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How We Created a D&I Strategy to Maximize Impact

  • By Amina Godfrey
  • 19 April 2021

Tessian’s mission is to secure the human layer by empowering people to do their best work, without security getting in their way.

You might have read about our D&I learning journey, the start of our journey to create a better Tessian and a better world. After such an illuminating learning series, it was tempting to dive straight into initiatives and solutions. But if we want to tackle such significant and impactful challenges, we can’t work on everything all at once. We need focus. 

So we made an active decision to approach D&I with the rigor we bring to all aspects of work at Tessian…and that means data. We gathered data we knew could inform our broader D&I strategy and help us to narrow down focus areas where we could have sustainable impact. 

Gathering the data

The aim of our internal research was to understand:

  1. What our representation at Tessian looks like; and
  2. Whether the experience of Tessians varies according to personal attributes and protected characteristics

On a voluntary basis, we asked all our Tessians to submit information about themselves using our engagement platform Peakon. We had great uptake, with 80-90% of Tessians providing information about their personal attributes. This allowed us to understand representation at Tessian, across different aspects of diversity, including gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and age.

From this we were able to:

  1. Segment anonymous employee experience feedback scores to identify groups (based on personal characteristics) who are having a different experience and;
  2. Conduct a pay gap and employee retention analysis

Determining focus areas

You might be thinking…how statistically significant is data when you’re a small company (for reference, we’re currently about 150 people)? We asked ourselves this question A LOT. With so few data points, we were reluctant to draw certain conclusions from our findings. Instead, we have treated our findings as indicators of places we need to go and do further research. The data isn’t the be all and end all of our understanding, but it does provide the signposts. 

We paired these data insights with what we hear from the company anecdotally, and what we know to be the case in the tech industry. This gave us a good picture of where Tessian is with D&I today. But we still needed focus.

So, we asked ourselves:

  1. Where are our biggest concerns?
  2. Where can we make a significant impact?

These two simple questions helped us to identify the key focus areas of our D&I efforts this year. So…where did we land?

  1. Ensure every Tessian continues to feel like they’re supported, valued and belong at Tessian
  2. Improve ethnicity and gender representation across all levels of seniority at Tessian

We believe by focusing in these areas we can create a long-lasting positive impact on diversity and inclusion, in Tessian and in our industry.

Building our strategy

Once we had our focus areas, we worked closely with our exec team to build the strategy and tactics we would commit to this year. These discussions with our exec team centred not only on how to make change for a better Tessian, but also initiatives that would help create a more diverse industry. 

As the exec team were bouncing ideas on tactics, we were careful to keep in mind every point of the employee life cycle. When thinking about D&I, it’s easy to focus on top of funnel diversity in hiring. Improving representation through hiring is important, but on its own it’s not enough. It matters what Tessians experience once they’re through the door too.

Once we had committed to the steps we’re taking this year, we kicked off by presenting our research and our strategy to the whole of Tessian. Our employees don’t just want to know what we’ve found, they want to know what we’re doing about it and when. So as part of this presentation, we shared this 2021 D&I roadmap.

As we work our way through the roadmap, we will be communicating progress, wins and learnings every two weeks in our employee newsletter. We want every Tessian to stay super engaged in this work, and to have the opportunity to bring ideas and feedback to the table.

How our work this year will create long-term solutions

It’s no secret that today, the tech industry isn’t that diverse. If we want representation of  diverse people at Tessian, it’s not enough to draw from the existent talent pool, where so many groups are so underrepresented. By this we mean that it’s not enough for us to think about short term wins for Tessian’s stats. We need to be committed to making positive, sustainable change in the long term. And that means changing the whole industry, as well as Tessian. 

We want to create opportunities for a range of people to move into tech, and make sure they want to stay! If we don’t, our CFO, Sabrina Castiglione, will tell you how no-one wins in this zero-sum game. 

Our long term strategy is about growing and expanding the entry-level talent pool by creating junior jobs for people entering the tech industry, whether that’s in Sales or Engineering. But remember, we don’t just want to bring them in, we want them to stay, learn and grow! Only then will we get representation of diverse voices in senior positions. 

To achieve this, we’re prioritizing the development of future leaders through well-defined growth frameworks across the company. Every Tessian creates a detailed growth plan, and by the end of the year, we’ll have a tailored growth framework for every single department at Tessian. 

These tactics won’t move the needle on senior representation this year. Probably not next year either. But through them, we can change the game when it comes to diversity in tech. We want to see senior representation, and that means bringing in and building up fresh talent. 

How to act today

As well as the longer-term goals, we’re taking action on some short-term wins to ensure our business is an equitable and inclusive place for everyone today. Even before that representation has changed. 

D&I needs to be baked into the culture of a business. And that doesn’t just mean D&I training alone. 

It means we need to interrogate every single one of our People processes and ask “Is there opportunity for bias here?”. 

It means we need to inspect our company communications and ask “Who has a voice here?”

It means we need to listen to employee feedback and ask “Do people have an equitable experience here?”

There’s nothing stopping us asking these questions today. And the good news is — we have the power to have a huge impact on the answers straight away.

Want to keep up with our D&I journey? Subscribe to our weekly blog digest to be the first to hear about updates. Or, if you’d rather explore open opportunities at Tessian, click here

Amina Godfrey People Operations Executive
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