Beth Toms

Beth Toms, Head of People

29 June 2021

It's already been a year since we did our last report - where has the time gone?! Every year we've committed to sharing a public update on our diversity, equity and inclusion work. This is to make sure we hold ourselves publicly accountable for this important work whilst continuing to build tiney. We really don't want to be a company that just talks about this work but doesn't try and embed it into our product, community and operations from the start so here is us trying to be better.

Instead of just reporting on our wins and progress with DE&I this year, we've decided to take another approach that's hopefully more useful. In this post we'll be talking about the challenges we've faced this year and share some learnings to help other startups on their own D&I journeys.

To set the scene, tiney started in 2018 to train, support and empower more brilliant educators to set up their own childcare businesses. During the pandemic we've helped to set up over 150 childminders who're changing the lives of many hundreds of children - for the better 🎉 As a result of this growth our team from last year has more than doubled in size from 25 to over 50.

🏃 Challenge 1 - Building a D&I Committee is tough in a fast paced startup environment

After we wrote our 2020 update blog, we realised there was a lot of work to do across all areas of the company and so we needed a group of people focused on the work. The challenge though with startups is that everyone is so incredibly busy focusing on business targets, it's sometimes hard to find the time to make progress. We've come up against two main challenges, the first is lack of prioritisation. We started the year with a list of 37 tasks/projects across all parts of the business, we've managed to complete 13 of them and the rest have been 'in motion' for months. After not moving the needle on enough, we've now decided to radically prioritise every quarter to the three most crucial and impactful things we need to do.

This will also help solve the challenge of the majority of the work falling on one person, usually this lands on HR's shoulders which makes no sense at all. Why? because HR isn't in the room when the product team are defining feature requirements, nor when the growth team are creating marketing materials to attract potential childminders and families and they are definitely not around when someone in customer support is managing a sensitive conversation about race, accessibility or gender for example. We've really recognised that all work must be distributed across all areas of the business to make the work truly impactful.

When everyone is flat out with their own roles, we've had to really work at improving attendance. This is not because they don't want to attend but rather we weren't clear about time commitment expectations from day 1 and they didn't want to let us down. Also during every onboarding session we would try to encourage newbies to join but have found that when people got busy they wouldn't have the time to contribute their thoughts or time so stepped away. Brett our CEO, and Stephanie our COO have been attending most meetings which has helped us show how much of a priority this work is for tiney but we still haven't nailed the attendance challenge. We are toying with the idea of having team representatives to make sure every part of the business is being looked at through a diversity lens but if anyone has anymore ideas, we'd love to hear them.

Learnings:

🚀 Be laser focused and prioritise your work every quarter

🤝 Work collaboratively with everyone across the company so you have a holistic view

⏰ Be clear on time expectations from day 1

🔢 Challenge 2 - You can't do anything first without understanding your diversity debt accurately

Without data we don't know our blindspots. We took the approach of sending out a google form to our team and we also pulled this information from our community this year. What we've found is that it's not very scalable, it takes a lot of time to analyse (if you aren't a data guru) and take a while to get a build true story of your diversity debt. We need real time data to help us spot patterns, highlight our diversity debt quickly because if not, we're worried that things are being missed. Our team changes so quickly in a startup that it's very hard to tell a true narrative with just Google form responses. If anyone knows of any great tools for this, we'd love to hear about them. FairHQ which is still in beta mode looks really promising for solving this challenge.

Secondly, your company's diversity debt is not just understood from a team survey or customer feedback form. This year we had the brilliant Taz Latif join us as our Diversity & Inclusion Advisor to help guide our work and be our critical friend. She helped the team complete a 'Diversity Health Check' assessing our brand, social media, people, culture, leadership and policies - we'd really recommend this! It really made us pivot and expand all of the work on our roadmap.

Learnings:

🛠️ Invest in tools to help you understand your diversity debt accurately, in real time to tell your own story

🏥 Complete a Diversity Health Check on your company that includes brand, leadership, policies - not just a team google form

🌍 Challenge 3 - Our public hiring referral experiment hasn't worked

We launched a referral process in March to help us open up more doors to people not in our close networks and we haven't had much success. We've had more of the internal team refer people because of the referral bonus, but the real motivation for this experiment was to try and hire people not in our existing networks. Perhaps we're still too early in our employer brand journey or perhaps our bonus wasn't substantial enough for the work involved. We will keep it open (we're hiring!) but know that recruiting a diverse team at speed takes a lot of work and time.

Learnings:

🚀 Be creative and experiment with talent sourcing

🚂 Your sourcing strategy will change as your company grows

Here's a few headlines on our current team demographic at 50 people (we are keen to post these publicly so that we can refer back);

  • 68% of people identify as female, this was 60% last year (we're aiming for a 50/50 split)
  • 7% people identify as being part of the LGBTQI+ community compared to 3% last year
  • the team is now made up of 9 Nationalities instead of 7
  • 56% of people have caring responsibility compared with 53% last year

What have been our top successes this year?

👶 Parental Leave Template to help parents to be plan their leave with their manager so that they feel supported through this big life change

➡️ You can download it here.

📖 We wrote our Inclusive Education guide for our childminders and hosted a launch event that had 1,000 sign ups! This has now been downloaded over 1,500 times globally!

📱Accessibility + Inclusion requirements is now part of our product templates ➡️ see below!

👂 Engaging and listening more to our community of childminders to help us build a world class product for everyone - our community are the heartbeat of everything that we do at tiney!

We hope you've found this useful to read, please let us know if you have any ideas or feedback at hiring@tiney.co. We know we aren't perfect but we want to be better 💪

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.

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