Turning Philosophy into Practice: Gender Diversity at Salsify
By Allison Churilla, Director of Talent
It’s hard to improve what you don’t measure, and motivating change is easier with benchmarks that unequivocally show there’s room for improvement. Especially on International Women’s Day, we wanted to follow other tech companies that are sharing gender diversity statistics. We hope this leads even more companies to share. We want to be transparent about our current statistics and where we want to go.
In our hiring process, compensation philosophy, and promotion paths, Salsify is committed to promoting an accepting and diverse atmosphere that rewards hard work, dedication, and great results. Building an inclusive workforce is at the top of our minds at Salsify. So we’ve crunched the numbers to see what we’re doing well and where we can improve in terms of gender equality. We’ve come far, but we have a long way to go.
The first thing we wanted to look at — what exactly was the gender split across the company, and how did it break down based on department and role within Salsify?
As you can see, we found that 36% of our employees identify as female, and 64% of our employees identify as male. Considering the tech industry standard is roughly 28% female and 72% male, we are more diverse than the average tech company, although we are still looking to improve. You can also see that one third of our leadership positions, defined as manager level or above, are held by women, so our leadership roles are fairly representative of the company as a whole in terms of gender.
One of the biggest critiques of gender gap initiatives is that tech companies are hiring women, but not always for tech positions. Here at Salsify, 25% of our Research & Development team is comprised of women. That number has increased from 20% since 2016.
Next, we wanted to see how the gender split fares within each department. We found that our most evenly split department is Marketing (exactly 50/50 split between men and women), followed closely by Customer Success (47% female and 53% male), our G&A team and Business Development team both have a majority of women (63% female and 38% male, 75% female and 25% male, respectively), and our Research & Development and Sales Departments have the largest differences; although this split is still fairly typical within the tech industry, it is our largest focus area (25% female and 75% male, 29% female and 71% male, respectively).
Below, we’ve outlined our gender diversity percentages at the company and within VP or C-Level positions for the last five years. We went from having zero women in VP or C-Level positions in 2012 (given that our three founders are male), to having a quarter of our VP or C-Level positions held by women in 2017. And, in just the first two short months of 2018, that number has increased to 33%.
What We’ve Done So Far
Specifically over the past two years the conversations internally have changed — conversations led by our employees. We’ve brought various groups like Lesbians Who Tech, Girls Who Code, and She Geeks Out into our office to talk about the issues women in the tech space are facing. We’ve put a focus on exposing our employment brand to diverse groups of individuals through events and content. We launched a quarterly Women’s Leadership Forum with other local tech companies and host an annual Women in Tech SoulCycle event to celebrate women in tech.
In addition to these initiatives, an employee-led Diversity and Inclusion group emerged to host and attend events around D&I. We featured this group in a previous blog post. Spearheaded by a group of employees across a handful of departments, our Diversity & Inclusion Initiative has grown into a company-wide program. It is run by a core team of eleven people, with representation from almost every department within the organization, and holds an important and visible role in the company’s annual goals. The goals for the group are to provide a trusted outlet for voicing D&I-specific concerns within Salsify, and to take meaningful and measurable action towards improving all kinds of diversity and inclusion within and outside of Salsify.
Getting a more diverse workforce in tech is a long-term strategy. Posting a blog or hosting a meet-up is not going to shift the numbers to 50/50. The Women of Salsify group noticed this greater gap in 2016 when talking about how to get more women into STEM. Through that conversation a partnership with Boston Public Schools emerged. In this STEM program, which we have dubbed Guppy Tank, we bring in a group of sixth graders every quarter and expose them to career paths within STEM. This program has actually become a Boston-wide initiative through partnership with TUGG, which spread the Guppy Tank program to over 10 tech companies around the city. Introducing students to technology at a young age will not impact tech companies like Salsify in the next 5, even 10 years, but it’s the right thing to do for our future tech ecosystem.
What We’ve Learned
- Check out the data. The reason behind pulling this data is that we wanted to see where we benchmarked against the industry and talk openly about our opportunities for improvement.
- Look at a diverse pool of candidates at the top of the recruiting funnel. If diverse candidates are not applying to jobs, find ways to get in front of them. At Salsify we’ve piloted many events aimed at women in tech, and in return have converted candidates and even hires from doing so.
- It’s not a short game. You throw a women in tech meet-up. Now what? Don’t expect piles of resumes to come pouring in. Hiring in general takes patience. Timing is everything and staying top of mind through nurturing candidates you want to convert is even more important. We’ve been thinking about diversity issues for a while now, and while our investments have yielded a more than average diverse company, we aren’t all the way there. It takes time and effort to establish a new norm.
We know that there is always room to improve. As a woman in a leadership position in tech, I would love to live in a world where the tech community was equally represented by women. That goal sometimes seems impossible; it’s really hard to move the needle even by a couple of percentage points as we’ve seen first hand, even with the increased focus and investment.
We are committed to continuing to invest in diversity. Knowing that in an industry with numbers stacked against us, our goal of an inclusive company will require continued investment. While today we focused on gender diversity because of International Women’s Day, we want to point out that we understand that there’s a lot more to creating a diverse environment than just gender. The cooperation of the greater tech community will drive this change even faster, and investing in diversity in the workplace will help create a greater, more well-represented workforce that everyone can benefit from.
Salsify is growing. Grow with us!
Research and graphics done by Casey Paxton