By now we know the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce, and the majority of companies are striving to create a working environment where everybody can succeed. The pool of talent is getting smaller and smaller, and if you want to ensure your business is attracting and hiring the best, then you need to ensure you’re reaching all talent and that biases don’t exist in your recruitment processes.

I’m a strong believer that creating this ‘ideal’ scenario is a shared challenge and not specific to the tech industry. To make improvements as a society, businesses need to work together and share successes and failures, ideas, innovation, and best practice – which is exactly why I am writing this article.

To ensure that we remained focused and delivered on our objectives, we were selective with our priorities. Rather than trying to position our offering to all underrepresented groups at once, we’ve made improvements to specific recruitment and onboarding processes, helping to build diverse teams and foster inclusion and belonging. My primary focus has been on attracting, hiring, and retaining more women (or those who identify as a woman) to CGI, and positioning our company as an employer of choice for Women in Tech.

Below is a rundown of the initiatives and activities we have introduced to build a more diverse and inclusive talent pipeline at CGI Australia.

1. Conducting research

Firstly, we rolled out anonymous surveys to our female employees to gather data on CGI’s current state. This included questions on culture, benefits, and external market position. Following the survey, we also conducted small focus groups to follow up on key themes from the survey results. The data collected was used to produce our project roadmap and helped with the messaging for our talent branding initiatives.

To complement this data, we also reviewed information from external sources such as Seek, LinkedIn, Work180, and various reports from professional bodies.

2. Reviewing current content

The next step was to review our local Australian content including access to information, imagery, and messaging. Following the review and as part of a wider talent re-brand, we have during phase one introduced a dedicated DE&I careers page, updated our imagery, and through the use of a gender decoder, ensured all copy – from job adverts to our recruitment brochure – is gender-neutral.

3. Ramping up content marketing

Once our local content was up to date, we considerably increased our content marketing efforts to amplify our brand and drive more traffic to our new career page. We introduced an employee advocacy program and partnered with The Martec to produce local content, written by our local employees.

Topics covered have included tips for returning to work, making part-time work for you, tips for women starting a career in STEM, and fostering DE&I and respect. The articles have been published on social media channels, housed on our new ‘member insights’ career page, and repurposed throughout the recruitment process.

Australia has led the way in this initiative and we have now rolled this out to our UK businesses.

4. Selecting the right partners

A key to our success was selecting the right external partners. One of our biggest wins has been getting endorsed by Work180 as a great workplace for women. In 2021, only 50% of companies that applied met the Work180 endorsement standards, but if you’re not quite there yet, Work180 will show you where you’re missing the mark to help you improve.

Our package with Work180 includes quarterly social media campaigns and we also participated in the 2020 Virtual Tech Careers Fair. However, the key benefit of this partnership has been the opportunity for continuous improvement. We constantly receive feedback from Work180 on how we can improve our processes, benefits, and policies to improve inclusiveness and equity in the workplace.

5. Increasing availability of part-time roles & job-sharing

One of the biggest barriers for women in the workforce is the availability of part-time work. A quick search on Seek brings up over 2,900 job opportunities for developers in Australia. Change your search to a part-time developer role and you get just 11!

Although we had plenty of part-time workers in the business, we never really thought about whether new roles could be advertised as part-time. By asking the question, “Can this role be done part-time or job shared?” we have opened up a whole new talent pool for some of our roles.

6. Improving our recruitment processes

To underpin our talent attraction efforts, we have also conducted a full review of our recruitment process and introduced several key changes:

  • Preparing interview questions in advance to ensure all candidates are asked the same set of questions and are scored objectively on the relevant selection criteria only.
  • Ensuring that wherever possible, every interview has at least two interviewers.
  • Following the interview, eliciting feedback from each interviewer independently, prior to an interview panel discussion, to avoid conformity bias.
  • Ensuring every interviewer has completed unconscious bias training.
  • Coaching our interviewers on how to interview different candidate types. I’m a strong believer that it’s the interviewer’s role to create an environment for the candidate to shine.

The results so far?

Although our current Recruitment System is somewhat limited in terms of tracking DE&I data (another 2022 project on the cards), I can report an increase in female hires in technology roles from FY20 20% to 26% FY21. We have also seen an increase in our Work180 ranking from 121 to 58 on the endorsed employer leader board.

Our journey is only just beginning and I’m eager to see what 2022 holds. Improving your talent acquisition processes to foster diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging will never be finished. There’s always more to do and it’s the journey of continuous improvement that makes my role so exciting.

I’m interested to hear what tips and best practice your organisation has put in place, and if you’re interested in working for CGI, please check out our career page.