By every measure, 2017 was another year of rapid change for AnitaB.org: We hired a new President and CEO, we rolled out our new name and brand, we launched new Community groups, and we enhanced our various program offerings. We also held the largest Grace Hopper Celebration in history, welcoming more than 18,000 people to Orlando, and connected with women around the world at Grace Hopper Celebration India and a number of local events. As we’ve grown, we’ve done so with our broader vision in mind: A future where the teams who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for whom they build it.
We work every day to help companies create diverse teams and build inclusive work environments, and we’re committed to doing that same work internally. Studies show that diverse teams are better for the bottom line, drive more innovation, produce better problem-solving outcomes, and increase group performance.
Our 2017 Numbers: Room for Improvement
This year, we’ve also taken a closer look at the composition of our leadership team; our public report includes leadership numbers broken out for the first time.In retrospect, we realized that the charts in our 2016 diversity report weren’t telling the whole story. The shortcomings of pie charts are numerous; it’s all too easy to hide details behind a colorful wedge and a vague percentage. Pie charts are also a terrible way to clearly illustrate year-over-year changes. So, this year, we’re moving to bar charts in an effort to offer a full account of our staff’s gender and racial details. Because we are a small organization, we are reporting in numbers, not percentages, which can be less transparent. We want to tell the whole story.
Intersectionality is important to us; we are committed to focusing on all of the attributes that each employee brings to the table, not just their racial or ethnic background. As a women-focused nonprofit, we face an entirely different problem than most for-profit technology organizations: Our employee base skews female. We know that we will be better able to serve the women in our communities when our own team becomes more gender-diverse.
In 2017, we made progress toward better gender balance: Our staff grew from 4.2% to 11% male overall, and our leadership team grew from 5% male to more than 16%.
We also made some very visible strides toward diversifying our leadership at the very top of the org chart. According to Brenda: “When the Board of Trustees chose me to serve as the third CEO of the AnitaB.org … they took a rare step. Not only did they interview me — a black woman with a background as a technologist — but they hired me. By doing so, they were making a clear statement: It was time for this organization to take the necessary steps toward fully recognizing the intersectionality of the women we serve, and of our own team doing that work.”
We’re pleased with our progress toward gender diversity and C-suite visibility, but we acknowledge that we need to do a better job in other areas. Despite our efforts, the numbers show that we still have a way to go before our diversity reports accurately reflect the goals of our mission. Between December 2016 and December 2017, our staff went from being 57.4% white to 61.6% white. Our leadership team was 60% white at the end of 2016, and 63.2% white at the end of 2017.
“At AnitaB.org, it’s our business to help build more a diverse workforce,” said Brenda. “And yet, looking at our own internal diversity numbers for 2017, I could see that we failed to make measurable progress. In fact, by some measures, we actually lost ground.”
We are committed to continuing to track and publicly report the following data for 2018:
- Our employees’ intersectional racial/ethnic and gender identities.
- Our leadership team’s intersectional racial/ethnic and gender identities.
- Diversity statistics for Grace Hopper Celebration speakers.
More importantly, we’re no longer going to be doing things the same way and expecting different results. Here are the concrete steps we’re taking immediately:
- Although we’re a small, nonprofit organization, we’ve hired a human resources executive for the first time in our 20-year history. This leader will be tasked with creating significantly stronger policies that foster more inclusivity and equity, and our entire executive team will be held responsible for achieving the results.
- Brenda, our CEO, is personally vetting every job offer we make, in order to ensure we’ve drawn from a broad applicant pool. “I’m personally dedicated to bringing in the right talent that reflects the communities we serve,” she says.
- We’re also focusing promoting and retaining a diverse set of talented employees, because — as we always tell the companies who work with us — fixing the “leaky pipeline” is not enough. We cannot simply hire our way out of this problem.
These efforts have already begun to pay off. Already in the first 5 months of the year, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the diversity of our overall staff as well as our leadership team. Here’s a snapshot of our progress so far:
By the end of the year, we’re confident that we will have been able to make measurable progress toward our goal of hiring and retaining a staff that reflects the communities we serve.
As we set a new baseline and measure ourselves against it, we will be better able to identify places where we’ve improved and those where we’ve regressed, codifying our tactics for future gains. We don’t expect everything to work perfectly — there is no silver bullet — but we do expect to take honest and unflinching measurements of what does move the needle.
Whether we’re working with other organizations or within our own, we recognize we can do more to increase diversity. That’s why each of us on the AnitaB.org team has chosen to do this work: We believe that achieving our diversity goals will benefit not only our organization but, more importantly, the communities we serve.
If you’re interested in helping us reach these goals, check out our job listings, and help spread the word within your own community.