Cultivating a Sense of Belonging at Work and in Life
Today’s DIVE In blog is an insightful conversation with Kranthi Remala, senior technical architect and staff engineer at Blue Yonder. A longtime associate with 12+ years of experience and in a role where it’s imperative to understand customers’ problems to drive meaningful innovation, Kranthi shares her expectations for a diverse and inclusive workplace, how she fosters inclusion while working from home and the benefit these efforts have on the tech industry.
What do diversity and inclusion mean to you, both personally and professionally?
I believe everyone should have equal rights. Diversity and inclusion are about recognizing each person’s strengths and welcoming everyone. It’s important today to respect each other no matter where we come from, how we look, etc. For me, diversity and inclusion have always been important and being accepted and celebrated is a feeling everyone should have. It’s about consciously valuing, understanding and respecting one another. Imagine the wisdom we could all derive if we look through a lens of learning with everyone around us and the conversations we have – it provides us a pathway of understanding each other’s life journeys and what made them who they are today. Unconscious bias continues, but we are getting better through education and becoming more empathetic.
What are three expectations you have for a diverse and inclusive workspace?
Acceptance, Trust and Freedom. Diversity and inclusion are crucial for every organization in parallel with their cultural values. It takes true human spirit, compassion and empathy to live these values.
It is also upon us to relentlessly keep building that value system. Thanks to our core values at Blue Yonder, inclusion is fostered organically here. Everyone has a seat at the table no matter one’s differences, with conscious accessibility practices, equal opportunities, and a healthy team spirit. I have always felt welcomed at Blue Yonder, from the beginning of my interview process on. Our leaders think about inclusivity and diversity at every part of our journey.
How do you foster inclusion while working from home?
It’s been nearly 20 months of being away from the bustling and vibrant office spaces! Life has been a roller coaster and working from home has evolved too. It is crucial that we respect each other’s boundaries and understand that flexible work is the new norm. At the beginning of the pandemic, it took all of us time to adjust to working from home. From “Sorry about that background noise” to “Ah, hello there!” now, we respect each other’s environment, support our teammates and, when possible, include our family and pets in fun Zoom calls.
We’ve begun to operate with nearly no boundaries. While that’s a good thing, I believe we all have one aspect to consider – do we really give the time and space to our family, especially parents? The major change of practicing inclusion for me has been to give that due time and respect to my mom and dad, which is still an evolving process. One of the most important aspects of this new norm, which I think most of us can relate to, is giving ourselves the gift of experiencing nature while being flexible. Work from home has been frustrating at times, but we are all enjoying the fruits of our own space, and we should make the best use of it, while we have it!
How have you found diversity and inclusion to be beneficial in the tech industry?
I have seen great leaders arise from diverse backgrounds in the tech industry in the last few years. We are seeing significant growth in the number of women/other genders taking roles now that only men used to fill, even at an executive level. Today, all are stepping up and breaking glass ceilings and stereotypes of what women can and should do.
However, the percentage of female or other diverse leaders in board rooms across the globe is not very encouraging, and there is a huge scope for onboarding leaders belonging to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), AI/ML and data industries. What could potentially create a more inclusive ecosystem across these industries? The infrangible culture within an organization that drives the growth and success of every associate.
At Blue Yonder, I believe we are setting ourselves up to increase our diversity percentages in a progressive way, through diversity frameworks and awareness coaching. Internally, we recently hosted an AI/ML week which was co-produced by our internal women’s interest network. I absolutely take pride in the BYourself LGBTQ+ ARG (associate resource group) that Blue Yonder recently launched that breaks unconscious bias and enables inclusion.
It excites me that different perspectives enrich our objectives and key results and benefit us in a multi-faceted way. As you bring in the element of empathy to these perspectives, you bring in a strategy that is rooted in compassion.
How have the views of people from other cultures enhanced your educational, professional, and personal experiences?
I attended a session on culturally effective communication in the beginning of my career at Blue Yonder. I thought to myself ‘why am I in such a training? I’m good with my communication skills and I know that in India what people call “colour” is called “color” in the United States. Several other examples crept into my mind.
I know now that was sheer arrogance on my part. After walking out of that session, I realized that a hand gesture normalized in one culture could also be offensive in another part of the world. The profound value I gained when I began interacting and working with people from various parts of the globe is that we all are alike and equal. We all have similar problems and big dreams and views of a joyous life. We all yearn to make a difference with our customers or our community or ourselves and this continues to be a source of gratitude I have for the humankind.
Can you name a positive thing that has happened in your life since the pandemic began?
Valuing oneself, valuing life and humanity more than ever before!
Today, we are here in 2021 either having survived the most historic time in our lifetime or still waiting to see those whom we haven’t in years. If you observe, that someone could be you too! I am immensely grateful to these years for it taught me a lot of things and, most importantly, it gave me time to spend time with my family while not discounting my work priorities. I have been able to reflect more about the human race and mankind and value the gift of gratitude even more than before.
I’ve also learned that each day we are given, we have the superpower to create a difference in the world. I also earnestly send a prayer to anyone who has suffered loss or hardship. I celebrate everyone who fought and is still fighting the virus valorously.