The Pendulum. My attempt at building a diverse company from the start


Assist is currently 98% white males. It’s time to change that.
  1. Update 1: As of August 29th, 2016 we are now 86% white males.
  2. Update 2: As of September 15th, 2016 we are now 75% white males.
  3. Update 3: As of March 6th, 2017 we are now 66% white males.

I decided it’s time to try and add some rules to how we think about diversity at Assist if we are going to solve our lack of diversity.

We want a company that celebrates diverse perspectives and opinions — one that challenges us all to think different and be more open minded.

I truly believe that injecting the team with people from different backgrounds and beliefs is the best way to create a better world, a better company.

I love the way Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, put it:

We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. That applies throughout our company, around the world with no exceptions.

Diversity is about being curious and open to others. At Assist, Curiosity is one of our company’s core values — personally it’s also my core value.

Curiosity is the opposite of ego. Curiosity is celebrating what we don’t know, not what we do.

Enter: The Pendulum.

We are currently 98% white males. 2% being our part-time CFO Nancy who is amazing. This great team is what got us here but we have to become more diverse. We need a broader perspective to become a great company.

The pendulum is a simple idea I want to try.

When we are looking for new team members, we make the % of people we look at the exact opposite of our statistics today. Aka, the other side of the pendulum.

So, if we are 98% white males, we make sure that at least 98% of our outbound recruiting efforts are focused on everyone besides white males. The goal would be to always bring the single majority back to the middle of the pendulum by ensuring a percentage of candidates we look at are different.

The goal over time is that the pendulum “swings” less drastically and gets more towards the center with each swing.

This subject is touchy and this is just one of many potential solutions. I don’t know if it’s right, but I know it’s my responsibility to try.

This idea feels right for now, and I hope this pushes us to build towards a more diverse team with many unique perspectives. I will of course report back our progress when we’ve had some time to test it, regardless of its outcome.

Specifically, here are a couple things I’m trying:

  1. Outbound means a recruiter, sourcing on Angel List, LinkedIn, etc.
  2. Sponsoring and supporting diversity focused events
  3. To be clear, we always accept inbound interest from anyone so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

As for today, I would love to meet people who don’t look like me.

F*** walls, let’s build bridges for everyone.

-Shane Mac, CEO @ Assist. http://assi.st

P.S. We just posted 12 job openings here: https://angel.co/assist/jobs

Thanks to Jess Verrilli and Sara Haider for helping me think through building a diverse culture from the beginning. I hope it makes all the difference.