Joanna Jewitt - Operations and People Director, talks about Orbis becoming a signatory for the UK's Tech Talent Charter, our diversity agenda and commitment to a more diverse workforce.
What is your role at Orbis?
It splits into two parts, one side is Operations, looking at how we can ensure that we continue to deliver to our clients, candidates, and the tech community.
Are we doing the right things? Are we challenging the industry?
We know we deliver a brilliant service but as a business we do believe we can always do more especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion, not just within the technology industry but also within the recruitment industry.
The second part is People. We have a culture that allows everyone to bring their true self to work every day, for me that is really important. You can’t be happy (and successful) when you are pretending to be someone else. And why should you? We want every single person to want to come to work, to enjoy what they do and feel comfortable with the people around them.
What is the most important thing about diversity?
Absolutely everyone needs to be treated equally and given the same opportunities.
Great things come from diverse teams – hearing different opinions, being challenged on your own, seeing things from different points of view open a whole new world of possibilities.
Historically the minority might not have had their voice heard, so it’s important that they are given the spotlight on them to do so. Everyone has a part to play.
“Bring your whole self to work.”
How are you going about improving diversity within Orbis? What are the challenges within the industry?
Too often the staffing industry are just focusing on making a placement, what they need to do is think about how they can truly add value to their clients.
I don’t believe you can represent everyone unless you have a representative of everyone in the business. You can empathise and try to understand but you can’t do it on other people’s behalf.
When you’re trained to be a recruiter, you are trained to judge, you are trained to look at a CV, look at the person’s education and judge their background. To be a champion at diversity you need to escape that mould and explore various demographics, different backgrounds and profiles.
What recruitment business’ can start doing is growing communities, getting to know the people instead of using CVs for a tick box exercise.
This is also where recruitment consultants outweigh technology – You need people in this role, recruiting on values, creative solutions and looking forward at the potential, rather than a mathematical equation of the past. THAT is where you can unlock something different.
Staffing agencies are so important, rather than relying on a job board and technology, which limit your talent pool. If you work with a dynamic agency, they’ll be able to offer a diverse talent pool.
We want to get to know our candidates really well, we want to understand what their needs are so we can match them to the right business, as opposed to CV matching. Otherwise you risk missing out on an entire talent pool.
“Too often the staffing industry are just focusing on making a placement, what they need to do is think about how they can truly add value to their clients.”
What attracted you to the Tech Talent Charter?
There is no judgement – you don’t have to be perfect to sign the pledge you just have to be committed to making changes in the right direction.
What are the next steps for Orbis's diversity agenda?
We recently began working with some new clients to help solve some of their diversity challenges – putting together bespoke partnerships and agreements.
Also working with them on their employer brand. We’re running events with different business’ so we can open their doors to new communities. We want the voice of our clients out there, so we can get to know the people behind business’ and so our community can get to know them too.
Sometimes there’s stigma attached to certain clients, as if you have to be a certain kind of way to work there, or the company branding might be dated. We can communicate their true voice, that could attract differing people. We want to shine a light on what it’s really like to work in that business.
Within Orbis, we want to take a responsibility to really think about diversity, from networking to every shortlist we create. Have we done enough? Are we going for the ‘easiest’ option?
We will be looking at creative ways to source candidates, looking at our network, connecting with them in different mediums and formats.
We need to actively question ourselves, have I put together a diverse shortlist or could I spend more time on this?
Talking about it more, training, create an environment where it is okay to challenge each other if we don’t feel diversity is at the top of the agenda.
We’re going to champion people that are taking the time to do something about it.
The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is a non-profit organisation leading a movement to address inequality in the UK tech sector and drive inclusion and diversity in a practical and uniquely measurable way. Our ultimate goal: that the UK tech sector becomes truly inclusive and a reflection of the society which it represents. We work at scale, addressing the tech ecosystem as a whole to drive change. We focus on the how, not just the why of inclusion and we bring communities together and support the underrepresented.
Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention. Although it is very much an employer-led initiative, the TTC is supported by the UK Government's Digital Strategy.