Editor’s note: On occasion, Wednesdays for Women will share perspectives and best practices from customers, partners and other thought leaders with a goal of promoting greater awareness and information sharing to continue advancing women in technology and supply chain careers. Today’s perspective comes from Vicky Whitney, senior communications executive at JDA partner dunnhumby.

Joining dunnhumby in June 2017, I didn’t know too much about the company’s approach to inclusion and building a diverse workforce. I expected it to be part of any organisation’s strategy, as we know the research shows the more diverse your workforce, the more successful the company. However, my ears pricked up when in one of my first team meetings, there was a presentation on the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) plan for dunnhumby. It sounded like early days in their “journey,” with plenty of opportunity to get involved. Coming from a communications and engagement perspective, I jumped on board to help drive the plan.

We really were starting from the beginning, the intention and good will was there, and initiatives had been launched but had petered out in the past. dunnhumby like many others has been guilty of the ‘love to launch’ culture. So, what could we do to make it stick this time?

Answer: stats.

We’re a data company and at our heart our people want to know the facts; waffle doesn’t fly. We crunched the numbers and looked at where we needed to start – as expected and as reflective of our industry, we have significantly more men in senior roles than women, resulting in a lack of gender diversity at the top. We’d found our burning platform and catalyst for change: promoting equality and supporting women to fulfil their career potential at dunnhumby.

We also realised to gain traction we needed to start small. There is no big taskforce or team behind D&I at dunnhumby; we have extremely passionate but also very busy people who are willing to help. To make real, tangible change, we decided to focus on specific workstreams (gender equality) and locations (UK) – with a view to build on this and roll out globally, rather than trying a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t have the impact we want and need.

Launching our D&I vision and plan to the business in November 2017, we looked to convey that D&I is not just about a series of initiatives, it’s about changing behaviours, challenging norms and embedding skills into all areas of our business. We built our plan from research into what partners, clients and industry peers are doing to promote a more inclusive and diverse organisation, and importantly, in response to colleagues’ feedback.

What’s happened so far?

A 2018 Women in Tech summer internship programme is recruiting four female STEM students to intern in each of our capabilities for three months over the summer.

We set up the dh Women’s Network to run forums and events every couple of months. The first forum in January saw over 250 attendees, and speakers including our CEO, CFO and a Category Director from Tesco. The Network also ran a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day in March, including a Speed Mentoring event, discussion groups, Women in Tech webinars and fundraising for local women’s shelters.

A data gathering team has run a comprehensive survey on the perception of gender equality (and the opportunities and barriers for career paths in dunnhumby), to inform our approach to D&I, and build into focus groups and further information gathering on D&I topics.

As part of our commitment to transparency, we released our Gender Pay Report for the UK in February (a requirement by UK law), and will follow this up by continuing to examine which measures will be most insightful in analysing our global data.

Unconscious bias training has been created and is being rolled out to the Executive team and all UK people managers on a mandatory basis. This will be rolled out globally once it has been piloted in the UK.

Our milestones for the year ahead

Changes to our recruitment processes, including requests for a split of male and female CVs for roles. We will also be piloting interview days, and a new interview panel configuration to remove any potential bias from this stage.

A flexible working review team, will discuss whether we are where we want to be as a company regarding our flexible working policies. Including changes to help make our workplace more inclusive, and to remove any inequality in access to roles.

Our Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Leave policy review will assess whether they are reflective of our vision and the current market. This includes gathering data on people’s experience of taking leave, and in returning to work.

In November we’ll publish the first annual D&I metrics newsletter to measure any changes in the data one a year on.

This list is not exhaustive, and as we extend our reach, we’ll also look to review the performance review process to ensure we remove any biases, create a mentoring network and continue to work with our partners to share best practice and champion visible role models across different organisations. We will also begin working with our global teams to collaborate as we take our learnings from the UK and start to scale over time, and investigate D&I beyond gender.

There’s a long road ahead, and at the same time as the world is truly starting to take notice with campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, we are ready and excited to build on our environment of inclusion, equality and respect because that will make us the best business we can be.