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Genesys: Challenging Systems, Embracing the People

Posted on September 17th, 2020 in Uncategorized

by Eric Thomas

Having been recently promoted to the role of Global Diversity Equity and Inclusion lead at Genesys—an Indianapolis technology company that provides cloud contact center software—I’ve had to examine my own relationship to the power structure around me. I’ve had to challenge some of my own preconceptions about the leadership that I interface with as I work to create a more inclusive culture in the company that is my immediate landscape. That said, doing so has provided a particular challenge: how does one go about challenging systems that are unequal without challenging the individuals who benefit from them?

It is a delicate calculus.

On one side of the equation is the vibrancy of voices for change, not necessarily calling for open rebellion, but certainly open to challenging the status quo. On the other side is the dull monotony of the “get along to get ahead” mindset that has, for too long, kept many of us employed, but not exactly orchestrating organizational change.

I was thinking about this recently with a colleague and we realized that a big part of the challenge of the present moment is a very peculiar ask: how do you challenge unfair systems without accusing their beneficiaries? All around me are an array of people that I genuinely like and respect. But, like many systems in this country and elsewhere, the principal beneficiaries of these systems are disproportionately white and male. How do I embrace the challenge of building a more equitable future without damaging the relationships that could enable it?

The answer is to embrace a growth mindset.

Equity isn’t pie. One person getting a slice doesn’t mean that someone else goes without. It means that we bake more pie. Genesys is prospering. We are adding heads in a variety of roles. It is a wonderful position to be in. And as I come to take a more active role in recruiting and hiring, an opportunity is at hand. The best part of this opportunity is that it doesn’t have to feel like a threat. To anyone.

Author Carol Dweck wrote about how individuals can be possessed of a “growth mindset” or a “fixed mindset.” In a 2012 interview, she had this to say:

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

For me, what this means in the context of diversity, equity and inclusion is that there are no fixed positions. We can work to grow together into the future that we all deserve. It’s much less a reallocation than a reimagining.

We can embrace the people around us, while we commit to challenging the systems that favor some over others. We can all get smarter together if we work at it. This is what I’m here for.

You can learn more about Genesys and their efforts in Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by visiting www.genesys.com/diversity.