can be a difficult subject because there are a lot of people who follow religions or beliefs that don’t permit drinking, or they have their own personal preference/reasons for not drinking. Often people can feel excluded from work events, or pressured to come but then are uncomfortable because they’re in an environment they don’t feel safe in. Understandably, it can be hard to speak up, sometimes their team are unaware, and the individual continues to feel excluded.

Do you think Artificial Intelligence can have a role in progressing DEI in the workplace?

Yes, AI can be helpful though personally I think the real question is whether you’re going to take action after that. You can gain feedback from people, you can have statistics but what are you going to do to act on how they feel?

The real call to action is the change that’s going to be made and that comes from a real human being.

What are some of the best practices for attracting diverse candidates?

For us, it has meant expanding locations, looking at different colleges / universities and communities you could source from. It’s about getting a bit creative with your hiring process and ensuring that you’re reaching out to people who may not feel comfortable to apply. When I applied for this job, I immediately looked at the people and saw if anyone who looked like me worked there. It may sound crazy, but it’s how a lot of people think.

Any final bits of advice?

Do the learning you can, be an active ally, listen to other people and don’t be afraid to get things wrong. Keep trying and if things do go wrong hold your hands up, listen and move forward.