Gender diversity at Football Radar

At Football Radar, we like to think our developers are some of the most content in the industry. Flexible working hours, in-house chefs, a great gym, a stunning office in West Kensington, not to mention whatever computer equipment you like. Together, our engineers and the software they write lie at the heart of our company, enabling us stay ahead of the industry, disrupt and continue to be the smartest people in football analysis. We are at the cutting edge of what we do, and yet our engineering department has to date only ever employed men, who make up almost our entire pool of applicants. This is something we are now making efforts to address, and being a company in the football space we face certain challenges.

Our engineers

We want to empower our programmers to find their own solutions to hard problems. If you're interested in statistical models, real-time data, distributed systems, playing with the latest technologies, or just like being given an interesting problem and some freedom to solve it, you'll feel right at home. Our engineers make up a dynamic and highly collaborative team (no-one is untouchable when it comes to code review!) and the best idea always wins. Scala, Pants Build Tool, Docker - these are just some of the latest technologies that our engineers work with.

Women in tech

There has for a few years now been a well-documented imbalance between the numbers of men and women working in software engineering, something that software engineers often take for granted. Following the steady increase of women in the computer science field in the 1970s, something changed in the 1980s, and the trend began to reverse. Various exciting initiatives notwithstanding, the current workforce then does already have a gender ratio imbalance - even so, our internal ratio is more extreme than this.

The first step is the hardest - “Could I ask what your gender ratio is at the moment?”

We don’t have any female software engineers. Acknowledging this was the first step towards changing it.

With any initiative, the first steps are often the most challenging. We took the decision to reach out to Girls In Tech London, a community largely (but not exclusively) for women working in the tech industry here in London, offering to sponsor an event. From the outset we have deliberately been up-front about our N:0 gender ratio, and that’s perhaps been the most challenging aspect of this process for us as a company - but without a starting point, without knowing where we are and confronting that reality, it’s pretty impossible to plan how we are going to get where we want to be.

Our motivation: Finding the best engineers

The more diverse our candidates in every sense, the better we can be.

Something we are very conscious of as we continue in our efforts to focus on raising our profile within communities such as Girls In Tech is to avoid any perception of our trying to ‘tick a box’ in terms of diversity of our employees; taking a step back from that, we are keen to increase the diversity of the candidates who apply to join our team. It might sound an almost regressive measure, directly targeting women - after all, you can’t generalise about half the population, and we want to appeal to all engineers. In our case though, for whatever reason, we aren’t sufficiently engaged with a very specific segment of the tech community in the city we call home. Of course, we would never hire a woman for the sake of ticking a ‘diversity’ box, but we think it is important that we start to be proactive in engaging with particular segments that are, for whatever reason, underrepresented in our team. Being proactive in terms of where we engage and lend our support can only bring us benefit, as more people hear what we’re all about. The more diverse we can make our team, not only in terms of gender but also in terms of background, interests and skill sets, the richer the team will be for that.

Your hesitation: The football factor

Football not your thing? It probably doesn’t matter.

As a ‘football’ company, when recruiting we face the added complication of the various perceptions around what we expect from potential employees with regards to football knowledge. As touched on in this previous blog, we don’t actually require candidates to know anything about football! Of course if you do have a passion for the sport, it is in no way a disadvantage, but you aren’t necessarily going to encounter football constantly in your day-to-day work. When designing a user interface, a database model, or a system, the challenges you’ll face and skills you’ll be using tend to be the same regardless of the domain you happen to be working in. Of course, our analyst roles do require a very high level of football knowledge, and we all take pride in our mission to disrupt the football industry, but that does not necessitate our all watching football, or being particularly fanatical about a team.

What our women say

If you’re a Girl In Tech, you will probably have spent most of your education and career working as a minority, still, we thought it worth asking some of the women here would say to a woman who was considering applying for a role with us, giving them the last word.

“Given my passion for football, I have very often found myself working with guys throughout my career, and it's never been a problem. I find our work environment easy-going and straightforward, and people never have problems speaking their mind - I thrive in this kind of atmosphere, and that matters more than the gender ratio.” - Noemi Diamantini (Football Operation Supervisor)

“I think you’d be surprised by how welcome you’d feel, although I also completely understand that you might have misgivings. Football Radar operates a particularly effective meritocracy, with no strict age-based hierarchy or anything like that, and so if you are good at what you do that’s all that matters. It’s competitive, but everyone is so welcoming - that really stood out to me when I first arrived. There’s never a queue for the ladies, which I guess is a bonus.” - Meabh Mcloughlin (Lead Player Analyst)

“I personally thrive in our work environment - I like that we have open, honest and direct communication - I do not think that has anything to do with gender, but simply a result of our working culture. I wouldn't worry about the gender of the people I am working with but instead focus on what they are like to work with.” - Helene Mark (Head of HR)

“As a chef you know that you’re not going to be in a majority, but I love the ‘what you see is what you get’ culture here. I think if you’re a woman coming in it might be a bit of an adjustment, but definitely nothing to worry about. Also about the football thing - I don’t know much about it, and I was worried that would be a barrier to me, but actually it really wasn’t.” - Cherie Godsmark (Head Chef)

“I came from an environment dominated by girls, and the culture was completely different, so it was obviously an adjustment moving here in some ways, but I didn’t find it too tricky. I also know hardly anything about football, but I think what unites us here isn’t so much the football, more the fact that at our core we’re all working together to find a creative solution to a problem.” - Tiffany Redman (Operations Manager)

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