Thanks so much Alex, I appreciate it!
I dig your question, but it’s actually super complex. I’m going to approach it from a few different angles — none of which are particularly brief. #SorryNotSorry
In terms of extending the culture, we tried to build ours such that it was welcoming, inclusive, and opinionated — while also being open to new voices. We also tried to actively promote the idea of “constant change”, and I think we did “OK” here, as later hires certainly pushed us in new directions. But it’s tough, and takes a special kind of vigilance. Any culture will gain momentum the more people you have within it, and that makes it harder to change course. And we were certainly no exception.
Now, you used the D word too, and diversity was a tough one. I went to SJSU, one of the most diverse campuses in the United States, and the alma mater of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. As a white boy who grew up in the burbs, going there was one of the best things I could have possibly done to further my college — and culture — education.
So how’d we do on the diversity front?
Short answer, not as well as I would have liked. I thought about it constantly, but could never get us where I wanted to.
In general, people filling customer support roles are usually women — however the tech field skews heavily male. And for whatever reason, even though we were a customer support team with female recruiters, most of our candidates ended up being men.
And the leadership of the department certainly reflected that through most of my tenure (though we certainly tried to promote otherwise).
At one point in our growth, there was a single woman on our team of 30. By the time I was leaving, I think we had something more like a 65/35 male/female split — but that’s still not particularly great.
How about in ethnic-diversity? Again, nowhere near what I’d hoped. We had a similar problem to the gender one — a dearth of applicants. Though we probably lined up with the demographics of the areas near the office — which actually wasn’t that homogeneous.
I’m happy to say we did much better in terms of diversity of sexual orientations and identities. But we haven’t even touched on age diversity…
I could go on for days, but I’ll just stop here. I honestly still think about it, even three years after leaving the team. And it’s a personal goal of mine to do things better next time.