Growing our workforce with intention, not (unintended) bias.

Getting the right people on your team is so important. As a founder, I’m passionate about what we’re doing at Tradify, and I only want to work with those people at the absolute top of their profession – the people who click, who get it, and who will take us where we want to go. This is the same problem all growth companies face.

Here, in little old NZ, it can take time to find skilled talent, who we call the top 10%. The pool of candidates just isn’t that big to start with. If you looked over the CVs landing on a Google recruiter’s desk, you’d see everyone is the top of their field – founded and sold an app worth millions of dollars, has created a new language to advance machine learning, or has more letters after their name than they do before it. But here, finding those people – and finding them quick – is a real challenge.

The reason I initially set out writing this piece was that when I looked up from my desk in our old office I was met predominantly by male faces - it felt as though we were missing something vital.

With twenty employees, we had only two women on staff, who were recruited because they’re exceptional at what they do. I had made it a rule early on to only hire exceptional people who were passionate about building something awesome. But what happens to our culture, to our creativity, when we exist and innovate within a bubble of homogeneity?

This was never intentional. In the beginning, Tradify grew so quickly, we had so many priorities and pressures to juggle … ten CVs would land on my desk and they’d all be male and I just assumed that was all the applicants who wanted the job. I can own that as a male myself, I simply didn’t notice the discrepancy until it was pointed out. Then I couldn’t stop noticing it, and I wanted to fix it.

This problem was only going to get worse as we grew. What would happen when we’re at 50 people and only have five people women on the team? How would that look to potential recruits? What would that say about our reputation within the industry? Hell, what does it say now?

There may be other factors at play here. Our core customer base – tradespeople – also operate in a male-dominated industry. Maybe women see our job ads and don’t feel they can offer much to the company, which is completely false. Maybe because I’m a male founder, that plays a role, too.

Maybe we’re just not as sexy a place to work at as the next Uber or the next Facebook, although I still think we have a lot to offer. There is great work being done now all over the world and right here in NZ to make the trade industry more inclusive, and to present the trades as a viable option to school leavers of all races and sexes and genders. We wholeheartedly support this, and part of that means leading by example.

I genuinely believe that in order for us to achieve success, we need an awesome team. I don’t believe an awesome team looks all male. Nor is it all-white, or all-able. Or all anything.

Since setting out to write this, we have welcomed into our team Emma, our Chief Revenue Officer, who has taken on a role in our executive team, Veronika and Anna as QAs in our dev team, and Vanessa as a Business Analyst. Plus we have strengthened our customer success team with Odette and Alyssa, who are smashing the sales. We didn’t just hire them for show or for the sake of a quota, we hired purely on talent, and these six stood head-and-shoulders above the rest.

The women on our team bring fresh perspectives, new innovations, different ways of looking at a problem based on different experiences. If we want to be the best we can be, we need that. We’re already a diverse team in terms of race and cultural background, with a great team culture focused around doing awesome, ambitious work and being kind humans to each other. What we have lacked is a way to find the amazing coders, strategists, content creators, and analysts out there who are female, and the ability to show them that this is an inclusive, challenging, and innovative environment where their best work can shine.

This brings us to the here and now, where Tradify has just become one of the first partners of the Tech She Can charter. Hopefully one day this charter won’t exist as there will be an equal representation of males and females in the workplace. Until then, we’ll be doing what we can to make the tech industry an awesome place to work for everyone.

Having worked in the trades sector for years, Curtis was fed up of the rubbish solutions out there to run a trade business on the go. So he put the tools down, picked up a keyboard and created Tradify. Tradify has now helped over 10,000 tradespeople around the world get their nights back, eliminating paperwork and cutting down the time they spend on admin. Find out more about Tradify here.