In the spirit of openness we’re sharing our perspective on what we know is a complex, multi-faceted issue. Please let us know what we could be doing better with this post
Diversity is hard, but valuable.
Aside from being the right thing from an ethical and moral perspective, diversity makes us more successful as a company.
More diverse teams perform measurably better
(See The Other Diversity Dividend for a case study)
Having a diverse workforce makes it easier for us to hire diverse workers in the future, which significantly widens our hiring pool and brings more talent into the company.
A variety of perspectives on our team makes our products more innovative, allowing us to reach markets we may not have considered and address pain points we would not have encountered otherwise.
Increased gender diversity in particular has been shown to keep teams more consistent and constructive over time
There are any number of metrics along which diversity can be beneficial to a business (please check out the brilliant Project Include for many more), but when the evidence is so strong, and lines up with our goals of being good people and doing good in the world, it’s hard to argue against.
We should clarify that when we say “diversity” we refer to multiple dimensions of diversity, including not just common axes such as gender, ethnicity, age, and socio-economic background but also previous occupations, education and path to tech careers, cultures, languages, and more.
Especially for young startups.
As a new company (three months old and around five employees), we tend to hire people that we know. This helps us to reduce risk of personality and culture conflicts (which can kill a company at this stage) but unfortunately it also means that we hire mostly from our network, which reinforces existing biases. Going outside of our comfort zones is frightening, but critical to our success.
Like many young technology companies we’re also mostly made up of software engineers, and looking for more early on. That means we’re drawing from a highly skewed pool of people to begin with (for example barely 12% of startup engineers are women), and without taking care we’ll simply end up reflecting the existing biases of our environment.
It’s important to us to solve this early on, before it gets too hard to change. Being visibly different in a team of five is hard, but it’s much harder to be visibly different in a team of fifty. Think of the courage it takes to be the first woman on a previously all-male soccer team, or the first white person to join a hip-hop dance squad. We don’t want to limit our talent pool even further by requiring that level of courage to join our team.
Also ironically, for a data-driven engineering team like ours – a team that values what we think of as the scientific method – is that we know we have blind spots but we don’t know where they are. What are we inadvertently doing, or saying, or broadcasting, that’s hindering our efforts?
First, we’re not doing as well as we’d like. Our team is homogeneous in the ways you’d expect from a stereotypical tech company. We’re composed primarily of straight, cisgender men, with graduate degrees in STEM.
We’re working to address this in a few ways. We’re sharing them here both to help influence other companies, and to solicit feedback from the community.
We’re also reaching out through our network and community, both for advice on how to improve, and for candidates. That’s you! – Please let us know what we could be doing better. And please send folks our way!