Looking back on our 2020 Diversity and Inclusion efforts
I think we can all agree that last year was really… something. But at Shortcut, we’re lucky enough to be in an industry that was not as impacted by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic as other industries and to be able to do almost all of our work from home. That we have such privilege has made this year a good one to focus on how we can improve as a company.
Shortcut is a startup with fewer than 100 employees. There is no better time to set a good agenda and take action on it than while we’re still small enough for every employee to know every other employee. This ensures that when we hit 200, 500, 1000 employees that we aren’t playing catch-up or just mouthing words that have no meaning. The earlier we take action, the easier it is to continue acting as we grow.
Before we can talk about what we’ve done and what we’re doing, we should first take a closer look at who’s doing the talking.
Who works here?
It’s important that Shortcut reflect the organizations we serve and the communities we are part of. We can best do that by ensuring we don’t a hiring process that acts as a feedback loop in which people who have the same background as the founders get hired and then hire people who have the same background as themselves who then do the exact same thing. The best products are built by people who have a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
Let's start by looking at a survey for which we have comparable data for this year and last year:
Over the past year, the number of women at Shortcut has increased by about 10.2%.
Apple, Facebook, and Google as of 2019 are 77% men and 23% women. Shortcut is significantly outperforming in terms of male to female employee ratio compared to some of the best known tech companies in the US.
And now let's look at demographic data that we have just for this year that we can use as we go into 2021 and beyond.
Now, what have we done to learn and improve this year, and what will be doing to improve even more next year?
Relaunched the D&I action committee
This committee was originally formed in the middle of 2019, but it faltered because there was little structure and no incentive to attend meetings. Any employee could come and go as they pleased. This seemed like a good idea in order to get feedback and ensure everyone felt engaged, but in reality it meant that no one felt responsibility or ownership and so there wasn’t enough action taken from discussions that came out of the meetings.
Now we’ve changed it to a format where a smaller number of passionate employees (anyone was welcome to join during the sign-up period) work together to improve our culture and drive data collection about how we’re doing. We run surveys, create initiatives, evaluate those initiatives, and work to hold the leadership team accountable while we do it.
We know that our committee is a work in progress. Not everything we do will be successful, but we’ll learn from actions that aren’t successful and improve upon them.
Supported Shortcut as it went 100% remote
Before the pandemic, Shortcut was already a very remote friendly company with around half our employees working out of our NY office and the other half spread across the US and other points around the world.
What that meant is that we were lucky to have a large group within our company who could provide advice to the many of us who were used to working in an office environment. We created an internal Remote Work Best Practices doc and many of the ideas submitted there ended up as part of our Distributing Joy blog post series from the spring.
Working from home is probably most difficult for Parents and Guardians who have to juggle their number one priority of taking care of their children while trying to get all of their work done. We pushed for lots of flexibility for all Guardians to ensure they had the space they needed.
Updated our ToS to take an anti-racist stance
After the initial Black Lives Matter protests that followed the murder of George Floyd, we felt it was important that we, as a company, do better to ensure we do not simply uphold the status quo. Good intentions are not enough. Intentions are not results.
One way we wanted to make that clear is by updating our ToS to be explicitly anti-racist. Though these sorts of organizations have never been welcome here, we wanted to make sure that was clear so that it’d be even easier to take action when and if we need to do so.
What else have we done?
Here is our D&I changelog from the last 1 ½ years. It was inspired by Zapier’s excellent career page here.
- Launched Community PTO (Also known as volunteer time off) with unlimited time offered to all employees.
- Added anti racist language to the Terms of Service
- Conducted a D&I initiatives survey
- Re-launched D&I Action Committee
- Redesigned the careers page
- Conducted the company’s second demographics survey
- Updated recruiting practices to ensure consistent and fair interviews and hiring decisions
- Crossposted all jobs to diversity job boards
- Added Junteenth as a permanent company holiday
- Launched biweekly Pulse Surveys for continuous feedback
- Added pronouns to Slack profiles
- Created a maternity & wellness room
- Standardized Job Descriptions & Interview Plans
- Launched D&I action committee monthly meetings to create a brave space for internal D&I conversations
- Transitioned to a new office catering service, Food to Eat, a woman-owned corporate catering concierge service that focuses on working with immigrant, women and minority run food businesses throughout New York City.
What’s next for 2021?
We recently surveyed the entire company on which D&I initiatives they care the most about. These surveys will have a direct impact on where we put our focus. We’ll then do surveys about the focus of any new initiatives to continue boosting and improving our internal culture.
Though there were some notable differences in the selections made by women and men, there was a pretty broad consensus that we need to ensure we focus on at least a few things: