It’s important to remember that only a few years ago, roles like Chief Diversity Officer or Chief Culture Officers failed to exist. Issues of sexism, ageism, racism, and discrimination continue to linger at the forefront of the tech industry’s conscience. Many brands have yet to embrace the notion that diversity is deeper than skin color, or hire a female CEO to offset a five-to-one male ratio. So what does the ideal workplace really look like?
Start at the Start
We recently attended a panel by R/GA Ventures where Julia Cheek, CEO and Founder of EverlyWell, reiterated an important NOM philosophy: “It becomes a much easier scaling path to diverse teams if you start with 10 people who all represent diversity in different forms and then you scale to 100, versus getting to 100 and looking around and saying ‘uh oh, we have a problem.’”
Creating a diverse workplace has to start from the top, from the beginning. “We don’t make a decision until we see a diverse pool,” remarks our CEO Loren Rochelle. This has been a company priority from day one. When we see candidates that all look alike with the same background and skillset, we pause to re-evaluate our recruitment strategies. Beyond simply posting a job on LinkedIn, are we making sure that job postings are being shared within diverse communities and platforms? It’s not enough to hope the right candidate comes to you, you have to go find them.
Sometimes it takes longer to find and hire the right people. We've grown the company by 400% in the last year alone, so we’re familiar with the needs of a bustling startup that has business goals and deadlines to meet. It can be a challenge, but if you’re truly committed to a diverse workplace, you’ll stick through the growing pains and often be willing to take on more work until the right candidate is found. Realistically, if you’re just starting now, you’ll have some catching up to do. Be patient with the process, and remember that a diverse team will produce better business outcomes for your company in the long run.
We also spoke with Iddris Sandu after his fireside chat, Emerging Tech and the Importance of Tech Diversity, at SXSW 2019. Sandu is leading the next generation of developers and teaching them to challenge known systems to create a more diverse future for all. His example: iPhones were created by a select group of people, most likely with implicit biases, for a specific end-user in mind. Instead of building an iPhone app, why not develop something more inclusive that exists outside of the app store altogether?
We love this line of thinking. We’ve always been disruptors in our industry. By creating products and solutions that empower advertisers, something that had previously eluded the digital ad industry, we’ve forged a new path for ourselves. As our team at NOM grows, we continue to look for new candidates to grow our family. Diversity will always be a priority for us, but we know that hiring just to check boxes is ineffective and trivializes diversity efforts. We’re serious about changing the face of the industry, and we challenge you and our fellow tech companies to evolve beyond box-checking as a hiring practice.
In today’s workforce, committing to a diverse team is disruptive by its very nature. That’s because it rarely just happens on its own. It takes a concerted effort, thoughtful decision-making, and a team that shares similar values. The result is a positive and productive workforce that can tackle anything.