Why form a working or advisory group? Getting a program or equity innovation off the ground is not a solo task! Teams are necessary to get most things done in any organization. Collective work harnesses multiple ideas and perspectives and helps spread the workload to avoid burnout. Without realizing it, you are building the beginnings of a movement for positive change at your organization or company, and helping to move the needle on equitable hiring & job-based learning and advancement.
1) Test Out Ways to Organize
- Start small and nimble; even having just one other person interested in the work can be a starting point. Grow and build momentum over time
- Organize a mini-sprint among volunteers, see how people respond, see how the program idea forms into shape or evolves into clearer focus
- Make sure to have thirty minute retrospectives at the end of each sprint to refine and share high-level feedback
- Schedule deeper-dive sprints with those who are most engaged. Note: The most engaged individuals are not always the most vocal. Leave space for quiet voices with critically important ideas.
- Delegate work. Give an idea or sprint some structure, then let people have space to lead and contribute
- Create a shared communication channel (ie: Google group or Slack channel) to collaborate online and asynchronously share out and ask for input
- 1:1 engagement also works when not everyone can meet, or when you’re engaging someone for the first time
- Document goals, progress, blockers, and outcomes along the way, this will be useful in onboarding new volunteers or sponsors
- Call in external experts, such as leaders who have established equitable apprenticeships or apprentices themselves to inform and inspire, to help fill knowledge gaps
- Share out milestones reached within the group and within the broader org to help build community and demonstrate progress/impact to leaders
2. Experiment with Roles in the Working Group
Delegating work across working group members who play key roles is essential to a well-functioning working group that can effectively advance buy-in for equitable tech apprenticeship.
- Roles might include:
-Planning / project management
-Internal comms and messaging
-External collaboration with community partners or vendors
-Research strategy, execution, analysis, share outs
-Being a connector — bringing in leadership, volunteers
- Roles don’t need to be constant or aligned with their job role; contributors may engage at key stages where their expertise is needed
- Incorporate the voice and perspective of the group being designing for (those from alternative education backgrounds, racially underrepresented groups in tech)
- Make sure to have representation from the technical org units in which you’re aiming to host apprentices, and anyone involved in early career work from your people ops team
- Ensure the team is representative in terms of identity but also functional role and level in the company
3) Foster and Seek Out Desirable Traits in Working Group Members
- Attract people who are willing to jump in, wear multiple hats, take the reins when others need to step back, demonstrate a lack of territoriality and ego, are geared towards problem-solving, community, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Questions to ask potential working group members and allies:
–Why are you interested in getting involved?
-What skills or knowledge can you bring into this program?
-What past experience can you draw from, if any, to inform this process/program?
-What are your expected outcomes from participation in this process/program?
-How will you ensure community and inclusion are fostered in this working group?
-How do you typically collaborate with others on teams? How do you want to collaborate with this working group?
-Have you completed any DEI trainings? Or are you willing to? This is in order to foster a shared language among working group members.
-What is your understanding of race and education-path based disparities?
Dispel the myth that advocates and working group members need to be DEI experts. There are many ways people can learn about equity and inclusion in advancing this work
4) Create Healthy Working Group Culture and Community
- Recognize the company or organizational culture in which you are doing this work, particularly as it pertains to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in order to set realistic expectations.
- Ensure documentation of decisions, open questions, program action items
- Ensure workload is realistic and manageable to avoid burnout
- Form a sense of community and belonging within this group to sustain the challenges of this work
- Ask yourself who’s in the room/meeting and who is not. Foster a sense of belonging for whomever is there. Invite and seek out underrepresented groups who are not there
- Balance consistency with a variety of engagement formats to add to culture, excitement, community
- Offer opportunities for co-creation for work group members, relevant internal stakeholders, and external communities interested in apprenticeship via sprints and co-designing
- Make space for people to connect interpersonally, share about themselves and why they value the work, vent about frustrations constructively, solidify a meaningful and memorable emotional connection to the work
- Advocate for member contributions to be recognized in their formal performance measures as much as possible, even when there are no formal KPIs in job descriptions, and when buy-in doesn’t yet exist from the top down
Have fun and celebrate milestones! Recognize accomplishments internally to the work group, internally to the company, and where makes sense externally.
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Tool and best practices co-designed with champions in tech Rahul Choudhury, Meana Kasi, and Angela Pablo.
Have questions or comments about the Equitable Tech Apprenticeship Toolkit? Send us a note.