How the $70K decision showed us we had diversity all wrong

Gravity is comprised of people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and with unique beliefs and opinions who are passionately united in our mission to help the little gal and guy achieve the American dream.

When our CEO, Dan Price, made his $70,000 minimum wage announcement we were catapulted into the global spotlight. Our stories have resulted in millions of interactions and conversations since. Though we’ve been humbled by many kind words and support, it’s the criticism that has helped us find new ways to constantly improve as a company.

We’ve taken many steps and implemented several policies to better foster an inclusive and diverse workplace, like our focus on pay equality, our unlimited PTO policy, a concentrated effort on recruiting women for strategic leadership positions, or internal workshops on inclusion and respectful communication.

However, there was one note of criticism we received a handful of times, which genuinely caught us off guard. We were being called out for our lack of diversity in the videos and images that circled the Internet. We were accused of having an ethnically homogenous workforce.

At first, we were confused.

What were these commenters talking about? The things the critics were saying about our lack of diversity did not accurately portray a company we recognized. We live and work in one of the most progressive cities in the world. We pride ourselves on being an open, honest, and inclusive workplace with zero tolerance for any kind of discrimination. We’ve fostered a culture based on inclusion and difference in opinions. We’ve led workshops on gender fluidity and sexuality in the workplace. We have an executive team made up of mostly women. We have team members from Puerto Rico, China, Guam, and Korea.

Where was the lack of diversity?

Gravity is dedicated to fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace. We strive to provide employees opportunities to actively engage in identifying diversity-related needs within the company, and assist in addressing those needs. We want to create an environment where everyone is accepted with open arms. We had an “official statement” on diversity. Didn’t that prove that we’re committed to diversity?

That’s when we took a step back and saw how wrong we were.

We were trying to defend ourselves when we were just like every other company who says they “champion diversity in the workplace”, yet didn’t have anything to show for it. Our actions were speaking louder than our words.

So, we took this opportunity to look at our company introspectively: What can we do to make sure we have a diverse set of voices and opinions representing our company? What efforts can we take to make sure all opinions, all lifestyles, all genders, all races, all ages, all backgrounds have a seat at the table?

The $70K decision encouraged us to make greater efforts to diversify our teams, so here’s some initiatives we’ve taken in the past year:

  • We put a more refined focus on our recruiting efforts by tracking our pool of applicants while expanding our outreach to different communities and more diverse job boards. From doing this, we’ve found a direct correlation to the diversity of our applicant pool and who we hire.
  • We’ve had open and transparent discussions both internally and externally about our need for diversity in our company beyond race or gender. By having those conversations, we’ve gathered helpful feedback and advice on how to achieve our diversity goals and foster a more inclusive culture.
  • Based on transparent discussions, a few members of the Gravity team started a committee to discuss how we could do better in all areas of diversity. Some great action steps that have come out of that committee are:
    • Reaching out to job boards to bring in a more diverse pool of recruits.
    • Bringing in different organizations to educate and speak to our team on topics such as racism, sexuality vs. gender, unconscious bias, the usage of pronouns in the workplace, etc.
    • Exploring opportunities to take part in a program that provides work to those who have special needs.
  • Join or strengthen our connection to business diversity groups.
  • Build a baseline understanding of the “why” behind diversity through new hire diversity trainings and annual diversity trainings including racial, disability, sexuality, gender, and unconscious bias.
  • Increase our internal communication about diversity efforts we’ve taken including information in our monthly employee newsletter on our candidate pools and employee demographics.
  • Made our company a safer space to discuss any diversity or inclusion related concerns through anonymous feedbacks and confidential one-on-one conversations with a member of HR.
  • Created a “sensitivity statement” for any visitors that arrive at Gravity which states:

Gravity places a high value on diversity and we make every attempt to promote an inclusive and equitable environment for everyone. As such, we ask that you remain sensitive in the use of him/her pronouns. Before referring to someone by a traditional gender pronoun, we encourage you to ask which gender pronoun a person might prefer. And please let us know if you have a preference.

  • Finding more ways our team can publicly support diversity efforts and showcase and celebrate our own diversity.

We’ll end with this.

Did you know 41 percent of hiring managers said they’re “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives?

To that, we say this: According to census data, by 2050, there will be no racial or ethnic majority in our country with immigrants accounting for 83 percent of the growth in the working-age population. If businesses commit to creating more diverse workplaces and meeting the needs of workers and consumers, our economy will grow and benefit.

In fact, companies with the highest levels of racial diversity had on average 15 times more sales revenues than those with the lowest levels. Further, for every percentage increase in the rate of racial or gender diversity, there was an increase in sales revenue of nine and three percent respectively.

Not only is fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces the right thing to do, it’s also a successful business move. So, how are you diversifying your teams this year? Instead of investing in blanket diversity initiatives (like we had previously been guilty of), find actionable ways to foster a cultural shift in your company.

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