People matter: why diversity makes us a better energy company

 
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By Michael Laws, Head of Talent

We’re investing in diversity at Bulb. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it will make us a better energy company too. In this post, I’ll be looking at why we are committed to building a diverse team, what benefits that brings to our members and how we’re getting along. The full results of our team diversity survey are here too, so you can see where we are and what work we’ve got to do. Let’s get started.

 

Why diversity matters for our members

Of course, eliminating bias and promoting equality and fairness are just the right things to do. At Bulb, we strongly believe we can have a positive effect on the world. We want our product and our team to reflect the way we want the energy industry to be in the future, not the way it is today. 

And, there are sound business reasons for making a proper investment in diversity:

  • Diverse teams understand their customers better - a workforce that reflects its customer base has a better understanding of those customers, meaning better service decisions
  • Diverse teams make better products - the more diverse we are, the better we’ll know the needs and wants of our potential customers. We’ll be building an amazing product for them, not just the people in the room
  • Diversity promotes innovation - Bulb is a disruptive company that is built on making great ideas happen. Increasing team diversity changes the internal behaviour of a company. This provides a fertile ground for innovation and radical new approaches to old challenges

Investing in diversity is the right thing to do for our team and our industry. And, we know diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones. A happy, high-performing team building an innovative, reliable product makes for happy members. Diversity matters for our members too. 

 

How diverse is Bulb?

The first thing we needed to do was to take an honest look at ourselves. 

We surveyed our team using the Law Society’s diversity questionnaire. The full results from the survey are below. The key takeaway from the results is that, although we are becoming more diverse as time goes on, we still have a way to go. A team member at Bulb is more likely to be young, male, less ethnically diverse and educated to a higher level than the population as a whole. 

In this chart (which looks at gender at Bulb), you can see the progress we are making, and the way we have to go:

 
bulb-diversity-gender
 

What are we doing to improve our diversity?

Building a diverse and inclusive team is not a one-off project for Bulb. It’s an ongoing commitment. This is what makes up our efforts right now:
 

  1. We appointed a Diversity Champion - we hired someone specifically to work on attracting people with diverse backgrounds and improve equality in our recruitment. In the last 2 months, they have increased the share of female tech applications from less than 2% to over 25%
  2. We set up a Bulb Diversity & Inclusion taskforce - this group of 13 volunteers meet monthly to share ideas, attend events and introduce initiatives to make Bulb a more inclusive workplace
  3. 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 helps you to become more self aware
  4. We’re being transparent - we’re sharing both our diversity beliefs and data publicly (as you can see!) We want to hold ourselves to account

These measures are just the start. We are committed to building a diverse, inclusive team and there’ll be more to do as we make progress.


Bulb’s Full Diversity Statistics - July 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 50 people in the Bulb team. Some information has remained confidential, for example data on a team level)

 

1. Gender equality

We have a predominantly male company, but are on the way to a better balance:

 
bulb-diversity-gender
 

We are making steady progress towards building a more gender balanced team at Bulb. This is a particular challenge for us. We are a technology company in the energy industry. Both have a systemic gender bias. We also hire many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) graduates due to the nature of our work. There is a systemic gender bias here too.  For example, we know that as few as 16% of undergraduates in engineering and technology are female.

Our leadership team of 4 is 100% male. We have no women on our internal or external boards. This is something we will be addressing when we add to either of those teams.

 

2. Sexuality

We have a high percentage of LGBQ team members:

 
bulb-diversity-sexuality
 

Over 80% of our company identify as heterosexual and 10% as LGBQ. This is a higher share of LGBQ than the UK national average of 1.7% in 2015, as measured by the Office of National Statistics. We’re really proud of this and want to make it even better.

 

3. Socio-economic background

We can do better on our team’s socio-economic background:

 
bulb-diversity-school-education
 
 
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Bulb has an above average share of people who attended independent or fee paying schools: 23%. Despite currently operating in the UK alone, just over 30% of our team attended school in another country.

100% of our team are graduates. Just under 30% of Bulb’s staff were the first generation of their family to attend university or further education.
 

4. Family and age

We are a young business with very few parents:

 
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bulb-diversity-family-makeup
 

95% of our company are under the age of 35. The same number don’t care for any children. 

 

5. Disability

We can be better at creating an attractive workplace for those with disabilities:

 
bulb-diversity-disability
 

When asked, less than 5% of our team told us they consider themselves as having a disability as defined by the Equality Act. This compares to the official Government statistic of 10% in the workforce currently working with a disability.

 

6. Ethnic diversity

Our team is less ethnically diverse than London as a whole:

 
bulb-diversity-ethnicity-vs-london-census
 
Michael Laws