A focus on diversity and inclusion by Judy Pitrakou

Back A focus on diversity and inclusion by Judy Pitrakou

My ambition since joining GFT has been to create a world class people function. Previously, the organisation was offering a reactive service focused on policy development and implementation, with no focus on addressing the diversity challenge. It very quickly became clear that we could add significant value by developing a vision and purpose and creating a focused ‘people strategy’ in order to address diversity concerns and staff attrition.

The initial step was to create a high performing and diverse team to deliver impactful solutions around attraction and recruitment, learning and development, and initiatives focused around the entire employee lifecycle, from onboarding, to reward, benefits, total wellbeing, and retention.

Culture and behaviour

Reflecting on the Great Place To Work (GPTW) status which GFT has now attained for two years in a row (2022 & 2023) and which we are very proud of, our results were particularly high, and this demonstrates that we work hard to provide a safe environment where people can be themselves.

Belonging is an important aspect of DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging), one pillar of our overall sustainability strategy. The other is working to build and develop links with our local communities through our CSR work. Providing an inclusive culture is an integral part of how we operate at GFT.

We work with an external provider specialising in DEIB to help inform our strategy. Over the past year or so we have run a series of workshops and focus groups. Why? To get a better understanding of how people feel and to help inform our people plan for 2024 and beyond. As part of this, we launched a DEIB questionnaire. This was important to help us to gather even more data so we can truly understand how we are performing against various characteristics. We hope that having this information will help us set some realistic ambitions for the future. We recognise that having a diverse and inclusive culture drives innovation and creativity at work. This is seamlessly threaded through all employee touchpoints, and we have support from the senior leadership team promoting and actively embracing this important topic.

Have clear DEIB objectives

We have a clear plan in place with regards to what we are striving to achieve in this space. This is not just simply about Diversity and Inclusion. Our focus is around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB), so a more complete picture. We want to continue to be a GPTW and a business which puts people at the heart of what we do and how we do it. We believe that a more diverse and inclusive culture helps us to attract, recruit, retain and develop our talented people and that everyone within the organisation has a role to play in creating an inclusive culture.

Getting buy-in from our people is vital to promoting this agenda and we have a clear action plan. We focus on DEIB across the entire employee lifecycle from attraction and recruitment, to onboarding, training and development, reward, and wellbeing. Creating and maintaining a culture where all our people have a sense of purpose whilst continuing to feel safe, respected and connected is key.

Seeing the impact of Women@GFT

Our key goal has been to increase the number of women at GFT, under our Women@GFT programme, designed to maximise the benefits of having a more diverse workforce. This approach aligns with our strategy, focusing on: attraction, recruitment, and development of staff to drive targeted outcomes. These activities have helped us raise awareness in the market and also gained the buy-in and engagement from our senior stakeholders.

In the last 12 months, we have accelerated various initiatives, which have helped to increase the proportion of women at GFT including:

• We now have women on 99% of our interview shortlists and we also have more diverse recruitment panels.

• Comparing April 2023 with April 2022, we have increased the number of women in our workforce by 10%, which is an unprecedented level of growth, that exceeded our target. This has also had a positive impact on the overall ratio of women in our business, rising from 23% to 24% over this period. We have hired or made offers to seven women for senior positions over the past year, testament to our commitment to move the dial.

• Our technology development team now has a female cohort of 18.9% compared with just 10.9% in 2021.

We continue to drive our Women@GFT programme, expanding participation within the organisation and at external events, championing the role of women in tech. The best is yet to come!