December 14, 2015
Three companies in the tech business that have achieved high gender diversity are Etsy, Pandora and Indiegogo. How did they do this in an industry that is known for a high male-to-female ratio? Hiring with gender diversity in mind is still complex, and some companies receive negative feedback for their hiring practices. We’ll look at the positive and negative consequences of Etsy, Pandora and Indiegogo hiring with gender diversity as a goal.
According to Fast Company, in 2014 Etsy was able to increase its female engineers by 500 percent. It went from three female engineers on a team of 47 to 20 females on a team of 90. The company reinvented the way it recruited by making gender diversity a priority.What sparked the change was the realization that Etsy’s user base was 80 percent women.
What plan did Etsy execute to boost female engineers? It offered $5,000 grants to Hacker School, an engineering program in NYC and promoted the grants to women. Some criticized this action as reverse sexism, according to Forbes. Now Etsy works with with organizations such as NCWIT(National Center for Women in Technology) and B-corp to train and educate its employees and hiring managers. It also has anonymous resumes and testing to prevent bias when hiring . The CTO of Etsy said that hiring with a focus on gender diversity gives it a better choice of both male and female candidates. In The Atlantic, CTO Kellan Elliott-McCrea said “The men who come into our organization who are excited about the fact that we have diversity as a goal are generally the people who are better at listening, they’re better at group learning, they’re better at collaboration, they’re better at communication.”
In 2014, Pandora shared its diversity report and highlighted one key finding about its workforce. It’s 50.8 percent men and 49.2 percent women. Although they are split almost 50-50 in gender for total employees, there is less gender diversity in leadership positions.
Pandora’s plan for increasing and maintaining gender diversity was hiring Lisa Lee as the diversity program manager. Lee spends 60 percent of her time with the recruiting team ensuring best practices for hiring a diverse workforce.
In addition to focusing on diversity in the hiring process, there is also an internal female group called Pandora Women to provide community and mentorship. Pandora made the effort to publicly share diversity reports to keep the company accountable. According to a blog post on Culture Lab X titled “How to Make the Case for Business Diversity,” Lee said, “The number of current listeners and potential listeners, the buying power of communities of color, and the growth potential of diverse untapped markets are benefitted by not only gender diversity but diversity in all aspects.
Indiegogo has 45 percent women and 55 percent men, and 43 percent female and 57 percent male leadership. Indiegogo made its gender diversity a core part of its mission statement, “whose goals are to support and amplify all entrepreneurial, creative and community-related endeavors.”
Besides recruiting, Indiegogo promotes that their platform is a better way for women founders to raise funds for their company than seeking out venture capitalists. According to Fortune, “Less than 15 percent of venture-backed companies have a female founder, but Indiegogo says 47 percent of campaigns that reach their funding target are run by women.” By supporting women, they attract more women to their company. The benefits for Indiegogo of having a gender diverse population is the company appears more reputable to the public because hiring practices are aligned with their mission statement. As mentioned earlier in the Etsy example, diverse companies attract better quality candidates.