At Button, we care deeply about supporting, celebrating, and promoting a diverse and inclusive hiring process and work environment — from our Founder and CEO down to every employee here. I am proud of what we have accomplished to date, but recognize there is always more we can do to improve. My goal in writing this blog post is to share (and open source) what Button has done in hopes that these tangible ideas and initiatives can provide some inspiration or even be replicated by companies large and small. After all, it takes the focus and dedication of everyone on the team and within our industry to build a truly diverse and inclusive future workforce.

Small budget. Big Ideas.

We are currently a team of 40 people and while we do not have the people and resources like a Google or Facebook (or Intel where they’re able to commit $300 million to a diversity fund — an amazing effort, but not possible at our size!) — our founders and team have done and continue to do a number of things to lay a strong foundation and scale. We’ve also learned a lot from open source platforms like Project Include, Facebook’s Managing Unconscious Bias and Google’s re: Work.

Perks & Benefits

I’m proud to say that our perks and benefits were created with diversity in mind on day one and by our Co-Founder — Stephen Milbank. He was adamant about making sure we had admirable, family-friendly benefits and even consulted with an OBGYN to build our paid parental leave program. You can learn more about our perks and benefits on our website, but here are a few highlights:

  • 100% medical, dental, vision, and OneMedical membership for employees, spouses, and children
  • Unlimited vacation with a travel stipend of $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families
  • 17 weeks of paid parental leave for all parents following the birth, adoption, or surrogate birth of a child. We also include $1,000 in baby cash, free parenting, childbirth, and lactation classes, free counseling focusing on returning to the workforce, free back-up childcare, and technical support and remote work setup, if needed

Hiring

Our team started off as predominately male and white which is why it has been important to focus on diversity early on. This is also where most companies struggle. For example, if you start with 10 men the next 10 hires need to be women to get to a 50/50 split. We are currently 35% women and 65% men, and 12.5% racial diversity. Here are few things we’ve done, learned, and committed to in order to get us closer to a more equal split:

  • We hired the People Team early — our first hire was employee #14 (that was me!)
  • 13 out of the last 15 hires have been diversity hires
  • We created gender-neutral job postings through Text.io or Gender DeCoder
  • We built (and are continuing to build) relationships with communities who support diversity in tech and post on different job boards. A few of my favorites are: InHerSight, TechLadies, Code2040, Coalition 4 Queens, Blacks in Tech, and People of Color in Tech.
  • We go beyond Stanford, MIT, CMU and other well-known, top tier computer science schools. You can recruit equally talented new grads by building relationships with local Colleges & Universities, coding schools and bootcamps, Women’s Colleges, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • We sponsor Women in Tech Hackathons like Flawless Hacks
  • We try and understand where our applicants come from by asking in job postings, “how did you hear about Button?”
  • We build diverse invite lists to recruiting happy hours, dinners, and meetups
  • We share our Commitment to Diversity Statement on all job postings

Training & Development

Here at Button, we also think about diversity holistically — it includes what we can see or perceive — race, gender, and extends beyond to things we can’t see or perceive like cognitive diversity and differences in interaction styles.

  • Week long onboarding program deep dive to learn more about our company, teams, and how we work
  • Personal Growth Survey during your first week so we can immediately start supporting you in your career goals
  • Interview Training
  • Managing Bias Training
  • Communication and Interaction Styles Training
  • Leadership and Management Training
  • 1:1 Coaching

Vendors & Supplies

We are all about supporting local, minority, women, and/or small business owners. These are just a few ways we’ve shaped the operations of our company to support diversity and inclusion.

  • Most of our office furniture including our desks, conference tables, and whiteboards are built by NYCitySlab a.k.a The Black Lumberjack
  • Our beloved breakfast of champions, Early Bird Granola, is a local, woman-owned business
  • One of our office vendors, Managed By Q, is local to NYC, mission driven, employs full time W2 workers instead of contractors and is committed to giving 5% of the company to Q service providers over the next five years.
  • Our office is located in a building that supports hiring union contractors

TAP Conference & Diversity Events

Back for its 3rd year, Button brings together the brightest minds in mobile for TAP Conference. Diversity at conferences is often times overlooked, but our goal last year was to have 51% of our speakers and moderators on stage be women. We got to 52% and we also had an all-female investor panel. Additionally, we’ve supported diversity industry-wide by hosting and speaking at external events and conferences:

  • Barnard College: Women in Tech Day Conference
  • Button Pride BBQ and Panel
  • General Assembly: Women Thriving in Tech
  • Girls Who Code & Hello Devs: Art and Science Behind Offer Negotiations

Internal Groups

According to Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, companies that have a diversity task force in place see 9–30% increases in representation of white women and of each minority group in management over the next five years. This is huge! We have started a Diversity Committee and a Women of Button group — both have slack channels to support the conversation as well as provide a forum for good reads, meetups, events, and resources. As for myself, I’ve joined Diversity Advocates, a phenomenal open source community advancing diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

Where We’ve Fallen Short

While I’m proud of the list above and that the last 13 out of 15 hires have been diverse, we have a long way to go. Here are a few things we’re going to focus on in 2017:

  • Build strong relationships and actively expand our reach into people of color, women, and underrepresented minorities groups and networks
  • Continue to build diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our culture through our diversity committee, research, initiatives, gatherings, etc
  • Do a better job of sharing our current diversity initiatives and commitment to diversity on our website
  • Figure out ways to collect more diversity data for small companies — and specifically anonymous and legal ways to gather data on our employees to help drive decision making
  • Set goals on what we want to track/measure. My goal is to get every person on the team to set a goal around diversity and inclusion each quarter
  • Celebrate diversity during Black History Month and Women’s History Month
  • Hire a Diversity Manager to work with all teams on how they can better support, foster, and build diversity within their teams and work
  • List things we haven’t thought of yet here — I’m sure there are many!

What can you do?

I mentioned in the beginning of this post that my goal in writing this blog post was to share (and open source) what Button has done in hopes that these tangible ideas and initiatives could be replicated by companies large and small. I hope it also shows that you don’t need a large diversity budget or a ton of people to make this happen. If anything, being a small company can be a huge advantage to be flexible, experiment, and continuously improve on what works for you and your team.

For you, the reader, what have you done at your company? We’d love YOUR thoughts and ideas. And if you’re interested in joining our team, check out our openings as we’re constantly growing!