FT Product & Technology would like to put our department forward as a fantastic, diverse team of individuals, we have taken huge strides to hire those from different ethnic and educational backgrounds, including a higher number of women. One of our greatest successes this year has been our Accessibility accreditation, recognising steps our teams have taken to make FT.com fully accessible and implementing accessibility into all work streams. In a symbiotic way our work reflects our workforce and the FT community. The FT does not discriminate based on gender, disability, social or ethnic background and aims to be inclusive and understanding of all employees needs and fulfilment.
Different backgrounds and viewpoints help shape and ensure our news, products, services and events reach and engage a global audience. Diverse teams make better decisions.
Teams across the FT have led the way in embracing inclusive practices. From holding women’s networking events in New York and internships with Mencap in the UK, through to Slack and Workplace communities and ensuring our website is accessible for those with disabilities and varying needs, our people have shown a commitment and desire to pursue best practice from the ground up. Our global workforce is currently a 50/50 female-male split; our board is 36% female; our senior management group is 37% female; we have more women in senior roles across the newsroom and commercial teams than in the past; and we have a strong pipeline of early career female talent in several departments.
Our teams have radically diversified over the last year. In part this is due to ‘Next’ the name given to the huge project that was launching our new website, www.ft.com, which required an increase in hiring and seeking out different skills to our previous teams of developers, designers and user experience team. We also encourage grassroots led events and ideas from ‘champions’ who are leading our diversity and inclusion groups for Women, LGBTQ+ and BAME networks within the FT. The Technology department uses Slack heavily to discuss and organise work, and our champions have set up groups on Slack for news, events, articles and discussions around diversity. This began as a women’s group but has now evolved to include other less well represented groups and accessibility news.
In order to achieve our AA accessibility accreditation we assigned a dedicated team to handle accessibility efforts. The team worked tirelessly with the DAC and testers to make sure our content was able to be enjoyed by all regardless of their abilities. They also made sure to link up with other teams, especially our Design and UX teams to develop guidelines which are now followed in the workstream for every project and piece of work FT.com and the FT app releases.
No, this was a gradual cultural and attitude change as a result of internal conferences and a new hiring strategy with a more diverse perspective. As mentioned our department has hired more women and there are also more senior women visible both internally and externally, with reference to those who have gained recognition within the UK technology industry, such as Laura Carvajal who has leads our Accessibility team and has publicly spoken about Accessibility; Sarah Wells, our Principal Engineer; and Alice Bartlett, head of FT Origami, who manages our build, image and navigation services, as well as polyfill.io which serves many high profile sites and receives over a billion hits per month. The FT appointed John Kundert as our CTO in August of last year. John has expressed his support for diversity and often encourages junior staff to be empowered within their team decision making. This has resulted in a healthy culture of participation and diversity across the department.
Our website relaunch in October 2016 and work around this led to the growth teams with those from different backgrounds with different skill sets. We have kept new hires and are still seeing many benefits from the ideas generated by a diverse mix of team members. There have been many exciting projects worked on this year including updating and rationalising the Design team’s colour palette , navigation tweaks to improve the user journey and the establishment of a women’s working group to grow and engage our female audience, spearheaded by a group of FT colleagues representing all business areas. All of these fantastic pieces of work have come from within and are a direct result of the people within the FT. Our board support and endorse diversity and inclusion across all areas of the company. Another interesting outcome is that our technology team’s work around accessibility has led to more internal awareness and the FT will be offering BSL classes to staff this year with a keen interest from the technology department.
The solid outcomes have been our AA accessibility accreditation and the knock on effect this has had in work streams, language skills and awareness, the increased gender balance of our Product and Technology teams, at 45% and 33% respectively and the introduction of our diversity and inclusion groups, as well as a more inclusive culture.