We all know that tech talent is in global demand. While Sweden scrambles to get its youth interested in and equipped for a career in tech, and opens its doors wider to international talent, hurdles still exist for women in particular as they move through this largely male-populated industry. Having worked in HR and championed Diversity/Inclusion for over a decade, I’m always interested in the concrete steps organizations take to be more inclusive. I sat down with Impact Hub Stockholm member and Findify CEO Philip Nobel, who shares some ways his company has done this.
What problem does Findify aim to solve?
Findify offers AI-powered, personalized e-commerce solutions to brands of all sizes, with the aim of leveling the playing field against resource-rich conglomerates such as Amazon.
For a fairly small company, Findify is pretty diverse.
We have 16 people representing 10 nationalities. Most of us are remotely located, so this is actually intentional. Besides, studies show that diverse teams simply perform better. And high-performing teams are what make successful companies. Aiming for diversity just makes sense.
I’ve worked at a couple of startups in a HR capacity, and I’ve found that even if leaders accept that diversity “makes sense”, it’s all too easy to justify a lack of it in favor of “getting things done”, especially in the early days when it’s so difficult to attract talent. And so you hear a lot of arguments about hiring for “fit”, which often results in core teams that are a bunch of very similar people. Left unchecked, it becomes a pattern.
Early this year the Findify team was all men, actually. But then we entered a scale-up phase which meant hiring a lot of people and that presented a great opportunity to get our gender diversity right. In February 2019, of 7 new hires 3 were women, which we consider a win. Gender diversity is difficult to achieve in technical roles, because women currently make up less than 30% of the tech industry.
So then you have to know where to find them.
Yes, not only do you have a smaller pool of female candidates to choose from, they’re also found in different forums, because some of the major developer communities have a culture that make women feel unwelcome. For example: Stack Overflow. It’s one of the most prominent communities, but it repels female developers. When we realized this, we started putting our job ads on other platforms as well that have more inclusive communities of talent.
The other thing we did consciously was also to rephrase our job advertisements. Studies have shown that in general women tend not to apply for a job at all unless they meet all the requirements, whereas men will apply even if they only meet 60% of the requirements. To attract more female applicants, we removed all the things that were not absolutely necessary, and also used a tool to identify and switch out any words we were using that were categorized as masculine. For example, words like “success” and “competition” are more masculine, whereas words like “collaboration” appeal to women. And it’s not like we had to change our hiring requirements, because collaboration is at the heart of our culture, so this has worked perfectly for us.
Nice! Those are two good ways to “widen the funnel” so you have more candidates flowing in for selection.
Once candidates enter the funnel, our recruitment process is kept very consistent. We have 2 CV reviews, pre-defined questions, and interviewers submit scores to an online portal independently. We only ask 8 questions related to our 4 success drivers, and nothing personal.
Does Findify have equality targets for gender representation?
I don’t really agree with that practice. In the first place, we are not that many people now. Of course, it’s different if you’re talking about Board members because they define policy. For us, we hire someone not because they are different but because they’re the best that we can find.
But before that decision is made, we make sure that 1) a diverse group is attracted to apply in the first place, and 2) we design interviews so they don’t drop out once they’re in the process.
Keep reading to find out how Impactually helped Findify to redesign their recruitment process for greater inclusion using behavioral science.
Constance Ho is the HR Lead at Impact Hub Stockholm. She’s passionate about diversity & inclusion, what drives people, good design, and how language shapes thought.