How 4 Tech Companies Iterate on Their DEI Roadmap

Four tech leaders discuss what they’ve done so far and where they’re headed when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Quinten Dol
April 12, 2021
Updated: May 4, 2021
Quinten Dol
April 12, 2021
Updated: May 4, 2021

After releasing our first ever report on the state of diversity, equity and inclusion in tech, Built In has turned its attention to the future. How do businesses root out systemic discrimination within their ranks? 

While DEI experts and consultants aren’t surprised by our industry’s lackluster progress thus far, they do see glimmers of a kind of generational advancement on the issue. Chief among them is a recognition that successful diversity, equity and inclusion is not a “one-and-done” issue, but rather an iterative process that must be constantly renewed and reevaluated, and thereby baked into the culture of a business. 

What is a DEI Roadmap?

A DEI roadmap is a company's guide to incorporate new changes within their organization to support diversity, equity and inclusion.

So what tangible actions are tech companies taking as part of that ongoing and iterative process? We spoke to executives, recruiters and people team leaders at four businesses representing a cross section of the industry, including a pre-dot.com veteran, a mobile network provider, a gig economy pioneer and a real estate disrupter. Overall, we found that the shift to remote work has allowed companies to broaden their potential talent pool beyond the traditional tech cities, with a renewed focus on building equitable and inclusive cultures and a continued emphasis on data collection, among other initiatives. Looking ahead, companies are committed to creating a consistently diverse talent pipeline and broadening existing outlets to address concerns. 

Read on to get a glimpse of the long-term DEI roadmaps for TaskRabbit, Boost Mobile, Apartment List and PRO Unlimited. 

 

taskrabbit
TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit connects users with local laborers and specialists who can help with furniture assembly, yard cleanup, moving, delivery and general handiwork. Founded as RunMyErrand by Leah Busque Solivan, the company was acquired by IKEA in 2017. We checked in with Jessica Davila, TaskRabbit’s VP of People Experience.

 

What steps has your organization taken thus far to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion within your workplace?

We created affinity groups in September 2019 to create a safe space for our employees to discuss and grow from shared experiences. This was done not only to bring awareness to our incredibly diverse employees but also so we could embrace diversity, equity and inclusion companywide. We now have 11 employee resource groups — ranging from womxn to Asians to veterans to working parents and more — that bring people together across locations, departments and levels. We also partner with external consultants to continually measure the impact of our programs, and provide trainings and keynote speeches three times a year that focus on inclusion, growth mindset, allyship, anti-racism and more.

Our people teams provide several opportunities throughout the year for our teams to talk about diversity and inclusion via town halls and office hours. Our affinity groups also present during our all-hands meetings year-round to share how they are feeling during various cultural moments (such as Womxn’s History Month) and what they are working on.

 

How are you measuring DEI in your workplace, both quantitatively and qualitatively?

We quantitatively track data on the number of women and underrepresented groups in leadership roles, management roles and across the company. We qualitatively track how we are doing via engagement surveys three times a year.

 

“We are grateful and energized to be committing to systemic change for the long haul, and are excited to build the workplace we are all proud to work and grow in.”

 

What are your long-term goals for your overall DEI program, and what’s your current roadmap to get there?

Since going remote, we are now able to hire candidates based in all 50 states, with an emphasis on seeking talent in highly diverse areas. This enables us to increase diversity — not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it makes our company more successful — and be more equitable in our hiring. We launched an employee donation matching program through our TaskRabbit for Good team. We provide resources on the varying organizations for underrepresented groups that exist and match employee donations up to $50,000.

As of 2020, we made Juneteenth an official companywide holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States in 1865. We maintain a safe workplace culture with anonymous feedback forms. Our work on eradicating bias from our policies and culture will continue. We are grateful and energized to be committing to systemic change for the long haul, and are excited to build the workplace we are all proud to work and grow in. Databird has named TaskRabbit one of the Best Companies for Diversity two years in a row (2019 and 2020), and we strive to build upon this momentum going forward.

 

Check the Data:Built In’s 2021 State of DEI in Tech Report

 

apartment list
Apartment List

Apartment List

Apartment List users itemize and prioritize their living preferences — location, price, pets, in-unit laundry and so on — to feed the company’s algorithm. The San Francisco-based company then serves up an optimized array of listings that most fulfill those requirements. Manager of Talent Acquisition Evan Kahn took us through his company’s programs thus far. 

 

What steps has your organization taken thus far to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion within your workplace?

We’ve taken a holistic approach to DEI, integrating it into our company’s core and working tirelessly to ensure these values are emulated in all facets — from our people to our product offering and social impact initiatives. We’ve restructured our hiring practices, developing new strategies to increase diversity volume throughout our recruiting process — from top-of-funnel sourcing to final offers. We’ve also partnered with Paradigm Consulting to expand the reach of our internal opportunities while simultaneously honing our internal culture — developing employee resources groups and ongoing unconscious bias training to ensure all “A-Listers” feel heard and represented. We’ve also developed accessibility functions into our core product to ensure all renters have the capability to find a safe, comfortable place to call home.

This past year also has forged new opportunities to double down on our social impact and community-based initiatives. From renters fleeing environmental crises to escaping situations of inequity and violence, our Home Bridge program provides short-term, donated homes for individuals and families facing housing fragility. To date, we’ve provided over 6,000 nights of free housing.

 

How are you measuring DEI in your workplace, both quantitatively and qualitatively?

Our company utilizes data obtained from our equal employee opportunity commission report to build out quantitative internal and external metrics. Additionally, we’ve restructured our hiring goals to ensure we’re providing hiring managers with a diverse candidate pool for all open positions. We’ve also formed internal resources groups, our DEI council and new ‘employee circle,’ to qualitatively measure the effectiveness of our current DEI efforts and conduct biannual companywide surveys to solicit anonymous feedback for improvement. Lastly, we make a concerted effort to celebrate diverse groups and their contributions, from Black History Month to Pride Month and Women’s History Month.

 

“We’ve focused on increasing our diversity pipelines at all stages of the hiring process.

 

What are your long-term goals for your overall DEI program, and what’s your current roadmap to get there?

Our long-term goals for Apartment List’s DEI program include creating a consistent diverse recruiting pipeline, maintaining similar or equal diverse employee representations at all levels and functions, scaling our employee resource groups and continuing to build upon our innovative consumer-facing accessibility functions within our product.

To get there, we’ve focused on increasing our diversity pipelines at all stages of the hiring process. We’ve embedded DEI-focused questions into our recruiting evaluations, hosted multiple awareness (or ‘unconscious bias’) training for all employees and developed internal DEI committees. Additionally, we’ve allocated both personnel and resources to the continued optimization of our product’s accessibility functions.

 

A Basic BlueprintHow to Kickstart Your DEI Program

 

pro unlimited
PRO Unlimited

PRO Unlimited

San Francisco-based PRO Unlimited offers a range of software products and services that help businesses manage contingent workforces. Founded in 1991, the company pioneered the vendor-neutral managed service provider software model and offers demand hiring data solutions and a vendor management SaaS system. The company also leverages Eightfold’s AI-based resume anonymizing technology on behalf of itself and its customers. Rebecca Perrault started as PRO Unlimited’s head of global diversity, equity and inclusion last year. 

 

What steps has your organization taken thus far to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion within your workplace?

PRO Unlimited is committed to cultivating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for our own employees, as well as for the rapidly growing modern workforce including gig, non-employee, contractor and temp workers. We utilize a multifaceted approach to attract and hire diverse talent internally, as well as for our customers, which include the most recognizable brands around the world. We believe that to truly impact change it is imperative to cultivate environments where everyone is set up for success. We strive to find and raise diverse perspectives to create a culture that nurtures everyone, not just the majority. Organizations have been working on inclusion and engagement for their full-time workers for decades, but we want to ensure that the modern workforce is included in this journey. We also have a commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technologies to ensure our hiring practices block bias and remove barriers. By leveraging Eightfold’s artificial intelligence technology, for example, we are able to anonymize resumes, de-bias job descriptions and analyze the impact of specific skill sets on diverse populations.

Since our founding in 1991, the PRO platform has remained purely vendor-neutral and that is one of the reasons some of the world’s largest and most well-known companies continue to work with us year after year. By partnering with a broad set of diverse suppliers and nonprofits that are engaging with talent from diverse backgrounds, we are able to remain neutral and eliminate the added layer of bias from hiring practices. We are able to team up with organizations focused on reaching historically marginalized groups. We’ve seen excellent results from their creative approaches to reach different networks, and the unparalleled training, re-skilling and ongoing support they provide that is specific to this very critical talent pool.

 

How are you measuring DEI in your workplace, both quantitatively and qualitatively?

At PRO, we are in a unique situation where our platform offering was designed from the ground up with diversity and inclusion in mind. Not only is it available to our team internally, but our customers are able to take control of their diversity and inclusion measurement with secure, real-time access to a trove of data for tracking and monitoring purposes — including their progress on the levers that impact diversity such as hiring, attrition and employees’ experience of company culture. This analysis is critical to inform our internal priorities and the D&I strategies we design for our clients.

 

“Diversity, equity and inclusion is a constant journey and one that requires focus and ongoing investment.”

 

What are your long-term goals for your overall DEI program, and what’s your current roadmap to get there?

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a constant journey and one that requires focus and ongoing investment. Our commitment to D&I is not new, but given the events of the last year, we are more motivated than ever to make an impact on our own organization and on the contingent workforce industry as a whole. D&I strategies require a comprehensive approach for all employees, both full-time and contingent. It is critical for companies to intentionally create and enable a more diverse and inclusive workplace for everyone contributing to their success, including full-time employees and contingent workers.

When we look at the next three to five years, we expect the “modern workforce” category of gig, contractor and temp labor will make up more than half of employers’ workforces. That is why we are focused on setting the foundation for diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace environments and creating awareness with our customers around the need for D&I strategy — not just for full-time employees but also for the modern workforce. We will continue to hold ourselves accountable, track our progress, innovate and partner with our clients to move forward on this journey. There is no manual when it comes to creating the diverse and inclusive workforces that we all want to achieve.

 

From Our Expert Contributor NetworkTech Needs More Female Engineers

 

boost mobile 5G tower
Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile is a prepaid wireless carrier with an enormous 5G network and 4G coverage that serves 99 percent of U.S. residents. Television and internet connectivity company DISH acquired Boost Mobile from T-Mobile and Sprint last year for $1.4 billion. We spoke with Stephen Stokols, who leads Boost Mobile as its executive vice president. 

 

What steps has your organization taken thus far to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion within your workplace? 

We have exceptional resource groups that integrate in-person and virtual events for our employees both on- and off-campuses. We have seven groups in total, which consist of employees who join together based on shared life experiences to show support, enhance career development and contribute to personal development in the workplace environment. Our resource groups include but are not limited to a Hispanic and Latinx Network, an LGBTQ network, an African-American network, a disability advocates network, a veterans network and an “empowered parents” network.

 

How are you measuring DEI in your workplace, both quantitatively and qualitatively? 

We recognize that having a diverse workforce not only strengthens and enriches our business overall, it’s important as we serve our diverse customer base. We are proud to say that minorities make up almost half of Boost’s retail wireless employee makeup. This speaks to how we’ve made — and will continue to make —  DEI a priority.

 

We are taking steps in the right direction, and the first step is to listen to our people.”

 

What are your long-term goals for your overall DEI program, and what’s your current roadmap to get there? 

As a team, we can always get better. We are taking steps in the right direction, and the first step is to listen to our people. Ultimately, they know the answers about how we can improve overall representation. We also recognize that having strong leaders in place who believe in DEI is of the utmost importance in actually making DEI a reality. It informs their hiring decisions and will further move the needle from a statistical standpoint.

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