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Diversity & Inclusion

This page is maintained by

Stephane Roux

TL;DR: We're committed to creating an inclusive company and being held accountable. Here are the things we do and don't do to create an inclusive environment.

Introduction

We understand that we have to be a visibly diverse company to be an attractive place for diverse talent to work, so we’re working hard to demonstrate our commitment to improving representation at all levels, including leadership. It is much more difficult than we thought to create a diverse and inclusive team (especially for product and tech roles), and we're working hard at it.

Good intentions aren't enough, so here is what we are doing:

Things that we are doing

Learning and being open

Let’s call it what it is: Wonder was founded by three white guys who, despite our best intentions, have a lot of blind spots. As a company, we’re making it a priority to unlearn our biases and learn about what we don’t know, in order to make Wonder a genuinely inclusive place to work for everyone. This includes getting feedback on our interviewing process and our employer branding from candidates that are not part of the tech "usual suspects" (white male engineers). We ask for help and listen to people's experiences, and stay accountable and humble. There’s nothing you can’t talk to us about - if it needs to improve, we want to hear it.

Sourcing

We mostly do outbound sourcing, and we make it a point to aim for a balanced gender split. This doesn’t always mean 50/50, but it implies dedicating extra time and effort to source off the beaten track. Our job descriptions are double-checked for biased and gendered language to encourage everyone to apply to Wonder.

Considering candidates' backgrounds

We don’t discriminate when considering candidates, and we hire on the basis of skills, experiences and personality traits, both existing and potential. However: we also recognize that there are systemic barriers to entry for marginalized candidates - we work hard to ensure you won’t encounter those barriers here. We want to hear about your history and what you individually have to offer, and we will consider how you may have been held back in the past.

For example, an "average" promotion track record for a female engineer in a male-dominated environment tells us you probably did great work, because we know that on average a woman (1) will have had less access to networks, mentorships and other resources that are relevant for promotions than their male colleagues and (2) will have been perceived as less competent and evaluated less favourably than their male counterparts for the same achievements. Taking this into account just makes sense. If two people ran 10km in the same hour, but one was carrying a backpack and the other one wasn't, the one with the backpack is likely the better runner.

Interviewing

We’ve been through the recruitment process enough times to know that hiring managers don't always have the ears to hear the whole story. Hearing tends to lead by bias, so we pay attention to our practices and review scorecards to see if any patterns emerge. We are also planning on giving candidates extra guidance to help them navigate the interview process, especially if they are not part of the dominant group (white male engineers) and therefore don't give off systemically-validated signals of competence.

Culture

We set team guidelines that emphasize maintaining a safe and inclusive environment. Team activities have to be formats that everyone can join, and can't revolve around drinking alcohol.

D&I group

We set up a D&I working group, formed from different teams, that reviews our internal D&I efforts, holds us accountable and brings in ideas.

Things that we are not doing

Diversity and inclusion workshops

We’ve seen companies do this as an answer to their diversity problems, and we’re not convinced it works if it doesn’t also include making meaningful changes to decision-making procedures. We are not into tokenistic measures or just going through the motions at Wonder, so we aren't booking any diversity and inclusion workshops until we are convinced that they will help us change processes and drive effective change. Meanwhile, we are paying attention, implementing feedback and holding ourselves accountable - in other words, we are committed to doing The Work.

Hiring junior

It's easier to hire diversely if you're willing to hire more junior roles. We don't do this for two reasons: First, our product team is not a suitable environment for juniors; we would set people up for failure. Second, we want to avoid creating a team where people are whiter and maler the more senior they are; we would rather work harder to hire senior people that are not white and male. Senior people have a stronger impact on the organisation and more leverage in recruiting diverse talent, so we can't take shortcuts here.

Achieving balance across the company

Research suggests that balanced teams are ideal, and teams with 90% homogeneity are the worst (both for decisions and for employee experience). So the priority is to balance each team as opposed to hitting an abstract number across the organisation. We want to avoid the cliche of the all-male product team + all-female marketing/people teams.

Content we found helpful

Aside from conversations with advisors and experts, there are a few resources that we have found particularly helpful:

  • Iris Bonnet - What Works, Gender Equality by Design. This book gives a broad overview of the topic and takes an evidence-based approach. Stephane took notes on it over the holidays, which you can find here: What Works - Gender Equality by Design (book notes)
  • Amy Edmonson - The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth. This book provides a super helpful framework for thinking about inclusive and safe work environments without reducing the topic to identity. We view psychological safety as a core attribute of team culture and we think that it's especially beneficial for people who tend to experience less safety in the workspace.

Our only goal is to learn and improve, not to stay comfortable - so if you want to challenge our approach or have some ideas to share, we want to hear from you!