What's in a D&I plan?
We asked hundreds of companies what was in their D&I strategy. Based on their answers we have created this list of what should be in a D&I plan. At the top of the page is a list of tactics being used by the vast majority of companies. Further down the page we have listed advanced actions; ones that companies who are leading on D&I are taking. Use this information to cross-check your D&I approach against other organisations.
Foundational D&I practices
This is a set of foundational inclusive practices that support inclusion across many diversity lenses and could be enacted irrespective of team size or budget. We've included them because they are being used across a large number of organisations already. These are what we would expect to see in a typical D&I strategy, so if you're looking to create one, this is what we would expect to see in it:
Select and measure metrics and goals at a cadence that makes sense for your organisation to improve diversity over time.
Not sure where to start? Our D&I Open Playbook includes a chapter on how to measure diversity and how to measure inclusion.
Include a D&I statement in job ads and on website, expressing your organisation's values and approach.
We have some resources on how to write a good DEI statement in our D&I Open Playbook chapter > Creating a successful D&I strategy
According to Harvard Business Review 'Research shows that masculine language, including adjectives like “competitive” and “determined,” result in women “perceiving that they would not belong in the work environment.” On the other hand, words like “collaborative” and “cooperative” tend to draw more women than men. Use text decoders to neutralise language in job descriptions and other written materials. AI-enabled tools include:
- The Totaljobs Gender Bias Decoder is a free tool which evaluates the content of a job advert for ‘hidden’ gender specific words.
- Textio converts job descriptions to include gender-neutral language, validates the job description & shows how it compares to competitors.
- Applied assess job adverts in their entirety for language that is biased against women, people of colour, working class people and older people.
Set expectations for diverse hiring with internal and external recruiters. A great example of this is Microsoft's Partner Pledge. Signing the Tech Talent Charter is listed as an action on their Partner Pledge and is a way that Microsoft are driving change through their supply chain.
If you'd like to explore how you can work in closer partnership with the talent supply chain, read our Measuring third-party suppliers guide.
Widely used practices are:
- Blind candidate application reviews
- Independent scoring by multiple assessors
- End salary history questioning i.e. "how much did you earn in your last role?".
- Enact standardised interview questioning
- Offer accommodations for candidates with specific needs e.g. “Are there any resources, adjustments or support you need to be at your best during our recruitment process?”
We've collated lots more information and examples for inclusive recruitment practices in our D&I Open Playbook chapter on recruitment.
Work with digital skills and tech training providers to source tech talent from a wide variety of career pathways. In our research on new pathways to tech careers, candidates from new routes to tech performed as well or better than traditional candidates according to tech hiring managers.
Not sure where to start? TTC has a dedicated work stream on this area.
Across the board, research continues to show that a wider range of flexible working underpins inclusive work practice. In 2021, the Behavioural Insights Team ran a field trial with over 5.5 million job seekers and found that job ads advertising flexible working attracted up to 30% more candidates including higher proportions of women. Here are our resources to support you with your flexible working offerings:
- Read diversity report on flexible working practices
- View our D&I Open Playbook chapter on flexible working
- Check out the Flexible First checklist
- Look at Flexa a leading job board for flexible working hires.
Create forums, surveys or other spaces for employees to share their experiences and be heard. This is cornerstone of building inclusive company culture and supports good employee engagement.
Not sure where to start?
ERGs are some of the most widely used D&I initiatives out there, especially for gender and ethnicity inclusion. They directly impact a company's ability to build an inclusive culture. They understand a specific underrepresented group’s reality and provide allyship and safe spaces.
Establish a diversity network, team, committee or task force that shares effort, responsibility or oversight of D&I.
Spreading this through different function areas and ranks within the business helps garner a diverse set of perspectives and a sense of employee accountability for the D&I work in the organisation. Some organisations use shadow boards to mirror and feed into an existing board which may lack a wide range of perspectives.
Create clear and explicit accountability measures and structures to ensure D&I is properly prioritised. Without accountability and appropriate review mechanisms, organisations are unlikely to make meaningful and sustained progress on D&I.
Host training sessions and create or share resources to help employees learn about the common concepts and values behind diversity and inclusion practice.
Not sure where to start? Use the Tech Talent Charter's D&I Open Playbook, an open-source catalogue of actionable strategies, resources, and case studies to support organisations of any size to drive diversity and inclusion (D&I) in their teams.
You can also find examples of D&I sessions you can run with your teams on our YouTube channel.
Practices used by organisations who are leading on D&I
Above we have listed all the features we would expect to see in a typical D&I strategy, based on hundreds of UK tech organisations sharing their D&I strategies with us. In addition to this we also collated the practices of organisations who are leading on D&I. If your organisation wants to enhance your D&I approach, these ideas were less common, but in use across the organisations who were doing the most innovative work on D&I.
Create “Employee Passports” that document work needs and adjustments for each employee, and which travels with them through their career journey as their reporting line, role or circumstances change.
You can find guidance on the original disability-focused employee passports here.
However, if you want to evolve this idea into something more tailored, you might also like to look at Manual of Me, which is free, ready off the shelf, great for small to medium sized teams, and allows employees to maintain ownership of their notes.
Conduct mentoring and skills development initiatives for underrepresented groups to develop new skills in tech.
We've created a chapter of resources on mentoring in our Open Playbook > access it here.
Develop career progression programmes that support middle level, experienced or high potential employees from underrepresented groups towards more senior positions or leadership roles.
Create a variety of career development tracks with different but complementary objectives, and which scaffold together. These include tech skills training to develop “hard” skills; mentoring and coaching, including individual and group coaching; and sponsorship. Career development programmes that are designed to scaffold ensure that participants are supported towards longer-term career end goals.
We've got a host of resources on progression, promotion, and development in our D&I open playbook > view these sections here.
You might also like to look at our research on tech training programmes, which looks at "Hire, Train, Deploy" models, apprenticeships, the government's Digital Skills Bootcamps, and private bootcamps. It explores what learners think of them and what tech hiring managers think of them as a source of tech talent.
Using Returners programmes to bring mid-senior talent back into the workforce after a career break is a crucial way to retain experienced tech talent.
You can read more about Returnships in our D&I Open Playbook.
You might also like to look at our resources on parental inclusion and the motherhood penalty.
Structured support activities surrounding extended periods of leave (e.g. parental leave or sabbatical) before, during and after the leave period. By strengthening onboarding and offboarding processes you can improve employee engagement and retention and remove the harmful gender association that extended leave is a women's issue.
Strong support around extended leave benefits all employees; a strong sabbatical programme can help you retain or re-employ experienced tech workers that may be looking for a temporary change. It also supports folks who are experiencing transient health issues or disabilities in addition to many who need time off for caring responsibilities.
Engage in inspirational event activities to encourage people into tech, especially girls or young people without exposure or connections to the tech industry.
Increasingly, social value is being demonstrated through interaction with future talent. There are a host of Signatory organisations that operate in this area. Get in touch and we'll introduce you to some of them.
Fair work allocation policies ensure career-developing work is distributed fairly.
Career accelerating work is not often divided between staff in a fair and structured way. For example, part-time employees are given the opportunity for high profile projects much less than full-time employees. This can also be the case where certain folks are expected to undertake crucial but "non promotable" tasks (which is sometimes referred to as 'glue work') whilst others are not required to do these tasks yet get the benefit of them being completed by their colleagues.
Find out more about fair progression processes in our D&I Open Playbook chapter, Transparent pay and reward.
Use systems to analyse and identify a wider variety of D&I markers. This helps create a broader view of where systemic challenges need addressing. Examples of data that you might not be looking at yet include:
- pay parity
- interview candidacy
- client-facing or high profile work allocation
- benefits available and their uptake
Establish diversity goals for underrepresented groups at different levels of the business. With monolithic goals, it's important to help different areas of the business understand how they are expected to contribute towards it. This should be made very clear at a practical level.
Some companies have chosen to incentivise D&I goals through a shared team bonus, rather than these being focused on just one function area e.g. recruitment.
Other companies opt for separating their D&I goals into different sub-goals to ensure that D&I is being considered across the organisation. Consider establishing tailored goals for leadership, different levels of seniority and different function areas e.g tech, software engineering, sales etc.
Read more about how to set strategic D&I goals in our D&I Open Playbook chapter, Accountability, targets and governance.
Training managers in inclusive leadership to enable central D&I policies to be enacted meaningfully on the ground is vital if you want to see carefully thought-out strategies come to life in the way you intend.
Learn more about how to embed inclusive leadership in your organisation in our D&I Open Playbook chapter, Leadership.
Embedding D&I principles in change governance and internal auditing processes so that fairness is codified into business decision-making.
To learn more about how to do this, visit our D&I Open Playbook chapter, D&I Governance.
Harassment/unacceptable behaviour awareness training gives employees clarity and guidance on what is expected of them. To learn more about tackling unacceptable behaviour at work, and the strategies organisations are using to do this, view our D&I Open Playbook chapter, Tackling Unacceptable Behaviour.
This includes deepening support for family-forming and parental policies, like enhanced paternity leave, shared leave, fertility support, infertility support, nuanced bereavement and loss policies such as for child loss and miscarriage, and access to parental leave benefits without a minimum length of service. However we also see organisations extending polices to new types of responsibility or relationship such as grandparents and pet owners.
To learn more about this, view our D&I Open Playbook chapter, Parent Inclusion.
Removing eligibility criteria for parental leave is an approach being adopted by some leading organisations. The benefit of this is that women are not put in a position of making career decisions against their career progression interests because of the financial risk they would take on by moving roles and losing the benefits related to family forming or caring responsibilities.
By providing parental leave without pre-requisites, women are enabled to drive their progression in the same way as men, and this will feed into company metrics like gender pay gap and diversity in leadership roles.