As part of Dialogue’s recent Humanizing Healthcare conference, Martine St-Victor, communication strategist at Milagro, spoke with Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Lightspeed, about his thoughts on D&I (diversity & inclusion) leadership.
Read the highlights from their conversation below.
St-Victor: In light of this year’s social upheaval, can you tell us about the ways you champion D&I in the workplace?
Dasilva: This environment has only emphasized the need for meaningful changes, especially at leadership levels. In addition to engaging in our own D&I training, we’ve dedicated $100K to helping black professionals in tech business communities. We work with a number of organizations, including The BlackNorth Initiative, and have joined The Board Challenge. As a company, we’re really trying to be more discerning in terms of where we stand, and where we can improve.
What has employee response to these initiatives been like?
There’s been a very positive reaction because at Lightspeed, being leaders in D&I and economic equality is part of who we are. We definitely want to reflect more of that in how we operate and the example we set.
Have you generated any internal diversity findings?
Yes. A recent, self-administered employee survey showed that:
- More than 25% of Lightspeed employees identify with an ethnic minority group
- Over 16% identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community
- 9 out of 10 feel comfortable talking about their culture and background with their colleagues
- 83% feel they can be their authentic selves in the workplace
Lightspeed was started by members of the LGBTQ+ community - including myself. I think knowing they’re going to be given equal opportunity is partly why we’ve been able to attract the talent we have.
Do you feel a sense of burden, of being in the spotlight, as the leader of a global company, a person of colour, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
Putting out a statement or taking a stand can sometimes feel risky. But if you don’t take risks in being a leader for D&I, then who will? The world needs people willing to stand up for important topics, especially in times of a leadership vacuum.
What message would you share with your contemporaries about the advantages of D&I in the workplace?
I would say that prioritizing D&I strengthens a company. It adds new perspectives that lead to richer solutions, more well-rounded decisions. It can help you differentiate. As diversity becomes more organic and global in nature, incorporating it into your philosophy will help you leverage talent from all corners of your organization.
Are you hopeful about the future based on lessons learned this past year?
I’ve really come to realize just how much of the way we live is the result of momentum. Our lives were moving at such an incredibly fast pace, we didn’t really have a chance to catch our breath until we were forced to take a step back and slow down. So, at the beginning of the pandemic, we decided to use that time to pause and reflect and listen to what nature had to say. The question became, “are we listening?”
Now, over 6 months in, I think we’ve all had time to re-evaluate schedules and work-life balance. We’ve all had the chance to stop, listen, and rethink what we’ll do going forward for the health of ourselves, our companies, and our planet.
I do believe there’ll be lasting lessons coming out of all this because of the opportunity it’s provided to think about how we got here. Now we just need to think about where we want to be next.
If you’d like to hear more from Dax, follow him on social media or check out his book, Age of Union.