Diverse and inclusive teams are driving success at these 4 Chicago tech companies

by Michael Hines
June 12, 2019

In addition to being the right thing to do, tech companies that commit themselves to building diverse teams often find that they have an edge over the competition. Diversity, both of thought and demographically, enables teams to think outside the box and develop inventive and innovative technology that solves complex problems.

But don’t take our word for it. Instead, continue reading to see how diverse teams boost the businesses of four Chicago tech companies.

 

Pareto Intelligence Chicago tech jobs
PHOTO VIA ALLISON WILLIAMS

Pareto Intelligence delivers analytics, technology and advisory solutions that help healthcare payers and providers improve their financial performance and deliver better care. The healthcare industry is filled with complex problems that require unique and inventive solutions. When it comes to brainstorming those solutions, CTO George Asante said the company’s “best idea wins” approach helps ensure team members from all backgrounds have their voices heard.

 

Tell us about a project where having a diverse team with different perspectives led to a better business outcome.

Diversity is a critical element of Pareto’s culture because our experiences define how we approach problems. Not just work experience, but life experience too. We want our people to draw upon all their experiences to generate the best ideas and solutions. Having a team with varied experiences, backgrounds and cultures gives us rich perspectives when it comes to problem-solving.

At the beginning of this year, we hosted a team-wide training to learn reactive architecture and principles. After the training, we broke up into two groups, with each group challenged to apply the lessons they learned to a real-world problem. What our team found interesting is how people who watched the same training approached the problem from a completely different perspective. This confirmed the importance of having a diversity of ideas — though the solutions were radically different, both groups solved the problem and we were able to merge the two solutions to achieve the best outcome.

Having a team with varied experiences, backgrounds and cultures gives us rich perspectives when it comes to problem-solving.

 

How does your company ensure that employees from a diverse range of backgrounds are included in making key business decisions?

At Pareto, we emphasize that the best idea wins. It’s not about seniority or longevity or tenure. We’re driven by a diversity of opinions and ideas because we believe that gets you to the best solution. We encourage everyone to speak up — from the person who started a week ago to the most senior team member — and ensure everyone has a seat at the brainstorming table. Once there, it’s not just about having an idea. We encourage our people to sell their idea to their colleagues, too.

 

SDI Presence Chicago tech jobs
PHOTO VIA SDI PRESENCE

IT and managed services provider and consultancy SDI Presence helps companies and organizations optimize their technology environments. One of the organizations it works with is the Chicago Transit Authority. Chief Development Officer Cecelia Bolden said the diversity of the team that works on the CTA project is crucial to ensuring its success — and by extension reducing headaches for riders.

 

Tell us about a project where having a diverse team with different perspectives led to a better business outcome.

SDI Presence delivers infrastructure managed services for the Chicago Transit Authority, including help desk, hardware, desktop, server and network services 24/7, 365 days a year. All of our client team members reside locally and represent different neighborhoods and cultures within the Chicagoland area. Our hometown project team takes a great deal of pride in how they impact such a core city resource like the CTA. From knowing the fastest routes to providing service at the CTA’s many locations and fitting like a glove into its culture, our diverse SDI team delivers a presence that results in better business outcomes.

As a firm, we reflect and encourage diversity in all things, and as a result we are able to make better and more impactful business decisions.

 

How does your company ensure that employees from a diverse range of backgrounds are included in making key business decisions?

SDI incorporates diversity throughout our organization, starting with our executive team. Our C-suite — comprised of 75 percent diverse executives — includes a wide range of ethnic, gender identity and generational diversity. Our diversity of thought at the executive level trickles down and impresses these values onto our next level of management, as well as into our field personnel. As a firm, we reflect and encourage diversity in all things, and as a result we are able to make better and more impactful business decisions.

 

Enova Chicago tech jobs
PHOTO VIA ENOVA

Enova is an online lender that uses machine learning and data to provide credit to those who cannot access it from traditional lending institutions. The company launched in 2004, long before online lending became a hotly contested space in the tech industry. Senior Director of U.S. Business Ranning Li said a diverse team is what has enabled the company to keep its edge on the competition and develop innovative products that make credit easier to access.

 

Tell us about a project where having a diverse team with different perspectives led to a better business outcome.

Most of our products were launched as the first to market in their category, and we have been leading product innovation in the industry. The diverse team we have enables us to think outside the box to solve the real challenges that we face. For instance, our Upswing product rewards customers for their on-time payment behavior and provides a path for continued rate reduction. The team leveraged its consumer insights, product platform knowledge and unique backgrounds and experiences in order to come up with simple, yet effective, creative solutions to bring this product concept to life.

The diverse team we have enables us to think outside the box to solve the real challenges that we face.

 

How does your company ensure that employees from a diverse range of backgrounds are included in making key business decisions?

We inherently value diverse backgrounds and experiences. Our “best answer wins” value and results-driven culture support our inclusive decision-making process. We want our decision-making to be fast, and at the same time, we want our decisions to be what’s best for our business, customers and team. Enova team members collaborate across different areas of the business to evaluate solutions. By leveraging the diverse perspectives of our team members through this process, we ensure our solutions encounter robust questions and challenges. This helps us refine our solutions and arrive at the best answers.

 

Hireology Chicago tech jobs
PHOTO VIA HIREOLOGY

Hireology’s recruitment CRM platform is used by companies to attract, hire and quickly onboard top talent. According to VP of People Shannon Ward, the company’s recently formed diversity, equity and inclusion council plays a big part in ensuring that its talent pool is stocked with diverse candidates.

 

Tell us about a project where having a diverse team with different perspectives led to a better business outcome.

At Hireology, we believe that diverse and inclusive teams win. In January, we launched our diversity, equity and inclusion council, a cross-functional team made up of volunteer leaders, to ensure we’re doing everything we can to build a culture of belonging at Hireology. The council sets goals and develops strategies that help drive business results as well as foster equity, not just at Hireology, but for our customers too.

At Hireology, we believe that diverse and inclusive teams win.

 

How does your company ensure that employees from a diverse range of backgrounds are included in making key business decisions?

Our diversity, equity, and inclusion council partners with our talent acquisition team to ensure we're building the most diverse pipeline of talent for our hiring managers. Creating diverse teams allows for different perspectives that can drive greater innovation, creativity and business results.

 

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