We’re big on acknowledging our mistakes at Cuvva and this blog post is overdue. It’s not that a deadline was missed or a promise made, it's that we've been talking and working internally on our commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging for nearly three years now and we should have been more outspoken about it from the beginning. We’re also big on doing the right thing, even when it’s challenging or takes longer, but in this case we realise we’ve been waiting for some undetermined marker of progress when what we really should be sharing is the process.
When I joined Cuvva in early 2019, we were 35 strong and even though we didn’t yet have a People team, about a third of the company gathered every two weeks to talk about diversity. Even in its infancy, the group itself was diverse–in terms of gender, age, race, long-time and new employees from different departments and levels of seniority. That to me said a lot–people cared and knew we could always be better. It wasn’t that things were going wrong, but people recognised that rather than wait for a problem to solve, they could use personal experiences as a basis for meaningful discussions and to organise efforts for change. Pretty quickly, there was a gigantic list of things to do that we wanted to do, but we had to start somewhere. It was important for us to learn from people who were experts on certain topics, so we started by educating ourselves. We went to plenty of round table and panel discussions, talked to our communities, listened to podcasts and made sure to come back and share with each other.
As a growing startup, we didn’t have a lot of extra time or resources, so we focussed on the things we could do now and we got buy-in from Leadership. Andy, our COO, was a regular attendee at meetings and we could always count on him to come to external events and bring things to the attention of the rest of Leadership. By this time, we were developing our People team–Gemma, our People Director, joined the senior leadership team and we were able to action a lot of the ideas and suggestions that came out of our bi weekly group meetings. That year, we made our job ads more inclusive, updated our definition of sickness to encompass physical and mental health, had our sponsor licence granted from the Home Office, created generous and inclusive compassion and parental leave policies, added pronouns to the signs on our toilets in the office, got trained as Mental Health First Aiders, walked as a company in Pride and had lots of challenging conversations as a group.
Fast forward to 2021 and Cuvva has grown to 115+. We do have a People team now, but a diversity group made up of people from all parts of the company still meets every two weeks. We have a budget now, and because we have more people, while we do have more capacity, our standards are high, we’re more ambitious and the list of things we want to do is longer than ever. As a company, we see immense value in team retrospectives at the end of each quarter and we knew it was time to do the same for our work in diversity. We had our first one last week and surprised ourselves with all we’d managed to accomplish during both a global pandemic and a period of massive growth as a company. We conducted our first anonymous survey to gather diversity data, had company wide meetings in support of Black Lives Matter, cycled to Brighton raising money for Coding Black Females, spent a month in celebration of Black History and educating ourselves on equity with quarterly guest speakers, cooking classes and business spotlights, celebrated LGBTQ History month, published a Transitioning in the Workplace policy, became a Stonewall Diversity Champion, standardised our hiring process to remove bias, published salary bands for all job ads, we’re creating an open salary model and progression framework that have eliminated negotiation from hiring and pay reviews, hosted a week of work experience through Speakers for Schools and an event for International Women’s Day, sponsored 3 visas and 3 students through Coders of Colour.
We’re still learning to accept that this is a journey and that we’ll always feel like we haven’t done enough, but here we are sharing what we have done. You’ll hear from us more as we better understand the environment at Cuvva and as we build out our diversity inclusion and belonging roadmap and strategy. In the meantime, we won’t stop moving forwards.
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