A Conversation with Marco Zappacosta & Dionna Smith

Thumbtack
Thumbtack
Feb 25 · 4 min read

In honor of Black History Month, Marco, our CEO, and Dionna, our Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, came together to discuss our support of Black Lives Matter.

Marco: Last June, following the murder of George Floyd, we made pledges as a company in support of Black Lives Matter. This was before you joined Thumbtack. Can you share your perspective on our commitments and the work you have seen from our team since then?

Dionna: Of course. During my interview process, I searched to see if you’d made a statement around Black Lives Matter. I was really interested if you’d made a statement and if it was specific and action-oriented. I remember thinking, whoa, this is pretty specific, and a year from now, we will clearly know if we were able to make progress. I was also glad to see that our initiatives were employee, product, pro and community-centric.

On the product side you discussed:

  • Reviewing our platform to ensure we are not furthering inequalities
  • Fostering an open dialogue for our Black pros
  • Strongly enforcing our anti-discrimination policies

In addition, you mentioned:

  • Recruiting Black employees from executive to new grad hires
  • Supporting our existing Black employees
  • Investing in our DEI programs

I’m proud to say that eight months later, we’ve made headway on the product side. We’re also in the early stages of many of our initiatives around increased hiring of Black talent and providing additional support and development resources for our Black employees.

Marco: Of the findings in the platform bias work and the interviews with Black pros, what stood out most to you and where should we focus going forward?

Dionna: A few things stood out to me. We were able to determine that the churn rate for Black pros is significantly higher than for other pros using our platform. We gathered feedback from pros and customers who had experiences that felt discriminatory. Unfortunately, we also discovered that they did not feel like it was specific to our product, but instead was in line with discrimination that they regularly encounter in their jobs and lives overall.

Currently, we have racial bias initiatives and projects happening across several departments, including Operations, Research, Design and Analytics. It’s become clear to us that we have opportunities to better support our Black pros and improve their experience on the platform. This process takes time, resources and focus. We know that change will not happen overnight.

We’ll also be working with Design and Engineering to identify and implement changes, and incorporate inclusive product frameworks and audits into our ongoing processes. We’ll have more to share as we continue on this journey.

Dionna: Beyond all of this work, there has also been progress on supporting our Black employees and investing in the ongoing success of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs. Marco, in your opinion, what changes have been most impactful so far?

Marco: It’s been heartening to see diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives embedded across our organization. Key to our success is ensuring every department, every team and folks at every level are focused on efforts, initiatives and programs that will make Thumbtack more diverse, equitable and inclusive. In the past few months, we’ve increased developmental opportunities for our Black employee resource group members, including initiatives focused on small group coaching sessions and opportunities to participate in leadership development initiatives to prepare diverse talent for future leadership. We also doubled budgets for our eight ERGs and have grown our DEI team. This is just the start. There is much more to do.

Dionna: As you look ahead, what is top of mind for you with regards to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Thumbtack?

Marco: For me personally, we are kicking off our new Executive Diversity Council that you and I are co-chairing. This will increase our executive level support, leadership and insight into company-wide diversity initiatives and goals. And, it will also provide DEI developmental opportunities ensuring our senior most leaders are truly DEI champions and an example for all of Thumbtack. I’m also looking forward to the Inclusive Leadership Development that our leadership team will participate in, as well as having the opportunity for all of us to help lead on DEI initiatives.

I’m also excited about the manager training we are beginning and the amazing work we are doing to mitigate bias on our platform and support our women, Black and Latino pros.

Marco: I’d like to ask you the same question. Can you share a bit about how you’re thinking about the future?

Dionna: I know we’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work ahead of us, but I am extremely optimistic about the progress we are making. I am encouraged that we are remaining focused on the promises that we made following the murder of George Floyd.

2020 was the year of the awakening for many and I am confident that 2021 is going to be the year of substantial measurable progress for us at Thumbtack — in diversity recruitment, inclusive leadership development, product inclusion and social impact. Most of all I am excited about partnering with you, Marco, our senior leaders and our employees as we continue building a diverse, equitable and inclusive company and product.

Thumbtack Blog

Thumbtack is the app that helps local professionals and customers find each other.

Thumbtack

Written by

Thumbtack

We’re a marketplace that helps local service professionals and customers find each other.

Thumbtack Blog

Our local service marketplace intelligently matches customers to pros with the right expertise, availability and pricing. Customers find electricians, landscapers, DJs, anyone they need, and pros create sustainable businesses doing what they love. Visit: www.thumbtack.com.

Thumbtack

Written by

Thumbtack

We’re a marketplace that helps local service professionals and customers find each other.

Thumbtack Blog

Our local service marketplace intelligently matches customers to pros with the right expertise, availability and pricing. Customers find electricians, landscapers, DJs, anyone they need, and pros create sustainable businesses doing what they love. Visit: www.thumbtack.com.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store