“Come as you are”: when diversity and inclusion are no longer invited to the party
You’re wrong if you’ve never seen Anthony Babkine on a stage. Behind the communication talents, Anthony has a mission: offer talents, wherever they come from, to carry out their tech entrepreneurial project by removing the various glass ceilings along the way thanks to the association #TechYourPlace, created in the trail of Diversidays and Mozaik RH.
Who are you Anthony Babkine?
I describe myself as a social entrepreneur on diversity and inclusion issues. Through our association TechYourPlace, the central part of my work is to set up free support programs for people who want to set up their own business projects with a common thread: Tech.
With Mounira Hamdi (co-founder of Diversidays and TechYourPlace), we realized that the talents did not recognize themselves in the Tech industry.
If the qualifications required to work in this field sometimes explain the fact of not being able to enter it, we also notice that many biases exist (related to gender, age, disability, social origin, ethnicity…). We are modestly trying to remove them.
When people are asked if they believe in the need for diversity and inclusion in business, the majority seems convinced. Why do the numbers prove the contrary?
I would nuance the notion of consensus. In the world of French Tech or VCs, the subject raises many questions from a semantic point of view and it is undoubtedly this point that requires a great deal of education at first.
We are often asked “what exactly do you mean by diversity and inclusion? That was the whole point of our webinar with Pete Stone, to desacralize the words, but also explain very concretely the mission of a movement like #TechYourPlace.
These questions are obviously just a mirror of what is happening in our society with many questions on the acceptance of differences and debates of “living together” in France.
The very word diversity induces something social and ethnic, a notion of categorization, often badly experienced by those to whom this “label” is attached.
The subjects of diversity and inclusion are also subjects of suffering and must be addressed in order to pass to the next stage.
In your opinion, what are the main obstacles that need to be solved?
We really need to focus on education and, as a first step, give a very formal basis on the legal framework so that we know exactly what we are talking about. The second urgent need is to tackle the biases, whether they are conscious or unconscious. This is necessarily a longer stage because we have to identify, understand, unravel, correct, and reconstruct. It is clearly a sociological adventure!
Would you have some best practices to share with entrepreneurs?
Join TechYourPlace (laughs)! The first thing is to go back to the basics when talking about diversity and inclusion.
Beyond the terms, the idea is to understand the power of inclusion of all diversities in terms of innovation and performance because it is proven that a company that, as soon as possible, makes diversity and inclusion a central topic will have more capacity to innovate.
In the second phase, we need to be able to measure and make an inventory of the situation in the company in order to know what level we are at in terms of diversity representation, wage equality, etc. Taking the pulse of your organization also means being fairly objective about social criteria. In other words, we must also be able to say whether glass ceilings exist in the company in order to rectify the situation.
Lastly, taking action on the basis of the measurements made in Act 2. We can act on several levels, from the organization of religious holidays to celebrate Christmas, Eid or Hanukkah, but also highlighting LGBTQ+ communities with Pride Month, through the intervention of experts on equal opportunities, etc.
These different actions can really make a difference and change corporate cultures. As an example, the Americans are a good one.
Is a startup, by design, more inclusive than a large group?
It’s rather the opposite, the startup is rather exclusive. A Sista barometer highlighted the fact that Next120 companies were rather lagging behind on these issues, compared to CAC40 companies, which seem to have already begun a kind of transformation, notably due to changes in regulations that force them, given their size, to take action.
Startups are not obliged to do so and this is a bad development. In fact, we can see that the last 5 years have been synonymous with regression in terms of inclusion, with the feeling that talent is no longer invited to the party.
The “come as you are” has turned into “come as we are”. However, the evolution of the financial markets could once again reverse the trend and put diversity and inclusion back into the mainstream.
👉🏻If you enjoy our interviews, sign up to Both, our newsletter which blends Impact and Growth!