On creating more positive and productive cultures for the future of work with Sheree Atcheson, head of diversity and inclusion at MonzoFeatured
I spoke with @shereeatcheson, head of diversity and inclusion at Monzo. She is one of the UK’s Top Most Influential Women in Tech and an international multi-award winner for her services to the Diversity and Inclusion industry. She is a board appointed global ambassador for Women Who Code and a contributor at Forbes. Could you share more on your background and how you found your calling?When I became a software engineer after school, I saw first hand the gender disparities in tech andI wanted to find out how I could make an impact. I launched Women Who Code in the UK where I helped grow and lead the organization. We give over 1 million scholarships now per year and have a presence in over 60 cities. I have been with the group since and throughout my career. Later, at Deloitte, I started as a consultant. Part of my work involved helping lots of organizations change their culture, their processes, and fundamental structures to be more inclusive. I started off just working on these projects as just one part of my role but eventually dedicated myself full time as an inclusion manager and subsequently, consulting inclusion lead. What is a common mistake organizations make in diversity and inclusion?A lot of people focus their inclusion in their companies around flagship events, but that is not enough. Too frequently, companies do not talk about diversity and inclusion outside of key time periods like Black History Month, but in order to drive true change, they need to focus on changing fundamental and operational practices, such as how meetings are run and how decisions are made. Also, when designing policies and procedures, it is crucial to be data driven to eliminate your own biases. Consequently, you need to find a way to incorporate proper, regular data collection and analysis into organizational practices so that this data is available to drive more thoughtful decision making. Congratulations on recently joining Monzo! What drew you to the firm?I wanted a role more that was agile and disruptive. As a person, I like to move fast, and try to do different things to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Monzo has a major presence in the UK, where I am based, and is at an interesting inflection point, expanding globally starting with the US. I saw an opportunity to do things from scratch, drive with momentum and strategic focus, and learn from an incredible team in a dynamic, transparent culture. What are the main components of your role at Monzo?I spend time with our people to understand promotion structures, exit interviews, and hiring. I will be doing anonymous listening sessions across the business, from engineering to operations to people to platform, to get a clear sense of what the culture feels like across hierarchy levels and functional groups. From there, I will form strategies based on the data, feedback, and research. As new initiatives are implemented, I will collect analytics on their performance and iterate to improve, building a continuous feedback loop. No organization should rule out a new feature or idea without proper user testing, data collection, and workshops, and I intend to incorporate the same rigorous process at Monzo to drive diversity and inclusion. How can women ensure they are joining diverse and inclusive companies? Do thorough research on companies before joining. Use platforms like Glassdoor, but do keep in mind that the opinions published there can be a bit polarizing. Reach out to people on LinkedIn who have worked in similar roles orin the very department you would be joining. Be clear about what is important to you and what these core values look like in practice day to day. Then, determine whether what you have learned about the company and its culture truly aligns with your vision and priorities. What is your advice for women on building strong mentor relationships?I think there is a big distinction between mentorship and sponsorship. The former is more advice driven, but the latter is truly impactful. Sponsors give you concrete, constructive feedback and advocate for you in meetings you are not in. they are dedicated to your success. To create meaningful sponsor relationships at your firm, make sure there is a robust matching framework in place. Sponsors themselves have to be engaged and truly interested in being involved with clear, set expectations. What are you most excited about?At Monzo, I am very excited to be working at one of the most amazing tech companies. As an underrepresented leader (specifically talking about the intersection of leadership as a young woman of colour from a lower socio-economic background), I am looking forward to integrating race and class more in discussions around diversity and inclusion.In tech in general, I am excited for the innovations to come, but also careful to embed inclusion and protection of marginalized groups in the upcoming wave of technological change.