Jennifer Gabrielle-Chapman has 15 years’ experience within talent acquisition and has worked in some of the world’s largest media groups. Now as Head of Talent Acquisition at the insurtech business Bought by Many, they are using their experience to help them scale up their already hugely successful organisation and build a truly diverse and inclusive culture. Jennifer is wholly committed to using their position in Talent Acquisition to help businesses develop an equitable and inclusive hiring process. By coupling talent discovery with an irresistible candidate experience, they help businesses attract people from all backgrounds – and also ensures there’s fair way for existing employees to grow their careers. Their preferred pronouns are they/them.
What does #breakthebias mean to you as Head of Talent?
Breaking gender bias as a theme for IWD this year is a great first step to allows us to all reflect and acknowledge our own inherent biases and preferences. Biases are inherent to who we are as humans – but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for having a fixed mindset.
When you consider gender bias with a lens of intersectionality, you can start to realise and appreciate the full breadth of how everything connects within us and how something like gender can’t be viewed in isolation. I’m a big fan of thinking more broadly than one key area of diversity, so we acknowledge the myriad of facets that make each of us who we are. Gender identity is one element of a bigger discussion and it’s a great starting point for a discussion.
How does Bought By Many look to impact diversity?
Bought by Many is an actively anti-racist organisation so everything we do is around breaking the bias associated with both ethnicity – and the intersectionality of other demographics.
It can be of the trickiest problems to solve as a business and I’m thankful that it’s not just me on my own! We have an established Inclusion Council that we formed last year, made up of a cross-functional team from our global offices. The group is sponsored by two of our Exec leadership and it’s formed of several pillars (or focus groups) who can help drive our initiatives forward in areas where we want to make change. One of our pillars is aimed at improving both the representation and approach we take for hiring and we’re looking at the entire employee lifecycle – as hiring itself needs to be part of a wider review of our processes from attraction, discovery, onboarding, reward, learning and mobility. I believe that talent acquisition is the responsibility of everyone in the business, however my team and I are there to help guide and shape our approach and we work closely with the wider Inclusion Council to get things right.
The best thing about working for someone like Bought by Many is that we are more agile than larger companies and you can afford to try new things and test ideas out. We’re also very lucky to have stakeholders who lean into DE&I and genuinely see the value (and challenge us!) when it comes to DE&I. Having the backing of our entire senior leadership who support us vocally and with heart – means it’s easier to get everyone on board with our direction of travel.
What are you doing to celebrate IWD this year?
To celebrate IWD this year we’ve taken an approach on education and awareness. We hold regular all-company panels on different areas of DE&I and this month; we’re hearing from our own people (and their lived experience) coupled with an external speaker session from Deeba Sayed. We will explore both a primary (gender) and secondary theme (ethnicity or LGTBQIA+) to ensure we’re seeing a topic with a wider view. On a smaller level we’re asking all employees to show a Zoom background from an inspirational female and sharing this with the wider business on Slack. It will start a conversation and it’s small way to make a big impact and learn from each other. We believe it’s important than any events or thought leadership that we’re doing are not just thinking about one thing in isolation – but all things together which we hope in turn will truly break the bias.
As Head of Talent, how do you go about attracting and retaining a diverse workforce for Bought by Many?
In the last year we’ve made some big changes in our ways of working, as we’ve never had a fully-fledged internal Talent team. We’ve worked hard to overhaul our job specs and talent collateral to ensure we’re being fair and realistic in the “ask” for each role – and removed any reading burden and gendered language so they are written in plain English (just like we do for our customers when they buy a policy.) We signpost how to get in touch at every touchpoint in the candidate journey, so if someone needs help or adjustments, we can work together to give a more accessible experience.
Another big project was to embed a best-in-breed applicant tracking system and revise our application process online. This allowed us to remove any blockers which might deter someone from applying: a typical application time is now 10 seconds, as opposed to over 15 minutes. We revamped our careers site to better explain our approach to inclusion, we’ve partnered with a broader range of advertisers globally, which help us reach a more diverse talent pool. We rewrote our Talent Terms of Business to incorporate what we expect from our partners around DE&I and we’ve just this month launched our “Approach to Inclusion” DE&I guidelines for our people. If anyone reading this would like a copy to steal with pride, just drop me a line!
For 2022, we are building on our foundations and setting up a candidate experience tool which will give us the ability to understand candidate sentiment and uncover any demographic trends. The reason this is so important is that we need to see how candidates feel at every major milestone – but also acknowledge that not every person may have the same journey and there may be trends when we cluster this data together. We want to know what’s working well and any areas we need to improve. Is the experience of a Candidate A (a white, cis gender female in Birmingham) the same as Candidate B (a non-binary, person of colour in Atlanta) – and if not, why not: and how do we work towards a more equitable experience. We’re deliberately de-coupling it from the application process so it will operate as a Net Promoter Score– just like we have for our customer satisfaction scores.
If you were to look at our demographic data across our global business, we are quite a balanced group – however there are certain hot-spots we’re actively working on addressing. Our Engineering community (like many other companies) has struggled with gender balance and parts of our Operations teams have a higher percentage of people who identify as female, owing to the close connection with the veterinary nurse talent pool we source from. We’ve taken the approach to initially raise awareness and understanding internally, coupled with tangible actions where we can make some real change happen.
Where we can make a difference with hiring, is in early careers development. We onboarded a LOT of new people last year and the majority were quite experienced hires, so 2022-23 is the year we’re hoping to look at supporting people at the start of their career. We’ve recently signed up to the Tech Talent Charter which focuses on increasing diversity – and we’re looking to learn and scope out a programme later in the year.
We are currently involved with funding a group of students through the Ethnic Diversity Nursing Scholarship which aims to improve diversity in the veterinary industry and Dreddy Vet (AKA Fabian Rivers) who is supporting our approach with outreach projects. Our role is both about showcasing careers outside of the core veterinary world – and about what we can do as a partner to the industry to break the bias.
What advice would you give to a business who are just starting to look at issues around DE&I and creating a more diverse workforce?
My one piece of advice is to ensure your leadership are engaged and understand why DE&I is vital to both company success, and the happiness of the people in your business. You don’t have to know all the answers (and let’s be honest, with DE&I there’s always something new to learn) but an open heart and the willingness to create a psychologically safe culture are paramount.
If you’re brand new and don’t know where to start: explore getting a consultancy to help you. There’s no shame in getting support from a specialist in this space and they’ll be able to guide you along the way. We did the same at the start of our journey and it’s really helped us keep focus – and have a trusted partner to support our people along the way.