Diversity & Inclusion is about holding ourselves to a higher standard, to do what's right.

It's not only our moral obligation, but also the key to getting things done in an increasingly connected world.  

I joined Lever as the first female employee (besides the CEO) and led the initial D&I efforts. Our work evolved to an organic, deliberate strategy that's covered below. I am very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish (e.g. 50:50 gender balance, significant representation of black/latinx, LGBTQ, parents/caregivers, etc.). 

But the opportunity is much much bigger than a single company, and I now work with multiple startups to make D&I a reality. 

My D&I advice column for startups: Inclusion At Work


 I open-sourced my framework for D&I strategy at Lever’s Talent Innovation Summit in 2017. Click on the image for the slides. Video recording is  here . Following the conference, I’ve started a mailing list to share on-going tips and resources (including the D&I toolkit referenced in the presentation). You can sign up  here .

I open-sourced my framework for D&I strategy at Lever’s Talent Innovation Summit in 2017. Click on the image for the slides. Video recording is here. Following the conference, I’ve started a mailing list to share on-going tips and resources (including the D&I toolkit referenced in the presentation). You can sign up here.


“As a straight white male, I didn’t think D&I was “technically” for me. With Jen leading D&I efforts at Lever, it felt very inviting and balanced, and I’ve been in awe of the impact on the culture.”
— Danny, Sales

 When a problem is complex as Diversity & Inclusion, it can be hard to know where to start. Instead of waiting for more budget, executive approval, or full-time staff, here is a list of ideas to get started sooner than later.

When a problem is complex as Diversity & Inclusion, it can be hard to know where to start. Instead of waiting for more budget, executive approval, or full-time staff, here is a list of ideas to get started sooner than later.

 Get your team on the same page, and start tackling systematic biases

Get your team on the same page, and start tackling systematic biases

 How to address skepticism, fear, and lack of follow-through

How to address skepticism, fear, and lack of follow-through

 Advice and perspectives for founders who want to get culture right from the start.

Advice and perspectives for founders who want to get culture right from the start.

 I co-authored Lever's D&I Handbook.

I co-authored Lever's D&I Handbook.


Lever was still under 50 employees when I was interviewing, and I was surprised to walk in and see another black male in the office. I was shocked to learn there were actually three — I didn’t know this existed in Silicon Valley startups. [It] immediately felt more welcoming.
— Leighton, Engineer

Coverage & Results

  • In the Series C announcement, Lever was said to be "known as much for its own efforts in diversity as for its software: It has more than 100 employees, 50% of whom are women and 40% of whom are non-white, both unusual statistics for a Silicon Valley, venture-backed business."

  • In addition, women made up 50% of management and 43% technical roles. More details in How Lever Got To 50–50 Women and Men by Kim-Mai Cutler.

  • Given our relative small size, gender is easiest to reference. On the more qualitative side: we also had sizable employee population represented in racial minorities, LGBTQ, parents, etc.

  • I co-authored Lever's Diversity & Inclusion handbook and was a speaker at Lever's inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Forum.

 Learn about the concept of intersectionality to make sure you're not falling into a common trap!

Learn about the concept of intersectionality to make sure you're not falling into a common trap!

 
 Or any other D&I-related firestorm.

Or any other D&I-related firestorm.

 Startup School is a Stanford University course focused on equipping entrepreneurs to build the best companies possible.

Startup School is a Stanford University course focused on equipping entrepreneurs to build the best companies possible.

 Small things can have a big impact.

Small things can have a big impact.

 Training I designed and gave to D&I taskforce members to impart the tools and confidence to lead.

Training I designed and gave to D&I taskforce members to impart the tools and confidence to lead.

 The power of storytelling. I pitched/edited/co-authored powerful, authentic D&I-related stories that were tear-inducing for many candidates, we were told!

The power of storytelling. I pitched/edited/co-authored powerful, authentic D&I-related stories that were tear-inducing for many candidates, we were told!

 How companies can focus on skills, not pedigree, at Tech Inclusion, the largest D&I-related conference.

How companies can focus on skills, not pedigree, at Tech Inclusion, the largest D&I-related conference.

More to be added soon!

Any questions, feedback, or ideas for collaboration? Please reach out!


collaboration & More

Below are blog posts, seminars, workshops I've co-designed or guided teammates in. More links and details to be added soon!

  • Ben and I collaborated on a very emotional post that shares his story to commemorate National Coming Out Day. This post garnered truly amazing feedback - many reaching out to us to say how inspiring it was to see a company platform being used this way.

  • I've been troubled by the trend of D&I being used as a vehicle for self-serving purposes, and when one of Lever's competitors published a post trivializing the hard work it takes, I was pretty ticked off. I teamed up with Ciara to write a rebuttal.

  • I collaborated with Ciara again on the topic of the Impostor Syndrome, which is common in fast-growing startups, and especially so for members from underrepresented groups. The workshop and accompanying blog post have been one of the most popular programs.

  • Talking about women in D&I can be "scoring the easy points." It's important, but if you're not careful, you may fall into a common trap of only uplifting white women. Leighton, black engineer on the team, and I collaborated to bring race into the conversation more. We collaborated on "A black engineer’s take on why diversity matters at startups." The response was so encouraging, Leighton was inspired to start an engineering team blog!

  • Denzil, member of the D&I Taskforce approached me about wanting to do a program that combines two very important parts of his identity: music and being black in America. What we co-designed was a seminar called "Soundtrack to a Life," which was one of our most well-received D&I programming.

  • Very early in our efforts, we experimented with "D&I Monthly Seminars" with the goal of keeping our programs consistent and high-quality. "No More Unicorns" was led by Tim, a member of the majority group (straight, white male) and it was particularly impactful. He and I co-wrote a short write-up on the learnings.

  • Tim and I later collaborated again on another session called “D&I for Supporters,” designed to engage and educate members of the majority – those who may not feel like D&I is for them. For the write-up, I tapped another Taskforce member to spread the work and sense of ownership, and she really followed through.