Blog / Diversity is the key to our success

Matthew Hill: November 10, 2020

In our latest blog, Matthew Hill, Principal Consultant for Recruitment, highlights why diversity in recruitment is hugely important for developing a National Digital Platform for Scotland.


NES Digital Service (NDS) is developing a National Digital Platform to help make health and care technology better for everyone in Scotland.  While technically and operationally complex, it is impossible to deliver a successful service if we don’t treat diversity and inclusion seriously. 

Put simply, in developing a national service for Scotland, we need to ensure the diverse needs, perspectives and backgrounds of everyone in Scotland are at the forefront of everything we do. 

This has been embedded in our approach from the very start of NDS - you can read more about what this means in our Head of Product, Rohan Gunatillake’s, earlier post on NDS Products and Kind Technology.

More broadly there’s strong evidence that diverse teams and employers will be more successful

Our diverse teams

Our diverse team

Having trebled our hiring over the last year, we can be proud of our achievements on diverse recruitment.  Whether it’s female representation in engineering; BAME representation in leadership; gender identity; neurodiversity or other areas, progress has been made.

This is just the start – as we grow it’s important to continue this trajectory.

What this means for recruitment

To be clear, we are focused on hiring the very best talent available for NDS, regardless of their background.  That applies to everyone who has joined and will continue to be the case. 

We also believe treating diversity seriously is key to successful recruitment.    By attracting a wider range of applicants, we increase the numbers of candidates we can consider and have a fantastic opportunity to increase our hiring potential. 

Quite rightly, candidates will only consider employers who trust, respect and value their employees.  This applies to all candidates regardless of background.

Our approach needs to consider every touchpoint a potential applicant may have with NDS – long before they apply right through to assessment, interviewing and onboarding. 

Most importantly, it needs to be authentic and credible – based on clear evidence that we are an inclusive employer. 

There is a wide range of activity planned, to build on promising foundations we have made.

Four Steps NDS have taken to attract and hire diverse talent

  1. We established a Diverse Recruitment Working Group

It’s been fantastic to see roughly 25% of employees across all levels volunteering to join this group.  It’s provided a valuable forum to identify changes we can make to improve our attraction and assessment processes from a diversity perspective.  An especially important part of this was listening to a number of colleague’s own recruitment experience both with NDS and other employers.

In parallel, other groups are working to ensure diversity and inclusion is at the heart of our culture, working environment and product development practices.

  1. We removed Gender Bias from our recruitment adverts

There are many tools which make this easy to do.  Kat Matfield’s Gender Decoder for Job Ads is highly recommended.   More broadly, we are working to ensure all our recruitment content and communications consider diversity.

  1. We made it easy for candidates to ensure they are treated fairly and with respect

We want all candidates to be comfortable and focused on the interview.  Whether it’s a preferred pronoun; adjustments due to a disability, pre-existing medical condition or something else, we let candidates know we are very happy to discuss any reasonable adjustments.

  1. Direct Sourcing for Diversity

If you’re a Talent Sourcer, have a look at your search strings and platforms you are targeting.  Are they truly delivering diverse talent pools? 

Most searches for software engineers will deliver male lists – simply adding a list of female names to your search string and you will discover a wealth of “hidden” talent.  A similar approach can be taken when sourcing for under-represented ethnic groups.

Sourcing on a platform like Github and Stack Overflow tends to identify talent which is the most active and has lots of time available to contribute.  These are less likely to be parents and statistically less likely to be mothers.  There are definitely ways to identify diverse candidates through these platforms but additional steps are needed.

This is just the start

We can do LOTS more.  And we need to listen and learn from others.  Approaching this solely through an NDS lens could risk only partial success.

Improving diversity and inclusion is an opportunity not only for NDS but the wider community – something we can all work on together.

If you’re involved in this area whether through meet-ups; as a member of an under-represented group or another employer keen to improve in these areas, we’d love to listen, learn and work with you.  Drop me a quick email.


To learn more about opportunities with NDS please visit our careers page.


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