Around this time last year, I wrote a blog post entitled: “It’s Bigger Than A Numbers Story.” At the time, I had no idea how true that statement would be today.
In the two years that I’ve been the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Yelp, I’ve learned that there’s no one-size-fits-all diversity solution or program. Every company is different. At Yelp, our primary strategy has been to strengthen our spirit of inclusiveness. Inclusion at Yelp means understanding and sharing in our core values: playing well with others and being authentic in order to create an environment of belonging for all of our employees. Studies have shown that increasing diversity without increasing inclusiveness actually negates the positive effects of diversity.
This year, we measured the success of our inclusion programs through our annual employee engagement survey and learned that 75% of our employees worldwide participate in one or more Yelp Groups. Yelp Groups are voluntary, employee-led communities that serve as a resource to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned with Yelp’s mission, values, goals and business practices.
Yelp Groups are the foundation of our inclusion programs. During the weeks of national unrest between law enforcement and the black community this year, DiverseBurst (our multi-ethnic Yelp Group) held roundtable discussions and shared resources to support one another. This is just one example of the safe spaces Yelp Groups have created which allow employees from all backgrounds to share, support and learn from one another.
Today, we’re sharing our EEO-1 data for 2016. It’s clear we still have a long way to go, but I’m proud of some of the progress we’re making.
While the company is growing fast, we were able to maintain strong gender equity. Our two women-focused Yelp Groups: WAY (Women at Yelp) and AWE (Awesome Women in Engineering) have been building out robust programming, both internally and externally, and fostering welcoming communities for current employees and outreach to future employees.
We saw an increase from 33% to 37% this year in underrepresented minority groups overall, due in large part to the focused efforts of our recruiting team.
Things are moving in the right direction. The steps we’ve been taking to build internal communities and open up important discussions have been critical to the inclusive culture we’re continuing to build here at Yelp. Gardiner Rose wrote an article titled “Designing A Bias-Free Organization” in which she says, “For beliefs to change, people’s experiences have to change first.” That is what we’ve tried to do with our Yelp Group programming this past year – give people a personal experience with a variety of communities so that their beliefs and behaviors will eventually change. And this won’t happen overnight. We still have plenty of work to do to broaden the diversity in our tech departments and leadership in 2017 and beyond. The good news is we’re creating a great foundation to accomplish that goal.