Yes, the project or initiative has been established for more than 2 years.
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Communications Assistant for Technology
Chief Product and Information Officer
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
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.
Detail the actions implemented as part of the project or initative.
In order to improve and celebrate our diversity we have formed diversity and inclusion membership groups. Currently we have three groups, one for women, one for our LGBTQ+ community and one for BAME colleagues. We also recruit from varying educational backgrounds and believe there is no single career path into technology, our Technology graduate scheme is in its second year and we also recruit from Maker’s Academy.
Our Product & Technology teams gender balance has also improved. In Q3 of 2016 we hired two women to Head our Design and User Experience teams, highlighting the move to increase our number of female senior leaders. Technology companies in particular have become more transparent about their efforts to cultivate a more diverse workforce. Our own technology team, which is the second largest and fastest growing department at the FT, has a better gender balance than many of the world’s most sought after tech companies. The FT technology department is 29% women, while Apple has 20% female employees in technology; and Google and Twitter just 17% and 10%, respectively. Our user experience and customer councils also demonstrate diverse representation to ensure our tested products satisfy a range of customers.
In a similar vein, and in order to meet all needs, we worked with the DAC (Digital Accessibility Centre) to ensure FT.com is fully accessible for those with varying levels of disabilities. Working with the DAC testers and colleagues with disabilities has helped us make the changes needed to achieve full AA accessibility accreditation. We are the first private global news website, and the only media company apart from the BBC to be awarded this accreditation and implement these practices into our workstreams.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initative.
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.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
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.
Detail the follow up or response to the project or initative by the organisation /industry /sector. For example has it been extended for a further year, or has the scope been expanded?
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.
Please provide 2 references being the beneficiaries or people that experienced the change (as a result of the initiative). Details to be provided should include:
4. Phone number
6. Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
- Name: Ben Fletcher
- Organisation: Financial Times
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone number: Needs to be organised in advance with Ben’s interpreter present, as Ben uses British Sign Language & written English, and not spoken English
- Role: Principal Engineer
Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
I'm Ben, 36, from Yorkshire. I'm Deafblind. I'm bilingual in British Sign Language (BSL) and written English. I had often heard of the FT's reputation as being leaders in web technology, and thought how they advertised for new developers was really accessible (through a forum where developers hang out). I submitted an application, and, despite my disabilities & languages, they were happy to discuss with me through typing on Hangouts and to arrange an interview. The interview itself was also accessible because they gave me a "homework" and then discussed it in the interview, with very clear context. To think of a disability-confident team, this was it! The leadership gave me a lot of encouragement & support. For example, normally I wouldn't be asked to do line management, but they did - and suggested I had line management training to give me the confidence. Another example, group meetings can be inaccessible - they put together new guidelines that are now popular with the wider team: such as a fluffy toy being used as a "speaker marker”. They gave me support & time to look into the latest & greatest Speech to Text technology. I explained my positive experience to some contacts at DWP which resulted in me giving a well-received keynote talk at a DWP Leadership event in November 2016. The confidence in the whole leadership structure, all the way up to the CTO, the board, has been demonstrated through my rapid progress to becoming Principal Engineer in June 2017.
- Name: Laura Carvajal
- Organisation: Financial Times
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone number: 0772140407
- Role: Senior Developer
- Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
In late 2016 I led the Accessibility initiative for FT.com. This entailed getting our website audited by the Digital Accessibility Centre, training our teams internally on accessibility, and leading web development work to remove all barriers to access that were present on our site. For more details, please see https://aboutus.ft.com/en-gb/careers/our-people/meet-laura/.
What outcomes have been achieved against overall program or organisational performance? Using metrics specify these outcomes, for example financial, growth, policy achievement, performance or capabciltiy uplift?
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.