What Does a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Mean?
What Does a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Mean?
Back in 2019, Etsy announced a major goal: The company wanted to double its percentage of Black and Latinx employees by 2023. Lack of diversity is a common issue in the tech industry, and over the years, many companies have made big promises with little result. Progress, if it isn’t completely stalled, is often painfully slow. But Etsy, which was founded in 2005, has always done things a bit differently. It’s always prioritized gender diversity—women make up more than half of the company across all levels, and a majority of its executive team are also women—and now it was time to recommit to its values in a bigger way.
By the end of 2019, 15 percent of Etsy’s new hires were Black and Latinx employees, and those workers represented 11 percent of the Etsy’s total US staff, compared to 8.5 percent the previous year. There’s still much work to do, says Adetoro Ceballos, Etsy’s head of diversity and inclusion programming. Although the company has been able to double the number of Black and Latinx hires within a year, Ceballos says that diversity and inclusion require willingness and transparency that go beyond the hiring step. If you want true change, explains Ceballos, D&I practices need to be thought of holistically rather than in isolation. And diversity, Ceballos stresses, does not always equate to inclusion.
A Q&A with Adetoro Ceballos
A truly diverse and inclusive workplace happens on purpose. Company leaders have spent time defining diversity and inclusion and understand that the two must work together, and this is supported by a structure grounded in equity principles to lead to change. In this context, diversity means difference and specifically representation throughout an organization, including within various departments and at senior levels.
A workforce made up of people who are different does not automatically equal a workforce that is inclusive. True inclusion and belonging happen when leaders build inclusive language, practices, and policies into all of their business units, from recruitment and HR to marketing, engineering, legal, and finance. Real change happens when we’re intentional about creating work environments where opposing views can be shared without fear and where we value psychological safety. This helps us have difficult conversations in a respectful way.
“People of color should not have to bear the brunt of protecting their own well-being at work. As with so many fights for justice, the most marginalized have traditionally carried the heaviest weight—in and outside of work.”
True inclusion requires questioning our assumptions, correcting one-size-fits-all approaches, understanding data-driven approaches to retention, engagement, and career development, and engaging honestly to make our workplaces more equitable and inclusive for all.
A major part of Etsy’s broad success is its intentionality. Everything from our workspace to our performance reviews is well thought out, researched, reviewed, and measured against industry benchmarks. Our diversity and inclusion work is no different. Our broad D&I and social impact mission is to “enable equitable access to the opportunities that we create.” To advance this goal, we set three sub-goals and targets where appropriate:
1. Build diverse and inclusive workforces that are broadly representative of their communities with a specific, measurable target of approximately doubling the percentage of Black and Latinx employees in Etsy’s workforce by 2023.
2. Build a diverse, equitable, and sustainable supply chain to support our operations and bring value to both Etsy and our vendors with a specific, measurable target of ensuring at least 50 percent of Etsy’s small- and medium-size enterprise suppliers are owned by women, minorities, or veterans by 2022.
3. Ensure our marketplaces are diverse, welcoming, and inclusive places to sell and shop with a target of defining a key performance indicator and establishing a baseline for marketplace diversity and inclusivity by 2021.
Each of our sub-goals has specific wide-ranging initiatives that we’ve found incredibly effective—everything from joining niche tech communities to expanding our employee mentorship program to launching a sponsorship program for Black, Latinx, female, and nonbinary employees in engineering. Not only have we set these goals; we also hold ourselves accountable by publicly reporting them. Etsy is one of the only public companies to include progress on our impact work (incorporating our D&I metrics) in our 10-K annual report alongside our financial results. Putting our financial and impact results side by side both elevates our accountability and emphasizes the importance that we place on our impact work.
I’ll stress this again: Diversity does not automatically lead to inclusion. Many companies recruit candidates from different backgrounds and believe their work is done. Without a solid foundation in place—reckoning with company culture and reviewing hiring, pay, and performance practices, there is frequently high turnover among talented employees and particularly employees of color. This stalls company progress and directly impacts morale.
“Real change happens when we’re intentional about creating work environments where opposing views can be shared without fear and where we value psychological safety.”
This is an area of opportunity for senior leaders to start having uncomfortable conversations about who’s in the room and who’s not and what the company is willing to do in the name of equity. Who’s frequently turning over and who’s not? Who’s being promoted and who’s not? Who disproportionately feels the effects of institutionalized oppression while still having to show up for work every day and who doesn’t? When company leaders begin to ask themselves these questions—and also take note of who the company leaders are—they can start to properly resource teams, programs, and initiatives that will create an environment where employees stay and thrive.
Employees can leverage several channels to advocate for change in their workplace. You can reach out to your human resources and recruiting teams to share your ideas and ask for support or funding. Additionally, if your company has employee resource groups (ERGs), they are a great way to lend support to the human resources and recruiting teams and find community in the workplace. According to Catalyst, a global nonprofit that works to increase female representation in corporate leadership roles, employee resource groups are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives. Other benefits of ERGs include the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement, and expanded marketplace reach.
“Who’s frequently turning over and who’s not? Who’s being promoted and who’s not? Who disproportionately feels the effects of institutionalized oppression while still having to show up for work every day and who doesn’t?”
People of color should not have to bear the brunt of protecting their own well-being at work. As with so many fights for justice, the most marginalized have traditionally carried the heaviest weight—in and outside of work. Senior leaders must understand their workforce population, take a position, and embed equitable processes throughout each area of the business. Marginalized employees will then feel safer sharing their experiences at work and advocating for change.
Adetoro Ceballos leads diversity and inclusion programming at Etsy. Prior to joining Etsy, Ceballos served as the director for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at NYU School of Medicine. She graduated from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development with a master’s in higher education administration and has worked in diversity, equity, and inclusion for ten years.