In March 2021, we published the first steps of our diversity journey. We had identified that as a business, we didn’t talk about diversity enough and we needed an organised system for approaching ED&I with targets in place to help us improve. We wanted to create a safe space to share thoughts, set quarterly goals and implement training and support.

Six months on and we’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made, but we’ve learnt that everyday is a school day when it comes to ED&I. At times it has been overwhelming, but we soon realised this isn’t about procedure or admin – it’s a passion project about what kind of business we want to be. We won’t get it right all the time, but it’s better to do something and learn from our mistakes than nothing at all.

We hope that these steps mean we can begin to make a real impact when it comes to ED&I internally and for our clients across the tech sector, while also inspiring other businesses to take similar action. If you would like to join the conversation or understand how we can help, we’d love to chat. Please contact nathan@wearefutureheads.co.uk.

Creating an inclusive culture

Get your staff onboard – To impact our company’s culture on a deep level, it was vital that our staff were onboard. They needed to be knowledgeable about ED&I and feel comfortable discussing it within the business. We invited Liz Johnson of The Ability People to talk to our staff and our clients about her story and how we can achieve authentic inclusion in our business. We also set up a staff communication channel where we can share relevant insights. Whether it’s an article or a programme about inclusion on TV – we wanted to create an easy way for the team to share thoughts about these issues.

Address your own diversity profile – We knew there was no point trying to create change in our industry if our own approach wasn’t up to scratch first. A big part of this was assessing our internal diversity profile as a business – initially focusing on race and gender. Currently our team is 43% female and 57% male so we knew we needed to make some diversity hires to address this imbalance. Whilst our business is 75% female owned, we also identified that our management and leadership team (SMT) in particular would benefit from greater gender diversity, so we’ve made it a priority to build and maintain a 50/50 balance within our senior management team. This will be key to ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce that meets the diversity profile goals of the business.

Implementing pronouns – We encouraged the team to update their pronouns (even those who are cisgendered) and explained how it demonstrates inclusivity. It’s a small action but makes a big difference to non-binary and trans employees. Thanks to Emily for sharing this article.

Provide training and make ED&I an available agenda item in 121s, appraisals & board meetings – We have provided a three hour ED&I training course to all staff to improve their awareness as well as published clear career progression guides. We have taken the same approach to the board too; committing to including ED&I as a fixed item on our board meeting agenda, with executive level accountability to deliver on OKRs against our ED&I goals.

Rachel, Founder – “This step was key to ensure our ED&I mission was a priority in every aspect of our business. Only through setting goals and investing in training for staff, were we really going to be living true to our words,”

 

Ensuring your ED&I policies are up to scratch

Update and improve your policies – We wanted to make sure our ED&I policies and procedures were not just words on a page, but are lived and breathed every day. Auditing and updating all our policies to ensure they are inclusive and offer as much flexibility as possible was key to this, and a work in progress. In particular, we have relaunched our Parental Leave policies which are now non-gendered and inclusive – this includes lots of support and flexibility in the return to work period.

Make them visible – The next step was to make these visible so we created an internal website where we can publish our inclusive benefits and policies along with regular updates.

Nathan, Managing Director “I’m really proud that we’ve taken this step to create gender-neutral parental leave. It’s a really simple change to make as a business but it has a huge impact on inclusivity allowing both genders to have the support and flexibility they need in this important period.”

 

Providing an inclusive recruitment process

Positively engage your clients on diversity – From discussions with the team, we realised our staff needed to understand when to raise the conversation of diversity with clients, and how to positively engage, challenge and educate them. To address this, our priority for Q4 is to create a client onboarding and post-project process map which defines the standard for good ED&I and ‘how to’ advice and consultancy to help optimise our clients’ process to ensure authentic inclusion. On top of this, we also ran a free event with Liz Johnson to talk to our clients about her story and strategies they can implement to work towards greater inclusivity. We plan to organise more events like this in the future to share valuable research and content with clients to help them optimise their processes.

Diversifying advertisement channels and writing inclusive jobs descriptions – This means actively inviting people with protected characteristics to apply for the roles that we advertise and ensuring all staff are trained to write inclusive job descriptions on our site.

Publish an ED&I statement – To make yourself accountable, set yourself goals and publish your EDI statement internally and externally. You can read ours here.

Schedule quarterly updates – We will communicate our goals and progress to our staff on a quarterly basis and continue to invite our staff to contribute to our journey at every level. Just this month we circulated a questionnaire internally to measure our progress on these goals – particularly how confident our staff are in their knowledge of ED&I and if they feel confident to share their knowledge externally. We hope and aim to see an improved score every time.

Improving your ED&I data

Improve your ED&I data capture – One thing we identified was that our ED&I data was patchy so we now invite candidates to submit ED&I-related data on a voluntary basis which helps us to create insights into the digital sector and how we can work with clients to help improve that picture. This data is captured in our new CRM system, Vincere, so as the data builds we can provide more insights to clients and measure ongoing improvements in the diversity of our advertising sources.

Gill, Founder – “Streamlining our data capture process will be essential to helping our sector and clients on their ED&I journey. I’m looking forward to sharing these insights with our community”.

 

Shortlisting charities and partners

Partner with diverse organisations – We’re still assessing potential partners who we can support over the coming years and have formed a charities and partnerships group internally to do this. I also recently chaired APSCO’s ED&I Forum to discuss practical steps businesses can make to move forward with ED&I and how to best engage your employees on this topic.

Our biggest learning: remove fear

We know that we are still only at the very beginnings of this journey and we still have a lot more to do. We need to act on our ED&I statement, implement training and advertise better to truly make sure everyone is welcome at Futureheads.

Crucially we’ve learnt that we have to talk about diversity – being afraid won’t achieve anything. We still don’t know everything we need to fix but this is a process and it’s okay to get it wrong – in fact, there is no wrong. To do the right thing for everyone, we are committed to learning and talking to make sure we really make an impact and create a more inclusive workplace and industry.

Be Kaler Pilgrim

Futureheads

1st floor, 2-7 Clerkenwell Green,
Farringdon,
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