Scrum Day Speaker Spotlight: Deborah Biddle, Diversity Practitioner
Updated: Feb 12
Deborah Biddle is an Inclusion Institute Certified Diversity Practitioner and founder of the People Company Consulting Group, which provides diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consulting, assessment, training and coaching. Deborah will be a speaker at the Scrum Day conference in Madison, WI, examining the topic of unconscious bias and its impact on small teams.
What is Unconscious Bias?
According to Deborah Biddle, unconscious biases are learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional and deeply ingrained within our beliefs and which may affect our behavior. We all must examine our unconscious biases, so we can question these beliefs allowing us to unlock human performance by respecting the ideas, contributions and expertise of others, regardless of background, race or other factors.
It is essential to consider DEI when working in Scrum Teams. Our workplaces include individuals from diverse backgrounds, and achieving peak performance depends on creating an environment where everyone feels included and valued.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just about having a diverse team. It involves creating an environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and heard. Practices such as active listening, open communication, and regular check-ins on team dynamics help achieve that kind of positive environment.
How does diversity impact team performance?
Deborah points out that diversity is the wide range of differences among people. So, diversity exists the moment there are two people on a team. The dimensions of diversity vary based on the physical attributes, values, beliefs, cultures, attitudes, abilities, practices and experiences of those on the team.
“There are highly touted and researched benefits to having diverse teams,” explains Deborah. “However, those benefits are more a result of each person’s experiences of inclusion (feeling welcome, accepted, respected, valued and supported for who they are) and belonging (being seen, contributing, participating, making decisions) versus merely being different.”
Deborah states that the benefits are primarily influenced by the ability of leaders to behave and lead inclusively. If not managed well, a diverse team's performance can decline over time compared to a team with members that are highly similar, whether that be thinking style, personality type, culture, race, gender, age, ability, etc.
Here are a few ways that DEI can impact teams::
Better decision-making: Diverse and inclusive teams bring different perspectives and ideas to the table, which can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving.
Increased creativity and innovation: Diverse teams can generate more creative and innovative solutions to problems. People from different backgrounds bring different experiences and viewpoints, which can lead to new and unique ideas.
Greater empathy and understanding: An inclusive environment can help team members better understand and empathize with others who have different backgrounds and experiences. This can lead to stronger relationships and more effective communication within the team.
Improved performance: Research shows that diverse teams tend to perform better than those that are not. This is likely because diverse teams bring a wider range of skills and perspectives to the table, making them better able to adapt to changing circumstances.
Better profitability: Companies in the top quartile for racial and gender diversity outperform those in the bottom quartile. Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity have more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity.
Greater sense of belonging: In an inclusive and equitable environment, team members are more likely to feel they belong and that they matter. This can lead to greater job satisfaction and retention.
Easier recruitment: DEI initiatives aid in recruiting top talent because you are reaching a broader pool of people.
Why Deborah’s passionate about diversity
Deborah states that she has always been passionate about fairness and that inequity bothers her when she sees or experiences it. “Because I have a background in business and an understanding of how organizations function, working towards equity and inclusion in that space works well for my clients and me.”
What Deborah is looking forward to at Scrum Day USA
“I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences with new groups of people,” states Deborah, adding that she expects she’ll learn from others at the event as well.
Scrum Day USA is scheduled for September 14, 2023, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Don’t miss out on an interactive workshop with Deborah Biddle on unconscious bias. Get your ticket to Scrum Day today while Early Bird pricing lasts.