Recently I’ve been half-heartedly looking at job postings, and I’m admittedly being a little picky. I’m not desperate for a new job, but I wouldn’t mind working for a company that seems interesting and provides good benefits and a flexible lifestyle. I’ve found a few companies that I really like, and a few that I thought I really liked.. until I saw their staff photos…
I consider myself a highly flexible person, I can work in just about any environment and get along with just about anyone. That said, I still want to work at a place that I like, and that I can see myself at. I think we all look for that, in just about every aspect of our lives. Take a look at your friend group, they probably are a lot like you: maybe they have similar hobbies, maybe they went to the same college, there’s no question that we tend to segregate ourselves (perhaps inadvertently) into groups that are in some way ‘alike’.
I get that.
Here’s the problem. If you’re running a company, and everyone in the company looks and acts just like you do, you might get along really well, but you’re doing yourself a diversity disservice. The thing is, there are SO MANY super talented people who don’t look, talk, or dress like you do. Let me present this as a little brogrammer understandable if/then statement: if your staff photo page is filled with a sea of white men, then you will only attract a sea of white men.
I’m gonna go ahead and name names because frankly, hardly anyone reads this blog, and maybe, on the off chance that the owner of this company does, he may internalize this criticism and start trying to do something about it.
I was interested in a position at Baremetrics. They are hiring for a Lead UI Designer, a position that, based on the description, I would be a pretty good fit for. I read up on the company (they make an analytics dashboard for businesses, and if there’s one thing I love designing it’s analytics dashboards.. bc I’m a nerd) and the owner, Josh Pigford. I like their benefits, I like the remote working, I even like the owner from what I know about him. All in all, this was a job that I was seriously considering applying for, until I read one blog post.
Here’s the post: https://baremetrics.com/blog/startup-retreat. They had what seemed to be a lovely working retreat. Everyone in the company is remote (there’s no real office), so they were all going to meet up and have a working week together at what seems to be a very nice Airbnb. I made it all the way to the end of this blog post, and then found a staff photo of their team sitting in a van they’d rented for the trip. They all seem happy, no question about that, but let me tell you something: I could not see myself going to one of these retreats, which unfortunately also means I could not see myself working for this company.
Let me be clear in this criticism. I am not trying to point a finger at Josh and say that he is bad, inconsiderate, exclusionary, whatever adjective you think I’m trying to apply to him. I have every confidence based on the work environment and company he is trying to create and most of his other blog posts that he is a good guy who is trying to do right by his team and for his company. The thing is, he probably doesn’t realize that by hiring only white men, he’s inadvertently created an environment that is uncomfortable for non white males to bother applying (which unfortunately also won’t make it easy for him to change this), but, more importantly, he’s not the only one.
As a woman in a tech career, I see this all too often. I’m confident that whenever anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, social status, is looking for a job, we all want to work in a place where we will feel comfortable, where we won’t feel like we’re the token anything, and since we have to spend more hours per week with our coworkers on average than we do with our friends and even our families, we want to feel like we belong.
I implore you, owners of tech companies, to take a quick glance at your staff page. If you have zero or minimal diversity, you might want to be a little more active about changing that, you never know who you’re turning away without even saying a word.