Equity and inclusion embedded in the employee lifecycle

16th February 2022

Building to belong: diversity and inclusion in the workplace empowers us to deliver better for customers and the communities they serve

Civica’s Andrea Rowe explores how improved diversity, equity and inclusion will lead to better decision making and resilience in the marketplace and our communities

There’s no doubt that more diverse teams of people will build better products and help improve outcomes for the communities our public sector customers serve. This diversity of thought and lived experience ensures we develop innovative products for people from all walks of life.

As someone who has always been passionate about building on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace, I strongly believe that equity and inclusion should be embedded in the employee lifecycle and at the heart of everything we do. Every organisation has a responsibility to improve representation and make everyone feel like they belong.

We must represent both our own wider organisation and our customers through having diverse leadership and teams. As a leading global software business and Investors in People Gold organisation, we know that it’s crucial to actively build on our DE&I policies. Future talent coming into the workforce today considers a diverse workforce as a key factor when considering job offers – we need to ensure we keep building on our progress.

The route to success

As with many global technology companies, we do have a diverse organisation and have made lots of progress in recent years – we’re proud to be a Financial Times Diversity Leader 2022 for the third year running. But we recognise that there’s still some way to go to help people feel they’re working in a truly inclusive organisation and are welcome regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, disability or neurodiversity.

To do so, it’s crucial to look at the full employment cycle, starting with recruitment. How do we attract more diverse candidates to join us? We push to make sure adverts are placed where they’ll be seen by all, ensuring we have a mixed group of candidates for roles and actively challenging any lack of diversity we see. Details such as the wording in adverts are checked to make sure they don’t discriminate. For example, we avoid phrases such as, ‘Hit the ground running’ as it’s been shown women are deterred from applying for jobs if they feel they don’t immediately meet 100% of the job description.

Feel an affinity

Our DE&I strategy comes from the very top of our organisation with our CEO Wayne Story; all senior leaders attend diversity and inclusion awareness training – which has now been rolled out to the wider business. More recently, we’ve celebrated Pride Month and Black History Month: giving a voice to people to share their lived experiences and teach us what more we could be doing to help individuals feel an even stronger sense of belonging.

More recently, we’ve launched several Civica affinity groups. These are voluntary employee-led groups based on shared characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation or disability. They offer a safe space for everyone to hold discussions across a wide range of areas from menopause to the LGBTQIA community, accessibility, race and ethnicity, early careers and parents and guardians. These groups will be positive, future- and solution-focused and working towards making Civica an even better and inclusive place to work

Supporting Northern Ireland’s diverse future stars

One of the key things we’re passionate about is supporting young talent into the tech industry, such as running coding programmes in schools and partnering with organisations such as Young Enterprise and The Tech Talent Charter. We want to show young people that you don’t necessarily need a degree in maths or a leading University degree to enjoy an amazing career in the tech sector.

Northern Ireland has a booming technology sector but this will only continue if we can start with an early IT education for all our young people and get talent into tech earlier. As a diverse employer, we are also aiming to debunk stereotypes around a career in IT, showing that it is open to all.

Civica’s Coding for Kids programme aims to spark interest and awareness among children and young people about careers in the IT industry, run in partnership with schools across Northern Ireland. To date, more than 400 pupils have taken part in these interactive sessions.

Our recent Northern Ireland Digital Awareness Week, launched by Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, gave 11-18 years olds the chance to try their hand at coding and hear first-hand from experts in the worlds of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity and emerging technologies. With both home-grown and global digital technology companies now accounting for one in every seven job vacancies in Northern Ireland, it’s vital we encourage a more diverse workforce for the future.

Inclusive tech for 2022 and beyond

As we build on our success as a leading diversity employer, we’re already seeing how our teams can innovate quickly and effectively to bring vital technology to market which works for everyone. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we helped deliver both the COVIDCare NI app to provide people across Northern Ireland with immediate advice and links to vital trusted information and more recently, the COVIDCertNI app, to help people easily access vaccination certificates.

Our smart software innovation is improving outcomes for citizens both in Northern Ireland and all over the world. Whatever people’s background or job title, they all have a part to play in making that difference for wider society.

Through our Civica NorthStar innovation lab, we encourage big new concepts where everyone has a voice. We empower everyone to share fresh perspectives for the better - for our customers, our business, and wider communities. It’s only by welcoming and including these diverse voices and ideas that we will continue to grow, innovate and give back even more in the future.

Andrea Rowe is Global D&I Lead and Principle Consultant at Civica