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It’s no secret that the tech industry faces a diversity problem with slow improvement over the years. A study by Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that educates and supports girls studying computer science revealed that many young women are put off by their first encounters with tech companies due to gender-biased interview questions, inappropriate remarks, or observing a lack of diversity during the interview process.

While many tech companies are making little to no progress on addressing gender disparity, there are companies like Zalando, Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, who have made a pledge to “do better” and take bold steps to put an end to gender inequality. Zalando has set clear goals to open their doors to a fully co-ed workforce and further close the diversity gap through more inclusive hiring processes. 

“Gender diversity is a massive priority for Zalando,” says Yasar Ahmad, Global Head of Tech Talent Acquisition, Zalando. “This problem represents half of the population of the world.”

Zalando challenges the status quo

Zalando has more than 35 million active customers in 17 different markets. In their latest Diversity & Inclusion report, they found that women only make up 17% of the tech workforce at Zalando ranging from approximately 10% in software engineering and 52% in product design. In order to reflect the broad and diverse customer base that Zalando serves, and be a credible driver of positive change, they committed to achieving a 40% female tech workforce by 2023.  

In order to achieve this, the hiring team at Zalando set out to find a solution that not only helps them mitigate bias and ensure candidates are assessed accurately and fairly, but they also required a solution that overhauls and automates their entire recruitment process. Since the global pandemic, they have seen a significant surge in applicants so a technology solution that can help them scale was essential.

Zalando found the perfect solution in Codility’s technical hiring platform. With the need to screen thousands of engineering applicants, Zalando used Codility’s CodeCheck platform to conduct standardized assessments and CodeLive for remote interviews. Both solutions combined helped Zalando mitigate unconscious bias and create an accurate, accessible and fair structure to their hiring process.

Levelling the playing field with CodeCheck and CodeLive

“We looked at Codility to help us battle unconscious bias by assessing all the candidates equally and fairly,” says Ahmad.

With CodeCheck, Zalando offered their candidates take-home assessments to showcase their technical and problem-solving skills and hire candidates twice as fast as traditional hiring methods. These tests screen real-life skills for all roles, along with programming languages and frameworks. The platform checks all levels of difficulties so that results are unbiased and fair, and screens for plagiarism to avoid false test results. 

“Codility assessments allow our candidates to display their skills and showcase if they are experts in a certain language or technology, says Ahmad. “This is a natural coding environment for every engineer, a space where they can shine, regardless of their background.”

With CodeLive, Zalando conducted remote interviews with top candidates in a shared, live, coding environment. Candidates and interviewers were able to dig deeper into proposed solutions by drawing diagrams, frameworks, and tables–all from the comfort of their home offices. So far, Zalando conducted 6,000 remote interviews using CodeLive, while maintaining a natural, seamless and positive candidate experience.

“How we treat our candidates is just the same as how we treat our employees: with respect, in a timely and inclusive manner,” says Ahmad.  

Zalando paves the way for gender diversity

Zalando has set an ambitious goal for gender diversity and has paved the way for what other tech companies should strive for in creating a more diverse and inclusive company culture. “Zalando becomes more inclusive with our tech assessments, as we no longer judge individuals by just their CVs, says Ahmad. “Their technical skills plus their values and desires for Fashion Tech is what matters.”

By improving their recruitment processes and relying on Codility’s advanced technical hiring platform, Zalando is well on their way to achieving their goal to have a 40% female workforce by 2023. 

Natalia Dwórznik, Enterprise Marketing Lead at Codility.

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