When Thoughtworks first entered the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index at 314th in 2015, it was hard to imagine the journey we were about to go on. We've always cared deeply about inclusion but we knew there was a long road ahead of us as a company that didn’t fit the traditional corporate mould.
Five years on, we have reached 53rd place on Stonewall's 2020 Top 100, climbing a total of 261 places since we started this journey in 2015. What makes this so much more meaningful is knowing that we have achieved this whilst staying true to our culture - valuing people over policies and processes and driving intentional, positive change as opposed to simply ticking boxes.
This hasn't been easy. It has required us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, has relied on shared accountability across our entire business and it has taken time. Lots of time. But we know that improving inclusion is time well spent! Here are some of our key learnings, focus areas and ongoing initiatives (or, watch the videos here):
1. Supporting grassroots communities and not for profits - at Thoughtworks, we believe in solidarity over charity and providing support to those that need it the most. We’re proud to support the work of charities such as LGBT Foundation, The Proud Trust and The Outside Project by offering event space, fundraising and laptop donations.
2. Continually reviewing policies - we aim to use inclusive, gender neutral language in all of our policies, particularly where gendered assumptions can often be made, such as parental policies. We also aim to regularly update our policies, amending or adding any we feel are needed, like our recent Trans, Non-Binary and Transitioning at Work policy.
3. Creating inclusive workspaces - both our UK offices have gender neutral facilities and visible cues like posters and pronoun badges welcoming LGBTQ+ people to our spaces. We've also developed training materials and a new hire induction that include topics around LGBTQ+ inclusion to maintain our culture and encourage allyship.
4. Raising awareness around key events - opportunities such as Trans Day of Visibility, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia & Bi Visibility Day are perfect opportunities to educate others and call for allyship. We share facts about why these events are important, as well as advice on how to support those impacted.
5. Committed to continual learning - we regularly welcome speakers from both within Thoughtworks and externally to help our understanding and personal growth. Previous topics have included exploring the experiences of LGBTQ+ people of faith, volunteering for an LGBTQ+ charity and how to go beyond allyship for LGBTQ+ people of colour.
6. Leadership engagement - from publicly stating our support of Stonewall’s position on the Gender Recognition Act to sharing their own personal stories and being visible allies for our LGBTQ+ colleagues, our leaders are engaged and curious, listening and learning to make a real difference to LGBTQ+ inclusion.
7. Practicing inclusive recruitment - we want to be as diverse as the communities we serve and we’re proud that Thoughtworks is a home for lots of LGBTQ+ people. We support events like Lesbians Who Tech and advertise on LGBTQ+ job boards like Proud Employers to reach diverse candidates and show our commitment to LGBTQ+ equality.
8. Establishing a high performing employee network - our internal inclusion network, Intertwined, brings together people from communities that remain underrepresented or marginalised in tech. Intertwined members speak at LGBTQ+ events, write blog posts and advise internally and externally on best practice for LGBTQ+ inclusion amongst many other things.
9. Sharing best practice with other organisations - at Thoughtworks, we believe in collaboration over competition which is why we have been working with progressive startups and established organisations to share best practice, implement real change and increase the representation of tech companies in Stonewall’s Top 100.
10. Collaborating with clients and customers - as a consultancy, we work with a broad range of clients, from healthcare companies wanting to improve trans and non-binary inclusion to retailers exploring LGBTQ+ allyship across the generations. We’re proud to partner with forward-thinking organisations and support them on their inclusion journeys.
By placing inclusion at the heart of what we do, and through better understanding the experiences of LGBTQ+ people, we’ve been able to remove barriers, offer better support and improve allyship across our business. However, there's still a way to go and together we will strive to make Thoughtworks, the tech industry and society as a whole more inclusive for everyone
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.