Texthelp's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: An Interview with CEO Martin McKay

Contributing to an inclusive workplace where all employees feel respected, supported, and safe is at the heart of our commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.

We believe in creating opportunities to celebrate difference. We’re committed to removing any barriers that allow our people to be their authentic selves at work.

Our goal is to build connections and networks that strengthen our global Texthelp community. We want to be able to educate and create awareness of each other's experiences and perspectives and we're committed to promoting a culture of belonging.

In this blog, Cathy Donnelly, Chief People Officer at Texthelp interviews our CEO, Martin McKay about why DEI is high on our list of priorities and what our plans are.

Cathy: We have big plans for DEI at Texthelp, Martin, can you share what they are, why this is important to us as a business, and how we’re going to tackle them?

Martin: We have been working for 25 years to make classrooms and workplaces more inclusive and now is the time to make Texthelp more inclusive - and greener. This year, we’ve established an ESG Framework for our business. It’s a strategic priority for us. The ESG framework encompasses environmental, social, and governance aspects. DEI sits under the social section of ESG and I’m delighted to share that we have established brand new Employee Resource Groups, also known as ERGs and a DEI council. Together, they will drive our DEI agenda and guarantee that all ERGs are working cohesively towards common goals.

Cathy: Before we get into our discussion, I want to briefly review how we define diversity, equity, and inclusion at Texthelp.

Firstly, the term diversity refers to the differences among employees, such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and disability. Equity, on the other hand, entails impartial treatment, accessibility, and opportunities for all people. Equity recognizes that each person has unique circumstances and provides the necessary opportunities to reach an equal outcome. Lastly, inclusion plays a crucial role in building a sense of community in the workplace that’s grounded in trust and respect. This atmosphere helps create a feeling of belonging among all employees, which encourages them to bring their authentic selves to work.

A crucial part of our strategic priority has been to create our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These groups are led by employees and are voluntary to join, intended to cultivate a diverse and inclusive work environment. ERGs aren’t provided by top executives and management. Instead, we encourage employees to get involved, participate, and set the agenda for these groups, in order to promote an inclusive community within our organisation. 

ERGs are led by employees, and participated by employees who share common identity, values, interests or perspectives. We also welcome allies to join and participate in these groups. Our goal is to use the ERGs to offer opportunities for supporting one another in creating a community and sense of belonging. 

Additionally, our ERG members play a vital role in raising awareness of issues and trends affecting their members. These discussions and insights help us in addressing concerns and ensuring our employees have a positive and inclusive experience while working at Texthelp.

Cathy: Martin, could you please share with us why DEI is significant to you?

Martin: It’s imperative for Texthelp to foster a work environment where all employees can feel fulfilled in their roles, treated equitably and respectfully. We want to enable employees to work in a secure and inclusive environment where individuals can express themselves and not feel the need to mask their identity. Our ultimate goal is to help everyone reach their full potential. Additionally, it’s essential that we prioritise learning and educating ourselves about issues faced by underrepresented groups. 

Workplaces in general are plagued with alarming statistics regarding discrimination and bias. By learning from diverse groups, we can broaden our perspectives and become more empathetic and understanding individuals. This will help us in our aim of creating an employee base that mirrors the markets we serve.

Cathy: What is your personal opinion on why DEI is essential for our business?

Martin: There are two reasons why I think this is important for us as a business. First, as a leader in accessibility and inclusion, we want to set an example internally to showcase our best practices to customers and create a more substantial impact. Second, there's a strong business case for diversity and inclusion.

Research from McKenzie, Forbes, and Deloitte has shown this. For example, McKenzie’s research showed that gender diversity on executive teams is linked to stronger financial performance. As someone who leads a team with three women out of five direct reports, I can attest to the benefits of having a diverse team.

Forbes found that diverse teams can deliver 60% better results when making decisions, and inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time. Additionally, Deloitte found that when employees feel like their organisation is committed to diversity, their ability to innovate goes up by 83%. And we should also keep in mind that when people are looking for jobs, they often research if the company has DEI policies in place. According to PWC's recruitment research,  54% of women and 45% of men surveyed said they looked into a company’s DEI policies before accepting a position.

So, it's crucial for us to improve our DEI policies and practices not only for recruitment success but also for our overall organisational growth. Embracing diversity and inclusivity can help us gain broader perspectives and insights into others' experiences, leading to better decision-making, planning, and working.

Cathy: Those statistics would be difficult to argue with. I have a simple question for you next, Martin: if you were to rate our progress towards diversity, equity, and inclusion on a scale of 1 to 10, what score would you give us?

Martin: I believe our current progress is acceptable. We’re probably at a five or six, but much more needs to be accomplished. Our intentions and commitments are genuine; however, we need to take action. That’s what we’re committed to. I believe that our ERGs and DEI council are going to play an essential role in driving change throughout the organisation. 

Cathy: Next, I'd like to dig a little deeper into your personal experiences and what has influenced your thinking on DEI.

Martin: Disability inclusion is an extremely important part of my life personally, because my dad acquired a severe disability when I was young. I believe it is essential to not only improve DEI at Texthelp but to also make a positive impact on the larger world. 

Another area that’s affected my thinking on DEI is the religious and political situation in Northern Ireland. For those who aren’t very familiar with the landscape in Northern Ireland, we have a lot of issues when it comes to religious inclusion here. 

I’m sure everyone has some sort of experience of being part of an underrepresented group, but I don’t want anyone to ever feel like that at Texthelp. We should be working together to understand each other, and to make this a really great place to work.

Cathy: Thank you for sharing that Martin. Moving onto our next question, what does success look like for you, in say, a year from now, Martin?

Martin: To be successful, our ERGs will be well established and engaging with people. We have created six ERGs, focused on the following areas:

  1. Environment
  2. Disability
  3. LGBTQ+
  4. Gender
  5. Race and Ethnicity
  6. Employee wellbeing 

We should have regular events where we can learn from one another. Secondly, we need to talk about diversity and inclusion in a more natural, everyday way. Thirdly, we need a more diverse employee base. This won’t involve ticking off quotas, but making sure we get the best possible candidates, regardless of their background. We will hire based on merit, and the best person for the job will always get the position. Lastly, we’ll be putting metrics in place to be able to track our progress over time, celebrate successes, and take action when necessary.