While 18 percent of U.S. citizens identify as Latinx and 13 percent as black, employment at big tech companies doesn’t mirror those demographics. For instance, as of 2014, Etsy, the popular e-commerce platform for crafts and handmade goods, had filled just 7 percent of its U.S. positions with black or Latinx workers. The company has, however, made progress since. Etsy created new hiring rubrics and began a training program to help hiring managers judge candidates more objectively. In 2019, the company doubled its black and Latinx hires in the U.S. from the previous year (many of those in engineering), and those workers now make up 11 percent of its U.S. staff. Additionally, more than half of Etsy’s workforce and more than a third of its engineers are women. In 2019, only 1.8 percent of Etsy’s U.S. leadership was Latinx and just 2.7 percent was black, so the company is launching a sponsorship program to create leadership paths for black, Latinx, female, and non-binary engineers. “We know there’s a lot more to do,” says Raina Moskowitz, Etsy’s SVP of people, strategy, and services, “but we’re excited about our momentum.”
Etsy’s diversity numbers have improved in the last year, but why were black and Latinx inclusion rates low to begin with?
I think it’s a reflection of the tech industry overall, and the pipeline of talent. We’ve focused for a long time on building relationships with organizations and communities who can help build a pipeline of talent. What’s exciting is that we have a flywheel going, so as our workforce becomes more diverse it allows us to attract and retain more diverse talent.
Etsy created new hiring rubrics to “support consistent and fair evaluations.” Why was that necessary?
It’s really important that people aren’t just hiring people who they like or who look like themselves. We want to make sure we are basing talent decisions on core competencies and people’s ability to succeed at Etsy. We’ve tied these competencies to our [publicly posted] guiding principles to make sure we’re attracting people who’ll be set up for success. We’re thinking about our entire recruiting process, from attracting talent and being at the right conferences to making sure that people are able to stay and thrive here.
How do you ensure those employees can stay and thrive?
We invest a lot of time and energy in our performance management process to make sure that we’ve got fair and consistent outcomes. We invest in our employee resource groups so that we are able to build community and build inclusive workplaces. And we’ve invested in mentoring programs to make sure junior employees can connect [with senior employees] and think about their career path at Etsy and beyond.
Etsy also employs a higher percentage of women than most tech companies, including in leadership.
Yes, more than 50 percent of our employees, board, and executive team are women. It’s something that I think helps to attract other women to the company—and helps to show women who are here that there is a path forward.
How have the efforts toward diversity and inclusion benefited the company?
We believe that having a diverse team leads to better business decisions, better business performance, more innovative products, and better customer outcomes. Eighty-seven percent of our customers are women. It’s especially important that our workforce reflects our customer base so that we understand their needs and can better serve them.