How we measured the impact of gender on career advancement at Futurice

Exactly one year ago, we pledged to #BeBoldForChange as part of the international women’s day’s campaign and promised measure and report on gender parity in career advancement at Futurice. Today, we are here to fulfil that promise.

Before we go into the numbers, let’s look shortly what’s behind them.

Genders and biases

Gender is a range of characteristics that vary between individuals. While usually it doesn’t make sense to label others with a gender, for this measurement we kind of have to.

If career development at Futurice is affected by how peers and supervisors perceive one’s gender, this measurement should make it visible. So we make the assumption that most commonly people perceive others as males or females.

It’s worth pointing out that all people make assumptions of others. We are usually unaware of them, but we still carry them with us. We didn’t invent them - they are learned. Our surroundings introduce and change our biases all the time.

It’s important to understand how our own assumptions might affect our decisions and gender parity is one tool that does just that.

The measure

Measuring career development is in no way straightforward. People have leaves, work as part-timers, their responsibilities and roles change, they work in different projects and environments. All in all, careers are not directly comparable. And often careers aren't all that linear, either.

We usually measure career development and the attendant rewards using career levels. They are checked twice a year in checkpoint rounds. You might be more familiar with the concept of development discussions. Checkpoints are basically the same thing.

A checkpoint isn't a negotiation. It's career planning, but career level changes are attached to the same cycles with the checkpoints. Most commonly a career level change is suggested by the supervisor rather than the employee.

So, career levels are the most convenient way to estimate career advancement. The chosen metric was career level raises per worked year.

The limitations

A few things worth noting before going into the results. Futurice has grown fast during the past… Well, Futurice has grown fast ever since it was first started on the year 2000. This means that HR systems and practises have changed over time.

For our measurement this means two things:

  1. The career level system has seen some significant changes
  2. The data in our HR system is not perfect. Anyone who has ever done migrations knows what I’m talking about.

This means that any and all results include some uncertainty. They are probably not that far off, but they shouldn’t be seen as accurate numbers.

The results

Okay, onto the heart of the matter. What did we find out?

Well, to be honest, not all that much. On average both women and men scored 0.7 starting figures in raises/year. To put it another way: on average, a Futuricean gets a raise every third checkpoint.

An expected trend was that people who have joined the company as juniors get higher rates (more raises) than the people who joined as seniors. This is part of how our system has been built and it seems to be working as it should.

So, was there a difference between men and women? Yes, mostly an insignificant one. Among those who joined as juniors, men get slightly more raises and among those who joined as seniors women get slightly more raises. But the differences are less 0.1 raises/year. Which means that everyone still gets a raise (on average) on every third checkpoint.

We can see some interesting changes in the trends if we dig deeper into the data, but nothing indicates a systematic difference between men and women. Which is basically exactly what we want to see here.

The HR data also tells us that men are still a big majority at Futurice. This is, of course, a common trend in the whole IT sector, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn't work to fix it.

As an industry we can still do better at inclusivity. As  a company, we need to work harder to find the most talented women to join us on our way to becoming an even better workplace.

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