Insights / Employers

Building a Thriving Community for LGBTQ+ Colleagues – Vicky Rowland, Sage

Building an inclusive workplace for employees is an essential aspect of any business model. Tech Talent Engine sat down with Victoria Rowland, UKI early careers lead, to discuss the recruitment process at Sage.

Building a Thriving Community for LGBTQ+ Colleagues – Vicky Rowland, Sage


Tech Talent Engine


Vicky Rowland, UKI early careers lead, is responsible for recruiting apprentice graduates and interns into Sage.

As a voluntary director for Trans in the City and formerly the UK Pride Lead, Vicky is passionate about creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace

Recognising the many hurdles individuals often face when applying for a job, Vicky’s objective is to optimise the recruitment process at Sage making sure the company attracts and supports a diverse range of talents into the workforce.

1. Why is it important to have a DEI strategy?

Diversity and equity are important as they help us to respect and represent the different needs and perspectives of our workforce, and ensure we pool ideas from a wider point of view that can also support problem solving and product development. Vicky stated:

I often hear from candidates that they come to Sage because they can see that we are inclusive and that their well-being will be looked after.

Representation is a very important aspect, especially in the workplace. Not only does it create a sense of community, but it opens the door for more opportunities and voices to be heard.

Seeing yourself represented in the workplace makes you want to work somewhere more. A lot of people tell us that they see themselves represented this is what attracted them to Sage. We are early on our DEI journey but we try to prove consistently that we care.

It’s not just lip service for us. If you’re not authentic in your strategies and your DEI beliefs, you’re going to get found out very quickly.

2. What are the values that drive Sage?

A big part of Sage’s values involves doing the right thing. Vicky said:

We hear a lot of companies saying, oh we’re going to give £10,000 to charity. However, they may not put in any extra effort to change policies within the company and make a difference to the LGBTQ+ community.

Much like greenwashing, where a company claims environmental impact without evidence, rainbow washing happens when organisations claim to support LGBTQ+ communities while simultaneously not doing the work to make meaningful changes to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Sage’s DEI strategy involves a multi-faceted approach that is always on. Vicky adds to this,

If you look at our website and social media you can see that we advocate all year round. The UK&I Pride Network has a focus on all-year round advocacy, we're a member of Stonewall, and we have an Executive Leadership Team Ambassador for LGBTQ+, demonstrating our support for LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion all year round, from the top of the organisation.

Our values are to be bold, human, simplified and trustworthy. Our brand messaging plays a huge role in representing these values. This is not a flick-of-the-switch approach.

3. What initiatives does Sage have in place to support colleagues?

From the minute someone applies for a role, Sage is focused on making sure everyone feels, seen, safe and heard.

One aspect of their strategy involves their gender-neutral parental leave policy (new parent leave with primary and secondary new parent leave), which is one of the ways Sage is challenging outdated gender norms of care and the societal stereotype of what a 'family' looks like.

Vicky adds,

Our gender-neutral policy responds to our colleague's insights around the many different types of families that exist today. If you really do care about diversity and inclusion, it will show in your HR policies.

4. How does this reflect in your recruitment practices?

Recruitment processes do not always flex to everybody's lived experiences and individual needs. We recognise that going through a recruitment process can sometimes be a worrying time for LGBTQ+ candidates.

Sage incorporates diversity and inclusion into the interview, ensuring every applicant is aware of the support available. Vicky adds,

We often have multiple stages of the application process. At every stage, we are clear and transparent about what we want from the applicant because we want to give them every chance to succeed, and also to have a great experience with us.

We talk about the location, the job, the different managers, progression and diversity, equity and inclusion policy. I can guarantee you that the latter piece is the part of the interview where they ask more questions than any other.

Another aspect of the recruitment process is the virtual interview, which allows applicants to fully express their identity in a comfortable environment. Vicky says,

When they do come to the interview, in our interview request, we tell them to bring their whole selves to the interview. If you’ve got pink hair – we don’t care. It is so important that our candidates know that they are in a safe space, where they are able to present as their true selves, without fear of judgement.

The self-acceptance atmosphere at Sage has led to numerous colleagues openly expressing their identities as transgender or non-binary within the workplace initially, subsequently gaining the assurance to share the news with their families and friends.

5. What is your advice to other businesses?

Regardless of the size of your organisation, Vicky believes everyone has the capacity to incorporate small steps towards an LGBTQ+ inclusive environment.

The first step is to deliver the authentic message that you want to invest in your colleagues and improve things for them. Vicky says,

The minute people realise that you genuinely care about investing in them, they’ll bind to you. Naturally, you will get more people to come forward to express their interest. People want to be a part of something great.

Another small step businesses can take is to post relevant content to the community on LinkedIn, ensuring your social media channels reflect your beliefs and values.

For example, if you attend a Pride march, make sure to post on social media about it and share your key messages. That shows people you care and that you made the effort to be part of a conversation.

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