At Quizlet, we believe investing in a diverse workforce creates a strong and innovative company and gives us a competitive advantage. This year is Quizlet’s third year setting company-wide goals for diversity and inclusion. One way we hold ourselves accountable for execution on these goals is by publishing an update each year on our strategy and our results. Even though Quizlet only employs a small fraction of the U.S. workforce, I believe we can multiply our impact by showing leadership and encouraging other companies to make their own investments in building diverse and inclusive workforces.
Our strategy has been to focus in three primary areas:
First, creating milestones and holding ourselves accountable for progress. Without goals and measurement, it’s difficult to get results. In recent years it’s also become possible to benchmark Quizlet against other companies that have published their employee demographic data. We also believe that while building a diverse workforce is everyone’s job, accountability has to lie with executive leadership. That’s why, as our SVP of Engineering, I took responsibility for our focus area this year — women in engineering and technical roles.
Second, sourcing and recruiting a more diverse team. As I’ve mentioned to many leaders that have asked me how we’ve gotten results at Quizlet, it’s essential to reach out to a diverse pipeline of candidates and communities if you want to hire a diverse workforce. Accordingly, we have set goals related to diversity in recruiting. To improve hiring decisions and reduce bias, we have developed structured interview plans with clear scoring rubrics and trained interviewers in behavioral interviewing.
Part of building a diverse pipeline is looking outside of more traditional recruiting programs. We’re proud to be working with Path Forward for a second year, and this fall will be hosting mid-career paid “returnships” for professionals who have been out of the workforce for caregiving purposes. We’ve also partnered with Code2040 to help create access, awareness and opportunities for top Black and Latinx engineering talent to ensure their participation in tech.
Third, reinforcing our inclusive and supportive culture. It’s important to recognize that we are all subject to implicit biases. The impact of unconscious bias is not limited to recruiting and candidate assessment. It can affect performance and promotion decisions as well. We work hard to find and hire people for the team and we want to retain all of them and help them rise to their potential. To help the teams recognize their own biases and equip them with strategies to mitigate them, we’ve delivered periodic unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training. We’ve guided team leaders to ensure team-building events are inclusive. And we’ve supported grassroots committees and groups (like Women @ Quizlet) with budget and executive sponsors.
This year, we prioritized women in technical roles as one of our top goals for diversity and inclusion. In a disappointing and regrettable trend, overall women’s participation in software development roles across industry has been trending down since the early 1990s in the U.S., flat at 18-20% since 2011.†
I’m proud to report that our efforts toward hiring and retaining women in tech has gotten results, increasing five percentage points to 33%, up from 28% last year (and 22% in 2017). And our new office in Denver is off to a good start, with 33% women in technical roles.
I’m especially happy that we’ve been able to include women at all levels of our technical organization. 40% of technical managers (of all levels) are women, and 33% of our technical leadership are women (director-level and above).
And looking at our company overall, Quizlet also reached 40% women in 2019, up from 35% when we started reporting numbers in 2017.
We believe that these efforts are not only critical for making Quizlet the best possible company and place to work, but can also help drive change throughout the industry as a whole. Though Quizlet is still relatively small (about 150 employees) we know that this crucial work cannot wait. While I’m pleased with our progress this year, there is obviously much more to be done. I’m looking forward to updating our goals and strategy for 2020.
Quizlet Business & Operations
Quizlet internal data from August 2019; Ethnicity refers to the EEO-1 categories which reflect the US government reporting requirements; Other includes American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and those who prefer not to state or classify.
† Data from 1) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed full time: Wage and salary workers: Software developers, applications and systems software occupations: 16 years and over: Women [LEU0254690800A], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LEU0254690800A, April 4, 2019, and 2) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed full time: Wage and salary workers: Software developers, applications and systems software occupations: 16 years and over: Men [LEU0254584000A], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LEU0254584000A, April 4, 2019.