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March 9, 2022
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How we’re breaking gender bias at Cogo

Lucy O'Connor
In partnership with

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. The aim is to raise awareness about gender biases, stereotypes and discrimination. And inspire people to fight for equality.

So, in this blog, we’re going to share how we are breaking the bias at Cogo to hopefully inspire you to build a fairer and more diverse workplace too.

"We can break the bias in our communities. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities. Together, we can all break the bias—on International Women's Day (IWD) and beyond." International Women’s Day, 2022

But first, let’s explore exactly what gender bias is, how it shows up in the workplace and its impact on businesses.

What is gender bias?

Gender bias is a preference toward one gender over another, resulting in unfair differences in the way people are treated.

People can have biases that are either conscious, meaning they are aware of their own prejudices, or unconscious, meaning they are not. We all have unconscious biases that we absorb from our environments and life experiences, starting at an early age.

If the bias is unconscious, it is harder to identify and solve, which is why talking about it and highlighting forms of unconscious bias can help people understand and take action to change.

Gender biases at work

Despite the gains in female representation in recent years, unreasonable biases, such as that women are more ‘emotional’ than their male counterparts, often means they are excluded from decision-making roles across organisations.

Bias against non-binary people

It’s also important to note that bias is not limited to the gender binary. A recent Transgender Survey revealed that many respondents believe there is workforce bias against people outside of binary identifications. They reported that this bias could result in refusing promotions, harassment and even termination.

How we’re breaking the gender bias at Cogo

In the hiring process

We are very careful with the language we use in job adverts, and we run all job descriptions through a gender decoder to catch any subtly masculine coded language which research has shown can be off-putting to women and non-binary applicants.

We are also careful to avoid terms like 'expert', and long lists of critical competencies, which in particular can trigger imposter syndrome in applicants. Focusing on behaviours rather than characteristics helps both applicants and recruiters avoid the pre-conceived images that characteristics can bring. It enables the applicant to see themselves in the role more easily, encouraging greater diversity of applications.

It is also important to understand the privilege behind a CV, and especially in tech. For example, an applicant who has been able to spend a week at a hackathon or fill a GitHub with charity projects has had the financial and time privilege's to be able to do so, and the same opportunities may not be available to somebody who also has to look after family or who couldn’t support that time off financially.

In the culture

We offer flexible working hours and options to work part-time, so parents can work around childcare.

Remote working options also means a wider range of candidates can apply for our roles (those in different countries, those who can't afford to commute into or live in a central hub, those with at-home responsibilities, those who are not physically able to come in, etc.)

In parental leave

We offer new parents the chance to come back to work on full pay but a reduced capacity for the first few weeks. We also offer partners (i.e. not primary caregivers) two weeks of paid leave in the first two weeks of their child's birth.

In closing the gender pay gap

For the past 2 years, we have posted a negative gender pay gap—meaning that on average women and non-binary employees at Cogo are earning more than their male counterparts. While this is not necessarily a number to focus on as a goal in itself—especially in a rapidly scaling business—it does highlight that we have been able to attract female employees in high paid senior and technical positions, and not just at entry and mid-level roles. We also have a fully transparent pay scale, which is not only published on every job advert but also salaries are freely shared internally. Everybody can see what everybody earns, which keeps us focused on fair and skills-based salaries.

In learning and development

We recently reorganised the business to make sure there are clear and transparent promotion pathways available, providing individual development funds to everybody to spend on up-skilling, and building competency frameworks for each role so that promotion and pay increases are skills-based.

If you want to join our team of amazing women, head to the careers page to see what open roles we have.