Diversity and Inclusion at ustwo London
In London, we’ve made big steps forward this year to measure and report on what we look like as a studio. We’ve also established a variety of initiatives to foster diversity and inclusion. We plan to continue developing this programme, and expect to roll it out – with local flavour – across the company.
Much of the motivation for this comes from a feeling that – as an industry – we’re not doing enough to encourage diversity. We want to take steps to help change that. We firmly believe that diverse teams help us make better products, and we are committed to doing our part to change the industry.
Many companies measure and collate statistics about their workforce as part of the hiring process. We’re committed to being an inclusive workplace, which values people of all stories and all backgrounds but, historically, we haven’t helped our own understanding of how well we’re doing through measurement. ustwo has grown rapidly over the last few years, and diversity has too often been something that wasn’t ‘actively’ considered. This is pretty common in our industry, and our origins will be a familiar story to other young companies – our founders are best friends who started the company by hiring their friends, and their friends of friends, and so on.
In an effort to start collecting some data, last year in the London studio we asked ustwobies to identify their gender on our internal data system and, wow, did we stumble upon a minefield. Some questioned whether this was needed, and others argued that it was an absolute necessity. Because the studio was split on the issue, we didn’t move forward at that time with collecting the data, but we certainly learned how emotive the issue can be.
There were concerns raised around that time that we weren’t doing enough to foster and promote diversity. Were we, as a group, too ‘white’ or too ‘male’, particularly in senior positions? This fueled conversations about our culture, and whether we were as inclusive as we could or should be. Many of us want to help shape the future of our industry; we developed a consensus that we needed to take a hard look at what we were doing about diversity, and that we needed to be better and do better.
In the light of those in-depth conversations, and with a renewed sense that diversity is something we all want to work for, we recently asked our London studio to report on its demographics. This was optional, but 98 per cent of the studio took part. It’s about transparency and helping us to understand where we need to improve. We’re now collating company-wide data, and we plan to make that public soon.
How we started
Earlier this year we made a renewed commitment to our diversity efforts with some first steps.
- I moved into the role of Head of Diversity for London to help focus our efforts in a way that felt authentic for us. Since I was already a part of the studio, I had a feel for our culture already and the passion to drive the initiative.
- We assembled a Diversity and Inclusion Committee. With so many ustwobies passionate about this issue, it’s a big group and has been instrumental in identifying the issues we face and ways we can improve.
- We created working groups within the committee based on interests and skills. We have three working groups focused on Inclusion, Community/Industry and Education.
- We hosted Chris Thorpe’s Confirmation show. This is a thought-provoking theatre performance about discrimination and confirmation bias. Chris liked the idea of a tech-meets-theatre event, and we transformed our cybercafe into a theatre for our own private performance.
- We followed up the show by developing an Unconscious Bias training programme, and every London ustwobie has attended the training.
- We secured a commitment from the leadership team to prioritise the initiative, recognising that their support is critical to the initiative.
- We developed a diversity statement that is now being used on all job posts: ustwo is committed to making a measurable positive impact on people’s everyday lives. We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We believe diverse teams help us make better products and actively hire for cultural growth. We welcome people of all ages, stories and backgrounds. We provide everyone with equal access to professional development.
- We made a commitment to partner with a local school to develop a curriculum, which is designed to move them towards opening a studio school. We see this as the start of an ongoing relationship.
- We’ve created a code of conduct for ustwobies and guests.
Some of the things the London studio is focusing on in 2016 are:
This includes continuing education around diversity issues and inclusive behaviours. This will come in the form of workshops, speakers, events and how we work together as teams.
We are completely overhauling our hiring process. This will include standardised questions and mixed interview groups. We will seek ways to ensure we are meeting a diverse range of candidates which we hope will lead to an increase in hiring of underrepresented candidates. We want to increase awareness of opportunities internally to ensure we don’t overlook the talent that is already here. We are also considering introducing a blind CV application process and the Rooney Rule when possible.
Ways of Working
We are looking into ways to create more flexible working models, and we are brainstorming ways to better incorporate flexi-time into our culture. We also want to move closer to balanced teams studio-wide.
It is our responsibility to help develop talent and work towards training future workforce. We plan to reach out to underrepresented groups to promote opportunities in the tech industry. We want to engage with LGBTQ, POC and other various groups and networks as part of our outreach strategy. We will start looking to partner with schools and organisations to reach underrepresented groups.
We’re sharing what we’ve learnt in London with our other studios, and we hope that much of this becomes part of our company’s cultural fabric worldwide.
Finding the right solution
One thing we’ve discovered in the process is that we don’t have all the answers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But we are trying to improve and will keep trying new things until we get it right. Trialing different strategies will allow us to figure out what works for us as a studio and what will work for us as a global organisation.