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We spoke to ServiceNow about their award-winning policies and practice relating to diversity and inclusion.
ServiceNow is an international software company offering a cloud computing platform which helps companies manage digital workflows for enterprise operations. As an international company, it takes a global approach to diversity and inclusion, but one which flexes according to the needs of different regions and different employees, enabling innovation and experimentation. It is an approach which saw the company awarded the Best for Diversity and Inclusion Award at this year’s WM People Top Employer Awards.
ServiceNow employs 22,000 people, the majority of whom are in the US. Around 4,000 are in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, which has been leading on women’s healthcare after it became a big issue for its women’s belonging group. This was driven by local conversations in the UK around the menopause.
There can also be differences in approaches to diversity and inclusion [D & I] due to the legal requirements in different countries in a particular region, for instance, it is illegal in some European countries to ask about identity issues for historical reasons. For that reason, ServiceNow in the EMEA region has created a self identity framework for asking about identity issues in countries where this is allowed – which can, for instance, be used to track career progression – and is creating anonymous pathways for others. The data is used for everything from talent mapping to looking at the onboarding process and the type of management support offered based on employee surveys.
At the heart of ServiceNow’s D & I policy is a focus on creating a culture of belonging. That strategy is outlined in its fifth annual Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report, published last year [the first was published in 2018 when the company had just 6,000 employees]. The focus on belonging has evolved over time into three pillars:
Naz Mir, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Lead for EMEA, says this is led from the top and is embedded in everything the company does, from talent attraction to the company’s exit policy.
The emphasis on belonging is backed by ServiceNow’s People Pact which outlines its commitment to its people and their commitment to one another. It is also supported by the fact that the company calls its employee networking groups Employee Belonging Groups [EBGs]. It has nine EBGs, which are managed at a global level. They range from Women at ServiceNow and Black at ServiceNow to the new Families at ServiceNow, a network to share experiences and advice about working families. These groups enable people from similar backgrounds/identities and their allies to create a community, celebrate what is important to them and feed back directly to the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion team and the business on what needs to change.
The groups often collaborate, for instance, there was an intersectional International Women’s Day event, and they take an intersectional approach to women’s career progression. This approach also extends to the benefits the company offers, such as fertility coaching, ServiceNow explicitly links inclusion and belonging to its success and emphasises the need to be yourself. “It’s not just about what you do, but how,” says Mir.
He adds that it is no longer enough to just think of an employee in relation to the work they do without acknowledging the responsibilities they face outside work and how these can be supported. “We are thinking about benefits that go beyond what benefits us as an organisation. It’s a top down and a ground up approach with an emphasis on psychological safety. It’s the difference between sitting talking about unconscious bias and reviewing our processes such as our meeting etiquette, opportunities to give feedback and looking at who gets signed up for the projects that lead to promotion.”
That is not to say that awareness sessions on unconscious bias are not important. Mir says they are the first stop towards understanding and navigating the world and thinking about using whatever power employees have to support their colleagues.
When it comes to hiring, ServiceNow encourages its managers to consider a diverse slate of talent, to look at people from a broad perspective based on potential and to do things differently. It also keeps a close eye on its female hiring statistics and looks at whether there are particular parts of the business where things are not progressing where hiring managers may be struggling and need support. “We have amazing pockets of proactive approaches to hiring and we amplify these,” says Mir. Reports are prepared which relate to each function in the business and these are compared with what LinkedIn Insights says is happening in the market generally. “We look at the data and cut it in different ways and feed that back to managers,” says Mir.
ServiceNow also works with partners such as workingmums.co.uk and Colorintech to source its roles and widen its talent pool. Mir recognises that teams hire at the point of need and that the recruitment market can be difficult, meaning they have to take quick decisions. That is what makes it important that teams focus on inclusive hiring at times when they are not hiring and have more time to ensure D & I foundations are in place. The company also places an emphasis on diverse panels, but that doesn’t mean bringing in a ‘token’ person from outside, says Mir. “A male ally should be able to ensure that the process is inclusive,” he states.
Their approach seems to be working. Their overall female representation has increased by 5% to 28.8% between 2020 and 2022 and in the UK alone it has increased from 24% in 2021 to 30.1% in 2022. Their female hiring numbers have also increased across the region from 29% to 34.6% in the same period and in the UK have stayed consistent between 35%-37%. They are not complacent, however, and aim to keep pushing forwards.
Once hired, the culture of belonging is promoted from day one. The different belonging groups talk about what they do and introduce new recruits to their respective Facebook for business pages. They stay connected with their new group members and help to build the culture of ServiceNow. The Women at ServiceNow group holds lots of events, from fireside chats with external speakers and panel discussions to STEM coding events with schoolgirls and roundtables for International Women’s Day. The group is executive sponsored by the EMEA President. Mir says he is a passionate male ally who is very aware of the issues facing women, having experienced in past jobs the impact of toxic male behaviours in the sales sector that have led to women leaving.
All these structural approaches to D & I are backed by a flexible working culture and supportive policies, for instance, ServiceNow offers 20 weeks of full pay for birthing partners and eight weeks for non-birthing partners and is working with its benefits team on an equal parental leave policy to boost take-up of leave by dads. Mir says senior male allies are helping to normalise the taking of parental leave as well as taking time off, for example, for wellbeing. ServiceNow offers six wellbeing days a year. There is also a growing interest in older workers and ensuring that their experience is not lost. It supported National Older Workers Week and is looking to take more of a proactive stance on age diversity. Another key area for the company is social mobility. “We want to make sure we support and open up opportunities for all,” says Mir.
*For information on all the winners and, crucially, what they do and what impact this has in the WM People Top Employer Awards, look out for our Best Practice Report, coming later this month.