Furkan Karayel is a multi-award-winning diversity and inclusion speaker and CEO of Diversein, an Includability Official Partner.
She is now an author with her first book, Inclusive Intelligence: How to be a Role Model for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, released 9 November.
Furkan founded Diversein after 10 years of software engineering experience in multinational tech companies in Ireland. Her company specialises in developing sustainable strategies for companies to build inclusive and happier workplace cultures. For her good work in the D&I space, she has been honoured with the “Speaker of the Year”, “Diversity and Inclusion Role Model in Business” and “Trailblazer” Awards.
She started the Global D&I Embassy because she was frustrated that there were no women that looked like her in any leadership positions of big tech companies and to get companies to take more affirmative action on making their workforces more genuinely inclusive. This started out as a blog but grew organically over four years into Diversein as she gained support and interest from different corners of the globe.
Furkan lectures at the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Master’s programme at Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. She is strongly passionate about leveraging women-in-tech leadership, diversity and empowering female founders globally.
Furkan is also an active speaker at international events where she shares her learnings about experiences of the tech world as a woman, her recommendations for inclusive leadership and the power of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
In the long term, Furkan would like to see more female role models and leaders because they will set the tone for generations to follow. She would like to develop more role models help to build more role models and leaders for a diverse and inclusive industry and making this a higher priority on company agendas.
The book is the realisation of a lifetime goal for Furkan. It includes her past experiences in the industry and some of her personal stories. It offers her perspective of sometimes being the only woman, the only Muslim, or the only non-native English speaker in the team.
She says the book also praises organisations who are doing the right thing and offers advice for those claiming to be doing the right thing but could use some help to make these claims genuine. She says the book is accessible to everyone from students to leaders and individuals to organisations looking to make a difference.
Furkan spoke exclusively to Includability about how the book came to be and what it means to her.
What was your motivation for writing the book?
From my own experiences working as a software engineer for over ten years in tech companies and also working with global leaders in multinational companies, I have seen how leaders miss the opportunity to truly engage with their team members on the top of this expecting their best performances from them. I wanted to show the two sides of the perspectives, what employees from a diverse background want and what managers leading a diverse team want. And how leaders can turn into inclusive leaders and be role models.
How long have you been working on the book?
It took me about three months to write it. The most difficult part was to find a publisher. That part took more than a year. Thanks to my publisher, Mindy from Panoma Press, for believing in me!
How was balancing writing with the rest of your work?
I started to write it on my long business flight from London to Dallas, Texas, Later, with the help of my jetlag, waking up at 4am each morning and writing a chapter until breakfast time at 8am. Once the chapters and the main idea was clear, all I had to do was to support it with more stories and insights.
Have you ever published a book before?
I haven't. But I always dreamt of it. As a good reader myself, I even had a list of things that make a book good and stand out, from my own criticism from other books that I read. I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
How did it feel to finally see your work in print?
It was absolutely incredible! I keep saying: Furkan, you worked so hard for this book. it's here in your hands. And from the cover, interior design, and content. It's so you! Be proud of yourself.
Can you give a synopsis of the book?
I talk about self-awareness is the courage to be more comfortable with yourself as a whole, and allyship, allyship is the courage to choose caring for people who don't look like you.
My father replied “Furkan can only work for one company at a time. If that company is not happy about how she thinks, what she believes or how she looks despite her incredible skills, that is not a good company anyway and it does not deserve her contributions. This will be a win for Furkan, not a loss.” My father’s words made so much sense to me and poured cold water into my internal fire. That’s how I learned what authenticity is and what it means to me.
What were some of your favourite parts of the process?
Seeing the excitement from the eyes of people when they read my book! People I haven't met before from all over the world sending their wonderful wishes to me. My post about the announcement of my book on LinkedIn received 75K impressions and thousands of comments and engagement. It was priceless to see them all!
Furkan delivers talks/workshops on: Diversity and Inclusion, Women in Leadership, and Inclusive Leadership & Intelligence.
Inclusive Intelligence: How to be a Role Model for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace is available from Amazon