I sat back, holding my breath as the responses started to appear. I had sent our first self-identification survey knowing that the data would tell the world how balanced our company was or wasn’t. Historically, the tech industry has been primarily white and male. Displaying this level of transparency and allowing our employees to identify themselves will help to inform our diversity, inclusion, and belonging strategies and ultimately hold us accountable.
I sat nervously thinking through what all 248 members of Blendkind would think about the questions I was asking them. What was your socioeconomic status growing up? What sexual orientation do you identify with? What is your gender identity?
Our CEO, Nima, Slacks me and my heart drops. Did I miss something? Did I forget to add something or misspell something?
“I’m not sure what to do,” he says. “I’m a first-generation American and my parents and I immigrated from Iran; I’m 100% Persian, but technically, according to the options offered by the EEOC, I’m White/Caucasian. I don’t feel White or Caucasian,” he says. My mind is racing. I emulated the race/ethnicity options from the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) as well as other self-ID surveys that I’ve seen.
I wanted to keep our results consistent with other data of this kind. I realized that by doing so, by forcing people into a box that they don’t truly belong in, I was perpetuating the problem. It’s the opposite of what we wanted this to do.
Nima and I message back and forth about why these options are so limited and what it means for him to have to choose “Caucasian” and instead he settles on “Prefer not to answer.” This exchange sparks a deeper thought-exercise about what it means to follow the EEOC guidelines and to be working to make Blend a more inclusive, balanced workplace at the same time.
Blend’s purpose is to make consumer finance simpler and more transparent. We carry that theme of transparency into the company itself as part of our principles. So, despite any trepidation from Nima or myself, today we’re releasing our self-identified demographic data gathered from that survey.
Let’s be honest: this data doesn’t look the way we’d like it to. It is an honest and accurate picture of the company we were in February 2018 with 248 employees. We had a 92% participation rate, meaning that we saw 229 submissions to our survey. Overall, our workforce is 31% women and 11% underrepresented minorities. 8% of Blendkind identifies as queer (LGBTQ), and 17% are parents.
Our demographics can’t possibly tell our full story. They don’t even come close to explaining how it feels to work here. You can’t find what values we hold closest as we build our product and culture. But, our demographics do help us hold ourselves accountable for creating the diverse, inclusive and balanced workforce that we know will enable us to be a hyper-successful company.
We hope that as you look through this data, you also take time to consider what each of these responses means. What it means to sit at your desk, as Nima did, and to have to choose which part of your identity you want to be represented on a website. Based on this, we are also committed to updating the identification opportunities we offer in future iterations. While we know EEOC is the standard; we also know that there is so much more to people’s identities. We don’t want to fall victim to the status quo in exchange for true self-expression.
This is just the beginning of our journey toward a more inclusive and balanced workforce. And, with our company principles as our North Star, we will continue to be transparent about our progress. We’re committed to building a culture that can expand to be inclusive of even more individuality, and we aren’t willing to settle for the status quo. Blend believes in fierce iteration, and so we will continue to iterate on this topic as well. Getting this right is vital to our product, culture, and business.
Someday soon, I hope that every person can find their own true expression of themselves at Blend — in our self-ID survey, our benefits and our culture. We aren’t there yet, but our leadership and employees are committed to building a world-class, progressive, inclusive organization that will outperform its peers because we know that the maxim that our differences make us stronger is true. This work is not for the faint of heart. If you feel like you’re called to be a part of our journey check out our open jobs!
To see the data including slices for leadership and technical teams check out our Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging page.