Two Female College Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

International Women in Engineering Day: How diversity and inclusion helps drive business success

Two Female College Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

Article by Laura Fink, VP People, Healx

Technology is one of the most sought-after sectors to work for in the country, yet representation within the industry fails to reflect this.

In fact, only 15% of the technology workforce is made up of people from BAME backgrounds, and 19% of all workers in the sector are women. This year’s International Women in Engineering Day offers an opportunity to reflect on the key benefits that diversity and inclusion bring - both to the tech sector and beyond - and inspire one another to take action and create company cultures where everyone can thrive. Because one thing is for sure: whether it’s bolstering growth and innovation, attracting world-class talent or gaining investor trust, diversity is key to long-term business success.

Bolstering growth and innovation

The secret to coming up with innovative ideas and solutions is asking a diverse group to deliver them. Teams from different ages, genders, races and backgrounds offer a melting pot of knowledge and experiences that a homogenous group simply do not. This allows them to solve problems more efficiently, moving the business forward at a faster, more considered pace and ultimately reaping greater financial rewards. Indeed, McKinsey found that companies which have a leadership team over 30% female were more likely to perform better than those with less executive representation. The message is clear: the more that businesses focus on creating a diverse workforce, the bigger the impact on innovation and growth. At Healx, we are passionate about bolstering diversity and inclusion in our business. Our leadership team currently stands at 36% women and non-binary representation, and in the last 12 months, we’ve increased the percentage of women and non-binary individuals from 9% to 33% in our technology team. This focus has provided our teams with countless new opinions, experiences and opportunities to drive innovation and change for rare disease sufferers.

Attracting and retaining world-class talent

There’s an old phrase that says, “you have to see it to believe it”, and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to nurturing talent. Employees - and potential new hires - want to be able to see themselves reflected in their work, their teams and their leaders. Where they can, they are more likely to join or stay with a company, but where they can’t, team members are left feeling demotivated, undervalued and unseen. It’s important that companies proactively seek to attract and retain diverse talent, and the COVID-19 pandemic has provided many organisations with a welcome opportunity to update their practices, so that they can become more flexible and inclusive. At Healx, some of the things that enabled us to make such a shift in the representation of our workforce included actively widening our hiring net beyond our Cambridge base and reviewing our interview and referral processes to ensure we attracted a diverse funnel of candidates. We also undertook an internal review of our employee policies to ensure we were supporting all team members equitably; this included introducing a fully-paid additional leave option to enable people to balance work and life commitments during the pandemic, updating our health and life insurance policies, improving our parental leave offering, and moving towards a hybrid model of working that empowered people to work in the way that best suited them. Like many companies, the pandemic really pushed us to bring flexibility and empathy further into the core of our culture, and we hope to continue building an environment where employees feel represented and supported. This is critical for business success and can help organisations attract - and keep - world-class talent that will drive forward their mission.

Aligning with investors

Many companies today rely on external investment to grow, but, increasingly, investors are expecting organisations to prioritise diversity and inclusion before they commit any money. Indeed, 63% of UK investors are now screening potential companies to ensure that they comply with internal diversity and inclusion metrics, whilst VC firms like Atomico and Balderton are amongst a cohort of investment companies benchmarked for their diversity and inclusion policies. Investors understand that inclusive hiring leads to a better understanding of the market, improved decision-making and enhanced performance - so it makes market sense for them to invest in companies who are already on the front foot when it comes to thinking about diversity and inclusion. For businesses looking for investment, it’s important that they demonstrate an active commitment to building a diverse and inclusive business, if they hope to secure funding and scale.

The diversity challenge within the tech sector won’t be solved overnight. However, if businesses want to remain ahead of the curve and drive change, they must make equality and inclusion a concrete priority. Diverse teams provide companies with opportunities for growth, improved talent acquisition and retention, and alignment with value-driven investors. This International Women in Engineering Day, companies must understand why embracing diversity and inclusion is critical, or they will risk lagging behind forever.

Laura FinkAbout the author

Laura has over 20 years' experience in international HR roles across a variety of industries including media, sales and tech. She has worked in HR, recruiting, employee engagement, organisational change and diversity roles in both blue chip and start-up companies and is passionate about helping companies scale effectively. Mostly recently Laura led the HR function at a fintech in the blockchain space. Previously she led EMEA recruitment teams at Google to help scale the company during a period of incredible growth.

At Healx she is responsible for building effective people programs that enable us to attract great talent and drive the growth and development of our people and the business.

 


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