Another Boston Tech Co. Agrees to Publish Diversity Data & Goals
Over the past couple of years, the tech industry has begun to make public efforts to address the lack of diversity in workplaces. Some of that has come in the form of companies like Twitter and Microsoft releasing their own diversity reports and making commitments to increasing the number of women and minorities they employ.On Wednesday, a new coordinated effort backed by the White House called the Tech Inclusion Pledge announced that 30 tech companies have pledged to improve representation at their workplaces. EzCater, a food catering order and delivery service for businesses, was the only Boston company to appear on the initial list of 32 companies that also included Intel, Airbnb, Pinterest and Lyft. The new initiative was announced at the White House ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit this weekend."This is a very simple, deliberate way to force ourselves to face up to unconscious bias."[/pullquote]By making the pledge, these companies are committing to implementing and publishing specific goals to recruit, retain and advance diverse technology talent and publishing annual reports on diversity among their employees.Stefania Mallett, ezCater's CEO and founder, told BostInno Thursday morning her company was asked to join the pledge by an investor, Insight Venture Partners, which also convinced 10 other portfolio companies to do so. Mallett recalled her response being, "Wow, this is a cool way to hold our own feet to the fire.""We’ve come to understand how unconscious we are in the way we create obstacles to diversity," she said, "and we jumped on it because we thought, 'O.K., this is a very simple, deliberate way to force ourselves to face up to unconscious bias.'"EzCater had already been working on various initiatives to improve diversity within its workforce of 135 employees and 30 contractors, such as a blind screening process to fight against unconscious bias, Mallett said. However, she admitted, while ezCater employs a bunch of women, "we are not great on minorities," and that means undertaking more initiatives to better represent the population the company serves because "you can always do more." Diversity hiring more than just 'the right thing to do' There is indeed a lot more that needs to be done. As U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith noted on Wednesday, women-led startups represent only 3 percent of venture-backed companies and for startups led by African-Americans, it's only 1 percent. What's more, only 9 percent of employees at the largest tech companies — including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google and Twitter — are African-American or Latino.Mallett said besides making a bigger commitment to diversity hiring being "ethically the right thing to do," it's also a matter of making sure companies don't turn away a "huge chunk of that talent."There's also a lot of money to be made in having workforces that are more diverse in gender and race: Intel and Dalberg Global Development Advisors estimated in a new report that the U.S. technology industry could generate an extra $470 billion to $570 billion in value by having a more diverse workforce.Investors also see the value and were part of the driving force that led to the new Tech Inclusion Pledge initiative. Last summer at the White House's first-ever Demo Day for entrepreneurs, the National Venture Capital Association made a commitment to advance opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. A number of VC firms undersigned a letter from the NVCA, including firms from Boston, like .406 Ventures, Polaris Partners, Battery Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, Accomplice, Founder Collective and Converge Venture Partners."We are proud that our portfolio companies see the economic value of ensuring an inclusive workforce and are adopting human resource policies that create work environments that foster respect and dignity for all, " said Hilary Gosher, managing director at Insight Venture Partners, which also signed the NVCA letter. "Insight strongly believes that we, and the companies we invest in, should seek to benefit from the full talent pool of the American workforce." Diversity reporting is lacking in Boston While a number of tech companies on the West Coast have released their own diversity reports, BostInno has had difficulty identifying any tech companies in Boston and more broadly in Massachusetts that have already done the same. Aside from ezCater's new pledge, HubSpot has also said it's working on a diversity report it plans release later this year."Our plan is to provide an update on diversity and inclusion at HubSpot both internally and externally within the next six months--our goal is to ensure that we are tracking meaningful metrics, that we are making a meaningful commitment of time, energy, effort, and money to move the needle, and that we deliver upon our promise of making HubSpot's culture as inclusive and inspiring as possible," Katie Burke, HubSpot's vice president of culture and experience, told us back in May.EzCater, on the other hand, aims to have a diversity report ready by Aug. 1, but the company is still figuring out the manner by which it would publish the data, Mallett said. She said the company is still working on a timeline for working on the other main pieces for the Tech Inclusion Pledge."Transparency of the data, of the issues, of the progress … transparency, in general, is how problems get solved."[/pullquote]While there currently appears to be no diversity reports available from tech companies in Boston, the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council released a report on the state's tech industry back in May showing that women only made up 24 percent of computer and mathematical occupations while African-Americans and Latinos only made up 8 percent. It also showed that women represented less than a quarter of the more than 17,000 tech jobs added between 2007 and 2014.There may be a current lack of transparency on diversity at individual tech companies in Boston, but there have been broader, ongoing efforts to improve representation. The Startup Institute, for instance, recently launched a new scholarship for underrepresented people in tech and gave BostInno a breakdown of diversity in their student population; the New England Venture Capital Association aimed to have a more diverse pool of finalists for this year's NEVY Awards by having a more diverse panel of judges; and OpenView Ventures recently set goals to increase the number of women in technical roles, sales roles and board seats at its portfolio companies.However, like Mallet said, there's always more to be done, and as various statistics illustrate, a lot more has to be done so that this tech industry is better representative of the population it serves. To keep that ball rolling, we invite other tech companies in Massachusetts to join the the Tech Inclusion Pledge and become more transparent with their diversity efforts because, as Intel CEO Brian Krzanich recently said, "transparency of the data, of the issues, of the progress … transparency, in general, is how problems get solved."