Life at tiney: diversity, equity and belonging

Beth Toms

Beth Toms, Head of People

20 July 2020

Over the past 6 months, our team at tiney has grown by 107% and it appears we've found the majority of our wonderfully talented team through referrals. Referrals are brilliant, especially in an early stage startup so that you can build something quickly; and good people know good people right? But this immediately closes doors to more amazing people. At tiney we're building a product for everyone, so in order to do this we need a team that accurately represents our tiney home leaders, our parents, and most importantly the children we're having an impact on every single day.

Building an honest, fair and diverse workplace is our top priority. Not because we want to help underrepresented groups, but rather we need underrepresented groups in order to reach our goal. According to Josh Bersin, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders and in Mckinsey's research in 2015 it showed that companies with an ethnically diverse team were 35% more likely to financially overperform.

This makes sense. If we increase the diversity in our talent pool we'll meet more amazing people; if we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work then they'll stay for longer and will perform better; and if we hire for diversity of thinking then we'll fundamentally transform early years education through innovation only a diverse workforce can foster. We know it's not this simple but we want to make the first steps in this direction, whilst continuing to hire the best person for the job.

It's very easy to say this publicly, run a diversity sprint or 'initiative' and then never put thought into it again - we don't want to do this. Moving forward, we will write an annual report on our diversity 'debt', we'll talk through our progress honestly and commit to what we want to achieve in the year to come.

You may be asking why are we making this public, why not be laser focused internally and let your work speak for itself? There are a few reasons for this;

  • We want to hold ourselves accountable to our commitments
  • We value transparency and so there is no reason for us not to share this work with everyone
  • We are keen to share our journey, learnings and ideas with everyone to start the conversation and learn from others

Where we are now

The tiney team, who're building our product and community, were part of an optional, anonymous survey for us to understand what our current diversity landscape looks like.

Our small but mighty team of 31 have a wealth of experience in Education, Early Years and Tech startups. We represent 7 nationalities, 53% of our team are parents or have other caring responsibilities and we have 60% of people who identify as women. In terms of education, 81% of our team have gone to University to study either a Bachelors or Masters degree. 69% of the team are from a white ethnic background, no one identifies as gender non binary and our three person executive team all identify as white males. Now we know where we are, it's time to make some positive change.

What have we done so far internally?

Policies: We've reviewed our people policies to remove any unconscious bias and re-written our employment contract so that it’s gender neutral

Job boards: We've created a list of job boards for underrepresented groups and have partnered with colleges like the amazing Ada College to hire brilliant apprentices

Standardising hiring: We've stopped using CVs to screen candidates, instead we have a standard set of questions asked of a candidate so that everyone gets a fair chance regardless of what school they went to and the experience they have

Mental Health sick days: As well as introducing a variety of different mental health resources for the team, we've introduce sick days for if you're mentally struggling

Learning: We've started inviting diversity leaders to run Lunch & Learns with our team, like the brilliant Meri Williams

Remote first: We've said goodbye to our full time office space and we’re now a fully remote team with flexible working hours to make sure everyone has the same people experience and that people with caring responsibilities or physical disabilities aren't at a disadvantage.

Also to make sure we’re not excluding people who need social interaction and time away from their home, we are trialling a partnership with a coworking marketplace app called Desana - we’ll let you know how we get on!

Values based interviews: We've designed a values focused interview to assess empathy and curiosity. One of our values is "curious minds see more" so we look to hire people who act on feedback, are intellectually flexible and have genuine empathy for others

We've also recognised the need to build a diverse and inclusive community of tiney home leaders and parents. Each and every one of them is shaping our future generations and so we're working hard with them to provide them with training and support they need. A child who wants to learn doesn't care about gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or any of the other things that can sometimes divide humans. We'll be sharing more on the work we've been doing for our community very soon!

What do we want to achieve this year?

  • To run mental health first aider training with Lucy at 'have a word' for all managers and those in the team who want to attend
  • To organise more Lunch & Learns focused on diversity, equity and inclusion to educate ourselves
  • To deliver unconscious bias training to be run for all interviewers and anyone else who's interested
  • To continue to have conversations that may make us feel uncomfortable at times
  • To define our strategy for what we want tiney to look like going forward from a diversity point of view, to think big picture and write a plan for how we’ll get there!

These are the first baby steps on our journey and would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and feedback on what we could be doing better! Feel free to email me.

Beth Toms profile img

Beth Toms

Head of People

Beth spent the last three years building the digital bank Monzo. She worked hard to create an inclusive, honest and transparent culture whilst growing the team from 50 to over 1,600 in just three years. Beth began her career as a recruitment consultant in continuous improvement, then found tech startups and hasn't looked back since.