It has been approximately one year since we publicly released our diversity and inclusion figures and strategy. Joining other progressive tech companies, we view diversity as a key driver of our company’s success. We also feel it is important to be transparent and shine the light on the ongoing efforts needed to be a more diverse and inclusive organization and industry. Today, we would like to update our statistics, progress, and share an evolved plan.
By the Numbers
Let’s take a glance into our diversity figures and compare year over year. First, some quick context on how we categorize tech vs. non tech, as this definition tends to vary by company. Our delineation starts and ends with whether or not the position, in order to be successful, requires a technical degree, equivalent years of on-the-job technical training, or a working knowledge of CS fundamentals. Positions such as Software Engineering, IT, and Systems Administration (and their management structure) are obvious, but we’ve also included Technical Support and Technical Project Management, as they require a combination of the aforementioned criteria as well.
Comparing year over year, while it is hard to dissect exactly which part of our strategy had the most direct impact, we were happy to see the majority of our numbers trending in a more diverse direction. Highlights include our women in tech, women in leadership roles (directors and above), and women in tech leadership statistics, seeing a 30%, 42%, and 100% increase, respectively.
Previously stated, the important part isn’t just releasing our data, it is the strategy and actions that we take afterwards. As such, we’d like to share an updated, and what we believe to be, a maturing plan, to help us in this journey.
An Evolved Strategy
We’ll continue a multi-pronged strategy to help change the diversity imbalance both internally at SendGrid and in the industry as a whole, namely via:
- Community – We remain steadfast in actively participating in and championing various groups across the diversity spectrum. Our primary relationship remains with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and their amazing CEO, Lucy Sanders. We are proud members of their Leadership Team, Pacesetters Group, and Entrepreneurial Alliance. This allows us many opportunities to not only have a deeper level of participation, but again, more importantly, to be held accountable.
Speaking of partnerships, through the brokership of NCWIT, we’ve been fortunate to join forces with fellow member, Return Path, and participate in their Return to Work program. We are off to a great start, onboarding 3 SendGrid “Returnees” recently, and can’t wait to see their contributions. Beyond NCWIT, our last year has been busy supporting other community groups such as Girl Develop It, Women Who Code, The Girly Geeks, as well as extending our reach across the diversity spectrum by supporting the NSBE, the CDHS, and the Flatirons LGBTQ Tech group.
- Culture – This word means a lot to SendGrid, both intrinsically and extrinsically. We define our culture through our “Four Hs” – Happy, Hungry, Honest, and Humble. All have a strong correlation, but we believe the final H, humility, aligns best to inclusiveness. To foster this even further, we educate our employees on why diversity matters. Encouraging and ensuring our employees attend conferences such as the recent Tech Inclusion 2015, and trainings on unconscious bias, discrimination, and harassment continue to build and increase our day-to-day awareness. (More on internal activity below.)
- Technology – With the challenge we all face with unconscious bias, it is important to have measures in place to strive for objectivity. An exciting evolution to our plan this year has been the implementation of complementary software and tools. We’ve enjoyed building partnerships with companies that are passionate about helping companies gain insight and solve diversity challenges through technology, such as GapJumpers, Textio, and Culture Amp.
There are many areas we need to focus on and improve. With community in mind, we are in the early stages of an internal initiative that’s key objective is to zero in on the diversity pipeline. While this may not have immediate short term benefits for SendGrid, a notion of planting the seed or giving first, comes to mind.
If you can imagine a convergence of collective intelligence and activity towards increasing diversity of the next generation of technologists, you may be able to also imagine the pipeline needle moving faster. In doing so, a positive side-effect, that seeing this progress would have on a company’s culture and it’s people. In short, we believe that it’s important for us to work on these two angles—pipeline and company culture—simultaneously. We’ll report back!
Studies are proving that more diverse teams yield higher performance. With our broader leadership (mainly Director level) team’s figures having more balance than years past, we are in a great position to take advantage through action. A 2016 initiative we are calling “Elevate” has two key objectives. First, to ensure our emerging leaders build the skills to be our future executives, and second, to foster productivity and creation through diversity. Specifically, female participants will set the charter and steer this group and its various programs.
Additionally, although an impressive collection of individuals, a figure we are not proud of is that our Executive Team and Board of Directors have zero female representation. We would like to see that change. Our CEO is in active discussions with our Board and they are supportive of our taking a leadership position on diversity across our company and on the Board.
Going public with our figures in 2014 was important; we’d love to see more companies join the movement. We remain consistent in our message that diversity and inclusion will never mean ticking the boxes or adhering to quotas. Instead, we see it as not only the right thing to do, but an integral and essential part of the continued success and maturity of our company, industry, nation, and world.
We continue to be proud of the work we’ve done thus far, realize that we have a lot of work still ahead and most importantly, we are committed to seeing change!