Diversity & Inclusion UK Report, June 2020


As social-justice movements gain traction around the world, we have a key opportunity to back up our words of support with real change: by understanding systemic injustice is real and concrete action is urgently required.

Our mission is to make Brainlabs an equitable workplace, where everyone has equal access to progression and development opportunities. By focussing on equity instead of equality, we want to address the fact that everyone doesn’t start on an equal footing or benefit from the same support: equality means treating everyone the same, whereas equity means offering tailored support so that everyone has what they need to thrive.

Every company should have a workforce that reflects the diversity of the local community at every level: i.e. our demography should reflect London’s population. We also want to do better than the industry standard. Inclusion is crucial: there isn’t much value in building a diverse workforce if underrepresented groups feel unwelcome or unable to progress as easily as others.

No one has cracked diversity yet; every company can improve. The purpose of reporting on diversity isn’t to shame companies with poor baselines, but to be honest about where we are and where we want to get to. Leadership and culture both play a big role in offering solutions to diversity & inclusion challenges, so we’re going to need your help!

Our stance

We are working to build a culture that is both proactive and sustainable in its diversity & inclusion efforts. We don’t want to risk falling into a position where we are continually issuing reactive responses to global injustices that crop up in the news cycle.

By focussing our attention on being proactive, we can create positive change and revamp systems and policies, rather than becoming another organisation issuing hollow words of solidarity on Instagram. We want to make a lasting difference. Of course, we will address any current events that we believe may directly impact the safety of our employees.

We pride ourselves on being a company that supports its employees, and we want everyone to feel safe in the knowledge that we do not tolerate hate or prejudice in any form and that we stand up for the rights of underrepresented groups.

Notes on the dataset

76% of UK Brainlabbers completed June’s demographic survey (and 90% of the leadership team) so the following results represent that group of 160 respondents. All of the data collected was anonymous, so we can’t provide analysis by department or seniority level.

This report focuses upon seven of the nine protected characteristics as per the UK government's 2010 Equality Act. Our survey did not ask questions relating to marriage & civil partnership, or pregnancy & maternity. These will be included in future surveys, as well as questions on socio-economic background and neurodiversity. We are using a data-driven approach to benchmark our stats against London averages, and have referenced reputable sources where available (eg. official government statistics).

UK Demographic Results, June 2020

Protected characteristics

Gender identity

  • Our male-female split is roughly equal across UK-based employees
  • 44% of senior leader respondents identify as female; 56% as male
  • No respondents identified as non-binary+ or transgender
  • 0.4% of the UK population identifies outside of the gender binary of male/female

What we're doing

We want to make sure people from underrepresented gender identities are represented and feel a sense of belonging at Brainlabs (i.e. women, non-binary+ and transgender people).

  • We are currently analysing our gender pay gap by department and seniority level to assess balance across teams, especially in senior positions
  • Changing our promotion process so that progression is directly linked to performance in role against job description
    • Internal role changes will go through an official application process overseen by People Operations
  • Challenge our recruitment process so we can change how we hire, particularly into senior roles
  • Added pronouns fields within Slack and applications to normalise discussion around identity and show we’re allies to trans and gender non-conforming communities


Our racial demographic is 74% white, which does not align with London’s population

  • Largely under-indexing on Black employees (1.9% vs. London avg. 13%)
  • Under-indexing on Asian employees (13.8% vs. London avg. 18%)
  • Senior leadership team is 100% white

What we're doing

We have a lot of work to do to increase representation of non-white ethnicities (particularly at senior levels) and make sure people of colour feel welcome and included at Brainlabs.

  • Diversify our recruitment strategy to attract more POC candidates
    • Move to a CV-less and nameless application process for all entry-level hires to reduce bias and increase the objectivity of recruitment
    • Pivot graduate recruitment to focus on universities with high racial diversity
  • Promoted Diversity & Inclusion Director role to sit on the Global Operations board
  • Perform inclusion surveys to work out how to tackle issues relating to POC employee satisfaction and retention
  • Create private Slack channels for POC employees to connect

Sexual orientation

Brainlabs is tracking above the local population for sexual orientation stats. In 2018, 2.8% of people in London identified as lesbian, gay and bisexual.

What we're doing

We will continue to show up and make ourselves visible as an LGBTQIA-friendly employer.

  • Celebrate events such as Pride, Bi Visibility day, Ace Awareness week, etc
  • Introduce policy to support gender transitioning, including support and paid time off
  • Create private Slack channels for LGBTQIA employees to connect


5% of our team have a disability, compared with 15% of people in London.

What we're doing

We are committed to becoming a more disability-friendly workplace. We regret that historically we did not pay enough attention to barriers to entry for some disabled candidates (eg. our London office inaccessibility and lack of step-free tube access). However, we will be reviewing our hiring processes and providing reasonable adjustments for all types of disabilities, be that physical, mental, or learning difficulties.

  • Signpost the government’s Access to Work scheme, which provides grants for equipment and travel assistance for people who have a disability
  • Enrol in the Disability Confident scheme to commit ourselves to accessible employment, reasonable adjustments and support mechanisms
  • Sign up to Purple Tuesday, a change programme with the goal of improving working conditions for people with disabilities


  • The average age at Brainlabs is 28
  • London’s average age is younger than the rest of the UK at 36.5

What we're doing

Our workforce is young compared to London averages. We have already been shifting away from exclusively hiring graduates, looking for entry-level candidates in more diverse places than just universities, and in the direction of experienced hires in order to better serve our clients as industry experts.

  • Focus less on perks that just attract grads and introduce benefits that appeal to other demographics (eg. a generous parental policy)
  • Continue to offer part-time working where possible and flexible working so people can fit work comfortably around their lives
  • Provide more tailored support to those on caregiver leave


  • The vast majority of our team are agnostic, atheist or non-religious
  • We are significantly less religious than London (with only 29.4% of people having no religion in the 2018 ONS survey results)

What we're doing

We want to make sure people who affiliate with any religion are represented and feel welcome, included and that their needs are accommodated.

  • Continue to offer the ability to swap a bank holiday for a different religious holiday
  • Build an inclusive calendar to make religious festivals visible and celebrated, and so that Brainlabbers can learn about these throughout the year
  • Perform inclusion surveys to work out how to tackle issues relating to the inclusion of people who practise a religion, as this was a low-scoring area
  • Better acknowledge, welcome and accommodate for religious practices (eg. sensitivity around food during Ramadan or fasting periods)

Further metrics

Pay gaps: gender and ethnicity

Companies are able to easily report on gender pay gaps, as gender is not considered special category data in a GDPR sense: we already collect this information for all employees. However, ethnicity is listed as special category data, which makes it harder for companies to report on. This is why we have chosen to calculate our ethnicity pay gap as all white ethnicities versus all non-white ethnicities (i.e. people of colour). We understand that grouping all POC into one category is reductive, as each ethnicity category is unique, but we have done this to make sure data does not become identifiable and to make our results more meaningful, as small sample sizes make it difficult to draw informative conclusions.

  • Client teams: any team which directly provides services to Brainlabs' clients
  • Other departments: "back office" teams like Finance, Marketing, Office Management and People Operations
  • Leadership: Global leaders and UK regional leaders

As it stands, on average, women are paid 15.8% less than men at Brainlabs. The pay gap is much smaller across “client teams” at only 1.7%, but this increases to 14.4% on average across “other departments”. These calculations are based on the most recent July payroll, and we have defined functions using the groupings below. NB. We grouped ‘other departments’ together for confidentiality purposes, as sample sizes were small enough that results could become identifiable.

We have identified the key challenge here as a lack of female representation within the leadership team, which raises our overall pay gap statistic. This isn’t something we can fix overnight, but transparency with our numbers is the first step to closing this gap.

Our overall ethnicity pay gap is wider, with non-white people being paid 31.5% less than white people on average.

We lack the data to break this down by department, due to the anonymous nature of the survey, or by seniority level, as the survey groupings were ambiguous categorisations (manager, leader, senior leader, etc) from which we can’t draw any real, meaningful conclusions.

We’re working with People Operations to create clearer groupings for categorising seniority levels for future diversity & inclusion surveys, and with the legal team to figure out how we can report on ethnicity pay gaps without breaching GDPR.

Note: We calculated pay gaps using this government guidance, using the mean average for annual salaries across UK employees.


We have far more privately-educated employees than the UK average of 6.5%

What we're doing

Education is not a protected characteristic, but committing ourselves to diversity of education will positively impact other aspects of diversity.

  • Removing education requirements from job ads and only asking for qualifications when it is a legal or regulatory requirement (eg. if we were to hire an in-house lawyer)
  • Re-evaluating the our entry-level interview tests in favour of something that better caters to neurodiverse thinking
  • Including questions on socio-economic background within our next demographic survey to gain a more nuanced understanding of another layer of privilege

Mental health

  • The NHS says that one in four adults experience mental illness, which roughly aligns with our demographic at Brainlabs
  • Because of stigma and the non-visible nature of some conditions, The Mental Health Foundation says it's difficult to know how accurate statistics are

What we're doing

We have made a concerted effort to destigmatise conversations around mental health and will continue to do so.

  • Mental health employee champions provide care for those that need it, when they need it:
    • Six members of staff are trained as mental health first aiders
    • We offer discreet digital walks and talks
    • Monthly Mental Health newsletter, featuring an employee Q&A
    • Training to all new joiners, as well as manager-specific Mental health training
    • Regular events encourage conversation around wellbeing
  • We have a Mental Health Slack channel, where you can request contact from Mental Health First Aiders, read advice and insights into how to prioritise your own Mental Health
  • We are part of the EAP (Employee Assistance Programme), a 24/7 confidential advice service which offers support for all sorts of matters including health & legal advice, debt management, and bereavement support
  • Continue encouraging sick days to be used for both mental and physical health
  • Changed our fitness subsidy to a wellness subsidy which can be used for both mental and physical health

Caring responsibilities

  • Within the survey, we classified carers as anyone who looks after an elderly or sick partner, relative or friend who is unable to care for themselves
  • Carers UK estimated that 8.8 million adults in the UK were carers in 2018
  • Our statistic is low compared to the UK average, but as our company demographic gets older, it’s likely that this number will increase

What we're doing

  • Continue to offer part-time working where possible and flexible arrangements so people can fit work comfortably around their lives
  • Introduce ‘keeping in touch’ days for anyone on caregiver leave to have paid days to keep in touch with the company, if they want to
  • Give paid time off to attend caregiver-related appointments
  • Changed our flexible working policy so that it covers voting time for those who cannot vote outside of working hours due to other responsibilities


There are some clear areas for improvement, particularly that most respondents don't feel strongly that we are committed to employee diversity across the org. There was a slight trend that people from minority groups (eg. POC, people who practise a religion) feel less included than people in dominant groups (eg. white, male). This part of the survey was a 1-5 point scale with no area for comments, so we will send out qualitative surveys to collect feedback on where we can do better here.

Note: We have only provided overall inclusion results, rather than breakdowns by underrepresented groups, as these are mostly small sample sizes and we’d run the risk of results becoming identifiable.

1 = strongly disagree 5 = strongly agree

Upcoming focuses

As well as the actions listed throughout this report, here are some of our upcoming focuses:

Education and awareness

  • Introduce compulsory training for leadership, People Operations and managers by an external third party (including sections on privilege awareness, inclusive language, decision-making, challenging inappropriate behaviour, etc)
  • Revamp our unconscious bias training 
    • Use an external third party to deliver high-quality, up-to-date training
    • Mandate that everyone’s unconscious bias training is refreshed annually
    • Research from Equality & Human Rights Commission suggests increasing the sophistication of unconscious bias training increases engagement
  • Update our tone of voice guidelines to cover internal communication as well as our external brand voice
    • This will contain important information around inclusive language


  • Signpost our recent diversity & inclusion commitment within our careers page to spotlight our aims and show candidates we are committed to being diverse and inclusive
  • Update the culture interview process to avoid biases, more carefully considering who should host these interviews and what the questions are
  • Introduce compulsory inclusive interviewer training for all interviewers
  • Analyse our existing recruitment data to see where candidates ‘fall off’ at different stages and revamp tests that could encourage implicit bias (eg. our entry-level interview tests)
  • Formalise culture interview process for senior hires
  • Work with People Operations to consider new ways to make our 2-month training scheme more accessible
  • Improve our apprenticeship scheme so that every apprentice receives the time, support and training to achieve their full potential
    • eg. Apprentices should also only be managed by individuals with more than 2 years of management experience
  • Add optional Equal Opportunity questions to job ads
  • Build relationships with recruitment agencies committed to diversity


  • Add exit interview questions relating to diversity and inclusion
  • Add optional demographic questions to exit interview process
  • Analyse historic retention and detect diversity & inclusion themes
  • Examine our progression process to ensure our promotion system is fair
  • Investigate specific challenges faced by underrepresented groups via anonymous pulse surveys and/or focus groups covering:
    • Opportunity/barriers to promotion
    • Authority and decision-making
    • Cultural sensitivity
    • Bullying and harassment
    • Measures to tackle discrimination


  • Rebrand Equality Committee as the Diversity & Inclusion committee
  • Create a UK Diversity & Inclusion Slack channel
  • Establish a committee lead to push key projects forwards
  • Make meeting notes and actions available for everyone to read
  • Promoted Diversity & Inclusion Director role to the Ops board to ensure committee voices and ideas are escalated to the highest level
  • Committee members to act as diversity & inclusion champions, raising the profile of our work and opportunities

Culture and policy

  • Set up diversity & inclusion sofa hours where anyone can share ideas with Diversity & Inclusion Director
  • Allow individuals to apply to be mentored by senior leadership team 
  • Create sanctions against perpetrators of discrimination
    • Extend our zero-tolerance policy to online behaviour
  • Create a budget for platforming diverse voices via Internal Learnings
  • Create employee resource groups for underrepresented employees

Wider action

Band together with other agencies to lobby the government to:


Our mission is to create a workplace that provides people from all backgrounds the support they need to grow and thrive at Brainlabs. As per the results of this report, we recognise four clear areas that we really need to focus on: improving representation and inclusion of people with disabilities, people from diverse educational backgrounds, genders and ethnicities (including reducing pay gaps and diversifying our leadership team).

With that in mind, our main focus for 2020 is to build strong foundations. To quote Sheree Atcheson, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Monzo:

“Imagine the final goal of inclusion was a new, beautifully furnished house. This year, we’re building on some great foundations, like putting up walls and installing plumbing. Then next year – we continue to build on those foundations and then… we decorate!”


  • LGBTQIA: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual
  • Mixed: Multiple ethnic groups e.g. White & Asian, White & Black African,
    White & Caribbean, Other
  • POC: People of colour