2015 may very well be known in tech as the year that software companies got serious about gender diversity. Well known tech companies like AirBNB, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tribridge, and many others have “come out” in 2015 and published their gender and sometimes ethnic diversity numbers, often times with targets for 2016. While I appreciate the transparency in the industry for recognizing the value of diversity to build healthy, growing businesses, I do think that it’s more than just a numbers game.
At DoubleDutch, we have not until recently formalized programs targeted at increasing diversity and awareness, and yet broadly our diversity numbers in traditionally underrepresented areas of the business (technical roles) are healthier than our peers (26% female). And while 38% of our company is Female, 44% of Management and 40% of the C-Suite are Female. To date, we have not gathered ethnicity in our demographic information so this article will focus on the data we do have.
Just because our gender diversity numbers on paper look better than other tech companies out there, that’s not to say that we don’t have a significant amount of work to do like everybody else – because we definitely do. I am not as concerned however about the company formalizing a “number” target to hit in 2016, because I believe that DoubleDutch’s culture is strongly rooted in diversity as a differentiator, and this matters a lot. When I consider what is unique about life at DoubleDutch that creates an environment where gender representation has not been a hot topic, I come back to our company motto “Ride Together”, as well as our core values:
One of the things that initially attracted me to DoubleDutch was that everything about what sat at the center of our value framework was an invitation to be different, and to celebrate and engage with those differences in a way that positively impacts the company. In this way gender diversity, while never explicitly called out during recruiting or through policy, is always implicit.
As an example – without a formal pledge, this past year in my Customer Experience org (which includes both technical and non-technical roles) we have doubled in size, increased overall diversity, established equal gender representation in leadership roles, and have moved both male and female team members into technical roles both within the department and into Engineering. The goal of a diverse workforce was never flashing in bright lights – rather it is always threaded into the way we run our business. Having grown up in Silicon Valley and built my career in the technology industry, this approach to business is fairly uncommon as startups often look for like-minded peers to accelerate development and reduce friction.
While we wholeheartedly believe in living up to our core values and celebrating our vibrant culture, there are certainly unconscious biases built into who we are as people. This is a reality that we must all own up to. Four months ago, a group of women leaders and I organized an interest group to generate a set of recommendations that would help support the next stage of our company’s growth. From this project we recommended a series of benefits and actions targeted toward supporting a more diverse workforce, all of which were approved and immediately implemented:
12 weeks paid maternity leave and 4 weeks paid paternity leave for new parents
Lyft credits so employees can have secure transportation to and from the office for those who need to work before 7 am and after 7 pm
Sensitivity training for all people managers to help identify and weed out unconscious biases
Launch an internal women’s resource group for cross-departmental community building, training, and support
Broaden the overall diversity of team and company building events to include families
Our recommendations centered around a belief that our policies and practices were causing us to miss out on a significant chunk of the workforce – namely men and women with families and women in underrepresented fields. We also centered around the notion that no matter what, unconscious bias exists and we need to establish ways to increase self-awareness around the issue and promote a healthy and positive working environment.
All this to say – I’m proud of the culture we have built at DoubleDutch, and am very excited about 2016 being the year where a flood of companies in tech strive to integrate diversity into the cultural fiber of how they run their business. Because a diverse workforce better represents our customers, helps teams make better decisions, and makes us a better company – this much we know.
Want to join our growing team? Check out our open job opportunities.