We increased women working at Unacast with 241% in just over a year - now at 41% of total

March last year we realized that we had a gender issue at Unacast - and since then we have worked really hard at improving. We are proud of our results but must now look at diversity in a broader perspective. Cultural background is the next focus area for us

July 30, 2018

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Where it all begun

From zero to xerox – How we failed at diversity

We meet at floor 42. From up here we see the sprawling city from the busy streets below to the calm sky above pierced by skyscrapers like the one we are in. We have borrowed the boardroom from our lawyer for our internal hackathon event.

We feel on top of the world.

«Is that the Chrysler building?» One of our soon twenty team members points in awe, and truth be told, I am in awe too. Of the view and of the fact that we from zero have come so far so fast. After announcing our ambition to build the Real World Graph at SXSW in 2015, we have raised our seed and Series A, gathered a group of highly talented and creative people, set up head office in the city we are now admiring from above, signed with partners all over the globe and began to build a robust revenue stream. We built something from nothing, and even though my cofounder Thomas and myself did it once before with TIDAL, this feels more real. And more ours.

As I admire the intricate ornaments of the Chrysler building waving to me in the winter sun I feel all of this for the first time. I guess you could call it pride. Still, I can’t avoid thinking we have failed.

As I look at the group of people around me, greeting each other as close friends, I realize they are me.

Mostly male, mostly white, approximately the same age, the same cultural background, the same. Thomas and I have xeroxed ourselves twenty times over.

I am torn as these thoughts rush through me like the windows in the boardroom were suddenly removed and the New York winter wind demands us to cool our heads and confess: We failed at diversity.

The actions we took

We stopped talking about diversity, and did something about it
  1. Realize that we had a diversity deficit
  2. Internal discussions on why this was, and how to fix it
  3. Nothing happened but talk, and more talk
  4. New internal discussions on why this was, and how to fix it
  5. Create a team to actively focus on diversity and the upcoming hiring process. This team was backed by the entire company, the management team, and the founders, under the notion that improved gender balance was critical to our future success
  6. Admit to the world that we had failed
  7. Revise our company culture and how we communicate it, with the ambition to get closer to our true core and not settle with flashy wall-slogans
  8. Relaunch our values
  9. Change our hiring process, to avoid the biases that so easily can lead to xeroxing yourself
  10. Launch our diversity dashboard (Note, not updated with all the latest hires yet)
  11. Agree it was ok to take slightly longer to hire in order to improve diversity, since we would never settle for anything less than the top talents
  12. Work hard
  13. Learn and iterate
  14. Work harder
  15. As a consequence of the steps above, more and more women apply to jobs at Unacast and hire by hire we increase the amount of women working at Unacast to 41% - more than double the percentage in under six months

Where do we go now

Watch this space. There's lots more to do.

And we are ready for the challenge.