26th January 2017

A progress update on creating inclusive teams at Deeson

Tim Deeson

I recently reflected on how successful (or not) we are at Deeson at building an inclusive company and identified areas where we could improve. Judging by the response on Twitter and the thousands of reads that the post received; it’s obviously an issue that others are working on too.

A reminder of the actions that we committed to back in September 2016:

  1. Begin annual salary audits to check for bias and rectify imbalances
  2. Report on our progress when we do our quarterly planning
  3. Implicit bias training for everyone
  4. Stop attending conferences that don’t have a credible Code of Conduct
  5. During hiring, take a more nuanced view on whether a developer has made open source contributions
  6. Stop participating in all male conference panels
  7. Improve our Careers page, including clarity on parental leave
  8. Stop asking for previous salary during hiring – it can perpetuate pay inequality
  9. Create dialogue and feedback channels within the company to offer better support
  10. Stay informed and signpost groups working in the industry

A progress update on the actions that are ongoing or have detail that may be useful to others:

1. Begin annual salary audits to check for bias and rectify imbalances

We analysed our payroll records to determine whether there was a pay gap between men and women. We also undertook the same comparison, but grouped by role and seniority to examine whether we were paying people the same amount for doing the same job.

We found there was a gap between men and women overall, but not when comparing people in the same role. This reflects what I shared in my earlier post, that we are heavily weighted towards men in the most senior roles.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (a client by coincidence) has a useful guide to undertaking pay equality reviews in small organisations.

We are taking two different actions on this.

Firstly, that we provide equal opportunities for progression to senior roles by women already working at Deeson. We will deliver this through training and mentoring.

Secondly, ensuring that our recruitment proposition, marketing and process minimises any bias that could discourage women from applying or being appointed to senior roles.

3. Implicit bias training for everyone

Through my research and in implementation of our actions, it became obvious how critical awareness of unconscious (or implicit) bias was to provide a foundation for productive discussion, never mind implement meaningful change.

I wanted a programme that everyone could undertake, both existing team and new hires – not just be limited to those in management or hiring roles. Every member of the team has an influence on our culture and practices; to raise awareness only at policy level seemed ineffective and inappropriate.

I felt that the programme should raise awareness of the pervasive existence of this aspect of our minds and the effects it can have. It also felt important to provide context and highlight some of the issues the industry is currently facing on the road to becoming more inclusive.

In order that the training was easily accessible for our team that is located throughout the UK and Europe, we settled on a mixture of written material, video, interactive exercise and group discussion which would take a couple of hours to complete. This meant that a new joiner could easily complete it within their first couple of weeks, and the existing team could also undertake it without too much scheduling complexity.

To trial how relevant and useful the material was, a small volunteer group completed the programme and gave feedback on the impact, what they had learned, and whether they thought it was useful for others to undertake.

The feedback has been very positive and everyone in the team will have completed it in the next few weeks. It has also been useful in prompting ongoing discussion on the impact that common, seemingly innocuous, language or behaviour can have.

We have published the unconscious bias training materials that we selected, feedback and suggestions welcome.

7. Improve our Careers page, including clarity on parental leave

Our previous Careers page didn’t include information on parental leave or clearly highlight that we are supportive of ensuring that a healthy positive work/family life is maintained. This is implicit in our distributed and flexible working policies, but not highlighted explicitly.

We will soon explain clearly the benefits we offer and that we work hard to be supportive of parents.

9. Create dialogue and feedback channels within the company to offer better support

I didn’t really anticipate how important this was but the opportunity to host ongoing, open discussion with everyone is fundamental for reflection and change. If you don’t give people the time and space for meaningful engagement, then the likelihood of significant impact is minimal, particularly on issues as nuanced, personal and charged as inclusion.