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Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

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What is diversity in the workforce?

Image from Pixabay

Throughout this report I will cover the following areas, race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and conclude with an overview and points of actions, which I hope is small and tangible yet a needed step in ensuring industries stay competitive and nimble. I have also created links to organisations who will be in a better position to represent the particular area we are highlighting.

RECRUITMENT

Recruitment at its core is one of the most fundamental things which drive a company's growth, the right type of team can make or break a business.

However, the current recruitment system, in all honesty, needs an overhaul, the practices are outdated, and the current system to some degree within organisations work with a ‘groupthink’. (Where mentality everyone within the organisation starts thinking and acting the same) This type of thinking may be affecting innovation and creativity within a business.

Education has seen a shift from in class to online education, and this is a testament; how the industry needs to find alternatives ways in recruiting, hiring and training and retaining staff. The concepts need to be outside of the norm, yet inclusive for able bodied and not able bodied candidates to participate. If both the Prime Minister of Canadian & President of France can staff half their cabinet with women, why can’t everyone else? You may be asking, how, and then ask it is not that easy. Within technology, there is a current hot topic of conversation called unconscious bias specifically within the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

If one can admit, they hold unconscious discussing how we can deconstruct these misconceptions is a step in right direction.

Understanding we can all openly discuss where these misconceptions come from and how they can be deconstructed. Will allow people to stop and think how and where we are getting this images from. One of the greatest minds of our time is disabled Dr Stephen Hawking’s. We often underestimate another’s ability as simply as “if I were that person, I would not be able to cope”. Dr Hawking often thanks his colleagues, friends and family in assisting him in being able to continue his work of being clever. Firstly, we should never assume one is unable to cope based on our measure of coping mechanisms as these differences and experiences are what makes us human and ultimately diverse in thought and acceptance of varying opinions and ideas.

HIRING

The current application process, in essence, is not fit for purposes a majority of requests require some content as written. However, if one suffers from a learning difficulty such as dyslexia which causes problems with reading, writing, spelling an applicant may avoid applying or may need an alternative option to allow for using. Unlike some disabilities, dyslexia does not affect intelligence. Richard Branson and Steven Spielberg both have dyslexia, and potentially the hiring manager may have technically excluded them from the application process based on a poorly written application.

Allow applications of specific briefs or projects via video and or audio content; can be an alternative way for hiring managers to establish do you like how the applicant visually represents their work. The Media is defined mainly by visual and emotional representation as being solely compared to by words. Therefore there is much more room for flexibility within the application process. For example, if we were to make an audio version of this report, you could listen while doing house chores, on the commute to work, in the car or just while at your desk while multi tasking. (Podcast link appearing soon)

Various industries have been using Hackathons to recruit and hire staff. A hackathon is a gathering of thinkers, dreamers, and does whom all come together off or online over a few days, share ideas and build solutions. The concept is closely associated with technology, however; the principles of a hackathon can easily be applied to any industry. The idea of a hackathon has allowed brands such as Farfetched and All Saints to create better customer experiences. The teams do not only consist of coders; they include graphic designers, customer experience, project managers and marketing experts.

If an applicant has experience in marketing, they may have started a brand and or club night and have amassed an relatively influential Instagram or YouTube following. They have active regular engagement is as valid as someone who is coming from a marketing degree who has a theoretical concept and a beautiful portfolio, which has, not proven their ideas in real time. Equally, someone who has started and executed their event and has developed, designed and implemented marketing material, brand identity, developed, marketing strategy and creative direction. In theory, this candidate has lived experience who can be taught the terminology of the industry as compared to the actual practical experience required to execute a project.

GENDER

Women make up 85% of all the purchasing power across a majority of industries, from food to automobiles.

In the most recent years, the discussion of Transgenders in the media has created a great debate as to how transgenders are represented within the press. As a Western country, we often forget or do not appreciate how our views of the world in comparisons to other parts of the globe are progressive.

With the recent transition of Catylin Jenner and Laverne Cox in Orange is the new black, these actresses have paved the way for the next generation of transgender to be confident in the attaining success within public platforms. However, as media is the connector of views, ideas and opinions, the industry also has to make an active role in not just advocating but defending and creating a representation of rights for Transgender individuals.

The next generation of students who are coming through the education system has a much lesser tolerance for the mistreatment and disadvantage of marginalised and minority groups; this will affect your bottom line. The case of Loreal and Munroe Bergdorf is a prime example of actions speak louder than words. Illamasqua has now signed her; this was not only a smart business move. They have now engaged a whole new demographic who previously had not engaged or were aware of the brand.

RECOMMENDATIONS/SOLUTIONS

Men hold a majority of the top leaderships roles, and some one says it is in for the majority to advocate for the minority. The Harvard business review found advocating for the advancement of minority groups can be detrimental to their career. It is, therefore, an industry wide challenge to overcome stereotypes.

Do you have transgender team members, contractors within the team and or in non-executive and board level roles?

Are your staff trained on how to engage and work with transgender individuals objectively?

What type of culture do you have within your company? Is this culture inclusive?

RACE

In 2011 The Office of National Statistics (ONS) carried out the consensus study. Within ethnicity, they categorised over 200 ethnicity groups ranging from White Nigerian, to the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia) to Mixed/Multiple ethnic group Polish, to Black/African/Caribbean/Black British Italian. The topic of ethnicity and race is and can always be a touchy subject. Based on the ONS figures 79.8% of the UK population is made up of White; English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and British.

However, across the industry, there needs to be a clearer understanding of what we define as an ethnic minority? The first generation Polish or Kurdish may view themselves as an ethnic minority in comparison to any ethnicity may see them as a minority. As compared to the second generation Black British who may not see themselves as a minority, as a second generation can positively navigate around the current system. They, therefore, maybe not require necessary require the same level of support. However the support is dependent on a case by case based on an individual’s needs it shouldn’t be blanketed. Views which stand tend to set around the case of ‘all ethnic minorities’ require access to a low level or low paid opportunities. This in all fairness comes down to hiring based on merit. In all fairness, industries need to establish a clearer set of guidelines on what is actually “the minority” and what type of support they require as assuming they all need access to entry level opportunities. With immigration and the rise of Asylum Seekers, there will be a next generation who will have to navigate the systems, which we are currently trying to establish best practice. To paint everyone with the race brush is unfair, along with appreciating most people are working in the confines of a system, which was created way before them. To abolish any structure is easy, however the challenge is building a system which has a solid foundation and most importantly is fair and inclusive. This starts really at the hiring process.

RECOMMENDATIONS/SOLUTIONS

There are some incredibly talented ethnic minorities across the internet and on the feeds of many social media platforms. Who come from the cusp of the areas of gentrification, they may not look or dress as in an ‘acceptable way” however they hold as much or sometimes more intelligence, appearance should not be a pre determined factor in deciding if one is able to carry out a role, yes presentation plays a key role in interactions, yet considering most people are having less contact face to face. I wonder if the emphasis on appearance is creating anxiety for those who do not fall into societies beauty standards. Also, there could be the case out of fear of discrimination, marginalised groups are scared to come forward and or integrate with the outside community whom may be able to support them. It is could just be a case of providing a safe space for them openly discuss their issues privately as compared to an open forum. The question we must all ask how do we find more of these disenfranchised people?

DISABILITY

Around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Autism affects individuals in various ways and the main areas of people who suffer from autism as they find it difficult to interpret verbal and non-verbal communication. However they have exceptional abilities in other spheres of life. ‘Autistic people often do not ‘look’ disabled. What does a disabled person look like? Andy Wharol or Tim Burton, these two both suffer from autism to varying degrees. In 2014 the University of Nottingham highlighted adults with high functioning Autism are not receiving support at work, in order for them to perform their jobs well. Prior, to even hiring staff Tony Attword highlights candidates suffering from Asperger’s (which is a type of autism) may not be as proficient at highlighting their skills and achievements in their applications as compared to other candidates, as they lack the interpersonal skills and confidence needed during an interview. There are even questions to if and how much they disclose of their disability to a potential employer at the application stage in fear of being discriminated against.

RECOMMENDATIONS/SOLUTIONS

The banking sector is a keen supporter of integrating candidates with Autism into the workplace; they are known to have high processing and logical skills. In 2012 Guys and St Thomas hospital had an incentive to support autistic people back into work. The DWP wrote a report on the untapped talent of autistic staff in comparison to other members of staff and found their retention is much higher, they are incredibly resourceful and find ways to overcome challenges. They have high levels of concentration and can focus on detailed work without distraction while paying great attention to detail. Becoming a confident disability employer not only increases innovation, customer satisfaction and fosters relationships with disabled customers and advocates of the brand.

AGE

The office of national statistics indicates nearly one-third of the work force will be aged over fifty years by 2020. In primitive societies, older people often provide knowledge, experience and institutional memory that is adaptive (Butler 2006). There are various types of ageism, which is faced within society, personal, institutional, intentional and unintentional ageism. Dove is one of the few brands who have successfully navigated the topic of ageism within their marketing (minus their current whitewash situation); there needs to be a much more balanced view in understanding ageism. Unless team dynamic is built by inclusivity and to some degree is representative of the general population, one can be unintentional creating content which is bias, offensive and or outdated. Fifty is seen as the new thirty, and some young people under the age of 15 have created successful businesses, therefore accruing a unique set of skills and abilities. Therefore one cannot directly correlate one’s age with experience. Time is and always relative.

RECOMMENDATIONS/ SOLUTIONS

At present, there are some training incentives for young people between the age of 18–25. However, training is often not provided to those over 25 and or for those who wish to change careers later in life. Some people for financial reasons are only able to attend training after work and or over the weekends. An alternative solution is partnering with organisations from other sectors and recruit staff from the redundancy pool, a vast majority of skills are transferable to some degree, and the sector can gain insight from other industries. Another important step is ensuring your job advertisements are legally compliant and age is not a perquisite for who is hired for a role, especially when it comes to seniority.

WOMEN

MSN carried out a poll for Business Insider and found one in three men said: “It was not important to have gender diversity in the workplace”. The overall message from the poll was women are still facing an up hill battle in achieving equality at work. Along with a Wall Street Journal poll also found 33% prefer male bosses. However, this means there is still a vast majority of men who do not want to work with women. There is a distinct lack of women in leadership roles across a number of sectors, from sports, music, technology, national security and Hollywood. The Financial Times highlighted that 9.2 per cent of those who earn over one million pounds are women. What it shows there is still a significant divide between what women make in comparison to men. By April 2018, all businesses within the UK over 250 employees must publish details of their companies gender pay gap, taking any bonuses into account, this will allow for greater transparency between employees.

Research has shown more diverse groups increase the bottom line, are more creative and innovative. In 2015 McKinsey reported on 366 public companies and found those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity management were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent were more likely to have returns above the industry mean.

Between 2005–2007 Max Nathan & Neil Lee studied over 7,000 companies in London and investigated links among cultural, diversity, innovation, entrepreneurship and sales strategies. Businesses run by a cultural diverse leadership team are more likely to develop new products than those with similar groups, it is also an advantage when reaching international markets and serving London’s cosmopolitan population.

CHILDCARE

The cost of starting a family is expensive, and the cost of childcare when you return to work is astronomical. How does a company support their staff at such a significant milestone? The most common are maternity, paternity pay and flexible working hours. Do you provide childcare vouchers? Another area to consider is offering coaching sessions for new families as the change of working with a responsibility may take an emotional impact on staff. Providing a sounding board for them outside of their current network which is impartial may assist with employees managing the change they are going through.

RECOMMENDATIONS/ SOLUTIONS

The most pressing falls under paid maternity leave, it has taken Mark Zuckerberg’s own paternity leave for people to address the fact women get paid less and passed off for promotions, based on if they will take time off to raise children, thus making the low-earning partner the natural choice to take unpaid or partially paid leave. Sweden has one of the world’s highest rates of working women and a nearly non-existent wage gap. The Working mother research institute found when employees felt supported by their employer they were more likely to take leave.

Harvard Business highlighted setting regular start and ends times also helped with assisting staff whom had children and were required to do the school run. Some organisations implemented a policy where no meetings started before 9:30 am or finished no later than 4:30 pm. Offering options or back up plan, even the most organised parents will miss the inset days. Partnering with a recruitment agency such as Tinies agency and providing staff subsidised childcare

Socialising outside of work is a great way orginsations can foster a more open and collaborative work force. However, the office drinks tend to be the most attractive option. However, there are some cultures where drinking is frowned upon this excluding some members of staff. So, what can your company do instead of the ‘office drinks’.

In the last few years the experience economy has grown dramatically, and practitioners are often open to hosting workshops off-site or in their office locations, this is especially great if your teams work remotely.

This is great way to socialize as compared to the default option of going for drinks. There a number of alternative options such craft space called re-creation and the London Craft Club in SE1 which has been used by some blue chip organisations to create activities for staff. Funzing is a platform which houses social experiences out of the norm. Also, our ever faithful Air BNB have now tapped into the experience economy with workshops and activities ranging from £10-£100, there is something suitable to bring the team together.

SEXUALITY

34% of lesbian, Gay, bisexual and transgender chose not to disclose their sexuality at work. It is hard to believe we are having conversation in regards to one sexual orientation, however it was only fifty years which homosexuality was decriminlaised, in theory there are generation of people who still hold discriminatory views. The current generations will have less of a stigma as they are raised to be more tolerant of differences among their peers.

In 2015 a Huffington post article highlighted Transgender women’s income are four times as likely to earn less than $10,000 or less compared to the general population. Overall the issues sits on a strong argument for financial and institutional disadvantage. Creating opportunities across the organisation based not on merit alone for disadvantage groups not just within entry level roles, as they may not be able to articulate or understand their creativity withing the context of the critera of accepted ways to complete an exam. The Equal rights center and Freedom to work conducted a study using fictional pairs of cv’s to apply for 100 Jobs with eight federal contractors. They found out LGBT applicants were less likely to receive a follow- up request based on their qualifications. There was no actual reasoning yet the issues facing the LGBT community are as far-reaching as the current screening process. Yet, more needs to be done in training hiring teams, otherwise the legal implications can be far reaching not monetary but how customers view your organization.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A female engineer who wanted to find a solution, to the prejudice she felt she faced while going through the recruitment and hiring process, created blendor. Blendor is based on data and public available information, their system removes any information which is not relevant to the role. The aim is to eliminate unconscious bias from the recruitment process. They system is currently only used within technology and is based in the USA. However the platform can be used across any industry.

Everyone should speak out on equal pay. Regardless of race, gender everyone should be paid equally or at least a living wage. There is a number of ways orginsations on structure pay in 2016 a Gravity implemented a minimum wage scale of $70,000, the idea came about while the founder was talking to a female female friend shared her concerns about being able to afford her rent and student loans. This was his solution to address inequality. The backlash internally and externally was both negative and positive. However, approaching a blanket approach to wages can be detrimental, some employees like the safety of a fixed salary and other employee work better with a lower base salary and work on a bonus and commission basis. In all fairness, it has to work for both parties. Yet, the most important thing is dialogue. Treating all employees with a blanket approach as much is holds good intentions, money may not be the only motivating factor at work, the more people focus on their salaries, the less they will focus on satisfying their curiosity, learning new skills, having fun and various other things which make people perform best. The trick is establishing the right balance of reward and outcome.

Harvard University has worked in conjunction with international researchers who are interested in how implicit associations about race, gender and sexual orientation effect peoples decision-making. Their main goal is to educate the public and organizations on their hidden biases. You can take the test via here

CONCLUSION

In order to address a blanket issue of ensuring more women and anyone who identifies as a women are placed in roles, one needs to address the general root cause of a problem in order to find a long-term sustainable solution. In most cases once, one has become aware of inequalities, most are open to enforcing change. Issues, surrounding hiring practices, race, gender are addressed in an open dialogue setting is at best a better solution. Than the current lets me tell you what I think you should do

It is always important to review an industry, however self-critism is often harsh and the last thing anyone wants to hear, especially when you are tirelessly working on reaching those goals you have set for yourself and or your teams. Is to add another thing on the never-ending to-do list is the last thing you need or want to do. Often, in order to improve anything you need a time-out a day here or a week there is the best way to come back revitalized and refreshed. The best approach is sometimes doing nothing, however for long-term effectiveness it does not help. An issue ignored will only become larger and the more something is ignored the harder it becomes to deal with. No, one really likes to actively play the hero and most people, do not want to put their neck on the line when they know their efforts can or will be thrown back at them or worst off not even appreciated. It takes allot for anyone to speak up about injustice and it takes an ever stronger person to be do something about it. The lesson is don’t shoot the messenger.

In an ideal world it is essential you have a critical conversation. A critical conversation is a conversation which needs to be had between at least two people. Be it your colleague or a client, this conversation is objective fact based and requires preparation by both sides. Most importantly this conversations are not a personal attack but constructive criticism and most importantly there is always a resolution. One, should not wait for the problem to arise until they find a solution, orginsations will need to establish a safe place where people can raise problems prior to them happening in order to avoid long term issues to arise.

Often, sometimes information gets lost in translation, other times people just want to do things the way they have always done them as it requires change by both parties. We all need to have more gratitude and empathy for ourselves and other people Most people deep down do not like change, change means everyone has to come out of their comfort zone. The comfort zone is safe, nothing great was every created out of safety.

In most cases there is always a solution, the solution sometimes comes from the least obvious place outside of your direct industry, the issues which we have discussed in this report are not new to any work force in fact it’s a general conversation which is being had across many industries and society as a whole. Some, industries are better at dealing with issues head on than other industries or companies hope the changes never happens. Before you know it a competitor or a whole new company or industry has been created as they are being more nimble and are not confined to the old way of doing things. At best as an industry we have to create solutions and follow them through long term, instant gratification never benefits any one long term. Yet, the lessons learned from failed attempts will allow you to improve the process next time.

Football and sports are great industries whom take great consideration in nurturing talent. As an industry football coaches and develops talent from a very young age, they spot talent early on and the industry nurtures the young talent until they become professional. Yes, there are many players who do not make professional, due to personal circumstances and or injury. However, this does not stop them from developing the remaining footballers, as there are there are many players who go on to have successful careers within the sector. Like any relationship there is always a gamble. Will it or won’t it work out? The point is one has to try in order to come to an effective outcome.

The general education system at best is not fit for preparing the next generation of employees for anything outside of conventional roles, however there is a risk 54% in the next five years will soon be replaced by computers. Opportunities for collaboration with progressive schools for creating creative leagues which students participate in groups. Similar to how schools have netball, athletics and tennis leagues, not all students are sports orientated and creating a creative element to after school activities is a great way for young people to feel acknowledge for the work they can do confidently on their phones. People are only open to opportunities once they know they exist.

When people see anyone similar to them reaching milestones within any given sector they feel something is achievable. Maybe the Williams sisters inspired a whole generation of young girls to play tennis, the same way Michael Jackson continues to inspire new artists, to create music.

No one likes to be the first, Michael Jackson was not the first person to do the Moonwalk, he was the first person to make it cool. To do anything out of the ordinary is always a risk things can go horribly wrong, but what if they didn’t and it worked out. What would a diverse work force look like to you? What conversations would you be having? How would the general public respond if they knew our industry was being inclusive? Not because you had to, but is essential on order use to withstand change in society as a whole. This isn’t just surface level change this goes from entry to C Level management positions. Most importantly it comes down to access to opportunities based on merit? All of these things say more via actions then they will ever say by creating percentage quotas. This only puts needed pressure on management to effect change. However, on the flipside it also means human resources teams fill quotas, with less the honest answers. We can all point the blame at someone however reaching out to partners who are active in the community will create a bridge between what wants to happen and want needs to happen.

One of the most successful groups of Xfactor never won the actually competition. It’s not who gets off first its about who sustains the momentum long term to have a lasting impact. There is risk and measured risk, Some people get carried away with emotions. Yet, burying ones head in the sand and wondering why things have turned out wrong may not be the answer. We all like a great quote and often we do not know who said it first, who cares. Someone, said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

SOURCES/RESOURCES

Channel 4 Pop Up Norwich Website and further information

Muni Bond Market Evils: Diversity Failure and the Group think|
Author: Barnet Sherman[1]
Date: August 20th, 2015
Publication: www.forbes.co

Talk on YouTube: Paris Lee & Dr Kate Stone: Transforming the media

A platform positively changing how the media understands and portrays transgender people Website All About Trans

Women like Us offer advice for women and children, along with the ladies seeking part time roles Website: Women Like us

Report: Managing Cultural Diversity: Implications for Organization Competitiveness, Taylor H. Cox and Stacey Blake Publication: The Executive Vol 5. №3 (Aug 1991) page 43–56
Published by the Academy of Management
Financial Times 1st August 2017 More women paid £1m, but men dominate highest earners league Hugo Green Halgh Page 2

Why diverse teams are smarter — Harvard Business Review

Cultural Diversity, innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Firm-level evidence from London — Economic Geography

Guardian

11 Most famous autistic

The National Autistic Society

The complete guide to Asperger’s Syndrome Tony Attwood 2007

List of famous and not so famous dyslexia

Fashion Hackathon with All Saints

Dyslexia and NHS definition

List of famous and not so famous dyslexia

Fashion Hackathon with All Saints

Dyslexia and NHS definition

Black women engineer launches ‘Blind’ job match app to take bias out of tech hiring

Blendoor Score

Workers trash talk goes down as leadership diversity goes up

A company copes with backlash against the raise that roared

The scale of encomic equality in the UK

Why pay the living wage

Harvard Project Implicit

York Associates — Mediation Services

The creative industries generate £84 billon a year for the UK economy almost £10 million an hour

Mark Zuckerbeg’s own paternity — leave plans are step towards a more fair workplace

[1]