Creating a workplace where everyone feels welcome and able to do their best work is no easy job. It’s one that evolves over time and will never officially be ‘done’. But that’s ok, because it’s both highly rewarding and vitally important. Why? Well, to tell us more, we asked someone who knows all about it: Booking.com’s Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging (IDB), Chuck Stephens.
Chuck is anything but new to IDB, having previously helped both Barclays and Google make their working environments more welcoming places to be. But why do companies need to be inclusive or diverse in the first place? As Chuck puts it, “employees want to feel like they do impactful work, that they enjoy – which doesn’t mean it’s easy – and, ideally, they are part of a ‘work family’ where they have a sense of belonging.”
And what about here at Booking.com especially? He goes on to explain, “we are a company of explorers. Our colleagues love to travel and experience the world. We know from our own cultural surveys that diversity is one of the main elements that colleagues really value about working at Booking.com. While navigating all our diverse backgrounds, identities and variations of the human experience can seem a little daunting at times, it’s what makes us such a rewarding place to work.”
Of course, when you have such incredible diversity, you get a lot of differing ideas, which is great for creativity – it’s what makes us so strong – but sometimes, these differing opinions can lead to disagreements. That’s why Chuck, his team and the company as a whole are working hard to make sure each individual employee can recognise their own preconceptions and be aware of when they might not be communicating in the most productive or inclusive way. We’re wonderfully diverse, we’re immensely inclusive, but we’re not perfect.
On the subject of not being perfect, Chuck says, “some of what we read about in the media – such as Kenji Yoshino’s work on ‘covering’ – or things like the challenges of coming out and imposter syndrome can also be found here at Booking.com. Some of these are team challenges, some are individual. As an organisation, we are supportive, but ultimately, each of us has our own journey to take.”
The IDB team strives to find ways to create an even more inclusive environment at Booking.com. One of these projects included launching an IDB portal, where employees are able to uncover more about specific principles they can apply to their daily interactions. The team also delivered special inclusion workshops – which the majority of our managers have already taken part in – and have initiated a new B.Champion mentoring programme for women in technical roles. The more the team can inspire individual employees to educate themselves and take ownership of the topic on a daily basis, the better.
For Chuck, it’s a lot of small steps and relatively easy actions, that anyone can take, that all build up to really making any workplace more inclusive. “Take a step to do something positive. Ask questions, learn from colleagues that have a different background than you, activate new skills and seek to be a leader on inclusivity, no matter what your role is. Go out and explore the experiences of others around you.”
At Booking.com, we make it easier for everyone to experience the world. We began by taking hotel bookings online over 20 years ago and we’ve been shaping the travel industry ever since. Today, we’re building a platform that connects every part of a trip – from a great place to stay to getting there, getting around, seeing the sights and sampling local life.
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