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Is it possible to strengthen a truly diverse and female-oriented engineering team at a global leading tech company? Meet Enna Jimenez, Head of Quality Assurance, who did just that in sixteen months’ time.

Enna Jimenez is the Head of Quality Assurance at IDEMIA, the global leader in augmented identity, developing security technologies including face recognition and fingerprint credentials. For the last year and half, she has been responsible for the agile transformation focusing specifically on Quality. She has implemented an automation framework strategy along with shift-left testing methodology that yielded cost savings in testing efforts and increase in quality coverage.

“It is critical to our success to deliver software that meets our customer’s needs. As such, I take great pride in leading the process to develop standards and guidelines that drives higher efficiencies, increase quality and seamless execution,” says Enna.

As the Head of QA, Enna manages a team of 25 engineers. There is nothing surprising about that, if it was not for the fact that her engineering team is predominantly female.

“I’m an Afro-Latina who spent almost 30 years in IT. I know what it means to be the only woman in the room and having to find my voice. I am blessed to have mentors, sponsors and allies who helped me grow in my career.  I have made it my mission to open doors and pave the way for those who look like me to find opportunities in the tech industry,” says Enna.

“Currently I have a diverse team with a female to male ratio of 61/39 and I’m very proud of that,” she adds.

Here’s how we all can improve diversity within our technical teams.

Expand the pool of your candidates

Codility researched bias in the past, analyzing over 1 million candidate evaluations and that’s why we couldn’t agree more with Enna that true hiring equality begins at sourcing and bringing more diverse candidates into your talent pool. “When you interview five people and all of them are the same, go back to your HR team and ask them to give you a diverse pool because if you’re selecting from five white males, guess who you are going to hire next,” says Enna.

In fact, Enna is making an effort to support her sourcing team – she stays close to organizations that care about diversity. For three years, Enna was the president of ALPFA, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, Boston Chapter. In this role, Enna increased the number of corporate sponsors who wanted to increase their Latino talent pool and developed programming that provided professional development to professionals and college students. She is a member of many organizations such as Amplify Latinx and The Partnership.  “I walk into these networks, meet individuals and share job offerings, trainings and internship opportunities,” says Enna. “Be true and intentional at fostering those relationships and connect them with other leaders who can continue to grow and expand their professional networks. Otherwise, you’re not really helping them,” she adds.

Eradicate bias from your screening process

Once you acquire the right pool of candidates, your hiring team needs to be aware of unconscious bias and step outside of their comfort zone. When it is time to make hiring decisions, we need to have recruiters and hiring managers that are able to push back when the process is wrong. “Diversity and inclusion training should be included as part of management training,” says Enna. “We should all be held accountable during our performance reviews on how many people of color we hired. We simply need to be more intentional about creating diverse team within our company and be more aware of unconscious bias,” she says.

In order to eradicate unconscious bias from the recruitment process, more and more companies identify that personal identifiable information (PII) is hardly necessary for decision-makers in screening. For example, Codility’s customers start to implement an Anti-Bias Workflow to make hiring decisions based on candidates’ skills, not hiring managers’ assumptions.

Keep your internship programs

While many companies wonder whether they should cancel their internships this year, Enna believes these programs should be a part of your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy. She is collaborating with national organizations in the US such as Year Up, who work with young adults from underrepresented families, inviting them to join highly technical educational programs. “Students apply and get accepted to a yearlong training program where they can learn from 1 of 5 technical tracks and professional skills such as IT, software development, quality assurance and many more,” says Enna. After spending the first 6 months in hands on education, they then participate in a six-month internship. “Many of those interns I hired, in my previous company, are still employed in the same organization, says Enna. “I stay connected with almost all of them. It’s so rewarding to know that I gave someone that opportunity and that they have a better future because of it,” she adds.

Diversity starts with your company culture

According to Enna, diversity starts with an opening, embracing culture. “You can hire diverse candidates and bring them onboard, but if you don’t have the right culture that is welcoming, people will not stay,” says Enna. Policies and rules take diversity into account but they do not produce an authentic and empathetic place to work. Enna continues, “companies cannot expect us to assimilate, they need to embrace what we bring, accepts us as we are and acknowledge our authenticity and culture. I bring my full, authentic self to work every day and into each meeting, breaking any pre-existing stereotypes of Afro-Latinos.”

So are we on the right path?

“We still have a long way to go but we are making strides in opening doors, breaking barriers and developing individuals with the keys for success. Organizations will need to realize that they must update their hiring practices, and implement and sustain a diverse and authentic culture. Latinos are driving growth in this new mainstream economy and together we will continue to work towards equality and racial disparities.”

“If I hired one person of color, I moved the needle just a bit,” says Enna.

Natalia Dwórznik, Enterprise Marketing Lead at Codility.

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