In an era of data-driven business solutions, the organizational framework for diversity and inclusion has not been left behind. Today, companies are turning to DEI as a credit to their workflow productivity.
From incorporating employees of different identities to understanding better ways of equality in human resource management, the DEI industry is at the heart of organizational development. That is why organizations today are enthusiastic about implementing the DEI strategy for their sustainable development.
Sheree Atcheson does that for Valtech like it Group Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion.
Sheree is a passionate leader working to incorporate multi-diverse demographics into the technology sector† Before joining Valtec, she led DEI initiatives of several companies such as Peakon, Monzo and Deloitte. She has worked in many regions to develop tailored, data-driven DE&I strategies, with clear goals and lines of accountability to embed success and inclusion at scale.
Inspired by her passion for DEI, we at Insights Success spoke with her to learn more about her diversity and inclusion work.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Tell our audience about your journey as a business leader to your current position at Valtech. What challenges have you overcome to get to where you are today?
I started my career many years ago as a software engineer and turned to full-time diversity and inclusion work after volunteering for several years at a non-profit organization dedicated to women in technology called Women Who Code. I was adopted from Sri Lanka by an Irish family at 3 weeks old, and that has given me an abundance of privileges and access to opportunities that I simply did not have and would never have had before. There have been many challenges in my journey, from growing up in a very white country to growing up with free school meals, a state-provided benefit in the UK for low-income families. There have been many ups and downs in this journey, but ultimately, now, as a senior executive woman of color in the industry, I have the ability to do something meaningful because I’m being listened to – and that’s the greatest privilege of all. I would describe myself as underrepresented yet privileged.
Tell us how you made an impact in the DEI industry through your expertise in the market.
I have been doing this work for over ten years and in that time I have worked in many regions for many different types of companies. This has enabled me to drive significant changes in organizations that want to focus on both diversity and inclusion separately through data-driven D&I strategies. Using representation data and people analytics, I help companies discover truths about perceptions of inclusion, map them into promotion processes (and so on) and enable real, sustainable change. For me, sharing knowledge is key, which is why I regularly write for Forbes, Thomson Reuters and more. Expecting change within your own reach is one thing, but it is essential to be able to share and educate more widely. It’s also why I wrote Demanding More: why diversity and inclusion aren’t happening and what you can do about it. In addition, I led the UK Expansion of Women Who Code, which is now the world’s largest non-profit organization worldwide, dedicated to women in technology, where I now serve as a member of its advisory board.
What do you think are the challenges that still need to be addressed in the DEI sector?
Intersectionality in data. All too often organizations collect data in buckets and never overlap them (or they just collect one attribute and base all their success on that). Humans don’t exist in bubbles. For example, women are not monoliths, so it’s important for data to overlap to give a true picture.
What are the values driving Valtech’s DEI efforts to a demographic work environment?
We are a global company, in 19+ countries. Our work influences and influences much more than just ourselves and because of this our values are Share, Dare and Care. We pay it in advance; we thrive in unique environments and we care about experiences. All of this is integrated into our D&I objectives because it is our core. We want to represent the societies we serve and the regions we are based on. We recognize that we have work to do, and we continue on that journey to create Valtech that delivers everyone’s experiences for everyone.
Where do you see yourself in the long run and what are your future goals for Valtech?
My goals for Valtech are clear: we have a business that reflects societies and people. We are a multicultural, engaging organization with the ability to learn from many different people and cultures without even leaving our own company. That is a huge privilege and one of the keys to our success here. We collaborate globally and execute regionally/locally. We learn from each other, exchange and share where necessary. From a metric perspective, we’re working on what metrics we want to keep this year, as we’re now embedding different systems to help us do that. In 2021, 45% of all new hires were women, and we want to continue this progress. We recognize that gender is not the only area of diversity, and we are working to capture this different information on a regional/local basis to facilitate our reporting.
What is the best advice you have ever received during your professional career?
Be your own biggest fan. There are people who do not understand your vision or who are threatened by you. Remember it’s okay, you’re not here to please everyone because frankly that would be impossible. Sit back, listen to feedback, process it and move on.