In 2017, Foxtons had achieved a diverse workforce, reflecting the multicultural London community and customer base in which they operate. However, deeper analysis highlighted a lack of evidence of true inclusion. In an industry renowned for being populated by white males, it is a major investment to continually recruit diverse talent. Therefore, the company needed to make sure that colleagues were engaged at the start of their Foxton’s career, and had a reason to remain and progress.
The 2017 engagement survey revealed that women were less likely to stay and that black and other ethnic communities felt less included. This drove a 3 year strategy with a multi-pronged approach, sponsored by the most senior leaders: to actively listen to people in minority groups; to find ways to celebrate differences; and to educate leaders while designing processes to promote inclusion.
Focus groups were conducted with female colleagues and black colleagues, examining equality and fairness. These led to increased flexible working, a shared parental scheme, and mentoring and sponsorship to boost the careers of underrepresented groups. The COO reached out to our LGBTQ+ community giving them power to effect change. The CPO invited diverse communities to join the Workforce Council, with a quarter of all meetings dedicated to inclusion. People were encouraged to set up networks, resulting in over 350 participants across women@foxtons, Afro Foxtons and LGBTQ+@Foxtons.
To mitigate bias in hiring, development and promotion, existing processes were analysed, and training was held with senior leaders and hiring managers, encouraging them to reflect on personal behaviours and co-create new approaches.
The impact of the initiatives is clear. Over a 3-year period, active participation in networks grew from 11% to 34% of the workforce. When surveyed in 2019, 93% of employees said Foxton’s supports a diverse and inclusive workplace. There is also growing recognition in the industry that the company is acting as a catalyst for change and leaders have been approached for thought leadership and mentoring. Foxtons are on a mission to become a brand renowned for inclusion as well as diversity, and this is just the beginning.