Reflecting on Salsify's Year in Gender Diversity
I’m coming up on my one year anniversary as a People Operations Manager at Salsify, and wanted to reflect on some of the things we focused on this year related to supporting gender diversity in the workplace. A large part of why I joined Salsify was because of the tremendous focus and investment on these types of initiatives that I hold near and dear to me. As more and more companies are taking those extra steps to ensure that all genders feel accepted and empowered in the workplace, I wanted to take a look at where we’ve been, what we’ve done this past year, and where we’re headed in terms of establishing an inclusive and empowering culture. Here’s what we’ve been focusing on since you’ve heard from us last on this topic to support gender diversity at Salsify.
WE @ Salsify
This past year, we kicked off an employee interest group - Women Empowerment (WE) @ Salsify. WE@Salsify is a committee of women who are passionate about creating a positive, impactful community for all Salsify employees, regardless of gender. They hold monthly group meetings to share ideas and discuss important issues surrounding gender diversity. By emphasizing the importance of community, career growth opportunities, work-life balance, and diversity advocacy, the WE @ Salsify program has helped foster relationships and encouraged everyone at Salsify to think, act, and behave more inclusively.
This initiative has already hosted several events such as roundtable discussions, speaker events, inclusion, and unconscious bias training, philanthropy activities and fundraisers, socials, and has plans to host several more! In honor of International Women’s day, we were thrilled to have Sarah Hodges from Pillar VC come in and talk about the importance of diversity in growing companies, and how she has tackled challenges along the way in her own career journey. These meetups have created a space to connect, build a network, and have really insightful conversations.
Focus on Diversity in Recruiting
A focus on diversity starts at the very beginning of the employee lifecycle: the recruiting process. We research how our jobs descriptions look and sound in the market to attract a diverse group of candidates. Using tools like Textio Hire has helped our hiring managers and Talent team track words in job descriptions that could lead to positive and negative outcomes when it comes to attracting a diverse set of candidates.
In addition to inclusive job postings, we try to find creative ways to get in front of talent. At Salsify we’ve piloted many events aimed at women in tech, like our annual Women in Tech Soulcycle ride to celebrate women in the Boston community. We also pay attention to the pipeline, if women aren’t applying to roles, we actively try to talk to more passive candidates who are women.
In early 2018, we noticed that through a large hiring push on our BDR (sales) team, we hired mostly men. At one point only 10% of the BDR team was made up of women. Talent and Sales Leadership made diversity a focus. By taking action to actively increase women in the recruiting pipeline, we were able to significantly move the needle and have 50% of the roles on the team being held by women by mid-2018; additionally, the percentage of women on the total sales team to 36% vs. 29% last year.
This example is not typical. Diversity is a long game. In fact, we went through another significant hiring push in our Research and Development team last year as well. Our gender numbers in R&D suffered in 2018 - falling from 25% to 17% in one year. Women didn’t flee from the department - we just simply hired a lot of people, and a lot of them are men. We can point to the fact that the majority of hires were senior level engineers which already has a skewed market towards men due to a number of systemic factors. We also made our first acquisition of Welcome Commerce and brought on 14 new members to the team; 13 of which were men. I share this because it shows that focus and effort are needed to move the needle. We hope to put a focus on increasing the pipeline of female engineers and also pay close attention to new grads bringing on a 50/50 split of female and male talent in 2019. Over the past 6 months, we’ve hired 5 female managers or executives on the Engineering or Product teams who are passionate about diversity in tech and eager to help drive change and empower women in tech.
In this year’s report, we found that 37% of our employees identify as female, and 63% 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, and have increased our female representation from last year. You can also see that over a 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.
Next, we wanted to see how the gender split fares within each department. We found that our most evenly split department is Customer Success (52% male and 48% female), followed closely by Marketing (56% female and 44% male), our G&A team has a majority of women (69% female and 31% male), and our R&D and Sales Departments have the largest differences; although this split is still fairly typical within the tech industry, it is our largest focus area (17% female and 83% male, 36% female and 64% male, respectively).
We’ve seen increases across the board with the exception of the R&D team. We’re hoping that the shift in female leadership on this team (mentioned above) will enable us to succeed in our goals of gender diversity in R&D into 2020.
We don’t want to sit here and pretend that we have it all figured out because we don’t. Establishing an inclusive culture and working through decades of inequality in the workplace is complex and difficult, but we wanted to outline what we’ve done so far to encourage diversity within the workplace. Change is not going to happen in one night, one month, or even one year, but with more women in executive positions than ever before, more women in our sales department than ever before, and more women in manager/director level positions than ever before are all encouraging steps in the right direction. We want to continue to keep the conversation open and talk about where we stand, what we’re doing, how we can improve, and hope that as an industry we can collectively learn from one other to move the needle.