“Diversity: The art of thinking independently, together.” – Malcom Forbes
indinero’s path to increasing diversity as a new member of Portland’s community of technology companies, as told by our talent acquisition manager.
Honey, we’re home! As of spring 2015, indinero has landed in the beautiful PNW and we’re quickly getting the hang of things. This month we were introduced to TechTown Portland and immediately felt at home. It’s exhilarating to join a growing group of like-minded companies building something from their own bootstraps. And it’s extremely heartening to see all of us taking the right steps to build this ecosystem in a way that will benefit the greater local community, such as their Diversity Pledge.
As a business that supports businesses, we know that great ideas can come from people of any background. But while the value of diversity is obvious, it’s still alarmingly hard to find in the workplace to this day.
It’s no secret that the technology industry has accrued a ton of what one of indinero’s founding team members, Andrea Barrica, refers to as “diversity debt.” It’s painfully easy to see across bigger tech companies in the public eye like Intel, Sony, and Twitter–which recently held a “frat party”:
As we join Portland’s community and witness it grow into its own tech hub, it’s important that we remain vigilant of not repeating the same patterns that are so prevalent in our homeland, Silicon Valley, and the tech industry as a whole. These dangerous habits that make technology companies a stifling place to work for so many of us also put companies in jeopardy of losing touch with many potential clients and employees.
In her contribution in The New York Times, Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, recently described the current tech marketplace as “a bubble where the same products are created again and again, in service to the same demographic of consumers.”
This resonates deeply with us. Tech is fundamentally about rethinking the obvious to develop better, more efficient products or services. To maintain momentum we need even more variety, even more points of view, and it is up to hiring managers like me to find those individuals in Rip City’s candidate pool who have the unique talent and experience to shoot holes in today’s problems.
Talent can come from anybody, no matter their gender, age, race, socioeconomic background, or education level.
We are invested in diversity because we know first-hand that different minds yield great results. indinero was founded by a woman, Jessica Mah, and a man, Andy Su who don’t always see eye-to-eye on how to solve problems. This tension has some drawbacks but after learning how to appreciate their differences, they have a stronger company, product, and friendship.
We’re also inspired by Google, which not only shares its diversity numbers, but also has reflected on its own unconscious biases that have hurt the company brand and products in the past–down to the details of right or left handed video uploads! By recognizing that you “can’t know what you don’t know,” we can de-stigmatize the defensive tendencies around facing our own prejudices.
This self-awareness can help each of us work hard to change our perceptions and take steps in a more inclusive direction.
I take all of this to heart as I hire for new positions. It’s foolish for hiring managers and executives to discriminate (consciously or not) and base their decisions on criteria outside of the skills, experience, and personal drive. We need differences of opinions in our decision making in every department.
We will do better when we’re forced to question things with a critical eye so we never get stuck in our ways.
Along with the benchmarks set by TechTown Portland’s pledge and the fantastic support resources they provide, we have incorporated our own goals to focus on as we grow as a company and a strategy for how to get where we want to be.
Improve current gender representation overall and by department to be 50-50.
Right now we are roughly 60% men and 40% women, which is moving in the right direction, but we still see departments such as marketing, sales, and leadership that sway toward one gender.
- Interview at least 2 candidates from each gender for all open leadership positions
- Proactively take part in local women’s groups
- Actively promote all open positions to women’s groups and forums
- Add more company perks that matter to women
- Continue showcasing Jessica, our Co-Founder & CEO
- Encourage our growing group of women teammates to recruit their connections to apply for jobs
Increase number of new hires who come from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds by at least 10%
This is currently where we struggle the most and have the biggest opportunity to focus on aggressively improving.
- Start actively sourcing applicants at career-oriented meeting groups for minorities and people of color.
- Bring in more recruiters to expand our sourcing and interviewing bandwidth to new audiences.
- Provide hiring decision-makers a more diverse candidate pool for each role.
- Hire outside the box, look for skills that can relate to the job regardless of what’s on paper.
- Use tools such as Poachable (Anthology) that allow us to review applicants without any unconscious biases–based solely on experience (no name, gender, race, etc.)
- Network/Partner with high school/college diversity groups to recruit for our career paths.
- Sponsor and host career fairs in underrepresented areas in and around the Portland & San Francisco Metro Areas.
- Strategically partner with local programs/accelerators that work with diverse entrepreneurs.
- Have candidates interview with a diverse panel of current employees.
- Create career paths so we can hire more people to grow into different roles via advance trainings and job shadowing.
- Interview at least 1 person from an underrepresented background for each open position.
Bring in more age variety and people with a larger breadth of work experience.
Right now we are very millennial-oriented but as we hire more leadership roles we need to hire people who can bring wisdom to our driven groups.
- Hire more executive team members and leadership positions to provide guided strategy.
- Look for candidates with more mature work and life experience to influence our current company customs.
- Provide flexible work-life expectations to address what these candidates might need for their family.
- Networking and joining leadership groups.
Find seasoned individuals looking to make a change in their career from a big corporation to a small hot tech startup.
Increasing our awareness and understanding of unconscious biases
This is the essential first step in creating a foundation for achieving our goals. As a collective group of people we can all benefit from making this a priority in our professional and personal lives.
- Present on the causes and impact of unconscious bias in the workplace
- Offer existing team members training on how to identify our own biases
- Share our progress, being accountable to the tech nw diversity pledge
With that–and with our signature–we plan to join the united front in bursting that figurative “bubble” that has inherently left others out.
Business isn’t black, white, pink, red, or purple (it’s green… like money!). So as modern, forward-thinking companies that dream of changing the world in one way or another, we should focus on creating opportunities for talented, motivated people, regardless of what they look like.
If we can succeed in being more inclusive we can create role models from all different backgrounds for future generations to look up to, perpetuating a better pattern. Looking at programs like Girls Inc. or Fast Forward that instill this confidence early-on, we see the ongoing impact diverse mentors have on building momentum in their respective fields for generations to come.