One of the great things about being a recruitment business is that we can be a real conduit for positive change. We’ve always considered ourselves fairly good at championing diversity – with an all female founding team, and a diverse internal team – but, over the last year we’ve realised that we could, and should, be doing more. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Versiti, to take an honest look at our business and what we can improve when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I).
We’re only at the start of this journey but, through this ongoing project, we hope that we’ll be able to make some real, measurable improvements to DE&I internally as well as for our clients across the tech sector. After all, there’s no point trying to create change in our industry if our own approach isn’t up to scratch first.
The first steps on our journey
Having an independent third party interview our team helped them to speak openly and honestly, and gave us a really clear picture of how people were feeling. In the long term, it’s important to us that we build a strategy that affects our company’s culture on a deeper level, but this will of course take time to achieve. So as a first step, we’re taking what we’ve learnt from talking to the team and looking at what we can do to get the ball rolling.
We need a more organised system for approaching DE&I
From our conversations with the team, we’ve discovered that people want to talk about DE&I on a more organised, regular basis, rather than just as and when it comes up. We want it to be discussed in our one-to-ones, in our team meetings, and in our stand-ups.
Creating a safe space
Another important find was that people want a safe space to get stuff wrong. They want to be told if something’s not said in the right way, but this needs to be done in the right way too. This means creating a culture of psychological safety: we want to make sure people feel that, wherever they sit in the business, from senior to very junior, they can say what they need to say and that it gets considered. Even though our team is currently working from home, which makes this point a little more challenging, we’re determined to explore ways of creating a company culture that encourages open conversation, whether our team is together or apart.
About 80% of our team said they know we’ve got the right procedures in place. However, 50% of people didn’t know where our policies and procedures sat. So this is a real call to action for us: we need to improve how we signpost this information and to achieve this, we’re looking into introducing an intranet to put everything together in a single, easily accessible space.
Regular reports and training
This led to our next question: Which organisations, charities, and partners can help us understand how we can do better? So far, we’ve teamed up Versiti to help us create and implement a bespoke DE&I strategy. Part of which could include training people internally to be our own DE&I champions.
How we market the business
Next, we’re going to think about how we market ourselves. We need to make sure that our website shows people in diverse situations from diverse backgrounds, and that the interviews we carry out internally are led by a good mix of people. When we advertise for jobs at Futureheads we might say, for instance, that we want a Head of Team with 10 years experience. The likelihood is that this is already going to reduce the diversity of our pool of candidates. So instead we could say, we don’t need 10 years experience, we need 2 years experience because we’re going to grow this person up in the business.
Improving data collection
We also need to look at how we collect our data. As a recruitment business, we usually look at CVs – we have a candidate’s age, gender, nationality and right to work, but do we also need to go deeper into that and look into race, ethnicity, religion, disability, neurodiversity, and sexual orientation? This could mean doing more surveys, case studies, market maps and reports specific to different disciplines. And from here, turning this data into infographics could be a useful way of clearly charting our progress to the team.
We know that we’re very much in the discovery stages of this journey. We’ve got a big job ahead of us and we still don’t know everything we need to fix. But we also know that there are some things we’re already doing well and, crucially, I’m proud to work with a team who are interested in these issues and want to help make improvements. If we can collectively learn about this, we can then start to help our clients as well. We’ve all got a responsibility to make things better within the tech industry.
Over the course of this journey, we’ll be sharing any resources or methodologies that work for us along the way. And, if anyone wants to join the conversation, to kick around some ideas, please do reach out.
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