The area of DEI development work (diversity, equity, inclusion) as a whole is extensive and constantly evolving, and there is a lot to be said and developed around it. This blog aims to offer an overview of the topic here at Frantic, and in the future, we’ll approach the topic from more detailed viewpoints.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in our business
Every company’s strategic deliberations involve questions such as; what kind of business, services, and products do we want to design and produce now and in the future? What kind of a company and employer do we wish to be - from both the individual’s and the society’s perspective?
Equally, we’re thinking about what kind of teams these services are innovated and produced in, and how the diverse user groups are taken into account in the development process. For a long time, we have been mindful of what kind of teams we build when recruiting people, and what kind of team configurations we form for our clients. We’ve also asked ourselves: what opportunities do we have as outsiders to spar the formation of our clients’ multi-vendor teams so that the end result is as multidisciplinary and diverse as possible.
Nonetheless, it’s not enough that we consciously aim to form diverse teams or that we introduce new people to the industry. It’s also our responsibility to make sure that the environment, in which we cultivate diversity, is safe and equal.
Our objective is to create a safe work community, where everyone can be themselves. In this kind of work environment, everyone has a voice and a possibility to affect decision-making and raise discussion on grievances. This is not only our internal objective but it’s important for us that these matters ring true also in the client and partner organizations we work with.
The DEI work creates value-based guidelines for our cooperation with different client and partner organizations. From the business perspective (in addition to our internal development) it’s interesting to see how this work could be done across organizations. We see that organizations such as Inklusiiv and Women in Tech have an important role in facilitating this work.
DEI in Frantic’s history: aiming to even out the industry gender split
We have actively been involved in the IT industry’s equality discussion for a long time: first how to reach gender equality in development-focused roles and after that extending the discussion to all kinds of roles needed in the IT industry.
Accomplishing change is a long-term process. We started our concrete influence work in 2014 when we arranged our first coding camp for upper comprehensive school-aged girls. As a result of the massive demand generated by the camps, we later extended the courses to adults as well.
The camps and courses were created by women, for women, and we aimed to create a safe space for the participants to learn the basics of coding. It was important for us to lower the threshold to coding, and to offer peer support and role models to identify with.
It has been awesome to see how many programs and activities have been formed around this important topic over the years, such as the Mimmit koodaa program (‘Women code’) powered by the Finnish Software and E-business Association.
In addition to arranging code camps and courses, we have supported various networks and associations throughout the years. We’ve arranged events with e.g. Mothers in Business, Future Female, and the City of Helsinki’s Women to Work project. We also have an ongoing, long-term collaboration with the Women in Tech organization, and are serving on their advisory board. In 2020, we kicked off our cooperation with Inklusiiv, which has strengthened our commitment towards developing a more inclusive work culture, following Inklusiiv’s Code of Conduct.
Persistent work has borne fruit
After doing systematic work for years, what are the results?
Between 2018 and 2021 the number of our female developers (gender assumed) has been 20-25%. The overall gender split at Frantic has for a long time been approximately 50-50 (male and female assumed). In the IT industry, the average percentage of females is between 20 to 28%. In 2019, we participated in Inklusiiv’s first-ever diversity survey done in the Finnish IT industry, in which we were highlighted as the company with the best (binary) gender balance. Our management team and business development have consisted of a slight female majority already for several years.
Being present in different work-life network events and arranging such ourselves, we have grown our network, which now reaches a wider and more diverse group of professionals. We appreciate job applicants with different educational and knowledge backgrounds, and our staff consists of people with both vocational school and university backgrounds as well as industry switchers.
The present state and our next steps
We’re not going to lull ourselves into complacency based on a few good results: the more equal gender split was just the beginning for a bigger change - we’re only in the first stages of building a diverse Frantic.
After we participated in the first Inklusiiv survey, we started a diversity & inclusion task force that consists of voluntary employees. With this group, we started to sketch out the steps for our DEI work. As a first task, we decided to find out the current state of equitability/equality at Frantic, and identify the first development areas based on the results.
To find out the present state, we did an internal equality survey in spring 2021. In the survey, we found out how people experience equality at Frantic based on age, gender, mother tongue, minority, and also depending on which team or unit one is working at. The respondents were asked to evaluate equality based on how the work assignments are divided, career development, recruitment, salary and employee benefits, training and development possibilities, social interactions, and possibility to influence decisions.
Equality was experienced to be on a specifically good level overall, and developing equality further was seen as important. According to the survey, we’ve succeeded in gender equality. In addition, the education and development possibilities were seen as equal for everyone.
Areas of development were recognized e.g. in enhancing transparency in internal communications (for instance in introducing and clarifying our current salary model), equally involving the personnel in sales work and understanding subconscious prejudice and introducing training related to the topic.
Our next concrete actions
What we’re doing at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022:
To increase awareness of unconscious biases, we are carrying out a training with Inklusiiv for the whole personnel, and finding a way to make it a continuous practice
We are creating our own DEI Code of Conduct. In practice, this means creating the rules for a safe work environment, to which we all commit, and which will become part of the new employee onboarding process. The Frantic DEI Code of Conduct will also include the ways in which safety is maintained.
The salary model will be developed to be more transparent with a task force consisting of our personnel.
We are renewing the company structure to improve information flow and to support self-governance and enable more equal and inclusive decision-making.
Our DEI work continues with practical development activities and we’ll continuously gather further development ideas from our staff. We will report on our progress in our blog in the future as well. Until then, feel free to contact us if you wish to know more about the topic or have some feedback!
This blog has been co-written by three members of Frantic’s DEI task force: Consulting business unit director Maija Typpi-Häkkinen, HR Lead Salla Järvinen, and Marketing Lead Jenny Salmimäki. Other members of the voluntary DEI task force are from different competencies (design, tech) around the company.