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 conversations about making the company more inclusive. These initial efforts 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 across the company), but the opportunity is much much bigger than a single startup.
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.
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.