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Why is diversity & inclusion in tech so important?

“With diversity and inclusion, the work is never done.” Ravelino Carlton Fredericks speaks on how to make your workplace a safe space for everyone. Let’s start a conversation...

Why is diversity & inclusion in tech so important?

What is your role at Ravelin?

I’m an associate product manager at Ravelin, so I work in the Product team. I’ve been doing that for about 6 months now - it’s gone so quickly! I started out in the Dashboard team but recently moved over to Payments Engineering.

How did you get into tech?

I was definitely a STEM kid at school and originally chose Neuroscience at uni. Initially I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but quickly realised I wanted to work in tech after entering the field. I actually decided to leave uni early after getting a job in customer operations at a well-known challenger bank.

Following that, I moved between companies and loved my time working in financial crime and operations in particular, but still thought “this isn’t quite it.”

When I saw this role at Ravelin it looked like the perfect combination for me – focusing on fraud and product. It felt too good to be true, and I was just waiting for someone to tell me that Ravelin has an awful culture or that every 6 months they sacrifice someone on an altar for profitability...but no! It really is as good as it looks from the outside, maybe even better.

Why is workplace diversity & inclusion so important and what are the benefits?

In today’s world, products should be designed with every community in mind. Companies that aren’t diverse fail to do this - one company even made automatic hand dryers that didn’t recognise Black hands! With a diverse workforce, this would never happen. Someone would obviously raise the question and say, “hey, have you considered this?” Diverse representation is all-important.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) aren’t just HR buzzwords. Studies find that businesses with better D&I are usually more profitable. It makes sense: if you create a workplace where everybody feels included, people will want to stay and do their best work.

For employees, if you don’t have to worry about what prejudices you might encounter at work, that’s great, but everyone around you needs that same experience. I’ve heard and experienced some horror stories - as a Black man, it’s a priority for me to feel I can work in a safe space.

Can you tell us a bit about the D&I Champions at Ravelin?

The D&I champions at Ravelin come together to look at our D&I efforts proactively. We assess what we currently do at Ravelin and figure out ways to improve on it.

We don’t want people to feel like they have to leave their identity at the door. We want people to be able to bring their whole selves to work. Our group is dedicated to making that happen.

What concrete actions are Ravelin taking to improve D&I?

We are currently focusing on collecting D&I data to establish a baseline so we know what Ravelin looks like, who makes up Ravelin and what groups they belong to.

HR has done a lot of work to improve things on the hiring side, like trying to remove bias and make sure we recruit from more diverse sources. We’re introducing a sourcing platform to tackle one of the target areas for improvement every 6 months. So we’ll use community platforms like BYP, Working Mums, and SheCanCode.

On the education side, we organize talks to raise awareness. For example, during Pride month we had Laila El-Metoui come and give Ravelinos a quiz and educational session on some of the issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces. It’s a great way to start conversations.

Those are just a couple of things we’re up to, but we have an open channel where anyone can suggest anything to do for D&I, and can easily push new ideas forward. And any Ravelino can start a group with people who have similar experiences to share resources and support each other.

How will we continue to keep Ravelin’s D&I in check in future?

We’re working on creating a shared calendar to make sure everyone knows what’s coming up, and so we don't miss important days/months. This helps us plan future events like for Pride month, Black History Month, Diwali, or Ramadan, to name a few.

It comes down to visibility and transparency. Collecting HR data is really important to get an understanding of where we are now. But with D&I, the work is never done. You always have to keep going. We have to hold ourselves accountable and respond to feedback to keep ourselves in check.

Do you have any good resources or organizations to share?

Colorintech comes to mind, but there are so many others. We are always looking for new organizations to learn from and support.

What advice would you give to people from minority groups starting a career in tech?

It’s tricky because I have to acknowledge that I have been privileged in my journey. I haven’t faced things that a lot of people have faced. But I truly believe that you deserve to be able to work in a place that sees you for who you are and actively wants you there for what you bring.

There can be a tendency for people in minority groups to adopt a false work persona to better blend in. Obviously, everyone does that but I do think it’s to a greater extent for minority groups. You should be able to bring your whole self to work.

My advice would be to try to find a company that aligns with your values - I can’t stress that enough. I’m one of those people that believes you shouldn’t compromise your happiness for a paycheck. Go and work somewhere that makes you feel happy. And it might be difficult, but don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and hold people accountable.

If you’re interested in joining Ravelin, check out available roles here.