Diversity & Inclusion, 2019
As the old saying goes, it takes an assortment of different flowers to make a bouquet. Last year was a watershed moment for Voxbone, and not just in terms of our evolving commercial offering. Substantial growth in the size of our team meant the time was right for our first Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) report. It was gratifying to see our company values reflected in an engaged workforce built from a number of nationalities. Female representation was ahead of tech industry averages too, particularly at the leadership level.
The report revealed areas for continued improvement, both in encouraging further diversity and inclusiveness across all our offices; and in promoting more initiatives around corporate social responsibility, such as employee health and wellbeing, charitable endeavours and environmental causes.
We’re now more than halfway into 2019 and our outlook remains unchanged. From top to bottom, we are committed to building a diverse, representative and engaged team. Because it is only by doing so that we open our business to the multitude of cultural and social perspectives we need to adapt in the face of unexpected challenges and achieve success in a global economy.
This year, we’ve expanded the remit of our D&I report to include a voluntary survey of employees at Voxbone. We paid special attention to the experiences of parents across the company and the levels of career progression on offer to staff. We also looked at how our team has changed over the past 12 months to better understand what it means to work at Voxbone.
91.3% of employees responding to our survey agree or strongly agree that diversity and inclusion are important to Voxbone. 84.8% feel they belong at the company.
The gender split of our workforce is unchanged from 2018: 33.3% female and 66.7% male, slightly ahead of the Silicon Valley average for tech companies.
Age and Nationality
The average age of the team is 33.4 years, again the same as last year. We are made up of 39 nationalities, with 65.2% speaking more than one language proficiently.
37.5% of our leadership team and 36.8% of our managers are female, up 29.3% and 11.5% respectively compared to 2018.
New hires to date in 2019 account for 23% of our entire workforce, showing consistent growth with last year (20% in 2018).
The average tenure of staff is 2.9 years, with just 1.68 years typically passing before a first promotion or role change.
Our employees are the life and soul of our quirky company. We're lucky enough to attract awesome and talented people from all over the world with such varied and interesting backgrounds.
State of the industry
Reports like this offer a great opportunity for self-reflection by everyone who is a part of the Voxbone family. But it is important we don’t just look inward. In painting an accurate picture of life at Voxbone, we must first understand the wider industry landscape.
Telecommunications is not alone as an industry that’s male-dominated in the 21st century. But it was not always this way. From the early telegraphists of the 19th century to the telephone operators (“cable girls”) of the 20th, women have often occupied critical roles in the industry, even if they have not always received recognition for doing so. During the Second World War, with many men drafted to fight, demand for female engineers in the telecoms industry rocketed, at a time when communication was arguably more important than ever before.
Hedy Lamarr and Shirley Ann Jackson are the names of just some of the women who’s pioneering breakthroughs contributed to telecommunications as we understand it today. Lamarr’s frequency hopping theory is the basis for many modern communication technologies including WiFi, while the innovative work of Jackson – the first black woman to earn a doctorate from MIT – made possible the development of everything from touch-tone telephones to portable fax and fiber-optic cables, not to mention Caller ID and Call Waiting.
Given this rich history, it is disappointing that female representation remains such a major issue for telecoms and the wider tech industry. A survey of 54 global companies by the GSMA, which represents mobile operators around the world, revealed women still account for less than 40% of the workforce in three-quarters of companies, with female participation in telecoms varying drastically by company, from 10% to 52% among all the firms sampled. This despite the fact that employees at gender-diverse companies are 45% more likely to enjoy growth in market share and have a 70% greater chance of successfully capturing new markets.
In Silicon Valley, the cradle of modern innovation, females hold 30% of positions at 75 leading technology firms. Women account for just 20% of leadership positions in European communications companies and 31% of similar positions in North America. Globally, the proportion of female executives is as low as 12% for leading telecom companies and 23% for leading tech firms. It is also true that women in technical fields are 45% more likely to leave their jobs than men, with this attrition rate blamed on issues around corporate culture, lack of inclusion, pay inequality and institutional biases.
On a more positive note, firms at the forefront of the industry are taking steps to improve female representation through their hiring and D&I practices, as well as by encouraging more girls into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects through sponsorship of various educational programs and initiatives.
But there is still a long way to go. Microsoft’s most recent diversity report revealed minor growth in female representation across technical and leadership roles in 2018. But they remain a small minority, with just 19.9% and 19.7% respectively of the available positions. At Google, women currently account for 33.2% of the global workforce, but hold just 25.9% of leadership roles. The figures are slightly better at Facebook, where 36.9% of all roles and 32.6% of senior leadership positions are held by women.
Voxbone's Leaders and Managers
37.5% of our leadership and 36.8% of our management positions are held by women, increases of 29.3% and 11.5% respectively over last year.
Voxbone’s Workforce: 2019 in Numbers
At the end of July 2019, Voxbone’s workforce had grown to 185, an increase of 15.6% over where it stood at the beginning of the year. In the five weeks since the data for this report was collated, the number has risen further and now stands closer to 200. Our team is made up of 39 different nationalities, a 15% increase on the 34 we observed in last year’s report.
Highlighting the cosmopolitan nature of our workforce, 65.2% of the respondents to our first internal Diversity & Inclusion survey – conducted at the beginning of July 2019 – indicated they are proficient in two or more languages, a figure rising to 70% among 25-39-year-olds. Incidentally, the most languages spoken by a Voxbone employee is seven! The average age of our employees currently stands at 33.4 years, unchanged from last year. Survey responses show three-quarters (76.1%) of those who declared their age falling within the 25-39 year age bracket.
For a global cloud communications company closely involved with local carriers and regulators in 65+ markets across every populated continent, having a young, diverse workforce is essential in our mission to make modern communications as simple in as many places as possible for our customers.
There is a mix of 33.3% female and 66.7% male employees across our team, with women accounting for 23.3% of new hires. This gender split is slightly better than what is typically seen in the industry – ahead of the 30% figure posted across the top 75 high-tech companies in Silicon Valley and broadly in line with where we were at the time of publishing 2018’s report.
But we have seen improvement in female representation across senior positions, with women now accounting for 36.8% of Voxbone managers and 37.5% of our leadership team; increases of 11.5% and 29.3% respectively over last year. The leadership team is now significantly more diverse than what is usually seen among executives at leading telecom (12%) and tech (23%) firms.
The average employee has served at Voxbone for 2.9 years, with 65.2% of the workforce having tenure of three years or less. Again, this really emphasises the rapid growth that Voxbone has enjoyed over the past few years, especially given the low turnover rate of just 8.1% that we have seen so far this year.
Looking at career progression, the time to a first promotion or change of role is now just 1.68 years, with 82.6% of employees agreeing or strongly agreeing that they can greatly improve their skills at Voxbone. Among female respondents, this figure rises as high as 91%. Some 67.4% of employees also responded positively to the statement: ‘I understand my career path at Voxbone and believe my manager is invested in my growth.’
Jemma Hardy, VP HR at Voxbone, says: “Diversity is absolutely essential to Voxbone. 39 nationalities, can you believe that? Without the skills, knowledge, differing points of view and individual personalities of the people who work here, we would not be as successful as we are.
“I don’t know if it’s luck or core values, but we attract such amazing people, at least in part because we make sure a potential candidate fits our culture, as well as possessing the right skills.
“Our employees are the life and soul of our quirky company. We’re lucky enough to attract awesome and talented people from all over the world with such varied and interesting backgrounds.
“Ask me who I’d invite to my fantasy dinner party. If you’re looking for exquisite company and some great stories, it would certainly include one or two people from Voxbone!”
A Growing Appreciation of Diversity & Inclusion
People have become much more aware of D&I in recent years. As many as 70% of people working in high-tech industries heard or read about workplace diversity issues in the 12 months to February 2018. Some 91.3% of the respondents to our survey either agreed or strongly agreed that Diversity & Inclusion are important to Voxbone, with 78.3% also expressing a positive level of interest in our Corporate Social Responsibility activities and Initiatives.
It is also satisfying to see 84.8% of Voxbone’s employees feel they belong at Voxbone due to the company’s culture and values, while 80.5% agree or strongly agree that their individual values and ideals are respected in the workplace by their colleagues and managers.
Among the anonymous feedback we received were the following quotes:
- “Diversity & Inclusion in my opinion is one of the most important values that Voxbone has. It is really easy for new joiners to feel comfortable in this kind of environment.”
- “I feel Voxbone is an energetic and vibrant company and the staff reflect this mentality.”
- “Voxbone is a diverse, international, dynamic and interesting company. Internal culture is great.”
Life at Voxbone as a Parent
This year, we wanted to pay special attention to how parents view life at Voxbone. Ensuring a healthy work-life balance is often a major challenge facing new and existing parents. Many of the men and women on our leadership team have children and so understand these pressures and are keen to instil across the company a culture that is supportive of working parents.
Among those Voxbone employees identifying as parents in our survey, not a single respondent disagreed with the statement that they feel well supported by Voxbone in their capacity as a parent. 50% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, while the remaining half were neutral.
Among the initiatives we have put in place for parents are Finnish baby boxes for new parents filled with goodies and useful items for their new Voxbabies (11 so far this year!); a salary sacrifice scheme for childcare vouchers; an electric bike scheme for families in our Brussels office; and a new initiative across multiple offices to provide an allowance to pay for local childminding services in the event that an employee’s child is sick and unable to go to school or daycare. This year, our HR team has also produced an Operational Guide for Voxbone Parents to ensure that staff are fully aware of all company initiatives.
Voxbone in 2019
The data indicates that Voxbone possess a young, diverse workforce in 2019 that’s made up of a mosaic of nationalities, which is essential given the nature of our business. It also reveals that, while Voxbone is stronger than tech and telecoms industry averages for female representation, especially at management and leadership levels, there is still room for improvement in ensuring a more gender-balanced workforce.
As the results of our first internal D&I survey reveal, our employees are interested in diversity and inclusion. The vast majority feel that their values are aligned with those of the company and that their cultures are respected by colleagues and managers. On the whole, they feel well supported by the company, with clear paths of progression ahead.
Interested in joining our team? Check out our open roles
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