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Building Futurice into an inclusive workplace

11-06-2020Culture

In the last couple of years we have taken several steps towards becoming a more inclusive workplace. We believe that it is the right thing to do both in terms of our people and clients but also for changing the structural biases in the society we operate in. Here I share what our journey has been like so far and what we have learned.

Heidi Pech

Diversity & Inclusion Advocate, Head of Employer Branding, Finland

Our Diversity and Inclusion work started from a group of passionate individuals who saw that we need to embrace this topic. Care, one of the core values of Futurice, has been driving us already for a long time to be a workplace and culture that seeks to understand different people and treat each other with empathy. At the same time there was - and still is - a strong desire to make a positive impact in society. Therefore steps to start systematically focusing on D&I align with our goals as a company.

This is a long journey, filled with hard work and continuous improvement

True inclusivity and diversity is not achieved in a single day, month, or year. In fact, inclusivity is never “achieved” — it is an ongoing process of learning that never ends. This process is a long game full of incremental improvements and we at Futurice have a long way to go. Developing an inclusive mindset requires humility; the willingness to hand the mic over to people in minority groups and listen mindfully to them, to be able to let go of our preconceptions of the world and admit that we might be wrong. To have an inclusive mindset is to continually learn and improve. It is an emotional labour — it brings up defensiveness and vulnerability. It challenges and dismantles the fundamental concepts of how the world works (in the point of view of privileged people, that is).

At Futurice we are at the very beginning of this journey. It is the time for us to listen, learn, and grow.

Agreeing how we treat each other

One of the very first practical things we did as part of the D&I workstream was to create a Futurice Code of Conduct in order to have a clearly defined common ground on what kind of behaviour we collectively expect from each other. The Code is available in our internal confluence as well as visible at all our offices in the format of posters. We also started to include a reminder about the Code to our party invites, and when we invite friends of Futurice to parties (who are not employees), we expect them to follow our Code. We have found out that small reminder posters/cards in toilets work quite well in party settings!

CodeofconductOur Code of Conduct sets the commonly agreed rules on how we treat each other

Understanding our diversity better and finding our pain points

As the point of departure for our larger scale D&I work, we needed to understand the dimensions of those Futuriceans who are in non-dominant groups, and what their experiences are. We decided to conduct a Diversity & Inclusion audit. Our HR systems have limited demographic data, but we wanted to dig deeper in both qualitative and quantitative matters.

We partnered with an external D&I consultancy New Visions to carry out a Diversity & Inclusion audit to ensure anonymity and quality. We carried out the original audit in spring 2019.

The audit consisted of two parts: an in-depth survey for all the employees and on-site interviews. Participants volunteered for the interviews and there were no requirements to participate - but we found that most of these participants belonged to a non-dominant group and wanted to talk about their experiences.

The external consultancy carried out both of these, so the identities of those interviewed were never revealed to anyone within Futurice, nor the raw data from the survey. Instead, we received an in-depth (70+ pages) audit report of results, findings and recommendations for action.

Our aim with the audit was not to find out what the majority of our people think, but to really understand where our pain points are in terms of those on the margins.

We conducted a follow-up audit this spring - this time consisting only of the survey - to find out how we have progressed in our inclusion efforts. We are still waiting to receive the results of this latest audit.

Apart from the audit, we have also done some analysis of our own regarding our diversity. Based on our HR data we have created interactive diversity dashboards around gender and nationality of Futuriceans. The dashboards are available internally and due to their interactive nature, our people can adjust the data parameters and view the aspects that interest them the most.

didashboard4Our Diversity dashboard allows any Futuricean to view some of our diversity dimensions in an interactive way

Insights into the D&I work

We got some very valuable core insights from the audit results, such as:

  • “Equal” opportunities are not equal. Not everyone starts from the same line, some have to face a lot more struggles to get there. You need to understand this, and offer extra support for those who may need it.
  • Diversity and inclusion have to go hand in hand - for example, even if you are able to attract a diverse group of employees, if you can’t include them, they will move on to other opportunities
  • There are so many different kinds of diversity... and no one can be reduced to just one thing

We shared the results of the audit transparently (as is typical for us), and facilitated conversations around them with our leadership at all of our offices.

The audit helped us to realise how we can grow our D&I work systematically. We understood that we must bring it close to our culture and also incorporate it into the company strategy.

We started by mapping out 3 horizons of focus for our D&I work, to give us a direction and scope our impact. Our first horizon focuses on improving the internal issues and has a heavy focus on inclusion. The second horizon expands our impact to our direct stakeholders - clients, candidates, partners and other stakeholders. The third and most ambitious horizon aims to impact society by changing the structural biases and inspiring others to do the same.

Increasing our understanding on inclusion

One of the concrete action points was to make sure all our team leads and leadership understand the subject and are able to be inclusive in their work. We started with this group as we saw that by getting them on board, the impact would reach further within the organisation. Therefore we organised Inclusive Leadership workshops for all the 110 Futurice leaders across 6 different offices. Next we are planning to run allyship trainings for all employees as well as targeted trainings for certain groups, such as Unconscious Bias workshop for recruiters which is coming up in the autumn.

We are also introducing the topic to all our new employees. In our quarterly Onboarding camps, where new starters gather from across all our offices, we have a session around inclusion, helping people to understand what they can personally do to be more inclusive and sharing personal experiences around exclusion.

We, like any other organisation, are unfortunately not immune to occasional cases of harassment. As this is something we do not want any Futuricean to be exposed to, we decided to take a deep dive into how those cases are handled and how we might improve the process. We created this process to strengthen the culture of speaking up but at the same time ensuring the safety of all Futuriceans - treating the victims with empathy and respect while solving the cases in a dignified and justified manner.

First milestones on a long journey

On top of the practical initiatives, it has been inspiring to see the shift in the mindset within Futurice. Diversity and inclusion topics have started to become part of the mainstream conversations and get the genuine attention of our people, including top leadership. We have also been directly involved with company-level strategy work and were able to bring the voice of D&I into the renewed company strategy.

We are learning as we go and we definitely have made - and will make - mistakes. We are learning from them, and becoming more and more self-healing on the way. There is still a lot to do, and we have a long way to go to reach our horizons, but we are committed to getting there together.

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