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Big IDEAs on diversity and inclusion: Puppet Belfast

  • At the beginning of 2020, automation software firm Puppet started an in-house global IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) council, made up of volunteers over a number of departments and levels.

    Puppet’s Belfast office formed a local DE&I (diversity, equality and inclusion) working group in June 2019, now known as Belfast IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access) Working Group. The group is focussing on community outreach and networking as well as local IDEA related events. Its mission is to not only advance IDEA work internally and raise awareness, but also to connect Puppet to the local community.

    Christine Schmitt, Workplace and DE&I Program Manager for Puppet in Belfast, said: “Back in summer 2019 when we started this group there were several initiatives around IDEA at Puppet - collaborations with Specialisterne (a specialist consultancy that recruits and supports talented autistic people) and Orchardville (a charity committed to changing the lives of people with learning disabilities).

    RELATED: Puppet in Belfast: Then and now

    “We also had interaction with Women Who Code and other similar groups in Belfast, started thinking about getting more STEM ambassadors and began to provide training options for Unconscious Bias, Ally Skills and other IDEA related topics,” Christine continued.

    “I was involved in some of these initiatives. Some were led by HR, the training team or even out of our headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Since there was a high interest in IDEA work in the Belfast office I thought it was the perfect time to start a local committee to centralise and drive all those initiatives.”

    The Belfast working group connects with local organisations to promote a more diverse and inclusive tech scene in Belfast.

    So far, the group has partnered with Women Who Code Belfast and, more recently, Ladies that UX Belfast to create the She Rocks Awards, which recognise and celebrate local women working in technology.

    In pre-pandemic years just prior to Christmas, the team also ran their Kid’s Tech Event, gathering like-minded techies and companies to put on a fun tech initiative for children of all ages, from LEGO and building blocks to microbits and a VR station.

    In the pipeline, Puppet Belfast is organising an annual LGBTQ+ Pride Party and has signed up several STEM ambassadors to organise work experience placements, in the hope of encouraging more young people in Northern Ireland to get involved in the growing regional tech sector.

    RELATED: Puppet: What does the future of work look like?

    John Murray, Senior UX Designer at Puppet Belfast, said the IDEA work he is most excited about is their “first Belonging & Climate Demographic Survey.”

    “The survey was anonymous so I’m hoping it will give us a true understanding of the experiences people have at Puppet and highlight areas that we need to focus on and ensure systemic equity and inclusion throughout the organisation,” he told Sync NI.

    Products Puppet staff gathered for "The Homeless Period" charity

    Recently, Puppet’s CEO, Yvonne Wassenaar, signed a pledge on to be part of this initiative to drive diversity and inclusion in the business.

    “It’s important that we can all be our true selves at work and IDEA in the workplace helps promote that,” John added.

    RELATED: A day in the life of an engineering manager at Puppet

    “It isn’t just ethically the right thing to do, it’s also really beneficial for employees and the business as diverse companies are more creative, make better decisions, have higher employee engagement and reduced employee turnover. So for me, the work we do is a win/win for everyone.”

    Rick Monro, another senior UX Designer involved with the Belfast IDEA group, commented that “diversity and inclusion doesn’t just happen. Achieving them takes effort.

    “We make conscious choices about the kind of company culture we want to build and maintain. That is true from the exec level, right through to individual employees.”

    Find out more about Puppet Belfast on their websitehere or check out the roles they are currently hiring for on Sync NI’s Jobs board.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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