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Lessons in Diversity - RailsConf Portland 2022

June 08, 2022

Lessons in Diversity - RailsConf Portland 2022

This talk covers strategies and learnings from Wrapbook's journey in building a diverse and inclusive engineering team.

We cover what's we tried, how it wasn't enough, and what eventually worked for us in growing a diverse engineering team.


June 08, 2022

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  1. Founded 2018 $127 million in funding from Tiger Global, Andreessen

    Horowitz and others 170+ people strong 68 in Engineering … and growing About Wrapbook
  2. Back in October 2020 5 person engineering team (20 total)

    Plan: grow the team to ~40 by end of 2021 ☝ Hiring the right people is critical
  3. The Challenge Stand out as a small startup Compete with

    large established players Build a diverse team (in a not so diverse industry)
  4. Standing out is not so hard Positive interview experience Faster

    with less time commitment than others ☝ Can be compressed to a single day of interviews if needed Reflects what happens on the job ☝ NO battle of the egos interviews Remote First
  5. Why care about building a diverse team? The right thing

    to do Diversity leads to better outcomes Team reflects the diversity of our customers A chance to improve the industry
  6. Support From Leadership It’s not about individual effort Needs to

    be a scalable and repeatable process linked to company goals
  7. Reduce Bias Establish job levels and expectations Standardize hiring process

    Objective hiring criteria 👈 As much as possible Inclusive job descriptions Multiple interviewers Record decisions independently Reflect and discuss afterwards to eliminate bias
  8. Include diverse interviewers in all interviews? Puts a burden on

    individuals from under-represented groups What’s the impact on their career?
  9. Filter on Attitude to Inclusion Ask about it! ☝ “I’ve

    never been asked this before.” — Lots of candidates
  10. Don’t Lose People After Joining Make onboarding a breeze Assign

    an onboarding buddy Improve and iterate with each new hire
  11. Great feedback from candidates… …regardless of success in the interview

    process Engineering Grew from 5 to 21 by Oct 2021 BUT…
  12. Not making progress on gender diversity ~10% Women/NB representation on

    Oct 1st, down from 20% 🤔 But this was supposed to be working...
  13. Double down Set OKR for gender diversity: • 20% 👈

    Too low • 30% 👈 OK for industry • 50% 👈 Matches census, improves representation in the industry
  14. Never Compromise on Rubric and Expectations 🙅 Never compromise on

    standards 💭 Be aware of unconscious biases
  15. Reserve a Role? This doesn’t scale Discriminatory: What happens if

    we get a qualified candidate? A role reserved for under-represented groups
  16. Rooney Rule Works fine if trying to fill 1-2 positions

    Doesn’t work if you’re hiring people as they pass the interview The policy originally required every team with a vacancy to interview at least one diverse candidate before making a new hire.
  17. Leverage Sourcing Efforts Some success Top of the hiring funnel

    dried up Source underrepresented groups for a month
  18. 💡 Create a Database Of Names Thousands of female names

    Include black, latino and other ethnicities Use these as part of the search terms ✅ Success!
  19. Make the Strategy Permanent Sourcing: 100% focused on improving diversity

    on the team Applicants: Any background Referrals: Any background ✅ Non-discriminatory. ✅ Repeatable. ✅ Scalable.
  20. Recap Diversity from the start Reduce bias Focus on inclusion

    Company and leadership buy-in Talent team is a key partner Sourcing focused on underrepresented groups Increased gender diversity from 11% to >32%