Building Trust and Respect for Diversity and Inclusion

When we form a new team, how do we begin to trust and build respect for each other? How do leaders know they are doing the right thing? How do we know our employee’s strengths and build inclusion?

On understanding your employee’s strengths, the Clifton Strengths are an interesting personality analysis with a strong focus on what works for each individual. The results can be helpful when selecting staff for new projects or setting up collaborative teams. 

I was required to take the Clifton Strengths survey when I joined my current team, and was given the book which explains each characteristic in depth. I later discussed the strengths with my manager and her team, revealing more about my personality and preferences to them. They shared their strengths and stories with me. I felt respected and included. When we gathered as a team to meet 40 other employees, we made little signs to encourage interaction.

On our diverse team, these signs helped people look deeper, beyond the outside appearances, at what each person could contribute to the team. It was okay to be different; we learned we could compliment and support each other in our projects because we were diverse.  

I have seen deviant managers and employees destroy trust within their teams too often. At one large company, our leaders conducted an anonymous employee survey each year. The survey results were used to evaluate management, HR practices and culture, and create management action plans for the next year. I watched managers actively hunt down employees through their anonymous survey comments. Employees trust managers to do the right thing. When managers act in deviant ways or support deviant employees, all trust in that manager is destroyed.  

I have also experienced the opposite. I have seen managers who respect their staff and encourage respect amongst their team. These managers actively and respectfully ask questions to determine people’s interests, preferences, and long-term goals. These managers treat their staff as unique individuals and celebrate each individual’s milestones, innovation, and accomplishments. They conduct team-building activities, organize breaks and lunches, and warmly welcome every new individual. They give employees time and directions to interact with each new team member. Once these managers learn what their employees want to do in their work, they use that information to introduce them to others, set up flexible work schedules, or improve their staff’s resumes by giving them challenging and interesting assignments.

I recommend this Society for Human Resource Management Building Trust as a Manager article to identify employees who lack trust in their leader. The article contains a series of steps we can take to become trust-worthy managers and supervisors. 

I work in an organization with >40,000 employees, a very diverse global workforce. I am proud of our diversity. As an individual contributor, I build trust and respect often on my projects by stating my intentions, following through on my plans, communicating openly and honestly about issues, and being consistent in my communications with others regardless of the age, gender, race, religion, or other characteristics. When I see someone who is different being excluded, I actively reach out and make sure they are included. Building trust and respect is the key to creating that diverse and inclusive workforce. 

Sources: Requirements for a Diverse Workforce: Clifton Strengths Theme page:

Society of Human Resource Management: 

Remote Team Leadership

In this video about remote teams, Lara Owen ties together environment, emotional intelligence, remote management, and the sense of belonging.

She uses classic leadership theories at GitHub to encourage diversity, empathy, and plus to help remote employees fight impostor syndrome, start out on the right foot and stay connected. Fantastic! Watch it to the end to learn. This is Lara as a keynote speaker at a conference, showing her experience, studies in leadership, and sharing business practices, not the usual “come to work here” presentation.

Inspired by Dr. Pat Selinger

I was inspired last month by a volunteer writing project, a history speech for on Dr. Pat Selinger, a true pioneer who changed the future for relational database work in her very first job at IBM over 40 years ago. Plus in recent years she has paid it forward in mentoring since that was the key to her success.

“What I think mentoring does for people is to bring a third view, an experienced practical view, and it gives people a sense that they do have choices and that they have much more control over the directions of their careers than they think they have.”

I agree. I think highly of my mentors who helped me launch my tech career and pay it forward often.

Nerdy, Brave, and Imperfect

I applaud speeches and efforts like this one to encourage women to enter the tech field and stay there. This mentoring work is part of my life every day.

This TED talk struck a chord with me about my own actions in being brave and imperfect. I remember my own hesitation 21 years ago to try a difficult challenge, to move from business user training to technical training. I remember my mentor’s support and encouragement.

I took the challenge with my mentor’s help. I learned I could have good days in tech, and bad days with unresolved problems. In 1998, I worked my first overnight session and fixed a critical problem just in time for FedEx to pick up the cases of laptops. It was on time, but it wasn’t perfect. The problem popped up again a few weeks later. I remember trying on my own in troubleshooting, reaching out for help, educated guesses, reaching out again, and solving big problems with the right people and perseverance.

The big moment when I learned and taught my first MCSE course on Networking Essentials was an eye-opener. With my mentor at my side, I started to see myself as a limitless person and a nerd. I became brave and curious. I haven’t stopped since.

Today, being brave and imperfect means many things to me. Trying out new tools, creating projects, and sharing the results quickly. Imperfect means accepting you have done your best, and releasing your work when the time is right. So much better than waiting, questioning, revising, and questioning yourself until you missed the opportunity, and the things you created are no longer relevant. One can always learn and revise later!

Being brave means being true to my gut instincts about following the work I will enjoy, because that work makes me jump out of bed and eager to start my day.

I apply for jobs when I think the fit is right, and I meet most of the qualifications, not 100% of them. I know job descriptions can be incomplete or inflated to super-star levels based on past performers, or left untouched for years with tools and practices no longer in use.

In today’s world, so many people are quick to judge others based on external values and rules. I am told to hide my age, hide my valuable experiences, to write my resume a certain way, and to not be truthful in order to make it past automated screening systems, corporate recruiters, and hiring managers.

However, I disagree. It is what I think about myself, my life-long learning, my skills, my successes, my interest in nerdy work, and my passion for sharing knowledge that matters. I am the sum of many experiences over 24 years working in creative, innovative, software-oriented jobs that I wanted to do.  I don’t leave my career to chance. I have worked hard, often for years, to prepare for and land each job that brought me incredible insights and experiences.  I have followed my heart to do what I love to do. So, now I’m looking for my next adventure. I’m a nerd, brave, and imperfect.

Women in Technology: Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

As women working in technology, the road ahead is not always smooth. It’s like riding a mountain bike on a rough trail. Why take on that project? Why learn that tool? See or download the following SlideShare presentation with tips on finding a mentor to guide your ride.

Link to Find Your Mentor on

Content by Holly Justice; Graphics by Patrick Coan, Guild of Build.

Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

Holly Justice: Thoughts on Advancing the Careers of Women in Technology
The road we travel as women working in technology is not always going be a smooth ride. It’s like riding a mountain bike on a rough trail.

Riding the mountain bike trail of technology work.

Graphic by Patrick Coan, Guild of Build

Let’s build our endurance by finding and using mentors along the way!

Continue reading

Lightening Talk to Advance Careers of Women in Technology

I’m pleased to be giving a Lightening Talk at the Advancing Careers of Women in Technology event in Portland, Oregon on April 17th.

Special Thanks to Event Creators:

Here is a link to my speech page and supporting materials!

Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

Solid Relationship Advice

One of the most enjoyable articles I read this week was from Jacki Zehner:

Best Advice: Invest in Relationships in All Directions

Jacki Zehner makes some excellent points about how every contact we make in business counts, no matter how small it may seem at the moment.  I like how she states:

“As a professional, you need to care about every single contact point you have with every single person, both internal and external.”

Ms. Zehner not only points out the value of having a “360 degree perspective“, but she challenges us as readers to take stock of our own experiences in the workplace. Her personal story in the article makes this a compelling read.

Social Media Tip:  I found this inspiring story and person thanks to LinkedIn. From there I was able to read more about Jacki Zehner’s background and locate her personal website to read more articles and view her videos.