People matter: Bulb team diversity update
By Michael Laws, Head of Talent
In August I wrote a blog post about how and why Bulb is building a diverse and inclusive team. Three months and over 25 hires later I thought it was time to update you on how we’re doing.
As I described in the summer, we undertook a number of initiatives to make things better. This blog post will describe how those projects have gone, what challenges we’re facing and what we’re doing that’s new. We’ll also share our latest data.
Being a diverse business is an ongoing project for Bulb so it’s helpful for us to regularly assess our progress. Some things in the last quarter have been really positive, but there are also areas that require more attention or focus.
How have we done?
In the summer we appointed a Diversity Champion, Caroline
We hired someone specifically to work on attracting people with diverse backgrounds and improve equality in our recruitment.
Caroline has done an awesome job at improving the gender diversity of our recruiting pipeline and we have seen this have a real impact on the makeup of the team.
The gender diversity of Bulb has increased from 33% of the team being female to 39% today. This is a direct result of our diversity champion actively sourcing female candidates for our roles. In fact, since Caroline joined our hires have been 50% female and 50% male.
Our technology, product and design team, which was 100% male in August, is now 50% male and 50% female. This team includes developers, design, product management and user research. We’re really proud of this progress.
We set up a Bulb Diversity & Inclusion taskforce
The impact of having a cross functional diversity team of volunteers has been huge.
We talk about diversity a lot at Bulb. Every member of our team knows it’s really important. Our Talent team takes responsibility for the results, but every team and individual is aligned on our diversity mission. In order for us to be successful, the desire to make things better has to run through the business from top to bottom.
We’ve attended meetups, networking events, talks and taken part in panel discussions about diversity and inclusion. We’ve done this at about a rate of once a fortnight over the last quarter.
Having a cross-functional team contributing voluntarily to our efforts has a tangible impact on our recruitment pipeline. It is no secret that presenting a diverse face publicly and at recruiting events results in more diverse job applicants. We have seen this to be true.
We’re battling bias with tech
As a business that loves automation and technology, we’re using some neat tools to improve our diversity. For example, we’re now using knack.it as a blind recruiting tool to eliminate unintentional bias. We’ve had the team take the Harvard implicit association test too - it’s part of our onboarding process and it helps us become more self aware
Knack has reduced the risk of unintentional bias from our recruiting. We now have information about an applicant’s potential before we know any other information about them.
Everyone at Bulb is now aware of any unintentional biases they may have, this makes them better at interviewing and making objective decisions.
We’re being transparent
We will continue to publish our diversity data quarterly.
What can we improve?
Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Backgrounds
We have seen slight reductions in ethnic diversity, as well as socioeconomic and educational background over the last three months. This is a cause of concern. What could be the reasons for this?
In the last 3 months a high percentage of our new hires have been recent graduates. Bulb has high standards for academic achievement and as a result many of our team studied at the country’s top universities.
Unfortunately, as has been well reported, the UK’s best universities are not always the most diverse of institutions. Many of these universities often have much higher numbers of students from independent schools and far lower percentages of Black and minority ethnic (BME) students than society.
How Bulb continues to set a high standard for hiring while not inadvertently inheriting these universities’ own lack of diversity is an interesting and not insignificant challenge.
Age & Family Status
Bulb is still a very young team. Having hired many graduates in the last quarter it is not surprising that we still have a team mostly in their mid-20s. We are conscious that our average team member is a lot younger than the average Bulb member.
This graduate hiring also means that we have very few parents at Bulb. In fact, we only have three in a company of over 80. This is significantly lower than the UK average where 35% of workers have dependent children.
Bulb needs to have a team that really understands our members and can therefore provide them the best possible products and service. We need to improve this.
What are we doing now?
Over the last 6 months we have changed all our job advert copy to be gender neutral.
Bulb is forming relationships with careers services at top universities. When we do this, we show preference for those universities that have the best diversity statistics. This research from the University of Bath shows university statistics for ethnicity. For example, Oxford University, Cambridge and Bristol, all places that Bulb has recruited multiple graduates from are 83%, 79% and 85% white respectively. Whereas Imperial College, King’s College and The LSE are 56%, 58% and 54% white.
We are working with new advertising and job board partners to attract candidates from underrepresented groups that are harder to proactively target (for example, those with differing sexualities or familial statuses).
Out Talent team are judged on the diversity of our recruitment pipeline. We have to use all the tools available to us to make this better while also ensuring we have a scrupulously fair recruitment process.
Bulb has been approved as a tier 2 visa license holder. This is strategically important as we grow very quickly and struggle to find the best talent we can. However it will also give us access to talent pools and markets that were previously not possible. This will improve our ability to hire a great team, but also contribute to our diversity.
Bulb’s Full Diversity Statistics - Nov 2017
We surveyed our team using the Law Society’s diversity questionnaire. Taking part was voluntary and there was no obligation to answer every question.
(We felt it right to be sensitive in how we present this data publicly, especially since there are only 80 people in the Bulb team. Some information has remained confidential, for example data on a team level)
1. Gender equality
3. Socio-economic background
4. Family and age
6. Ethnic diversity