Recently, Workingmums held a roundtable event and we were invited to attend, thanks to our consistent work on inclusion in recruitment. A number of diversity and recruitment experts gathered round to discuss a number of issues that were faced including: family support, women’s career progression, and flexible working.

Here at SThree, we’re working with internal and external partners to create the right working environment for our people. We want everybody to feel completely supported; to know they have the flexibility to be a working parent or progress in their career, regardless of their background.

The main discussions of the roundtable included flexible working, inclusivity, and removing unconscious bias; all of which are issues we’re working hard to overcome at SThree.

Improving equality at SThree

In 2011, Natasha Clarke, our Chief People Officer – who won Workingmums Champion 2015 – launched Identity, a programme which was initially designed to support the development and progression of women within the organisation; today Identity supports diversity in all its forms.

Speaking about what led her to create the programme, Natasha says, “I started to look at the gender split within the company and who was being considered for the more senior roles. Something didn’t seem right. We had an intake of 45:65 female:male which was not so off balance, but as you climbed up the ranks there was a typical drop-off of women of 10% at every level.”

Since Identity started in 2011, the proportion of female directors has more than doubled, and the number of female team managers has significantly increased too.

Overcoming unconscious bias

Following the roundtable event, Workingmums put together a whitepaper that discusses all the issues raised. In this, SThree were praised for their dedication to overcoming unconscious bias.

When setting up the Identity programme, it became clear that recruiters weren’t putting as many women forward as they were men. Obviously this was an issue - particularly when women were 30% more likely to be hired. The reality was that assumptions were being made about the female candidates; that they were slower to make decisions for example.

To overcome these assumptions, we introduced an education process. This allowed recruiters to get a better understanding of their candidates so that, moving forward, they were less likely to be unconsciously biased. As a result, more women are being hired.

We also introduced Velocity, our transparent and fair career programme. By identifying their skills and setting clear targets, our recruiters have a clear vision of what they need to put in to take their careers forward. So they’ll get the support they need and the freedom to progress.

Flexible working for all

The event was chaired by Professor Caroline Gatrell from the Liverpool University Management School. She shared with us the idea that more parents were looking to work flexibly in order to help with childcare.

Research shown by Caroline also proved that flexible working needs to be fair across any organisation in order for it to be effective. It’s this that has led to agile working – allowing people to choose where, when, and how they work.

Here at SThree, we appreciate the need for a healthy life/work balance, which is why we encourage flexible working. This has improved employee engagement and helps our people feel happier about their roles, as they no longer need to struggle to balance their family lives and their careers.

What does this mean for SThree?

One of the most reassuring things that we took away from the Workingmums roundtable was that we are already tackling some of the big issues raised. The programmes and initiatives we introduce are aimed at helping our people progress in their careers, with the aim of bringing skilled people together to create the future.

If you want to find out more about the roundtable event and what was discussed, request to receive the following Workingmums whitepaper.