It’s in the details: How 3 Austin tech companies build more inclusive workplaces

by Kelly O'Halloran
June 26, 2018

Unless they’re backed by actions, initiatives and partnerships, terms like “diversity” and “inclusion” run the risk of becoming mere buzzwords in the tech industry, which remains under fire for the lack of both. We caught up with three local companies to learn more about how they are building more inclusive and diverse work environments.

 

medallia austin
photo via medallia

San Mateo-based Medallia opened its Austin office in the summer of 2017 with a hiring focus on sales. Leading Medallia’s diversity and inclusion efforts is Lauren Jackman, who serves as the the company’s inclusion practice lead. Specific steps include a commitment to equal pay, non-binary bathroom signage in the offices and a focus on what candidates can add to the culture as opposed to how they will fit in with existing culture.

We conducted our first-ever pay equity analysis to ensure that compensation for U.S. Medallians is equal.

 

How does your hiring process promote diversity?

We adopt best practices to minimize unconscious biases and ensure fairness and objectivity. We run our job descriptions through a gendered language decoder to ensure we’re not inadvertently appealing to some job seekers more than others. We also think about what someone can add to our company culture — not just how they fit into the existing culture, which can unfairly penalize people from different backgrounds. Currently, we’re focused on ensuring our interview process is structured, and that the evaluation criteria are clearly defined.

We’re also collecting data so we can measure outcomes like hiring rates for different demographic groups. We’re continuously trying to understand where we have opportunities to improve. We are committed to a process that reflects our commitment to diversity every step of the way.

 

What policies does your company have in place to make your work environment more inclusive?

We have the basics for ensuring all employees are safe and respected, like a clear code of conduct, an anti-harassment and bullying policy, an anti-discrimination policy and mandatory trainings on these policies. We’ve also made an equal pay commitment and conducted our first-ever pay equity analysis to ensure that compensation for U.S. Medallians is equal (i.e., that there are no statistically significant differences) across gender and race for comparable work, experience and performance. We are committed to conducting regular reviews of our practices to ensure continued fair compensation for Medallians.

In terms of benefits, we offer six weeks of parental leave for all new parents, and we offer a service called MilkStork to support Medallians who are travelling for business while breastfeeding. Last year, we participated in the Corporate Equality Index for the first time, and we earned the designation of a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ equality, in part because of the support our benefit plans provide for same-sex couples and trans individuals. We have guidelines in place to support Medallians who are transitioning at work, and we have non-binary bathroom signage in our HQ to help make sure everyone is comfortable in our space.

 

What resource groups exist within the company to support diversity and inclusion?

We have several employee resource groups, all led by volunteers. These communities greatly enrich our environment by leading internal celebrations, like Pride Week and our talent show, offering professional development opportunities, like participating in our Medallia mentorship program called WIRED, and creating opportunities for Medallians to give back. They are: A11y (accessibility); BAM (Blacks @ Medallia); HispanX Voices; Medley (a cross-functional diversity council); Parents, Q_Field (LGTBQ+); [email protected]; Women in Tech and [email protected]

 

Does Medallia consult with external advocacy groups about how to make your hiring process more inclusive?

We partner with three external organizations to help us find talent: Year Up, which focuses on closing the opportunity divide for youth; Path Forward, which focuses on helping caregivers re-start their careers; and Breakline, which focuses on helping veterans transition into careers in the tech industry. We also host and sponsor events, partnering with groups like the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, and hosting events like Geek Girl Dinners, to help us meet talent from communities we know tend be underrepresented in the industry. We’re actively seeking to expand these partnerships with local organizations across additional office locations.

 

facebook
photo via shutterstock

One of Facebook’s actions toward an inclusive and diverse work environment is a program it created three years ago called managing bias. This initiative, which is available for other companies to adopt, helps to identify hidden biases that emerge in the workplace so organizations can act to combat them. Jeannine Carter, Facebook’s head of diversity engagement, highlighted how the company is committed to a diverse workforce.

We present hiring managers with at least one qualified candidate who is a member of an underrepresented group to fill any open role. 

 

How does your hiring process promote diversity?

We use the diverse slate approach. This means we present hiring managers with at least one qualified candidate who is a member of an underrepresented group to fill any open role. This encourages recruiters to look longer, harder and smarter for more diversity in the talent pool and ensures that hiring managers are exposed to a range of different candidates during the interview process. We also have a number of partnerships with organizations that provide diverse pools of talent such as historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, and with organizations that help young people from underrepresented communities develop an interest in computer science, such as Girls Who Code and Year Up.

 

What policies does Facebook have in place to make its work environment more inclusive?

We’re working to ensure we treat everyone fairly. Facebook is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer, and all employees are expected to follow our code of conduct. We also have a comprehensive training on managing bias that much of the company has gone through. Three years ago we made this training available publicly for other companies to adapt for their own use: managingbias.fb.com. Additional training programs help create a supportive culture for our colleagues from underrepresented communities. Be the Ally gives all employees the tools to be stronger allies at work. Managing Inclusion helps people managers build the skills to create an inclusive environment for every member of their team. We also conduct annual salary reviews to guarantee that everyone is getting equal pay for equal work.

 

What resource groups exist within the company to support diversity and inclusion?

We have a number of employee resource groups dedicated to supporting people from diverse backgrounds, including Asian American Pacific Islanders, Black, Differently Abled, Interfaith, Women, Latin, LGBTQ, Native Americans, and Vets. Employee resource groups also provide employees at Facebook with support and development opportunities, community and chances to foster understanding between all people. Each group is sponsored by a senior executive, which ensures access to the highest level of the company. Many of our employee resource groups host annual leadership days where they bring together members from all over the world to focus on strengthening their communities through activities and guest speakers.

 

Does Facebook consult with external advocacy groups about how to make its hiring process more inclusive?

We consult and partner with organizations such as Grace Hopper, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, U.S. Business Leadership Network) and other organizations. We look far and wide for talent, hiring from more than 300 universities and colleges around the world. Facebook is also present at many conferences, which are a crucial tool for finding and engaging talent. We partner with a number of historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and other organizations to reach diverse talent and develop a long-term pool of future employees.

 

shipstation team
photo via shiptation facebook page

ShipStation’s diversity hiring initiatives begin at the top. Robert Gilbreath, the company’s VP of marketing and partnerships, filled us in on how the company’s leadership team is dedicated to growing a team from different backgrounds and perspectives to inspire innovation.

We have a leadership team dedicated to developing diverse talent.

 

How does your hiring process promote diversity?

As individuals, we all have our own unique perspectives, and in some ways we are limited in how we interact with the world because of it. By focusing on building a diverse team with different backgrounds and perspectives, we get closer to the 360-degree view of the world that will help us continue to succeed in our mission to help all merchants grow and thrive no matter where they sell or how they ship.

 

What policies does your company have in place to make its work environment more inclusive?

We are an equal opportunity employer that cares about creating an inclusive work environment. Equal opportunity goes beyond just the bottom of a new job description, it’s something that must be infused into the leadership’s hiring goals, which is something we’ve done here at ShipStation.

 

What resource groups exist within the company to support diversity and inclusion?

We have a leadership team dedicated to developing diverse talent. Mentorship is a part of the culture for those who want it here at ShipStation.

 

Does your company consult with external advocacy groups about how to make its hiring process more inclusive?

We work with different organizations that help us survey our employees and provide feedback on how we can be more inclusive. We also work with hiring organizations that promote diversity in the workplace.

 

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