What We Do: Two Years of Diversity Work at Pandora

At Pandora, we like to ask people about their “musical journey,” which is a great way to learn about someone’s history by knowing which soundtracks are tied to the major chapters in their lives. When I reflect on the music in my life, I think about the Chinese songs* that my parents sang on karaoke. I’ve made an effort to learn them so that I’ll always remember them. I think about the infectious flea market drum beats across Johannesburg and I am immediately transported back to a childhood in South Africa. And of course, I cannot forget the day that I fell in love with hip hop, with Mase’s “Mo Money Mo Problem,” the first single that I purchased with my own pocket money.

The undeniable power of music is its diversity and its ability to connect all of us. It is the one thing that we have in this life that brings us closer together in a matter of seconds.

When I started at Pandora, I always knew that while our world may not be perfect, what I can do — what we can do — is to create a work place unlike any other. I wanted to play a role in creating a workplace unlike any other and help turn aspirations of a level playing field into a reality. I envisioned an oasis where everyone can bring their full selves to work and dare to be extraordinary. Today, I’m motivated by the fact that, “Pandora respects individuals and values their differences” emerged as one of the highest scoring questions in our annual employee engagement survey.

Creating a workplace that employs and retains a diverse group of talented people is, however, only one part of the equation.

The real result of the work we do with diversity and inclusion is realized when our people can leverage their perspectives to deliver a better experience for our listeners, for our advertisers, for the artists we work with and for their fellow employees.

Today, we share with you our progress to achieve this and a commitment to do even more: http://blog.pandora.com/pandora-news/a-north-star-for-diversity/

First, some key stats to show our progress since our last update:

  • 42% of our new hires were employees of color and 46% were female
  • We increased the percentage of employees of color from 32 to 35%
  • We increased the percentage of employees of color in leadership roles from 18 to 20%; 38% of our leadership roles are held by women
  • We increased the percentage of employees of color in technical roles from 41 to 43%
  • We increased the percentage of women in technical roles from 19 to 24%
  • 57% of Pandora’s 2016 “Road Crew” intern class are interns of color, and 53% are female

How are we doing this? Well, by doubling down on many of the efforts we started last year because anything that’s worth building takes time. We’ve also found new ways to continue integrating diversity values into key people and business practices, including:

Everywhere we look, we see opportunities to do more. And we will continue to do more because diversity and inclusion are a crucial part of exceptional people management. We’re on the right path, and we’re just getting started.

- Lisa

*For Chinese songs on Pandora, check out the “Jay Chou” station.