Tech employees who are in charge of diversity, equity and inclusion are tired. They have been talking with internal stakeholders and promoting diversity across the board. But it’s hard to prove that things have changed because they don’t necessarily have performance indicators to support their work.
That’s why a French startup called 50inTech wants to change how tech startups approach diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Instead of starting with discussions and vaguely including DE&I in the company’s yearly goals, 50inTech is building a software-as-a-service product to measure diversity with concrete metrics and identify the immediate changes that can lead to improvements.
And the company recently raised an $1.6 million (€1.5 million) seed round from Inco Investissements, Evolem, Super Capital, Altalurra, AIV Ventures as well as several business angels, such as Corinne Vigreux, Florian Douetteau, Alexandre Fretti and Gimena Dia.
In particular, 50inTech has created GenderScore, a scoring system for gender diversity in the workforce. With this tool, HR managers can fill out 54 data points and get a score out of 100 to see how they fare compared to other tech companies. Eventually, 50inTech plans to integrate with human resource information systems (HRIS) to automatically calculate that score.
163 tech companies in France, the U.K. and Germany have calculated their GenderScore, such as PayFit, Believe, Axa IT and EY Technology Consulting. And the results aren’t pretty. For instance, there are only 23% of women on the boards of these companies, even though current EU directives mandate that 40% of board members should be women.
There are only 24.5% women in tech roles in these companies. This is slightly above the industry average of 22% according to a recent McKinsey study — but the gender gap is still here. 50inTech gives these 163 companies an average score of 61/100.
So how can these companies improve their ratings? According to 50inTech, retention is as important as hiring practices. And 72% of the companies that have started tracking their GenderScore still don’t track the turnover among female employees.
The startup recommends implementing a flexible work policy, a fair career path for all with unbiased promotions and, of course ,equal pay thanks to a transparent pay policy. There are some tools to reduce the pay gap, such as PayAnalytics and Figures — but few startups use those tools.
“We’ve carried out a number of studies, with Figures in particular. We’ve discovered that the unadjusted pay gap in Europe is 19%, precisely because women aren’t moving up the career ladder. And you end up with data scientists who sometimes have a €10,000 pay gap — that’s €400,000 over the course of their career,” 50inTech co-founder and CEO Caroline Ramade told me.
Companies that calculate their GenderScore a year after their initial test usually see a 6% improvement. “They usually tackle these challenges topic by topic. The first topic they tackle is work-life balance. Obviously, we’ve seen some huge changes with Covid with a remote work policy everywhere. But now, I can say for sure that we’re noticing a backlash – we’re seeing a return to the office,” Ramade said.
Reducing biases in the recruitment process
Retention is one thing, but recruitment is another important pillar in diversity. And 50inTech originally started with a recruitment tool called GenderHire. It’s an inclusive sourcing platform based on the LinkedIn data of 30,000 women.
Companies can connect their recruitment system (their ATS) to GenderHire to find potential candidates and get market data. For instance, 50inTech can tell its customers the typical gender balance of DevOps teams, cybersecurity engineers or junior software engineers.
Eventually, 50inTech hopes it can also analyze the hiring funnel to highlight issues in the recruitment process. For instance, the tool could highlight that the reason a company ends up with a lot of male candidates in the final stage of the hiring process is because of a specific business case that is biased in one way or another.
While 50inTech is starting with gender diversity, it plans to evolve to other equity and inclusion topics. Caroline Ramade told me that the company’s GenderScore may soon become the InclusionScore for instance.
50inTech’s mission is clear — now let’s see how it iterates on this mission. The company wants to give tools to track and improve DE&I metrics in tech companies. With these tools, it could create a positive feedback loop that leads to better internal policies, better hiring processes and eventually a better performance as diverse teams perform better.