Removing Unconscious Bias from your Recruitment Process

Removing Unconscious Bias from your Recruitment Process

Unconscious bias is a talking point right now. This year, there’s been an enormous shift in all walks of life to address discrimination; with global protests and a rise in activism for many causes. Following the Black Lives Matter protests across the world it was suggested that MPs in the UK Government should take a training course in unconscious bias, to make them better at their job and make society much fairer for all. However, this caused controversy when 40 MPs refused to join in with the training, claiming they had a right to their opinions.

This news story, however, has had some positive implications within the business world. LinkedIn Learning has seen a spike in popularity for courses based on unconscious bias and fighting gender bias. This September, LinkedIn has also launched the LinkedIn Fairness Toolkit (LiFT), to identify bias in AI algorithms showing that removing bias is at the forefront of minds in recruitment efforts.

Unconscious bias in the hiring process means forming an opinion of someone based on first impressions. It could be based on name, gender, appearance or even where they live. Research shows that there are over 13 different kinds of hiring biases, from confirmation bias (making snap decisions based on perceived truths) to similarity attraction bias (hiring those we feel are similar to us and we could get on with). However, when it comes to giving someone a job or not, basing hiring decisions on bias can have profound long-term implications on your business.

Unconscious bias can cost your organisation money as well as making you lose out on incredible talent. For one thing, it leads to less diverse teams. We live in a very diverse, multicultural society. To stay relevant, attract top talent and maintain great company culture, a business must reflect society as much as possible. Diversity, as we’ve heard time and time again, is a key to being more successful; it fuels innovation, aids decision making and even impacts profitability with more diverse management teams leading to an average 19% higher revenue. Diversity also attracts more talent, with 67% of job seekers saying a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers. Unconscious bias is proven to lead to high and early employee turnover, which can end up doubling your recruitment costs.

So how can you remove unconscious bias from your hiring decisions?

Be aware of unconscious bias within your organisation

To remove unconscious bias from your hiring process, and through all parts of your organisation, the first step is to be aware that it exists. You cannot stop doing something if you don’t acknowledge its presence and accept things need to change. As business leaders, and people, many of us hate to think that we have pre-determined ideas which are influencing our choices and could have adverse effects on the business. But to change, we must understand what our own unconscious biases are, and work to remove them. Denying there’s a problem will not help you to hire a diverse workforce and create an inclusive company culture. There are tests online which can determine any underlying prejudices you may have, along with many courses which discuss how to combat unconscious bias.

Train hiring managers

It’s not enough for CEOs and leadership teams to understand unconscious bias and the implications it can have within a business. Instead, to create a genuinely fair candidate and employee experience, you must train your managers and anyone involved in the hiring process. With many online courses (like those on LinkedIn learning that are gaining popularity) you can prepare your hiring team to be aware of any underlying opinions, prejudices or biases they may have. This means that they can attempt to overcome them when hiring new team members. Making managers aware of these issues will, in turn, make them better at their job; creating a more equal and fair company culture which will enhance your employer brand.

Assess your hiring process

Next, when it comes to removing unconscious bias from your hiring process, you must cover every angle. To understand where your business’ biases come into force, you need to monitor your entire recruitment process on an ongoing basis. This will allow you to pinpoint any areas which could require improvements and help you to hire a diverse and exciting team which could grow your business in unexpected ways. Consider the wording of your job adverts, the application process, your interview process and everything in between. Make sure they are all as inclusive as possible. Try to remain neutral in the terminology used while still reflecting your employer brand.

Invest in tech

Automating parts of your recruitment process takes away the human element. Removing human decision making could help to eliminate the chances of bias. Using technology and AI to screen candidates’ CVs, analyse skills assessments and even to automate sourcing candidates through social media could all help to reduce the amount of unconscious bias within your hiring process. However, with any technology, there is always a human element involved, whether it’s creating an algorithm or even setting up targeting requirements. Remember, tech is not completely bias-free! Don’t assume that just because you’re eliminating people from your recruitment process that your systems will ultimately create a fair and equal candidate experience.

 Due to the coronacvirus crisis, employers are seeing high volumes of applications for jobs which means they’re relying more on AI. However, as an investigation from Wired found, many companies are using flawed historical data sets to train their AI. This means that women, Black people and people of colour could find themselves discriminated against before they’ve made it to the interview room. Make sure you check your algorithms so that factors such as name, location, gaps in the CV and even hobbies can’t influence the screening process.

Blind applications

It may seem an obvious way to remove bias, but blind applications have been proven to work. Remove personal details such as name, age, gender and even address from any resumes or applications that you are reviewing; this means that your decisions are based on skills and experience rather than perceived information. Any hiring manager needs to make evidence-based decisions when it comes to deciding on a new recruit rather than basing the choice on assumptions. Evidence-based hiring means you know you’re recruiting the most skilled or experienced person for the role who should be able to help your business to thrive or your startup to scale. Hiring people for cultural fit means they may be more likely to join your colleagues at the pub, but won’t necessarily be the best person to get the job done.

Standardise the interview process

Most businesses have standardised interview questions; however, in smaller companies like startups or scaleups recruiting can be a less robust process. You may feel that having standardised interview questions takes the personality out of your recruitment efforts, or you may prefer a more relaxed style of job interview; the kind that feels like a more informal chat. However, while it may seem tedious, having a designated list of questions that you will ask every candidate ensures that everyone has the same interview experience. You remove the chances of giving one candidate an unfair advantage, asking leading questions and cutting any interviews short.

Look at personal targets and objectives

It’s one thing to look at unconscious bias within your hiring process, but you also need to look at your organisation as a whole if you want to create a genuinely inclusive company culture. Personal targets, objectives and even the workloads that you give your staff could be a reflection of your unconscious bias. If it’s always similar people who achieve success in your business, unconscious bias could be at play. Managers could be putting more time and effort into similar people to them; leaving others to fend for themselves. Make sure that you talk to every member of your organisation about their development and progress; find where they want to go and help them to get there. There’s no room for favouritism in the workplace, and hard work from all parties should be rewarded.

Outsource recruitment 

If you’re worried about the effect unconscious bias has on your organisation and your recruitment process, you could look to outsourcing your recruitment process. Letting an external provider recruit for some of your roles will help to diversify your business as they have the considerable benefit of an outsider’s perspective. Taking the decision out of your hands and trusting recruitment experts can make the recruitment process a lot fairer. RPO providers, learn the ins and outs of your business so they can identify areas of your business that would benefit from added diversity; they can see where your unconscious bias may have been at play. RPO providers also have techniques to avoid unconscious bias while recruiting, they’re experience and knowledge means that they how to find the best candidates for your business, including ones you may not have considered.

If you’d like help with outsourcing your recruitment efforts in the new normal or would like expert advice on removing unconscious bias from your hiring process, then contact our team today. With years of combined experience in all areas of recruitment, from market research through to recruitment marketing and sourcing, our team can help you build a diverse and inclusive team which will take your business to the next level.

What Is Antisemitism, and How Can Workplaces Avoid It?

Antisemitism is once again dominating the news. Recently, Twitter was criticised for not acting quickly enough when UK grime artist Wiley posted a series of anti-Semitic tweets. The social media platform had to make a public apology after waiting six days to ban the artist from their website permanently. However, this is not the first time that antisemitism has made public headlines. It’s been a common phrase in politics, entertainment and every industry in between.

While it’s a lesser-known form of discrimination, discussions around antisemitism are becoming more and more prevalent, and rightly so. It’s reported that anti-Semitic attacks rose by almost 60% in the US in 2017 and in Europe, anti-Semitic attitudes also appear to be on the rise. In 2018 France reported a 74% increase in the number of offences against Jews and Germany said the number of violent antisemitic attacks had increased by more than 60%.

This year has been a period of change. Thanks to social media making discrepancies and offences public, many of us have had our eyes opened towards discrimination which still exists today. We’re seeing injustices clearly and are becoming a lot less tolerant. In 2020, with the current discussions around Black Lives Matter, it’s clear that, quite rightly, many people will no longer stand for discrimination of any kind. Much like racism, sexism or homophobia; antisemitism has no place in the workplace regardless of industry or environment.

HR departments must ensure that all their employees can work comfortably with no risk from bullying or harassment. If addressing antisemitism isn’t included in your efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, then you run the risk of losing talented people to a place where they feel their voices are heard and their needs are met. It could also have longer-term implications on your future hiring efforts.

What is Antisemitism?

To fight against antisemitism, business leaders and employees must first understand what it is.

Antisemitism is, put simply, beliefs or behaviours of hostility towards Jews because of their religion. It can include everything from prejudice and stereotypes to isolation, oppression and harm of Jewish people. Antisemitism dates back thousands of years.

Jewish people are considered a hidden minority. Religion is often less evident than race, gender or sexuality when you first meet someone, particularly if you do not follow religious dress codes. This makes casual antisemitism common. Colleagues and acquaintances don’t often realise someone is Jewish before making passing comments which could be discriminatory.

How can businesses take a stand against antisemitism?

Open the door to HR

Much like with any discrimination, it’s vital that all employees know that your HR has an open-door policy and are available to have meaningful conversations. HR teams should ensure that employees know who to contact and how to contact them. While you should be open to hearing all complaints and acting upon them, it shouldn’t be the only time that issues of religion and antisemitism in the workplace are discussed. Conversations should be ongoing, to highlight anything employers can improve on, to provide comfort when controversial issues hit the news and to simply ensure all employees feel secure and supported within your company culture.

It’s a simple step in supporting employees but really could make all of the difference and strengthen your employer brand. Knowing someone is available to discuss any issues in an objective way will genuinely enhance the employee experience for all, and your company culture will flourish. People are the centre of your business, and more often than not, it is their diversity which makes you great. Celebrate it, support them and be an ear for any worries or concerns.

Address micro-aggressions through education

As antisemitism is not as widely talked about as racism or other kinds of discrimination, it is often that employees may not realise that something they say is offensive. Micro-aggressions include passing comments, subtle words or phrases and unintentional racism towards a minority group. By encouraging learning throughout your organisation, leaders and employees can pick up terms that may be deemed offensive and ensure it is commonly known that they have no place in the workplace. This applies to all kinds of workplace discrimination if employees are not educated in language or passive actions which may upset or hurt colleagues, it is hard to encourage equality at work – how can you change if you aren’t aware there’s a problem?

Ask for your Jewish employees help with this, in the same way, you might ask a black employee to help you understand issues of race or a transgender employee to help you address transphobic abuse. They understand better than anyone. Working together to educate the wider team will make your commitment to diversity and inclusion clear, enhancing your employer brand and ensuring your Jewish employees feel supported.

Be aware of religious holidays

In traditionally Christian countries, we’re very used to being allowed time off for Christmas and Easter. In fact, we don’t even question it as in the UK they are national holidays. However, it’s vital that organisations are aware of all religious holidays and offer all employees the same opportunities to celebrate with their loved ones. You cannot assume they’ll book it off and really, they shouldn’t have to. Imagine being a Jewish employee who has to work over or use their annual leave to cover Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah when they have Christmas Day and Easter Monday off work. It doesn’t seem fair. Plus, sometimes asking for annual leave isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially if you know a lot of other employees may need the same day off. So, if you have a high number of Jewish employees, it may cause problems for many.

Employers must actively ensure they are aware of all religious holidays and offer their employees the opportunity to take time off and celebrate with their loved ones if they wish to level the playing field and create a culture of equality. If anything, doing so addresses ignorance and recognises a diverse culture within your workplace.

Recognise cultural differences and traditions

Our calendars are very much influenced by Christianity, and so are our working days. Most of us are accustomed to a 9-5 workday five days a week, but it’s essential to recognise that this may not be the case for all cultures and religions.

For example, in Judaism, The Sabbath is meant to be a day of rest, and no working activity should be carried out. While the Sabbath occurs on a Saturday during the winter months, it can begin as early as a Friday afternoon. Employers should recognise this and talk with Jewish employees to ensure they’re happy to work into the Sabbath. If flexible working is an option in your organisation, maybe you could consider offering early finishes on Fridays to help. Having a simple conversation with individuals about whether working hours has an impact on their faith can help hugely and is the best beginning of a solution.

Similarly, in the Jewish religion, funerals are supposed to take place very soon after a death, which means that grieving employees may need time off at short notice. They’re also required to pray three times a day, and this could often fall into working hours, so it could be an idea to provide a safe, quiet space for them to do so. HR leaders and employers should be aware of all religious customs, not just for followers of the Jewish faith, to create a truly equal, diverse workforce.

Address any antisemitic occurrences

Once your team are educated around ideas of antisemitism, it must be treated in the same way as any other kind of discrimination. Ensure that if an issue arises, you address it in the same way you would a comment or offence regarding race, disability, gender or sexuality. If you wish to create an authentically inclusive and diverse culture, you must take an active stance against any form of discrimination. This will encourage your employee’s confidence in you as an employer and will have positive repercussions throughout the business thus enhancing your employer brand.

Although it’s difficult to discipline employees if they are making others feel uncomfortable at work, and this clashes with your company culture, it must be acted upon. An ignorance of antisemitism should not be tolerated and will affect your diversity and inclusion efforts in future recruitment.

Can Remote Working Solve the Diversity Problem?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll be very aware that for those of us that can, remote working is likely to be the future of our work. If all we need to get the job done is an internet connection, computer and phone, many of us can work from anywhere. For many industries the office is looking more and more like an expense than an essential. A remote workforce is something that employers have been considering and have started to offer their employees for a long time, but the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled the case for remote working at rapid speed. Pre-COVID, Indeed reported that search terms including the word remote saw an increase of 32% compared to the previous year. We can expect that COVID will amplify this further as workforces in an array of industries have not only proven they can do it, but their work doesn’t suffer as a result.

Working from home – or anywhere for that matter- has advantages. We can fit our daily tasks like medical appointments and picking up the kids from school around work. We’re less restricted by a stringent schedule. Many will lose a long and often costly commute every day, giving us more of our time back. We can host meetings over Zoom or Microsoft Teams to save on further travel time. Overall, remote working simply gives employees more control over their working day. However, it does have advantages for employers too, like a happier and more productive workforce.

One other advantage of a remote workforce though is that it opens the door for diversity. If employees working remotely becomes the norm, could this finally be the solution to the age-old diversity problem?

Currently, diversity is a huge talking point amongst employers, with the recent events in America and the global Black Lives Matter movement forcing many to question whether their own workplace advocates diversity and inclusion. It’s a crucial part of forming an EVP and will influence your employer brand and talent attraction capabilities. Not to mention, diversity at work creates a more innovative, creative and productive workforce, with a company culture that promotes understanding of others.

One of the biggest obstacles for a truly diverse and inclusive workplace is unconscious bias. If you’re human, you will have some bias ingrained in you, the human brain makes us group things together. As a result, leaders and CEOs, often without realising, have a tendency to hire people most like them. Manager and senior executive roles in the private sector are still 86% white and 70% male, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which proves that unconscious bias is still at large. Researchers have identified more than 150 types of unconscious bias.  

In a remote environment, unconscious biases take a back seat as hiring managers focus more on productivity, experience and ability rather than who they get on with most at the interview. Hiring becomes less about who knows the most about their line manager’s favourite sports team and more about who has the skills and knowledge to get the job done. Personalities spend less time clashing and more time collaborating on work, people are praised for a job well done rather than who they are or what they look like.

Office spaces themselves also present many restrictions to the talent available. If it’s in a difficult location to get to by public transport, you’re already eliminating any candidate who doesn’t own a car. You also need to consider the commute; the average UK commute takes almost 1 hour and most people will not be willing to travel any further each day. This means that the talent you hire are restricted by geographical area, most won’t be outside of a 60-mile radius. However, geographical area is often also linked to socio-economic status, ethnicity and educational background, particularly if jobs are in university cities. For many, relocating for a job isn’t that simple, they have roots in their hometown, are tied to other commitments or cannot afford the cost of living in certain areas.

This is why remote working, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, is being hailed as the solution to the diversity problem. Without the geographical restrictions of the office you are no longer restricted to attracting talent within a specific distance, allowing individuals with an array of backgrounds, qualifications and experience to join your business. There will be a greater pool of people with a wide variety of skills at your disposal. You can not only source talented individuals from different area codes, but also different countries! Having a global team will provide opportunities to connect with new markets and open a diverse way of thinking which will allow for successful expansion.

The flexibility of remote work will also appeal to more parents. We can’t deny that in many cases it is still women that often find themselves looking after children, and remote working could therefore help to solve the issue of gender diversity. The proportion of working mothers with dependent children was 75.1% in June 2019 whereas fathers with dependent children were more prevalent in the workplace at 92.6%. These figures show that despite changing attitudes, women are often the ones making the sacrifice of career for family life. Remote work allows for an improved work life balance for mothers who may otherwise struggle to balance family life with a full-time job. It means they can return to work more quickly should they want to and parents will receive more opportunities to progress in their careers. Parents also won’t have to uproot their family should an opportunity come along which is too far for a realistic daily commute. The idea of moving away from family or where children are settled is a huge drawback for many. The career or family ultimatum could be made redundant.

Remote work also benefits those with a disability. For many, commuting every day isn’t an easy task, workplaces that aren’t fully accessible cause daily issues, long working hours can take a physical toll and they can be judged more on disability than performance. Remote working, however, eliminates some of that friction. Disabled people can work in environments tailored to their needs and develop relationships with co-workers in a setting where their disability is unlikely to be the centre of attention. Of course, if they do have a central hub to meet with co-workers it will need to be accessible, but a predominantly remote workforce can enable people with disabilities to work comfortably from their own space, in a flexible way which suits their needs.

However, there is an argument that it’s harder to promote an inclusive company culture if everyone works remotely. It’s impossible for HR teams to support everyone and Evelyn Carter, director at diversity and inclusion consulting firm Paradigm claims that; “If you are a member of a group that’s marginalized or underrepresented, it’s already hard to be visible” and thinks remote working will only emphasise the problem. Individuals will have to strive harder to reach top positions, and managers are at risk of favouritism which is often supported by unconscious bias.

It’s true, the Coronavirus has shown many of us that remote working is possible, but it is harder to maintain those vital work relationships. However, having an isolated workforce presents a whole host of new challenges like maintaining your company culture and ensuring voices are equally heard.

Carter also said “distance reinforces people’s tendency to favour people who are similar to them. It also eliminates the opportunity for spontaneous conversations.” Managers must be given training about discrimination in the workplace; they must be made aware of their own unconscious bias and ensure that they actively try to give opportunities to all. They must manage the distribution of work well to ensure variety and no favouritism within their teams.

It’s also true that if we’re in the office, we can collaborate easily through the art of conversation. If people aren’t in our direct teams, we can still ask for their ideas and contributions giving them a chance to shine. Working from home doesn’t exactly encourage a culture of collaboration. While remote working, we tend to only talk to the people we think we need, making it harder for others to contribute, shine and prove what they can do.

However, nothing is stopping employees that want to progress from speaking up while working remotely. Asking for feedback, more work or asking questions will help them to be noticed by leaders who may be busy.

Employers also need to be aware that not all employees have the same resources at home. While we can open the workplace to a greater variety of people, employers must consider that not everyone has access to high-speed internet, software and tools required to carry out their role at home. Employers embracing a remote working culture may need to subsidise and provide the equipment necessary to ensure true inclusivity and allow all employees the same chance to work from home.

If employers can tackle the issues that a remote workforce brings and can find a way to unite the team even when they’re physically apart, it could be a huge step forward in welcoming a diverse workforce. People from all locations, backgrounds and at all stages in life have the opportunity to join a business if they work remotely, without the expense or impracticalities of relocating.

If you’d like to work on your remote working strategy and making it a fundamental part of your EVP or simply a benefit for employees, our experts are ready to help.

What is Anti-Racism and How Can Workplaces Promote it?

Addressing issues of race is often regarded as a corporate taboo. For those business leaders fortunate enough to have never suffered at the hands of racial injustice or prejudice it’s an awkward conversation to have; there’s a fear of saying the wrong thing and causing greater offence along with a stigma as to whether speaking out is the right thing to do.

We all know racism is wrong, as is any kind of discrimination. We have laws in place to prevent prejudice at work. Still, leaders often let awkwardness and personal discomfort prevent them from speaking out about this vocally as if being anti-racist may cost us business.

With the recent tragedy of George Floyd’s murder bringing racism and discrimination into the spotlight once again, it’s no longer enough for business leaders to say that they are against racism and promote a diverse culture. Racism is a pandemic. The world is changing before our eyes. It’s becoming increasingly clear from social media activism and large-scale protests that both your employees and future candidates will no longer stand for inequalities and a passive approach to racial injustice. As political activist and author Angela Davis said; “It’s not enough to be not racist, you must actively be anti-racist.” And this translates to our businesses. Regardless of industry, we must work to promote an anti-racist workplace if we wish to encourage an inclusive culture.

What is anti-racism?

What many people often get so wrong is that they think racism is an issue of hatred; there must be some anger, expression, or offence caused. It’s undeniable that hate does play a role in racist behaviour, but racism is about so much more. Speaking out about a racist offence doesn’t make you an anti-racist workplace.

Systemic racism or institutional racism refers to “how ideas of white superiority are captured in everyday thinking at a systems level.” Reni Eddo-Lodge author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race defines institutional racism as “a form of collective behaviour, a workplace culture supported by a structural status quo and consensus – often excused and ignored by authorities.”

To bring it into perspective, an example of systemic discrimination that has been widely discussed is female representation and gender equality in the workplace. While it’s undeniable there is still a long way to go in addressing gender issues including pay gaps, female leadership and representation in industries like STEM; it’s a much more open dialogue than issues of race. Businesses are making a conscious effort to represent women in the workplace

To be anti-racist, business leaders must recognise and address institutional or systemic racism within their organisation just as they have with gender politics. The approach and anger towards injustice should be the same. Identifying a lack of representation, lack of opportunity, and structural issues is the first step in instigating change.

So how do we promote an anti-racist culture?

Be Real

If your organisation is going to promote Black Lives Matter or equality publicly, your actions must be mirrored behind the scenes. It’s great to express desires about anti-racism loudly on social media, but for many, there is considerable conflict between words and actions. It’s the same as promoting yourself as an eco-friendly company dedicated to fighting climate change and not recycling the enormous amounts of paper you use. Hypocrisy will be called out eventually, and in matters as crucial as fundamental human rights, will stain your employer brand forever.

Take Loreal as an example. They posted online to support the Black Lives Matter movement with the phrase “speaking out is worth it” to show solidarity. It then came to light that just three years earlier they dropped black transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf from a campaign for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. Loreal was accused of jumping on the bandwagon when it came to Black Lives Matter, their support regarded as superficial. The issue has since been resolved, and Loreal has donated to a black transgender charity, and Bergdorf has taken up a seat on their Diversion and Inclusion Panel, but it proves – with social media and influencer culture giving everyone a voice – there’s no place for hypocrisy or double standards within a business; the truth will always be uncovered.

Be real, be compassionate and be unapologetically anti-racist or you run the risk of looking insincere to future candidates and existing employees. Businesses and brands can influence culture but make your internal actions match what you’re standing for online. Ensure you’re not only promoting diversity when it’s a popular talking point. Racism doesn’t go away when it’s not a trending topic. Confronting it should be standard practice for businesses rather than just something to do when it’s fashionable.  

Hold yourself accountable

One of the biggest realisations that many of us have had in the Black Lives Matter movement so far is that we could and should do better when it comes to issues of racism. The movement has opened the eyes of many. It’s alright to accept that businesses have made mistakes and should have been publicly condemning racism for a long time before George Floyd’s murder or that leaders should have educated themselves more on issues of race.

The first step in initiating change is to identify and address any issues regarding both racial prejudices and institutional racism within your organisation. Business leaders must acknowledge the presence of white supremacy in their company if they ever wish to change: look at the leadership team, review your last few hires and analyse every part of your business to understand where improvements are needed. As long as you apologise and commit to change, it will not damage your reputation. Anti-racism is a journey; it will be uncomfortable, and mistakes will be made, but it’s how we address these errors and learn from them that matters.

Invest in inclusivity

Employers need to focus on inclusivity at work. Your end goal may be a diverse organisation and leadership team, but starting with diversity in mind could lead to tokenism and belittle your anti-racism efforts.

Think about how job descriptions are worded; is the language you use neutral and inclusive to all? Evaluate why minority employees aren’t progressing in your organisation and what you can offer to all employees to improve their position. Consider how you can remove barriers like unconscious bias in your recruitment process and make sure that all voices are heard, valued, and opinions are acted upon. To recruit a diverse workforce, everyone in your organisation must feel comfortable and happy at work. Talk to your BAME employees to gain a first-hand view of what needs to change for them to feel included.

An internal investigation has recently found that a large unit within the NHS’s blood and organ transplant division is “systematically racist” and “psychologically unsafe”. BAME employees have discussed being ignored by white managers, poor management of race-related issues and even discrimination in recruitment. Talking to your team honestly or conducting a survey can help identify issues like this and give you a starting point.

Positive discrimination

Some workplaces may benefit from positive discrimination to encourage inclusivity. As Eddo-Lodge said, “we don’t live in a meritocracy and to pretend that simple hard work will elevate all to success is an exercise of wilful ignorance.” If your senior team are primarily white males, like most are, making a conscious effort to diversify your leadership will have a significant effect on inclusivity in your business. You’ll see things from new perspectives, increase profits and promote a better workplace culture for all.

To fight structural racism, it’s sometimes essential to meet a quota. Some find them controversial, as hiring or promoting regardless of experience simply to tick a box is not a progressive step forward. However, no organisation would hire an unsuitable leader to meet a target. In the pursuit of equality, businesses need to give their talented people of minority backgrounds additional opportunities to be seen when they may have been overlooked previously.

It is worth remembering that having a diverse leadership team will provide a voice for others, help with future diversity and will be a huge step into an inclusive workplace culture.

Refine your EVP

Promoting an anti-racist workforce in response to Black Lives Matter is a significant step forward, but you must ensure its impact lasts. Any changes you make now must stand the test of time, rather than just being a focus while it’s in the news, which is why amending your EVP shows long term commitment.

Start by applying a human lens to your EVP to fight injustice at work. The world is evolving before our eyes, and your EVP must do the same. With the Black Lives Matter movement opening people’s eyes to injustice, diversity and equality must become one of the main pillars of every company’s EVP. It’s something candidates will be looking for in future employers, and existing employees will no longer accept a passive attitude towards discrimination at work.

Your EVP must address your attitudes to diversity and commitment to building a more inclusive business if you wish to succeed. Having human-centred values was predicted to be an EVP trend in 2020 with an emphasis on employee perspective. A rise in anti-racist culture means this desire has been amplified, and now both candidates and existing employees will expect a fair and compassionate workplace with no space for discrimination. It’s not just about the employee perspective, but the perspective of all employees from all backgrounds and areas of your business.

How Employers Can Support the Black Lives Matter Movement

Whatever your political stance, the whole world can agree that recent actions in the US have caused us to stand still in our tracks. The murder of George Floyd has sparked outrage across the globe and is dominating both the news and social media feeds. You may be wondering what this has to do with business, but taking care of our people, particularly in times of distress is one of the biggest obligations employers have. It’s time to show solidarity, support, and even if you don’t fully understand, a willingness to spread awareness and educate both yourself and employees in issues of race.

In an Instagram poll conducted by networking group Black & HR, 77% of respondents said their workplace had not addressed what had been happening in the black community. While business leaders may feel awkward about speaking up for fear of saying the wrong thing, this is an emotional time for employees, and they need support and reassurance.

As Desmond Tutu, one of South Africa’s most well-known human rights activists, said so well, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” As an employer and leader, it’s critical that you lead by example and provide a safe space for your employees which celebrates inclusivity and diversity. Make it clear that you do not stand for discrimination and racism in a time where it matters most, or you may risk tarnishing your reputation and chance for a diverse workforce in the future.

The Black Lives Matter movement is one of the most significant civil rights movements of a generation. Its impact will no doubt last a lifetime. No matter what size your business or what industry you work in, it’s time to make it clear internally and externally that you do not stand for racial injustice. Supporting the movement can reinforce employee confidence in their employer, promote equality at work and help you to attract diverse, skilled talent in the future.

So how can you support the Black Lives Matter movement within your workplace?

Provide emotional support for BAME employees

Your BAME employees will be feeling incredibly emotional, scared and angry right now; their mental wellbeing will be taking a hit with such horrendous news. While you should already be supporting the mental health of all employees, realise that some may need extra help. Allow them to take time off if they feel they need it to heal, but don’t insist as they may prefer to be in work.

As employers, it’s vital to recognise that people are understandably hurting and show your support. Ensure that your company has an open culture and they feel comfortable talking to at least one individual about how they’re feeling. Empathy and support from a workplace can significantly improve your mental health, and in situations such as this knowing your team are on-side, and care can mean the world. 

Time off for demonstrations

Protests against Police Brutality are still occurring across the globe. If employees wish to go out and protest, employers must let them use their voice by allowing them to take time off work. Most of the protests are arranged quickly, and as employment lawyer Mary Goldsborough states; “as some BLM events are organised at short notice, employers may wish to consider authorising leave requests on shorter notice to demonstrate understanding of the employee’s cause and, possibly, their own support for the BLM movement.” 

There’s no issue with talking to your employees about protesting safely and sensibly as well keeping in line with social distancing regulations as COVID-19 remains a considerable concern. However, your employees must be entitled to freedom of speech and stand up for their rights. Refusing leave will not reflect well on you as an employer and may even imply you do not support the movement.

Stand Up to Racism UK is organising protests that can be done online or at home, including asking everyone to kneel at their doorsteps in a demonstration of solidarity with BAME communities. While this is hard to encourage remotely, why not invite employees to take a picture that you can share on social media? This shows your employees you support the cause and peaceful protesting.

Review your policies regarding racism

Review your approach to racism and discrimination at work. While it’s already illegal, it’s more imperative than ever that employees take such actions seriously. It’s important to admit if you have made mistakes or overlooked issues of injustice in the past; acknowledging where improvement is needed is the first step to significant change. 

Make sure that your stance and policy towards workplace discrimination of all kinds is known throughout your organisation. Employees must know how to report offences and who to report to. You must also make sure you act upon any issues that arise. It’s time to lead by example, and the real way you can instigate change is by doing, so don’t say you’ll tackle workplace discrimination if you don’t mean it.

Promote learning on diversity

One thing that the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted to many people is that they have been ignorant or unknowledgeable when it comes to issues of race and discrimination. With many already pledging to read more books, watch films and series about racism, listen to podcasts and engage in open conversations, it’s clear that there is a huge appetite to grow our understanding in hopes to fight racism.

Businesses can help with this. HR teams may wish to share a list of materials to help individuals educate themselves more on issues of race both inside and outside of work. 

You can find a great list of resources here.

Diversity and inclusion programmes have been around for a long time, but now your employees will have a better understanding of why they are so important, and it’s a way of making all voices heard. Provide company-wide training sessions about diversity and racism, ensuring that everyone is clear on your policies and what it means to be an ally of BLM.

Openly support charities

While we appreciate that now is a difficult time for many businesses financially, if you are in a position to make a financial gesture, your BAME employees may appreciate it. A public gesture of support not only makes your stance on racism clear to the wider community but shows that you care to improving life for many. There are so many great charities which can be donated to both from the US and the UK, covering a whole range of support for BAME communities.

You can find a great list of charities to support here

If you aren’t in a position to donate, like many businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, you can still share charities on your social media feeds and with employees internally. This can help rally support for much-needed causes. Make your position clear without getting yourself into an uncomfortable financial situation after any COVID related budget cuts. 

Encourage employees to sign petitions

Another way to show solidarity without impacting your business’ finances is to sign petitions. Sharing petitions internally will make your stance on racism clear and show you encourage positive change. There are various petitions going round in support of BLM, including Justice for George Floyd and changing the national curriculum to help educate children on issues of race. It will take less than 10 minutes to craft an email to send internally and less than a minute for employees to sign, but it’s a way of making an impact without cost and showing you care about actioning change.

You can find a list of petitions here.

Create a diverse workforce

It’s one thing to share a black square on social media, to offer a one-off diversity workshop or to ask employees to sign a petition; but in order to instigate change, your business must act. Ensure that you adjust your recruitment process to be more objective and reduce risk of unconscious bias and discrimination; investigate automations and blind screening as well as having diverse interview panels to ensure future hires are based on talent rather than any other factor. 

This is the first step in ensuring your workplace is truly diverse and not just in the sense that you hire people of different races, genders, sexualities or even with disabilities. You must ensure that opportunities and development are available to anyone that wants to progress. A recent report claims BAME employees are more likely to say identity or background can influence the opportunities you’re given at work than white British employees. Address any previous obstacles that stood in the way of your BAME employees’ careers.

Opening opportunities to all will help you to create a diverse leadership team and play your part in the fight against systemic racism. Offer the opportunity to study for a qualification alongside work, mentoring schemes or even ensuring any online training opportunities are communicated throughout the business to all staff.

 If you are changing your recruitment process or providing greater progression opportunities as a response to Black Lives Matter, tell your employees. They will not judge you for actions you didn’t take in the past but will take your response to the crisis positively. 

Addressing Racial Injustice and Promoting Diversity in the Workplace

Recent events in America have brought the issues of racism and diversity to the forefront of our lives. No matter what your political stance or where you are in the world, these events have been hard to ignore and, for many, have been painful to watch. It’s more apparent than ever that racism is everyone’s problem. Leaders must activate meaningful change throughout their organisations to support all of their workers, not just through challenging times but always.

In times such as these, business leaders must offer both physical and psychological support to any employees experiencing racial injustice. While black employees may seem to be okay right now, they may feel the need to remain professional throughout the global pandemic – which largely affects BAME communities – as well as awful amounts of racial discrimination and injustice, so it’s likely they’re far from content.

All business leaders and those in senior positions (as well as all employees) need to acknowledge any issues and welcome learning about racism; it’s something that we should all be educated in, and there are many useful books and resources to help. It will help if you let affected employees be angry or upset, provide a safe place for them to speak and offer to engage with them to show you care. Asking how they’re feeling isn’t enough. There needs to be an open dialogue in workplaces to promote racial justice and equality. Making public statements and donating to worthy causes is one way to address this, but the real change begins on the inside.

Business leaders have the power and a platform to promote change and encourage equality within their workplace. Now more than ever, it should be a priority for all leaders to create a diverse and inclusive culture where discrimination (both conscious and unconscious) isn’t welcome. While it may seem like a small change in the grand scheme of things, it’s often the smaller steps that make a difference. If even the smallest of businesses take action, larger organisations will follow, and talent will come to expect equal opportunities for all. Diversity should become a priority (even more so than before), all employers will soon need to address, as society becomes more educated and joins the anti-racism movement. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace will become a crucial element of an employer brand if you wish to attract exceptional and wide-ranging talent after this tragedy.

Promoting Diversity in the Workforce

It’s reported that 79% of US HR workers believe their workplace is already diverse. However, the same survey found that only 17% of workers across America support increased recruiting of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. There is some apparent disconnect in these figures.

Part of the issue lies in the fact that employees assume one person represents the entire company. A diverse workforce means far more than hiring one BAME employee. Remember, diversity in the workplace is not only an issue of race and ethnicity but of gender, age, disability, sexuality, socio-economic status, education and religion. While BAME diversity is a long-awaited global talking point, other minority groups should also be included in your initiative.

The world is changing faster than any of us could have imagined. It’s no longer going to be acceptable to be diverse in some ways and not others. A company cannot hire people of different races and backgrounds if they don’t acknowledge gender or disability. Similarly, it’s great to have female leaders, but if they’re all from the same background, a business won’t see any of the advantages a diverse workforce can bring.

Having a diverse workforce offers differing perspectives, inspires creativity and helps businesses to understand a broader range of mindsets and communities. Having different experiences and views in one room will help any business regardless of industry to connect with new audiences and customers as they welcome a more diverse way of thinking. It can stop mistakes being made and improve a company’s overall productivity. However, having a diverse workforce is also proven to improve your hiring efforts as it simultaneously welcomes a more diverse talent pool. People like to work in a place they can envision themselves and feel included, seeing someone similar to them happy at work will help this become a reality. Diversity also creates a better company reputation from both internal and external perspectives as it shows you care about all individuals; this improves employee engagement which reflects positively on your employer brand.

You can help to create a more diverse workforce by reviewing your recruitment process. Introducing a blind review process means that a candidate’s details are removed during screening, and you’re basing hires on qualifications and experience. Modern technology can help to provide a more objective screening process. Still, algorithms must be monitored to ensure potential talent is not being missed and biases have not been set unintentionally. Leaders must be aware of unconscious bias in their hiring decisions. Ensuring a diverse interview panel is one way to avoid this, but we all must try to be mindful of our unconscious bias and where it comes from.

However, it’s not enough for businesses to ensure that these individuals are present and represented amongst their workforce; they must also be able to thrive. Any business can hire to meet diversity targets but having a company culture which encourages participation and equal opportunities for all is the only way to be a truly diverse business. Business leaders cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all mindset if they wish to be diverse; instead, they must recognise and celebrate difference, even down to the different ways of working. Take into consideration any disabilities and acknowledge any cultural needs when managing your workforce. It’s vital to establish a common purpose amongst employees within your EVP that they can all support and remain passionate about. Promote a company culture which works towards one goal while appreciating that everyone thrives in different ways and providing working options to suit all.

It’s also essential that businesses provide learning opportunities to all individuals that want to take advantage of them. Training courses and developing new skills improve employee engagement and provide opportunities which should not be limited to a select few. Training is an excellent way of ensuring your leaders of tomorrow are diverse as well as have the skills to drive your business forward.

Currently, women hold just 24% of senior leadership positions and shockingly only 6% of the total top management positions in the UK are from BAME groups, and one of the reasons for this is a lack of opportunity. Businesses should insist on diversity in leadership teams as this will have a ripple effect on a business and influence the strategic vision. Lead by example and put a talented, diverse mix of people at the top. Although, this doesn’t mean offering unqualified people the role based on skin colour or gender. By providing training, mentoring and leadership opportunities to your existing workforce, you can help reduce the problem without hiring a new senior team if the right talent isn’t available. You can train individuals to become leaders in a way that suits your business, invest in employees to improve engagement and your employer brand as well as setting the foundations to become a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

If you’re struggling to create a diverse workforce or leadership team, then one solution is to start a diversity committee or integrate learning about minorities into your EVP. This helps organisations to see things from another perspective, shows empathy with employees from a minority background and shows a genuine interest in making their working lives better. Diversity committees offer a safe space for people to come with concerns and shows your dedication to change. It provides opportunities to educate your workforce on the importance of diversity and gives them a chance to meet people from and better understand a range of backgrounds, races and genders.

A diversity committee within work or a focus within your EVP on learning about other cultures and minority groups provides the opportunity for people to learn, talk and form friendships. It could be as simple as celebrating cultural festivals, sharing meals from across the world or having meet up groups. Gaining a better understanding of each other will help reduce stereotyping and generalisations. Your company culture will feel more welcoming and friendly, which will help you to attract a more diverse workforce going forward.

The COVID-19 crisis could help the workforce to diversify. As more of us embrace remote working, it opens the opportunities for businesses to hire people from different nationalities, locations and backgrounds which may not have been possible when confined to the geographic limitations of an office. Remote training and prolonged periods of quietness have allowed motivated employees to refine skills and learn new ones, helping to diversity your workforce’s offering and enabling individuals to progress in their careers.

Remote working has also given us all an opportunity to reveal more about ourselves. We’ve had no choice but to let colleagues into our homes through Zoom calls and video conferences, in some cases introducing them to family members and pets. As a result, we’ve become more accepting of individuals for who they are. The pandemic has also had an enormous impact on culture, with many becoming more compassionate and understanding of individual circumstances.

When the media inevitably move onto another topic, we implore you to continue to make a conscious effort in building a diverse workforce – for the sake of your business, society and humanity.

National Coding Week: The women who programmed the future

In 2019, despite women having paved the way for many of tech’s most brilliant innovations, women are still both underrepresented and underpaid in the tech industry. While steps are being made to make tech and STEM subjects more accessible options for young girls, through initiatives such as Girls Who Code and the Grace Hopper program, there is still a long way to go.

So, this National Coding Week, we decided to celebrate the women who have made history with their intelligence and pioneering spirit. Continue reading to learn about those women who are, too often, despite having made history, left out of the history books.

Annie Easley

Annie Easley was born in 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. Originally training as a Pharmacist, she began her career as a human computer at NACA, soon to be known as NASA, performing complex mathematical calculations. When computers (machines, not humans) came about she became a programmer, learning languages like the Formula Translating System, or Fortran.

Most famously, she developed the software for the Centaur Rocket, which powered the first American space probe to land on an extra-terrestrial body. She worked for NASA for 34 years before retiring in 1989.

Margaret Hamilton

The first two men to land on the moon may never have got there if it weren’t for computer programmer Margaret Hamilton, who developed the sophisticated onboard flight software for the Apollo missions.

She worked tirelessly to perfect the software, preparing for emergency scenarios. As it turned out, no software bugs were ever known to have occurred during any of the Apollo missions. The code she wrote to develop the software formed books that reached to her height when she stood next to them.

Katie Bouman

Our most recent coder, Katie Bouman, led the creation of an algorithm that resulted in the first image of a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, 55 million light years from earth. Bouman’s experience is in Computer Science, however, she became involved in the project to create a clear picture of a black hole while undertaking a PhD in computer vision.

She said, “even though we had worked on this for years, I don’t think any of us expected we would get a ring that easily. We just expected a blob.”

Grace Hopper

A true pioneer, Grace Hopper was a computer scientist and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, with a degree in mathematics from Vassar College, and a masters and PhD from Yale University. After teaching mathematics at Vassar, she left to join the war effort.

During her time in the Naval Reserve, she helped program the world’s first computer, the Mark 1. She did not retire until she was 79 years old and is credited with coining the terms “bug” and “de-bug” in relation to computer errors. The Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at the NERSC is named after her.

Mary Jackson

NASA’s first black female engineer, Mary Jackson, was an African American mathematician and aerospace engineer. In 34 years at NASA she earned the most senior engineering title available. However, having fought to overcome race related issues all her life, such as segregation in the early years at NASA (while it was still NACA), she was denied management-level positions.

As a result, she accepted a demotion to become a manager of the women’s program at NASA. In this role, she worked to support both the hiring and promotion of women in NASA, only retiring in 1985.

Katherine Johnson

Beginning her career as a human-computer, Katherine Johnson was a graduate at 18, graduating summa cum laude with degrees in both mathematics and French. Over a 35 year career, she calculated the orbital mechanics behind the NASA missions that launched crewed missions for the first time in U.S. history and co-authored 26 scientific papers.

In her time at NASA she instigated change regarding both racial segregation and sexism. She was the first woman in her division to put her name on a report, after a male colleague refused, as women were typically not allowed to put their names on reports despite whether they had done the majority of the work.

John Glenn, the astronaut who orbited the earth three times in 1962, refused to fly unless the computer’s calculations had been personally verified by Johnson.

Joan Clarke

Known for her work as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, Joan Clarke was immortalised by Keira Knightley in the film The Imitation Game, which also focused on her relationship with Alan Turing.

She gained a double first in mathematics from the University of Cambridge (though she was denied a full degree) and in 1939 was recruited into the Government Code and Cypher School.

As a woman, she was initially assigned clerical work and paid significantly less than her male counterparts. However, within a few days her significant abilities were recognised, and she joined Turing and the other male mathematicians in decoding German messages, ultimately ending the war up to 2 years early.

If you want to read more about the women changing the future of tech today, take a look at our blog

Social diversity for employers

Only 7% of the UK’s workforce attended an independent school and yet, graduates of independent schools make up over 50% “of the top level of most professions.” According to the State of the Nation report, “only 1 in 8 children from low-income backgrounds is likely to become a high-income earner.”

With statistics like these, it’s clear that serious action needs to be taken concerning social and economic diversity within the workplace. However, research shows that many organisations still do not have diversity agendas in place regarding candidates from lower economic backgrounds.  

Why does social and economic diversity matter?

Many workplaces now have targets in place. Or, they at least have an awareness of the need for diversity in terms of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, age and disability when recruiting.

Research has evidenced the benefits of diversifying teams. Diverse teams perform better, encourage up to 83% more productivity and make decisions up to 60% faster than none diverse teams. Diverse teams are also “credited with better employee engagement and retention.”

Clearly, diversity within the workplace makes sense both economically and culturally. However, within these diversity agendas, candidates from lower-income backgrounds still do not remain a priority. Research by Talent Works International has uncovered that many employers overlook socio-economic diversity in their targets. 

Why is this?

There are several potential reasons. It is more likely to be a culmination of all of them, as well as systemic prejudice, rather than one in particular.

Firstly, there is no law against class discrimination.

Therefore, employers are not legally obliged to consider socio-economic background or class in their recruitment processes. If employers are not obliged, there is no reward or immediate benefit to them putting targets in place. The benefits of diversity of thought are often long-term. So, it may seem like there is no pressing reason for employers to implement changes. 

Secondly, class is relatively invisible and, still, difficult to define.

Class is a shifting social structure – “the architecture of British social hierarchy has undergone huge shifts as a result of broader changes in social, economic and cultural life.” The boundaries aren’t the same as they once were and, as such, people sometimes struggle to categorise themselves. 

The challenges to working-class people are not necessarily apparent to people not directly affected by them. As such, the lack of working-class people in positions of influence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, those currently in positions to make changes don’t understand the difficulties. Those who do understand them do not have the power to create change.

So, how can employers create opportunities for candidates from lower economic backgrounds?

Organisations need to recognise that there is a problem in the first place. Then, they need to consider the class divide as not so much something to be overcome, but as an opportunity to grow. To adequately understand the opportunity for growth, employers need to assess their workforce to gain more detailed knowledge of where there is room for change. 

Then, organisations need to commit to diversity agendas, which specifically target class and socio-economic background and set specific recruitment targets.

When it comes to diversity, drastic measures need to be taken to initiate real, lasting change. A true overhaul will become inevitable once working-class talent takes up the same space as talent from privileged backgrounds.

How to achieve these targets?

Employers should be open and honest about their diversity measures and goals with both their current workforce and any potential candidates.

This may seem like a risk; however, “publicly sharing data about company diversity can have tremendous benefits.” As Cindy Robbins, president and chief people officer at Salesforce, says, “sometimes to be an advocate, you have to be overt.” So, committing to an annual audit to measure your progress can establish your organisation as a leader in diversity measures.

For example, Buffer prides itself on being transparent about its organisational diversity, employee salaries, and cash flow. As such, Buffer has a well-established, positive employer brand and is extremely profitable, being valued at $60 million.

Why does your employer brand matter?

A strong employer brand can improve your recruitment processes and, ultimately, your company culture. This can lead to more quality hires and longer retention rates. Being open about your diversity rates can be integral to your talent attraction strategy. For instance, 78% of candidates look into a company’s reputation before even applying for a job with them.

So, now is the time to access a wealth of talent that could transform your company and become a leader for socio-economic diversity amongst employers. For more information on the class divide in workplaces, get in touch with us at to read our whitepaper on the topic.

International Women’s Day: Women in Tech

At Talent Works, we work with several clients in tech. So, we decided, on International Women’s Day, to celebrate the women working in tech.

Technology is an incredible force for good in our ever-changing world. Yet, it is estimated that only 1% of the tech sector will be female by 2040 if there are no interventions. However, the tech industry is gradually changing. More and more women are excelling in tech careers thanks to female pioneers such as those we’re celebrating below, as well as organisations such as Girls Who Code. To celebrate, we thought we’d take a look at some of the women currently changing the future of tech.

Trisha Prabhu

Young software engineer Trisha Prabhu developed an app called ReThink to help curb cyberbullying. After a young girl committed suicide because of online abuse, she was inspired to understand why young people send abusive messages. She learned that the prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making skills, isn’t fully developed until age 25. Therefore, at times adolescents don’t consider what they do before they do it, resulting in impulsive, often harmful decisions such as sending an abusive message. Prabhu realised that if she could develop an app which detects offensive messages before they’re sent, she could give young people the chance to rethink what they are about to post. The app has been incredibly successful, with research showing that 93% of teenagers who had ReThink decided not to publish an abusive message. You can check out her Ted Talk here.

Zara Nanu

Tech Entrepreneur Zara Nanu founded software business Gapsquare in 2015 to help close the gender pay gap in less than 20 years. Gapsquare uses machine learning to analyse a company’s gender pay gap and flag opportunities to close it as they arise. Data can provide tangible goals for businesses to aim for in terms of their Diversity and Inclusion policies. Such data can influence whether candidates choose to work for certain companies, and in turn, this level of transparency can increase retention rates. So, not only is Zara Nanu helping to end pay inequality, she’s providing lasting change to employee welfare and optimising workforces. You can check out the Gapsquare website here.

Reshma Saujani

Founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, is helping to close the gender gap in the tech industries. Girls Who Code provides free after-school programmes which teach girls computer science, communication skills vital for developing a career, and the values of sisterhood. She cites evidence from psychologist Carol Dweck who found that girls with a high IQ were quick to give up on challenging material, whereas boys with a high IQ were more likely to redouble their efforts. Saujani states in her Ted Talk that “women have been socialised to aspire to perfection. Girls Who Code is her answer to the perfection problem, by advocating teaching girls bravery, not perfection.” You can hear her talk about this here.

Kimberly Bryant

Kimberly Bryant is the founder of Black Girls Code, a not-for-profit which works to increase the number of women of colour working in tech, which currently sits at only 3%. The organisation provides opportunities to girls from underrepresented communities, who are talented in the STEM and Computer Science fields. She says, Black Girls Code is about instilling a sense of confidence in their own innate ability, so they can lead and create companies of their own. The organisation is community driven and committed to their own values, having refused grants from large companies they feel are not active enough in the community. Bryant was named as a Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion at the White House in 2013. You can watch her Ted Talk here.

Susan Wojcicki

Susan Wojcicki has been named one of the most powerful women “on the internet.” She was involved in the founding of Google and is now CEO of YouTube. She is also a pioneer of diversity in the workplace, advocating for more women to work in tech and for getting girls interested in computer science. She has also advocated for the US to become a leader in maternity-leave benefits.” Any list of women in tech would be incomplete without her!

Yasmine Mustafa

Named by the BBC as one of its 100 Women of 2016, Yasmine Mustafa is the founder of ROAR for Good, an organisation which produces a piece of tech jewellery called Athena. Athena is designed as a discreet device used to share a person’s location and sound an alarm if they feel unsafe. Initially moving to the United States as a refugee at 8 years old, Yasmine first founded 123LinkIt, a blog advertising agency. Most recently, she founded the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It which provides affordable web development classes for women. A social entrepreneur who is championing the rise of women in tech, Yasmine Mustafa isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Angela Ahrendts

The highest paid executive at Apple until April when she leaves for “new personal and professional pursuits,” Angela Ahrendts has been a surprise to the tech industry. Moving from the fashion industry as former Burberry CEO into the Head of Retail position in 2014, she became one of the most important people in Apple. She leads 50% of the workforce and is still the only woman on the senior leadership team.”

Progress is on the rise, and these are just some of the women spearheading the movement. You can check out last year’s post on our Top 5 marketing campaigns empowering women here.

Happy International Women’s Day to all our colleagues and clients!