Working On Diversity and Inclusivity

Wade Foster
Wade Foster / August 23, 2016

In Summer 2015, at our biannual Zapier Retreat, we looked up and noticed the majority of Zapier's 27 team members at the time were male, white, and in our 20s and 30s. Applicants to our job openings, particularly in engineering, seemed mostly male (though we had not done demographic surveying up to that point to confirm this).

It would have been simple to look the other way because diversity in tech is pretty uncommon. We wanted to do better, though, because there is a large body of evidence that shows diverse teams build better products, make better decisions, and have more successful companies. Also, hiring and fostering a diverse team is just the right thing to do.

During that retreat, we started a candid conversation about our hiring process. We dug into what we were doing well and where we were falling short. Based on that conversation we started taking steps to fix practices that might unintentionally discourage people from applying to Zapier.

Some of these efforts have helped us reach a more diverse set of applicants, but there were still areas where we weren't succeeding. So, at our Summer 2016 retreat, we revisited the topic to see what more we could do, because by that time we had grown to 48 people and had more hands and voices that could contribute.

We needed a way to demonstrate our dedication to building a warm, open, and inclusive work environment—one that's safe for people of all backgrounds, including historically underrepresented groups such as people of color, LGBTQ people, people over 40 and women. And, we needed a place where we could track our progress towards those goals.

Several team members suggested publishing a public changelog of each step we've taken to improve our hiring process. This is that document.

The Changelog in Chronological Order

  • April 2015: Launched a new 14-week, paid parental leave policy to accommodate growing families.
  • August 2015: Set a requirement that every new position we hire for must be posted to the site with a job description.
  • August 2015: Outlined a standard hiring process across each role.
  • August 2015: Edited our job description template to ensure job descriptions use inclusive language and accurately describe the role.
  • September 2015: Created and publicized the Zapier Code of Conduct, then added it to our About page and each job opening.
  • January 2016: Redesigned the about page to show off our personalities and the people behind Zapier.
  • April 2016: Built a Google Chrome extension that hides the names and photos of applicants when we're reviewing applications in our hiring software to help reduce unconscious bias.
  • May 2016: Increased employer-sponsored health coverage to 90% for employees and 50% for spouses and dependents to make Zapier better for employees with families.
  • June 2016: Started a list of job boards with broader audiences to use when promoting new positions.
  • June 2016: Introduced the Zapier Management Framework and gave training to all managers based on the Manager Tools framework. Good managers know how to create safe spaces that allow people to grow and thrive.
  • August 2016: Changed our hiring application question from "Tell us about yourself" to "Tell us about your qualifications for this role".
  • August 2016: Added an optional, anonymous demographic survey for all job applicants to help us track and better understand the characteristics of our applicants over time.
  • August 2016: Published a public changelog (yup, this one!) summarizing our efforts to improve our hiring process.
  • August 2016: Started peer-reviewing each other's internal notes on applicants to make sure that interviewers use fair evaluation techniques for every candidate.
  • August 2016: Published Our Commitment to Applicants detailing our commitment to being respectful to every candidate.
  • November 2016: Built a Google Chrome Extension for Workable that obscures and randomizes applicant photos and names, in an effort to combat unintentional bias in our hiring process.

We're committed to improving this process. After each new hire, we review the hiring process with the hiring team, and try to learn from each experience. We've also committed to reviewing our hiring process every six months at our team retreats to ensure we keep improving.

We also want to hear from you. If you have an idea based on your own experiences hiring, working on, and building diverse teams, please leave a suggestion for us.