Blog Listing

Diversity in the workplace. Who gets it?

This is my first posting to our new team blog. The plan for this segment of “Risk Focus Insights”  is to give the entire Risk Focus team the opportunity to provide some direct input into who we are, how we work and what makes us tick.

As a technology organization, unsurprisingly I would like the general steer to be towards technology. What are the technologies that we are working with, either at work or at home? How are we solving old and new challenges with both proven and ‘leading-edge’ tools and techniques? And how are we embracing these methodologies for delivering solutions faster and / or more predictably?

That said, my contributions will be different. I am not a technologist. I do not write Java, Python, Ruby or any other language with a cool name. English is my only language plus a smattering of Afrikaans, used when trying to keep a secret from my American children. Unfortunately they have learned what ‘roomys’ means so I can’t sneak the ice cream past them any longer.

As the CEO, my role is to set the direction of the business, run operations, sell our capabilities and build the right team to deliver on the commitments we make to clients.

A critical consideration when building a team that can handle anything is diversity. At large public organizations, diversity is a management objective in its own right, with programs in place to deliver, manage and publicize compliance.

At a small firm like Risk Focus, diversity is something that should come naturally. When we hire new people into our team there is only one characteristic that is mandatory and it has nothing to do with race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, or any other measure. The thing we look for is…do they “get It”? Unfortunately, this is a hard characteristic to measure in an interview, which is probably why so many people tend to focus on other more obvious differentiators or gravitate towards people who look and act like themselves.

It’s not easy to explain but you know them when you see them: those people who take a challenge, even one they haven’t experienced before, and are able to make sense of it. They ask the right questions and are able to add value to the situation, even if they don’t have all the tools or experience at their fingertips. I can’t define what makes one of these individuals, but I do know that it has nothing to do with being white or black, straight or gay. It doesn’t even have anything to do with what college they went to… some people just “get it”!

If you happen to be lucky enough to find 20, 30 or even 50 people who do “get it” and put them in a room together, you will notice that they include men and women from all over the world with diverse backgrounds and experiences. If you do find a group of people like this, there will be very little you can’t achieve.

I am very proud of the team we are building at Risk Focus and pleased with the results that we are generating. I just wish that nature had made my life easier and put some indicator on everyone who “gets it” — not something that everyone could notice, of course, preferably a discrete birthmark behind the ear. This would have made building a diverse, fun, productive team so much easier. But I guess if it were too straightforward then everyone would be doing it!

Thank you to everyone at Risk Focus who contributes in their own individual way. Please keep doing what you are doing and recognize that you weren’t picked because for your diversity — that was just a lucky side effect.

– Brian Lynch, CEO