Fujitsu is one of the world’s biggest IT services providers and in February was named on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies for the third year in a row. The UK division has continued to thrive during the pandemic, picking up a string of high-profile contracts.
However the company, which was founded in 1935, is striving to use the pandemic as a catalyst for diversity. Like many businesses in the tech space, Fujitsu remains a predominantly male workforce, but work is continuing apace to change that.
Kelly Metcalf, Fujitsu UK’s head of diversity, inclusion and wellbeing, explains how the British arm of the company is leading this campaign – and how digital technology is at the forefront of the project.
The state of talent acquisition
Whenever Fujitsu UK goes to the job market, the recruitment team is now required to use a standard template for their advert. The template sets a universal baseline for inclusion, ruling out any discriminatory words and phrases from the get-go. And what’s really interesting is the technology it is based on.
Fujitsu’s template was built using Textio, a piece of machine learning software which draws on millions of recruiting outcomes from around the world. This huge data set is channelled into a predictive model which recognises words that may discourage women and minorities.
The application of machine learning is just part of a multi-pronged diversity drive spearheaded by Kelly Metcalf, who has been with Fujitsu 14 years in a variety of HR roles. Now she is charged with freshening up Fujitsu’s workforce and creating a talent-management process that reflects the company’s flagship commitment to digital transformation.
“If we’re going to be an innovative technology partner for our customers,” Kelly says, “we need to make sure that the people designing solutions for our customers reflect the diversity that exists in our society. Look at customer feedback surveys telling us they expect fresh ideas. This innovation and creativity is what diverse teams bring.”
There is definitely work to be done on this front. In the UK, the average Fujitsu employee is in their early-40s. While this is no more than the overall national average, it is significantly higher than the figure for the digital tech industry, which is around 35. The gender demographic is even more pressing; around 24 percent of Fujitsu’s workforce is female, which compares to 44 percent across all high-skilled UK occupations.
The effects of Covid
Fujitsu is a company born and raised in Japan, a country which has historically been known for its demanding, office-based working culture. This heritage may go some way to explaining the predominance of mature male workers.
However, the pandemic has already transformed Fujitu’s working practices. Its leadership team has stated a commitment to what it terms ‘the work-life shift’: an employee now has the right to pursue a working arrangement that maximises their productivity. Individual countries have also made their own arrangements.
In the UK, Kelly has been instrumental in creating a new, hybrid working model. She and her team have created new guidelines around the purpose of the office: employees have been encouraged to think about why they want to come into work and have a clear purpose whenever they visit.
“We started to survey people from April last year to understand how they were finding Covid, their priorities, what support they needed etc,” Kelly says. “We’ve carried on that theme ever since, working with trade union reps and people leaders and organising focus groups that any employee can join, to help define our future way of working.
“In September last year we asked all our employees to tell us how they want to work when these restrictions end. Eighty-five percent told us they either want to work primarily from home or they want to flex between home and office. Only 9 percent wanted to be full-time office-based.
“The culmination is that, for the UK, we’ve made a commitment that in the future, you can agree on the right pattern of work locations with your manager to balance both your customer commitments and personal preferences.”
Now the agreement is in place, Kelly believes it can encourage a broader talent pool.
“There’s a stat that says ‘if a job advert mentions flexible working, it will attract 26 percent more female candidates’ and I certainly feel that the way we’ve changed through Covid can be a catalyst for diversity, particularly in more senior roles where previously someone might have held themselves back because of working hours or travel requirements.
“We’re taking away some of those hurdles which may previously have seemed insurmountable.”
However, to reap the benefits of this cultural shift, Kelly and her team need to realise two principal objectives. On one hand they need to create the best possible environment for diversity to flourish; on the other, they need to open themselves up to the widest possible talent pool.