Today, businesses are facing immense pressure to diversify their team.
And yet Colourintech found that in the UK’s top tech companies, of 152 board positions, only four were held by someone from an ethnic minority background (source).
The Tech industry has a long way to go.
But hiring a diverse team in Tech has its challenges.
They require a specific skill set and are competing for talent in a highly competitive market.
That’s why we collaborated with Jiten Patel, Conscious Inclusion thought leader, Diversity and Inclusion speaker, Director at Diversync, author, coach and mentor.
He discusses the simple, yet effective steps you can take to lead a fair hiring process that prioritises diversity.
Being self aware and educating yourself are the first steps. But how?
Be brave enough to seek feedback from five people you're professionally closest to, your ‘circle of trust’. If actions or words coming from your unconscious are not appropriate (these are often termed as microaggressions) ask them to flag this, i.e., ‘Could you say that in a different way?’ or ‘What did you mean by this?’.
It’s paramount to do this in a way that's culturally supportive. Don’t shoot each other down.
However, if your network’s monocultural, you can broaden your network by:
There are plenty of rich resources available. Jiten recommends, for example, the book ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge.
Check your wording carefully. Is there anything that could be a barrier for people?
Saying “We are looking for an energetic, enthusiastic team member” may deter someone over 40 as it could suggest you’re looking for somebody younger.
Instead, try saying something like “We are looking for people who are keen to learn and ambitious to further develop themselves" because it uses more inclusive wording.
There’s plenty of software out there that can highlight phrases and words which could be noninclusive. For example, Textio is a tool which will flag any language that’s aimed towards men and will help you neutralise your job description and person specification.
The most common mistake that hiring managers can make is hiring to replace a person, not the role.
Without knowing it, you could restrict your search by trying to replicate your past team member as opposed to thinking about what the requirements are for the role.
Avoid advertising to the same limited talent pool. You won’t always reach the best and most creative talent so aim to reach a much broader audience. Try a variety of job boards or use a recruitment company with a large reach and network.
Remember that qualifications aren’t the be-all and end-all. Candidates may have the practical experience or mindset which will make them a valuable member of your tech business.
You can entice people by saying you’re currently underrepresented by people in minority groups, and want to make a change. You could add further value incentives; maybe by providing a Graduate Apprenticeship Programme, and/or a strong Graduate Development Programme, an opportunity designed to develop and nurture your new team members.
Select your interview panel carefully.
If you have a diverse shortlist, but your interview panel is made up of three people who are all the same race and gender, then this may be a deterrent.
They may feel anxious about it and this could hinder their performance since they don’t see themselves represented across the table.
If the situation is unavoidable, then it’s important for the recruiters to talk competently and effectively about how diversity and inclusion plays a part in their business, as it may not be apparent in the current situation.
Always look for the cultural value added, not the culture fit.
Avoid hiring someone just because they are similar to the team you already have. A candidate's differences aren’t obstacles and won’t prevent them from fitting in. Their differences can add value and a fresh perspective to the company and your team.
Wondering how do you balance role fit and your diversity goals?
If a candidate is part of a minority group and perhaps doesn’t have as much experience, consider your needs. Do you need someone to hit the ground running or do you have some leeway? If so, the value they will add, should counteract the time investment that you need to put into development. Really consider whether you want to recruit just for the now, or for the longer term.
Rather than only focusing on examples and experiences, ask questions such as, ‘What would you do if you were in X Y Z situation?’. This will enable you to focus on their potential, get an insight into their thought process and judge whether their mindset aligns with your values.
It’s important to remember that policies on their own never eliminate discrimination and are only ever as good as the people who put them into practice.
It’s easy to write a well-worded policy document. But it's all about how you bring it to life. This is achieved by looking at your processes and practises. Are they aligned with each other and your organisation's vision, mission and values?
Creating an environment that is inclusive is not a destination. It’s a journey. Remember to pay attention along the way, you’ll learn so much from it.
At Few&Far, we take promotions seriously. So seriously that, in fact, our Head of People created a whole framework around it.
Our job is simple: to guide and support our team, so they progress faster.
That’s why we base promotions on achievable targets, personal development and behaviours based on our values.
We like to pay credit where credit is due. In 2021, we did exactly that; 75% of our team got promoted.
And rightly so - in case you missed it, 2021 was our best year yet.
To kick off 2022 right, we wanted to highlight one person from each department and ask how they get promoted and what they want to achieve this year?
What motivates you to work hard and push yourself?It's been great to see the company grow from a 6 person start-up in a small Leicester Square office, to a 35+ person business in a legitimate office. I get to work with some amazing clients and candidates.
What Going forward, what do you hope to achieve?The next goal is to grow the mobile team and expand more into Europe and beyond.
What motivates you to work hard and push yourself?Giving an amazing service to candidates and clients that I represent keeps me going! I thrive on knowing I have made a difference to people's lives e.g. placing a Founding Engineer in an early-stage startup that is going to take their business to the next level, or relocating an Engineer & their family.
What Going forward, what do you hope to achieve?Team Manager: growing out the Backend Engineering team with even more amazing people!
What motivates you to work hard and push yourself?The development that I’ve made as a tech recruiter over the past 5 years and the progression that my career has taken since I joined Few&Far. I’m motivated because, after all this time, I’m still learning my trade and have only scratched the surface of my full potential.
What Going forward, what do you hope to achieve?Become a better manager and colleague, whilst helping more Senior Leaders within Tech take the next step in their professional careers.
What motivates you to work hard and push yourself?Seeing people I've hired not only enjoy their jobs but also progress and succeed. I'm driven by the progression plans in place for my role and the opportunities coming up over the next few years to grow the business.
What Going forward, what do you hope to achieve?I want to hit the company's hiring goal for this year and play a part in executing our exciting company plans. I can’t wait to see how the company grows over the next few years.
What motivates you to work hard and push yourself?I enjoy what I do because I know I am making positive changes in people's lives and creating amazing opportunities. The joy I receive from placing people with some amazing start-ups, moving people to be closer to friends and family, and creating strong relationships with people from all walks of life really drives me.
What Going forward, what do you hope to achieve?This year I aim to hit two promotions and start my management career. I aim to bring on talent scouts, and hopefully help create the next recruitment superstar.
What motivates you to work hard and push yourself?One reason I love my job is problem solving. In marketing, we look at our current challenges and what we want to achieve. You really have to use a mix of creative and commercial skills to bridge the gap between where we are now and where we want to be tomorrow. That’s what drives me the most.
What Going forward, what do you hope to achieve?That’s a big question. My number one ambition is to make Few&Far a household name in recruitment. There’s space now for a recruitment brand to lead and change the way marketing is done in the industry. And I want it to be us.
But that’s not everyone…Tito, Megan, Jack, Reece, Ciara, Glen, Jordan and Tony also achieved a promotion (or two) last year.
Here's a word from our Founders:
2021 was record-breaking in several ways for Few&Far. Not only did we exceed our financial and hiring targets; we also moved into a new, larger office, helped 100’s of people find new careers and became one of the most recommended recruitment companies in Europe.
When reflecting on last year, we’re filled with pride. Our team has achieved so much.
But for us, one of the most rewarding things is watching our people develop their careers and achieve new heights.
We have no doubt that our team will exceed their ambitions and make us proud!
Do you want the opportunity to take your career to new heights and expand your network? Then send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org and get the conversation started.
The last few years have had a huge effect on workplaces worldwide.
Leaders are still navigating these new ways of working, whilst trying to create a great work environment and maintain employee happiness.
So yes, a lot has changed, but the key to sustaining a great place to work will always be a healthy work culture.
‘A healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of workers and the sustainability of the workplace.’ - WHO, Healthy Workplace Framework and Model
At Few&Far, we’ve spent years figuring out what works best for our business and employees and last year we received a Great Place to Work certification, with 100% of our employees anonymously agreeing that we're a fun place to work.
We’ve made mistakes, we’ve listened, we’ve grown and here’s what we’ve learnt:
When leaders keep their employees up to date and regularly share important company updates, this may increase their productivity by as much as 25%.
Having a clear line of communication is essential. Failing to do so can ultimately lead to low morale and can create misunderstandings, missed opportunities,and conflict.
So how can you communicate openly and promote employee engagement?
When you make space for your employees to give regular feedback, it positively affects their engagement and your culture for the better.
Consider a company pulse where employees can leave feedback on how they’re feeling, what’s going well and what could be better. Give them a chance to leave their ideas and feel heard.
But there’s no point in collecting feedback if you’re not going to listen to it, take it on board and implement it. Of course, you don’t have to act on every idea, but you should consider all of them. If not, it becomes extremely frustrating for employees if they open up, share ideas, give feedback and then nothing ever happens. Eventually, they’ll give up and you’ll lose some valuable insights and potentially - employees.
Not only might your employees have some great game-changing ideas, but they also might want to take a lead on these projects too. This will help with their career progression and personal development, while impacting the company in a positive way.
Psychological safety - the belief that one can speak up without risk of punishment or humiliation and has been well established as a critical driver of high-quality decision making, healthy group dynamics and interpersonal relationships.’ - Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School
So, giving employees a platform to be heard is a great start, but they need to feel comfortable voicing their opinions without the fear of being judged.
Creating a psychologically safe environment is paramount and non-negotiable.
It can take time to build, how can you start?
It’s important to not only share your values but to lead by example and encompass them.
Ensure that everyone knows the company's strategic narrative and purpose, not only to guide their performance but so they feel that they belong on the journey.
Last, but far from least.
Believe in your team, trust them and always support them. If you can’t trust someone, you shouldn’t hire them.
Nurture autonomy and creative freedom. This will allow every team member's unique voice to shine through.
Take time to understand their needs and goals and ensure they have a clear vision for the future of their role. Then together, define a clear path on how to get there by setting precise and achievable targets. Remember to focus their targets not only on performance but on behaviours that align with your company values too.
Creating and maintaining a healthy workplace requires continuous effort and self assessment. It’s not a quick fix but for your people and your company, it’s worth it.