Diversity has long been a conversation topic in business. But (happily) I feel like the depth and authenticity of those conversations has noticeably changed even during my career so far. We have made it our mission to create recruitment processes from a ‘day one thinking’ perspective (both for our clients, and for ourselves) that genuinely attract more diverse talent into skill-short pools. Tech is at the heart of so much of our lives and work nowadays. Until the talent pool building these products reflects the population using them, the majority of things we rely on in our daily lives will be designed and built by men, from a male perspective – even if that is by no means the intention.’ – Amy Golding – CEO
This International Women’s Day, we’re sharing insights into life at Opus and our tech training partner, _nology. We’ve been working hard to improve the gender balance within both Tech and Recruitment – we’re happy to be celebrating how far we’ve come, but we’re also aware that we need to commit to continuously improving these sectors and making more space for women.
‘I am a big supporter in this space; all the women in my family were innovators! One of my sisters won the Women’s Rugby World Cup with England, my cousin is an entrepreneur in Australia, and my grandfather’s cousin was Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty Mauchly Antonell. She was an Irish computer programmer and was one of the six original programmers of the ENIAC – one of the first general-purpose electronic digital computers.’ – Kelvin Hewett, Global Head of Client Engagement and Solutions
DIVERSITY AT OPUS
‘Diversity within our teams is crucial to our success as a business – the melting pot of experiences and personalities is what makes us who we are, and is what allows us to creatively troubleshoot and come up with solutions that work for our huge range of clients.
Given that so many end users of products and services are women (we do make up around 50% of the population, after all), it’s a no-brainer that we need women involved in the conversations and processes around creating them. It’s great to see so many other women in the workplace – not just in senior roles, but in the office, at the desk next to me, sending company-wide emails celebrating their record number of promotions; women who are visible and vocal. Gender diversity at work shouldn’t feel like a box-ticking exercise – it should feel like a genuine understanding of the need for difference; the need for new ideas and opinions founded in a kaleidoscope of experiences that you simply don’t get without women.’ – Lucy Vinestock, Marketing Manager
‘IWD allows us all to stand back and recognise and appreciate all the women in our lives who all deserve recognition. With only 1 in 6 tech specialists in the UK being women and only 1 in 10 being IT leaders, the need for women in tech has never been greater. 81% of women believe that the tech industry would benefit from having gender equality in the workforce. 47% of our _nology students are female, which shows the importance of addressing greater female representation within tech. As we celebrate IWD 2022, we should all be proud of the women we are honoured to work with and the positive steps organisations are taking to address female representation within tech.’ – James Gowing, Portfolio Account Director
Our internal HR and Learning and Development teams host regular webinars and workshops centred around D&I topics, such as unconscious bias training. Our wellbeing hub, Opus Well Rounded, focuses on different key areas each month, and offers practical advice and resources to support our team. This includes topics like gender diversity and inclusive recruitment, and we help our team in ensuring everything we do supports equal opportunities, both through our internal hiring and the work we do with our clients.
‘There are so many benefits to having a diverse workforce; the true benefit of having one is the cognitive diversity having representation from all walks of life. Those different perspectives are way more likely to present a creative solution to an old problem than any other team. In my role, I’ve seen gender diversity in leadership positively impact decision making and bring about change. I’m very fortunate to work with some very inspiring females, but also some males who have learned to advocate for others exceptionally well. The most important lesson anyone can learn about diversity is ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’, or where we might have blind spots unless someone else shows us them. If you make yourself open to that education, you, your business, and your team will be better for it!’ – Alex Meah, Global Talent and HR Director
From an internal hiring perspective, we’re committed to inclusivity through our application processes. We use third-party software to ensure we run ‘blind’ CV assessments – that means we progress people to the next stage and base their application solely on their performance of our assessments. This programme uses a scoring system that eliminates the possibility of subconscious bias. We also employ structures of equity through our interview process, making sure everyone is given the best chance to succeed, regardless of their gender, among other aspects.
‘Gender diversity is extremely important to me as a female, and also as an internal recruiter who focuses on our trainee hiring. Through my role, I get to dismantle gender stereotypes as negatives and show them as positives instead, and I get to show women that there are career options where they can harness skills that they have probably previously been chastised for having.
It is crazy the positive response we get, even in 2022, about the rarity of having a female CEO. That is why it is so important that Amy Golding does so many of our first-stage interviews and is always present in our assessment centres. I’m incredibly proud that our trainee intake for the last year has been almost 50% female. Recruitment is not a ‘boys’ club’ anymore, and I think our London Team Lead line-up with the likes of Alice Bennet, Clare Killeen, Jane Cowie, and Cosima Tibbles is very much the proof in the pudding.’ – Hannah Fields, Candidate Experience Coordinator
‘It’s genuinely important to us that people of all genders feel comfortable and confident in pursuing a career with us. As part of our commitment to diversity, we work hard to promote social mobility in everything we do. That doesn’t just mean ensuring we reach people of all genders, ethnicities, and ages (although that’s a huge part of what we do!) – but, for me, the true value comes from supporting those from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds in reaching their full potential, both personally and professionally.
Reflecting on IWD this year, that commitment means providing inclusive learning and education initiatives that open the door to a wealth of exciting careers to women from less privileged backgrounds; women whose family members have no higher or further education, women who are supporting their families, women who want to change their careers and increase their earning potential, women who want to pave the way and inspire the next generation of diverse, talented, passionate women in tech.
I am proud of where I work and what we have achieved, but there is still so much more to do. I’m thrilled that we now have more women in our organisation to support us reaching our future D&I and social mobility goals.’ – Alex Crass, Director of Marketing
‘Women’s contributions to society are still getting heavily overlooked, especially in STEM spaces. This is particularly true for women of colour and who identify as LGBTQIA+. We need to continue to offer platforms and give a voice to women if we want to progress as a society; some of the greatest thinkers in our history have been women, but are still largely left out of textbooks.’ – Patti Thomson, Digital Marketing Manager
DIVERSITY FOR OUR CLIENTS
‘As an MD, I work hard to ensure that our progression opportunities are meritocratic – regardless of gender, we promote people who have the right values and have really stepped up their performance and reached their targets. Increasingly, more and more of our weekly leaderboards are full of women. I’m proud to say that, in the past year, we’ve developed 4 female Team Leads in our London office alone. Not only does this show the value and skills that women bring to the company, but it has a great knock-on effect with our internal hiring. The fact that women can see other women progressing (and at pace) shows them that there is a path established to reward their hard work; that these opportunities are available to them. Representation is key to success, and, as a business, we’re constantly seeing the benefits of a more gender-balanced team.
In 2020, I ran a management acceleration programme, encouraging everyone to reach their full potential and pursue the career opportunities that we provide. A huge percentage of team members who’ve signed up to this are female – and the skills and different experiences they bring to managing, billing, and leadership have been not only positive, but invaluable.
We’re aware that our clients are committed to improving the gender balance of their teams, which ensures we’re held accountable for promoting inclusive hiring processes. Our consultants proactively target and build up networks of female specialists within a range of niches. We work in markets that are both candidate-short and skill-short, which is why our tech training partner, _nology, has been critical to so many of our clients’ successes. We’re able to create diverse talent to bring into the sector – having homogenous teams isn’t the way to succeed, and our clients need a range of skills and experiences that can only come from a more gender-balanced workforce.’ – Rory McGowan, Group Managing Director
We fully integrate ourselves into our clients’ existing resourcing or hiring teams, working alongside them to review their processes and ensure inclusivity at every stage. Rather than looking to replace existing teams, we equip them with long-term skills and strategies for the future. Our solution goes beyond providing transactional recruitment services and is a genuine partnership at every stage.
Instead of simply looking for talent in a traditional, more transactional recruitment method, we can create it. Our tech training partner, _nology, enables us to reach a pool of talent that is hugely more diverse than the tech industry. Due to the way our _nology consultancy model works, we have a large pool of tech talent which we’re continuously adding to. This allows us to choose individuals with the necessary tech stack, as well as the skills and traits that would allow for seamless onboarding and a strong cultural fit. It also enables us to keep our time to hire extremely low!
‘I think Jacinda Arden is a fantastic female role model. She has adopted world-leading gender equity policies, making it easier for women to negotiate with their employers for more equitable pay. The last election ranked New Zealand at number five in the world for women’s representation in parliament, at 48.3% – up ten points from the previous election. She also has more gay and gender-neutral people in her parliament than anywhere else in the world, which speaks volumes…’ – Isabella Slater, Digital Marketing Manager
CREATING DIVERSITY IN TECH
Through _nology, we’re committed to providing opportunities to everyone and to making space in tech for people who are talented, regardless of their background, education, gender, sexuality, age, race, ethnicity, or life experience. This not only fills the gap in technology, but fills it with diverse talent and opens doors to a future that may not have been possible otherwise.
‘Clients, more than anything, are interested in bringing more women into their tech teams. Diversity isn’t just about box-ticking, it’s about creating better products – by having more gender balance in your team, you’re automatically going to be creating more balanced products as a result. Female consumers make up half the population and will naturally have different expectations as end users of products and services, whether it’s home insurance or mobile apps. Clients risk losing half their customers if they’re not creating products that are aligned to society; that are representative of the experiences women have that, ultimately, impact their purchase choices. Male-dominated teams can’t tap into those experiences!
Gender balance brings so much to tech teams, and benefits the company and their end users, too – it’s a win-win. At _nology, we help by creating diverse talent – we can’t simply move a female engineer from one company to another and say that we’ve improved diversity in the sector. Instead, we need to be creating paths for more women to join the sector. That means running inclusive attraction campaigns and assessment processes, as well as ensuring our courses are accessible so that we can actively add to the talent pool.
Diversity isn’t just about having more women in your tech team, it’s about creating female talent so that the pool clients choose from is balanced and truly reflective of our society.’ – Ben Ridgeway, _nology Senior Account Manager
We offer companies the opportunity to upskill their current employees, or use _nology to deliver bespoke recruitment projects in order to meet their business goals. Through our extensive client list, we’re able to provide a constant stream of new, highly skilled, diverse talent to fill the gap. We deliver job-ready talent into roles that need to be filled, offering a bespoke client service while improving diversity in the sector.
‘I joined _nology as a student back in 2020, and, when I graduated from the course, I didn’t want my _nology journey to end – so I became a coach! Not only did this allow me to explore my love of tech, but it meant I could really commit to promoting diversity within the sector – specifically, paving the way for more women to thrive in tech roles. I wanted to pursue a career in tech, but, due to so many myths about the sector, I was worried about a) being a woman and b) not having any previous experience. These misconceptions form barriers to people all over the globe, and are preventing people from pursuing their passion for tech – which is where we come in….
The main focus of _nology is to create space in the tech sector for everyone, regardless of their background. We work closely with our Marketing team to ensure all of our attraction campaigns are inclusive to people of all genders, races, ethnicities, educations, and backgrounds. My role has evolved and I’m now _nology’s Head of Talent, which means I can get even more involved with promoting diversity within our training cohorts and, therefore, the tech sector in general! As a woman working in tech, my aim is to encourage other women to join the sector – we can pave the way for future generations, create a more diverse talent pool, and enable women to truly thrive.’ – Bex Fennelly, _nology Consultancy Manager
We are committed to investing in positive change, through funding tech training and securing employment for talented, passionate people from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds. This is facilitated via our CSR partnerships and community work. Employment opportunities are secured by the 2000+ organisations we work with via our recruitment partner company, Opus Talent Solutions. We find talented, underrepresented people, fund their training, and dramatically increase their employability, helping them realise their full potential.
We offer bespoke, multi-channel advertising campaigns to ensure we reach an audience that these opportunities would otherwise be inaccessible to, fulfilling the needs of the client whilst promoting diversity and inclusion at every stage. We specifically market to underrepresented groups, including women, BAME individuals, the LGBTQIA+ community, and those from underprivileged backgrounds. By marketing directly to these groups, we are able to dispel myths around working in the tech sector.
‘I come from a South-East Asian background and my parents didn’t have a degree and I don’t have a degree either due to tight financial circumstances. I’ve never considered a career in tech before, as I’m the oldest and no one in my family was in a tech role or there to advise me – so I ended up in admin. I also assumed tech was too difficult to learn. However, I’ve been glad to find that tech can be interesting, fun, and involves a lot of teamwork and communication.
I think it’s great to see more women coming into tech and I encourage more women to apply and bring more balance and diversity to tech – because tech is all about different perspectives. My main tip is: don’t overthink it, take action today.’ – Female _nology student, 2022