You may not have heard of this company called Slack — it produces a messaging app for teams — but I think you should check it out.
It’s not a big company, though it’s growing fast, but it has created some serious diversity traction in a relatively short period of time. Even better, its approach is so transparent that I think the bigger tech players should take notes.
This week Slack announced it will implement NFL’s Rooney Rule, named after Dan Rooney, chair of the Pittsburgh Steelers and head of the diversity committee that created the ruling. Basically, the company pledges to interview at least one minority candidate when recruiting for senior-level roles, like the NFL does for manager and head coach jobs.
Pinterest and Facebook are also testing the efficacy of the Rooney Rule, but there’s something about Slack’s — pardon the pun — black-and-white approach to reporting that makes me nod my head.
The company makes no apology for the fact that since it first reported its diversity numbers in September 2015, the number of female managers on staff has dropped a bit. It also states without embellishment that its black population is growing, even in technical roles, and its LGBT employees have increased to 13 percent from 10 percent since it first did the survey.
The company is open about its response to company feedback, how it has changed its methodology — for instance, people can now identify with multiple ethnic groups, rather than having to pick “other” — and Slack states clearly that it needs work. Hence the Rooney Rule:
“We recognize that we still have a long way to go. For example, while there are women leaders in our engineering and technical organizations, there are still no leadership positions in engineering, product or design held by underrepresented minorities. This is a glaring omission for a company where 13 percent of the global engineering organization reports as underrepresented minorities.”
It even prioritizes getting diversity on its current board full of white male faces. Other companies likely have been as open and as transparent as this one, but there’s something about the way Slack presents the data — not to mention the quick improvements upon stated goals — that indicates the company is not slacking when it comes to diversity.
It’s fabulous, really because ultimately, the goal isn’t to point fingers or to assign blame. We don’t need companies to make excuses. We need them to do something, to give us something we can feel. Diversity and inclusion executives, #BlackLivesMatter and other equality advocates aren’t making waves and noise and banging their heads against closed doors because they like abuse. We want change. We want equality. We want to make progress. And as Slack says in its latest report:
“… talking about diversity and inclusion keeps the issue front of mind for ourselves and our people. So we are going to keep talking about it. Of course, talk is not enough. We will continue to regularly report on our status so that we can be held accountable, and we will continue to look for ways in which we can improve.”
Slack? Two thumbs up for not slacking on your efforts to build a more inclusive workforce.