You’re making excuses around gender diversity
If you work in tech, chances are you’ve said or heard the excuse that there aren’t that many women in tech so we can’t find any to hire. But here’s the thing. It’s 2022. This lazy attitude has to stop. It’s just a cover and is trapping the industry in backwards thinking.
Here’s the reality. There are plenty of women in tech. And not just in HR and Marketing. I’m talking about women who write code, who do design, who manage teams and projects. Across the board there are women. Some are just starting out, some are really accomplished. A lot are mid-career. Women are everywhere. The reason you don’t have them in your team? You’re not trying hard enough.
At Kinde we’re still a small team - although we’re growing rapidly considering we hadn’t even been incorporated 4 months ago. Already we’ve fallen a little behind on hiring for gender diversity. 3 women out of a team of 10. It’s not good enough.
And so we’re doing something about it.
Why gender diversity matters
Before starting Kinde, I was a design leader. I lead design teams at companies like Atlassian, Campaign Monitor and Shopify. My team at Shopify was around 70 people. That’s a lot of people at a lot of different levels. And here’s the thing that I discovered. The secret sauce. If you’re looking to build a creative environment where big ideas and big thinking thrive, you need people who think differently and can challenge each other’s ideas. And that only comes from diversity. The best thinkers never fit a standard mould. Religion, race, gender, sexual preference. All of these differences are the magic that makes great teams great.
It’s also important to acknowledge that 50% of broader society is made up of women. For a company to build amazing products, its teams need to be made up of people that reflect the diverse communities in which it exists.
Here’s another thing that people often don’t realise. Products are interchangeable. Ideas are unimportant. If you bring the right people together and build a team with diverse thinking, then the rest becomes easy. Great teams with inclusive cultures will take you anywhere. That’s how you create enduring businesses that people want to be a part of.
But you’ve got to do the work.
What we’re doing
It comes from the top
If you want to make fundamental change in any business, it has to come from the top. That means it has to be a priority of your CEO and your executive team. And so we’re taking it very personally.
Our value of A company of Giants galvanises diversity into the foundations of the company. Values describe the way we as a company should behave. They are our cultural touchstones. We use them when making hiring decisions. We include them in our discussions and use them to measure the value of our work. Not living our values only sets us up to fail.
We’ve set a goal of hiring 50% women moving forward. Including in engineering. This isn’t lip service - this is a top level goal for every single person in the company to strive for. At the same level as our financial, customer and product goals. We’re starting with gender diversity because you have to start somewhere, but in future we will expand this goal to include all forms of diversity.
Our 50% gender-balanced goal extends all the way to leadership level. We believe that you model what you see. So if you see great women leaders making an impact, you will be more likely to succeed and make an impact yourself. An organisation of strong women leaders will only attract more. It’s self fulfilling. Equal representation of women at senior levels ensures diversity of thought and creates a more inclusive environment for everyone, at all levels.
We’re actively researching key programs like Project F’s Program 50/50 diversity and inclusion initiative. We haven’t joined any yet but will soon
We’re also keen to partner with groups like Women in Tech, She Codes, Girl Geek, and more. If you are part of, or know of, any great groups we should be interacting with, please let us know.
If you want to embed an idea in a business, you have to repeat it. Incessantly. Over and over again until people beg you to stop. And then you continue. When it comes to this challenge we not only have to set the goal but we have to make sure everybody understands why it matters and how to champion it. And that means saying the same thing over and over again. A lot.
The most important role of any leadership team is to create a place that people want to work. And that means you have to give a shit. You have to genuinely care about your people and their success. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
Employee benefits and policies
Without flexible and empowering benefits and policies, it can feel hard to feel supported at different stages of your life. Benefits and policies are how companies translate their values into action. This makes them a really great indicator of how well a company actually lives its values. You want to know how much a company cares? Look at its benefits and policies.
Here are some of Kinde’s policies. We’re still a young company so these will evolve (and hopefully get even better) over time. But for now we think they’re a pretty good start.
It’s simple. 12 weeks equal parental leave for all genders, all family constructs. For the birthing parent, we offer an additional 4 weeks paid leave to acknowledge the physical and medical factors associated with delivering a child. Without this, recovering from birth can take up a chunk of parental leave, leaving less time to enjoy being a new parent.
We’re also working on how best we can make return-to-work as flexible and supportive as possible. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’re working on it.
Flexible working hours and working arrangements
We’ve tried to make this easy:
- You can work from a Kinde office.
- You can work from home.
- You can work from anywhere that has good internet.
- You can work from a WeWork anywhere in the world (paid for by Kinde).
You get to make that choice every day.
And we have no fixed hours - you work when works for you.
Personal learning and development budget
We support our people to take part in professional development courses, on us. Building our collective skills and knowledge is how we become a company of giants.
Take 3 days a year fully paid to volunteer and give back to your community. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.
If you want to fix a team diversity problem you’ve got to look at the source: hiring. The very first place to start is by refining your recruitment process.
We’re starting by making sure our job descriptions are gender neutral and inclusive, deliberately focusing more on values and skills than experience. We’ve also included this line to try to encourage women and other gender diversities not to self-reject:
WAIT! Studies show that people identifying as women or from under-represented groups are far less likely to apply for roles if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements. There’s no such thing as a perfect candidate so please don’t self-reject - keep on reading! We’d love the opportunity to meet you.
We’re introducing proactive sourcing focused on women. This helps make sure we’re optimising the very top of the funnel.
We’re actively trying to hire women in engineering leadership as well as all leadership across the board. This will make an impact to our culture long term and will create an inclusive environment to all diverse communities.
We will always have at least one woman involved in the interview process for every candidate. We want to create an environment where everyone can see themselves reflected in the business.
And during these interviews, we have introduced a scorecard system for collecting feedback. This helps us to fairly benchmark candidates, making it less likely that any unconscious bias will creep in. It helps us focus on the things that really matter - the candidates skills and values.
A final thought
It’s early days for us and we have a lot to prove, but I’m a big believer that the first step to change is in acknowledging the problem and then pushing towards the solution with considered determination and crisp execution. We’re going to keep listening and learning how to be better - and we’re not going to stop.
About the contributors
Co-founder & CEO
Thinks and talks a lot