How dxw digital nurtures a diverse workforce for success

It stands to reason that workplaces should reflect the wider world we live in. Hence why diversity really matters at public sector agency dxw digitalwho create services which are used by the general public.

dxw digital has robust strategies on diversity and inclusion. We recently spoke with Clare Young, Head of Delivery, to find out why nurturing a diverse workforce is crucial to their success.

How can we possibly meet their needs if we don’t ourselves have a diverse workforce?

This is all very easy to say, but how do you actually achieve diversity?

It boils down to keeping a single basic principle in mind across everything that happens in our organisation – building a working environment where everyone feels comfortable, and which fits the different ways people work. This isn’t just about the physical environment, but also about giving everyone a sense of control. There is no single way of achieving this. For us, it’s embedded in all aspects of the organisation.

What does this look like in practice?

As a technology company our workforce includes a wide range of roles, such as coders and developers, user researchers, delivery managers, marketing and administration – and we have successful women in all of them. We’re still some way from being an equal balance of men and women, but we’re moving in the right direction. Overall we get fewer female job applicants than I would like to see, I suspect at least in part because of a feeling that tech is still a rather male dominated sector.

What steps have you taken to increase diversity in the business?

We do lots of things to help redress the gender balance, and these also help us to address other aspects of diversity. I and others go out and about participating in a wide range of events that help us spread the word. Here we talk about our commitment to diversity, share our approaches, and show what we are actually doing. This helps us reach people who might not think of us first, but who definitely have the skills to thrive in our sector.

However, we all know how unconscious bias can creep in during the recruitment process, and here we have a number of strategies. We are careful about how we describe roles. Research has shown that certain words deter women from applying for jobs, so if we want to attract the widest pool of candidates we need to get the language right. Kat Matfield has a gender decoder for job ads, and this can be helpful. We’re concerned about avoiding discrimination of all types, and we enabled a feature on our recruitment system, Workable, which removes candidate photographs from applications.

How else have you improved the recruiyment process?

When it comes to panel interviews we follow best practice on having a representative panel, but because we know interviews can be daunting for some people and because panels are inevitably a subset of the whole workforce, we also include an opportunity to chat informally with as many members of the dxw team as are available, not just a few carefully selected people. We hope this gives candidates the opportunity to see that we really do have a diverse, inclusive workplace and they would enjoy working here.

How does dxw ‘truly champion diversity’?

To truly champion diversity it’s important that the everyday working environment is welcoming, and the working culture is supportive of individuals’ differing preferences and requirements. Our core working day starts at 10am to accommodate those who have obligations around the school run.

We support part time working and home working as much as possible too, and this can particularly help those who, for example, have caring responsibilities which can require daytime commitments.We have also just introduced a returners policy for people who’ve been on career breaks, whether that has been to start a family, to care for someone or another reason.

We actively discourage working late or out of hours. Of course this has to happen occasionally, but it is very much the exception rather than the rule. We firmly believe that a sustainable pace of work that fits with a strong work-life balance is vital.

How do you promote inclusivity in dxw?

It’s important that people feel they have some control over their working environment and how things get done. We’re open to suggestions and fresh ideas, and we do our best to make collective decisions about how we work together. Not only does this help people feel comfortable and confident in the workplace, but it can also be a great route for people to contribute to the business in different ways and to grow their skills base. We have regular all-company retrospectives and working groups for smaller groups of people to work on a particular issue / enhancement. We also have a diversity and inclusion group that meets every three weeks to talk about how we are doing and consider new ideas.

How do you ensure success?

It’s really important that all of these initiatives, and others like them, come from the right starting point. This means listening to people and acting wherever possible to support their requests or ideas. The roots of all this action have to spring from the basic principle outlined right at the start – of building a working environment where everyone feels comfortable, and which fits the different ways people work.

We understand that people work differently, so we have “user manuals for me” to share our personal likes and dislikes when it comes to the workplace. We’re inclusive but nothing is compulsory, and we have a wellbeing room as we know people might need quiet time during the working day – not everyone thrives in a busy office.

Of course, I am a realist. I know that we don’t have all the answers. But I also know that when an issue around diversity crops up, we are ready, willing and able to see it, confront it, and deal with it honestly and openly. In the end, this approach is a win for everybody. When all of our people have the same opportunities to grow and flourish it benefits them, and it benefits the business.

For more information visit www.dxw.com

>See also: Why IT leaders can have a huge influence on increasing diversity in tech