Cloudreach is the world’s leading independent multi-cloud services company, operating in eight different countries. Established in 2009, Cloudreach helps enterprises build new foundations for future growth through successful cloud transformation. They are a strategic partner for Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
An inclusive employer, one of Cloudreach’s values is: ‘Respect the individual’, which encourages a workplace where diversity is celebrated and the individual is respected, included, and empowered to bring their whole self to work.
We made changes to our job advert, to make it more open and inclusive. Instead of looking for unicorns and very specific profiles, we opened up ourselves in terms of what we were looking for. What’s really important? What are a person’s attributes that will do really well here? Everyone was judged on merit, and the recruitment went very well.Poonam Flammarion, Head of Talent Academy, Cloudreach
Join the Workforce Integration Network
The Workforce Integration Network (WIN) programme has produced a suite of complementary resources to help employers to address the under-representation of
young black men in the workplace.
If you would like to speak to someone at Cloudreach about their work, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to make the introduction.
The Journey so far
Commitment from senior leadership has been key in ensuring a whole ED&I culture and systems change within Cloudreach, particularly in engagement and recruitment. This commitment has enabled a more confident approach to utilise positive action initiatives. These include support for training and increased sponsorship. Cloudreach is also setting up an internal talent acquisition project team around ED&I initiatives which will support change management across the organisation.
As part of its transformation, Cloudreach used the Inclusive Employers Toolkit, and found its approach comprehensive and practical, as the resource offered ideas that they had not previously considered.
I thought there were lots of really good suggestions there, even simple things such as getting your recruiters to think about positive action, because people are very quick to start looking at positive discrimination.Poonam Flammarion, Head of Talent Academy, Cloudreach
ED&I is an integral part of how Cloudreach defines success, and its values are embedded in the hiring process (especially for technical staff), leadership practice and business operation.
Cloudreach’s main challenge was around the issues arising from setting recruitment targets.
While setting hiring targets for under-represented communities is the way forward, for many organisations it can bring with it an underlying fear of failure. Historically, there is poor gender and ethnic representation in the tech sector, with a resultant lack of interest in the roles that should help companies bring about positive change. Cloudreach recognised the need to set realistic targets to manage the fear and also change ‘hearts and minds’ about the process.
Many organisations (and candidates) have been faced with an assumption that positive discrimination is applied as a method to meet targets, which leads to doubt about the process and the quality and merit of the candidates who are offered positions.
There is still an argument amongst many, that if businesses are not asking for sufficient experience and qualifications, the quality of appointments will not be as good. There can be a perception that those groups are under-represented because the experienced talent in that community doesn’t exist.
Cloudreach recognise that many groups and communities are under-represented in the tech sector, but has consciously decided to focus on recruiting young Black men aged 18-24. As this is the group which presents highly in unemployment statistics.
Unless you’ve got a very specific issue that has been identified and everybody agrees with it, the male-female ratio is a very obvious one and something that people generally feel comfortable talking about – but when you talk about people of colour, ethnicity or other things, people suddenly don’t feel that it is their place to talk about it.Poonam Flammarion, Head of Talent Academy, Cloudreach
Cloudreach collaborated with Amazon Web Services to set up a Talent Academy to create a more diverse and inclusive technical community. It offers a 2-year programme of accelerated, hands-on learning to help candidates from diverse communities launch their technical career in cloud computing. The application process was opened to a wider demographic, which was not constrained by specialist experience, qualifications or skills. The first cohort of 20 people were recruited in 2021.
The Cloudreach Talent Academy has a clearly defined progression pathway for this entry level programme. The trainees take a number of challenging AWS certifications and start working directly with customers to help them gain as much experience as possible. Support is provided by trainers, mentors, line managers and by more experienced members of their project teams.
Cloudreach has achieved success with its wide-reaching approach. Of the first Talent Academy intake, 54% of applicants declared themselves as non-white and 23% identified as female. (47% of applicants declared their gender and 96% declared their ethnicity).
From lessons learned during the first cohort process, Cloudreach expanded its recruitment to work with grassroots non-profit organisations to reach talent, with good results. There were 6 females in the 2021 cohort out of 20 people; the following three cohorts had 10 or more females out of 20.
Cloudreach were able to evidence the successful impact of its new approach, which showed positive client feedback, including compliments about complementary skills which have enhanced the workplace, clients’ willingness to have the trainees on their projects and for the trainees to become billable. Cloudreach were also able to evidence improved understanding of the barriers and experiences under-represented groups face.
I think the mindset is starting to change, because people are now saying, yes the talent does exist – you’re just not looking in the right place.Poonam Flammarion, Head of Talent Academy, Cloudreach
Internally, a major benefit of the increased communications of ED&I initiatives has been positive employee engagement. The Cloudreach CEO already meets with the trainees regularly. Staff are now engaging with the process by offering to mentor trainees and volunteering for interview panels. Results from the staff survey also reveal that colleagues appreciate the work that is being done in relation to ED&I.
“At launch events, a trainee will often talk about the difference this opportunity has made to them and how grateful they feel. They are able to share their stories to promote understanding of the barriers facing BAME young people, such as not expecting a call back because of their colour or because they wear a headscarf or hijab.Poonam Flammarion, Head of Talent Academy, Cloudreach
Cloudreach is adding to its ED&I policies for the whole organisation. The new Head of Talent will develop and utilise positive action initiatives. There are set targets for recruiting young Black men aged 16 to 24 years. To attract talent, it has reached out to a wider, more diverse audience by adopting a more open recruitment approach for other posts within the organisation, not just the Talent Academy. It will also start to review retention data.
How we move forward
- Think outside the box and challenge the norms we inherit regarding recruitment.
- Create safe spaces to talk about ‘difficult’ topics of race and racism to help improve the understanding of the barriers and experiences of under-represented groups, such as young Black men.
- Look at the data. Look around you. Who is missing?
- Do not be afraid to use positive action initiatives to progress your ED&I goals.
- Reach out! Through non-profits or agencies that work with under-represented groups. Or publications that increase your reach. Social media can also help to generate and dramatically increase responses from a wider, more diverse candidate pool.