This is not the usual kind of blog post; it being about internal company things rather than great design, nifty tech, or cool data stuff.
But we want to be open and transparent about what we've done – and are doing – to be more equal, diverse and inclusive. (If only as it may encourage others to take action too.)
The Supercool Manifesto On Inclusivity is an internal, living document – produced with input from the whole team, of course – setting-out our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and actions for improvement.
Like many other companies, the catalysts for us talking openly about the importance of inclusivity have been the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements; as well as recently working alongside global movement for women's equality, the WOW Foundation.
We've actively and successfully worked towards greater gender equality over recent years. The company is now more than 50% female. And 2 of the 3 Directors are women which is pretty unusual – especially in tech. But there's no resting on our laurels here! We should always be working towards greater inclusion. Ethnic diversity in particular is lacking in our team. We know this, there's a willingness to change; and there's a plan …
Here's the Manifesto, as of October 2020:
Everyone who's part of Supercool must feel welcome, listened to, and valued. We should be the sort of outfit that anyone feels they can be part of. (At the very least, we don't want to accidentally – or worse, purposely – exclude anyone.)
🤔 What do we mean by 'inclusivity'?
We're using 'inclusivity' here as a slightly lazy catch-all to make our purpose and aims easier to communicate. Inclusivity covers many things but primarily diversity, equality, equity, belonging, and accessibility. And whether that's visible or invisible stuff:
- Religious beliefs
- Caring commitments
- Access (or lack thereof) to educational opportunity
In essence, what we mean is being open-minded, accepting, and welcoming to anyone. To everyone. So, not 'exclusive'!
👍 Why being inclusive is important
- We have a moral obligation; being inclusive is simply the 'right' thing to do.
- Selfishness. All of us going to get older, and may also experience other changes that impact how we interact with the world. It's in everyone's interest to be inclusive.
- Privilege exists. For equality's sake, we have a social responsibility to counter this wherever and however we can.
- The more views, needs, and opinions we consider, the better our output will be. (Because it will be accessible to more people.)
It's all very well to say we want to be (more) inclusive, but what are we actually doing about it?
😇 What we've done so far …
- Focused on gender diversity in hiring. The company's currently more than 50% female, so – win!
- When hiring, we identify and actively invite individuals from underrepresented groups to apply.
- Fully remote working (as of 2016)
- works for people with caring responsibilities;
- allows you to create your perfect working environment – whether that's total silence, blaring music, at a standing desk, or in a bustling co-working space (COVID-permitting)
- flexible schedule
- greater level of autonomy (literally no one is looking over your shoulder. Except maybe your pet)
- Opportunities to communicate outside of video calls – people have different preferred ways of working; you may love a chat, or you may prefer communicating in writing.
- Promoting Accessibility in general, as a core part of our work with clients e.g. Access Resources:
- Promoting accessibility to clients – adapting any requests so the result is accessible;
- Accessibility reviews on 30+ websites at AMA 2019;
- We also look inwards – and make sure our own content's accessible (e.g. using alt text, simple language, content broken up with headings etc.).
- We use Craft CMS. Not only does it enable us to build highly
accessible websites, the control panel is so accessible W3C have
selected Craft as their CMS of choice.
- Signed-up to the Tech Talent Charter, which promotes inclusion
and diversity within the tech sector in a practical, measurable way.
- We acknowledge we're not ethnically diverse, and pledge to actively change this. Some plans for how we'll do this follow.
Katie and Soph are, for want of a better phrase, our Inclusivity Champs. Actively monitoring what we're doing, reviewing progress, suggesting changes, and spotting any opportunities for improvement. Although everyone can – and is encouraged to – make suggestions. (Let Katie or Soph know if you have any suggestions, questions etc.)
🚀 Aims for the future
To start, here's what we're not aiming for. We're not aiming to be an exact representation of UK society, or even the working population (there just aren't enough of us to make this useful).
What we do want to do, however, is include a wider range of voices, opinions, ideas and experiences. Yes, we want to be more inclusive generally – but in order to do this we have to focus on improving specific areas. We've identified these as:
- Ethnic diversity
- Women in tech
In addition, we aim to:
Make sure you, as part of the Supercool team, understand the importance of inclusion (when dealing with each other, clients, suppliers etc.), and feel able to make suggestions for improving inclusion in the company.
Identify and eliminate barriers – cultural, behavioural, and procedural.
🛠️ How will we meet these aims?
- Adapt our hiring process by:
- Removing names, photos and educational qualifications from job applications
- Providing interview questions in advance, so everyone has a chance to shine (not just those who're great at thinking on-the-spot)
- Not discussing any candidates' performance/suitability until everyone's been interviewed, and then assessing separately before coming together to discuss
- Advertise roles on targeted job boards e.g. jobs.womenintech.co.uk, byp-network.com, proudemployers.org.uk, adaslist.co/jobs
- Regularly review all areas of company to see what more we could do; then implement any changes.
- Retain an 'open door' policy for making suggestions of inclusivity improvements we could make, and then implement these when possible.
- Continue to actively identify individuals from under-represented groups, and invite them directly to apply for suitable roles.
- Continue to promote accessibility as a core part of our work.
It may sometimes be a challenge; being inclusive of wide-ranging opinions, situations, backgrounds, needs, working styles etc. while also being a well-oiled team. So, in order to improve our inclusivity, we may need to make some compromises. And we'll probably get it wrong sometimes.
But by making time to think creatively, carefully, laterally about how to overcome challenges, and take actions, we can be more inclusive, more equal, more diverse, and more accessible.
Thanks to Tiney for the inspiration to make our Manifesto public – hopefully we may encourage others to do the same