Sustainability Spotlight: Boosting diversity - K2’s DE&I hiring programme

Successfully boosting diversity requires more than targets. Its benefits can only be realised through a truly inclusive workplace.

K2’s position as a provider of end-to-end consultative technology solutions to over 500 businesses across the globe gives them a unique perspective on the hiring landscape. The firm’s talent network of 1 million contractors serves corporations from offices in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. This means K2 has a lot of breadth and depth of experience to draw on, as well as the backing of Inflexion and its network since 2017.

Fernanda Pellegrini has been with K2 for a decade and so has witnessed its evolution. The Vice President of People Strategies explains that while formal discussions on diversity and inclusion weren’t initially part of the agenda, K2’s global nature had ingrained the value of regional differences long before the term DE&I became a buzzword. “We embraced diverse viewpoints, recognising that innovation comes from varied viewpoints from different backgrounds,” she adds.

K2 began to formalise its policies around diversity in 2018, shortly after receiving minority capital from Inflexion. “We wanted to have consistency in our response when asked about it and be proactive to ensure no unconscious biases could slip through.”

The network offered by being part of Inflexion’s 50+ portfolio has been beneficial, with Fernanda saying the regular leadership meetings and webinars offer “a very valuable channel of communication for exchanging information”.

K2’s efforts are reflected positively in its hiring. Its ‘Women in Tech’ hiring initiative aims to create an inclusive workplace culture and tap into a diverse talent pool by unlocking the potential of women working in the tech industry. While gender parity remains a way off for K2’s IT team, the firm has seen its gender split shift from 18% women at the end of 2022 to 27% at the end of 2023. The change followed targeted efforts which saw eight of 18 IT positions recruited in 2023 filled by women.

The progress stemmed from many factors: K2’s training business, K2 University, launched an IT Academy targeting women and teaching them sought-after Salesforce skills. K2 also coached managers to mitigate bias in recruiting, while the firm created a web page specifically targeted at female candidates, featuring testimonials from successful women in tech at K2, inclusive images and gender-neutral language. The gender split is a metric the firm will incorporate into its yearly DE&I reporting as they strive to reach a 50:50 split.

Beyond gender

Fernanda is adamant diversity is not merely about gender, and so the firm also has a programme for hiring for professionals with disabilities. The impetus was two-fold: the firm was already committed to diversity, and legislation passed by the Brazil government necessitated businesses of a certain size to ensure a set percentage of its workforce is from this cohort.

K2 set out to understand its target as well as well as how best to achieve them . Simultaneously the business focused on fostering a culture of inclusion to raise awareness, addressing biases and promoting empathy and understanding. Partnerships were struck with disability advocacy organisations which provided valuable insights, guidance and support in designing and implementing inclusive recruitment strategies.

These efforts mean that today 5.6% of K2’s workforce is comprised of disabled people, comfortably above the Brazilian government target. “We aim to lead by example, and eliminating barriers was essential to ensure professionals with disabilities can thrive and contribute fully with our DE&I commitments.”

K2’s internal efforts make it well placed to help the businesses it works with boost their own diversity. “Many companies look to progress DE&I through certain pools of candidates and we can help them to drive that and accomplish their goals,” Fernanda explains.

Her passion is reflected in her expertise around DE&I, suggesting the former only works if the latter is genuinely there. “While diversity is important to harness value in varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, inclusion ensures that these differences are respected and integrated into the organisation. It’s not a token gesture to advertise but rather making everyone comfortable about bringing as much of themselves as they want to work. It’s more of a feeling than an action.”

Common missteps in diversity initiatives


  1. Gender focus: Many companies fixate solely on gender diversity. While gender equality is crucial, a holistic approach considers other dimensions such as ethnicity, age, disability, and sexual orientation. A universal lens helps transcend gender-specific discussions.
  2. Regional and cultural generalisations: Diversity varies across regions and cultures. What works in Brazil may not resonate in Japan. Organisations must tailor their strategies to local contexts, acknowledging unique challenges and opportunities.
  3. Politicalisation: Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) can inadvertently become politicised. To sidestep this, focus on creating a supportive environment where individuals thrive. DE&I should be about people, not politics.

Inflexion is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion at the firm and within its portfolio. 42% of Inflexion’s team are female and 20% come from ethnic minority backgrounds.