Diversity in Tech: Slack's Second Diversity Report Shows More Rapid Progress Than Most of Silicon Valley
Despite posting some industry standard-setting statistics, like the majority of Silicon Valley companies, Slack admits it still has a long way to go.
This week, quickly growing work-messaging startup Slack released its second diversity report, less than half a year after it published its inaugural report in September of 2015. Looking at some of the company's outstanding growth measures in diversity, it's not difficult to see why Slack was eager to publicize its progress.
According to the data released on Slack's blog late Wednesday, the company has become a leader in Silicon Valley on three benchmarks: Slack is the closest, of any tech company that has disclosed its workplace demographics so far, to full gender parity. It also includes the highest percentage of women in engineering roles, and has the highest representation of Black engineers for any tech company.
Women at Slack
According to its 2016 update, around 43 percent of Slack's workforce, both in the U.S. and worldwide, is made up of women. That's up from 39 percent in September, and much higher than the industry average of about 29 percent, according to Wired.
Meanwhile, engineering roles go to more than a quarter of its female employees in the U.S., though that figure drops more than a couple percentage points for its worldwide staff. Still, the numbers have risen, up about 18 percentage points from its first diversity report.
But not every measure of female inclusion showed progress over the last five months for Slack. According to the latest figures, 43 percent of managers at Slack are women, which is down from the 45 percent the company disclosed less than six months ago.
Still Few Minorities
Like the rest of Silicon Valley, Slack has very few underrepresented minorities working at the company, and the latest report shows only few signs of progress.
Latinos, for example, make up only 5.3 percent of Slack's overall workforce in the U.S., and 4.1 percent globally.
Industry averages tend to be just as bleak, but it's impossible to tell if Slack made progress or not with hiring Latinos, because the company's first report lumped Latinos in the "multiracial or other" category. Slack itself admitted its difficulty in accurately measuring Latinos in its blog post, saying, "The Hispanic/Latino(a) population was either negligible or obscured by having a broad multiracial category in our first survey."
Engineering and technical roles in the U.S. included a slightly better than average proportion of Latino employees, though, with 5.6 percent and 6.1 percent Latinos in each category, respectively.
The biggest positive for Slack when it comes to underrepresented minorities was the number of Black or African American engineers working stateside at the company, along with those generally in technical roles including engineering.
According to Slack's most recent count, 8.9 percent of its U.S. engineers were Black, up from 7 percent five months ago, while 6.9 percent of technical roles were filled by African Americans.
Slack's Admirable Advantage
One of the reasons why Slack has been able to push some of its diversity percentages much higher, much faster than other Silicon Valley companies is because it's a young, fast-growing startup. And it built diversity as a priority into its growth model early on.
"Because we are still small as companies go, every person we hire and every person who leaves can make a dramatic difference to our diversity data," stated Slack on its blog. In September, Slack stated its employee base totaled 250 people. According to the latest report, Slack now has 350 employees, including those now working globally in Canada, Ireland, and Australia.
Slack launched initiatives in September like unconscious bias training for employees company-wide, an internship program partnered with STEM education bootcamps that reach out to disadvantaged minorities, and a hiring review process that examines decisions to make sure they don't advantage one group over another.
But the company says it wants to do more, and is introducing the Rooney Rule -- a recruitment tool devised by the NFL to increase hiring of minorities for coaching and upper staff positions that Facebook has also adopted -- into its senior-level outreach process.
"We will continue to regularly report on our status so that we can be held accountable," said Slack, "and we will continue to look for ways in which we can improve."
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!