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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We proactively work on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at thoughtbot. We aim to maintain an inclusive work environment where everyone can thrive professionally, as well as have full lives outside of work. We acknowledge that DEI work is never done, and that we will make mistakes along the way. We are continuously working on learning, improving ourselves, and the company.

Council

We have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council that is a cross-Team group of people who drive diversity, equity, and inclusion work in a strategic and meaningful way.

Their purpose is to create a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, fulfilling, and safe environment for all people in our community. We do this by continuously identifying our challenges, raising awareness, facilitating action, and holding ourselves accountable for improvement.

While the council oversees and manages the DEI work we're doing, they aren't the ones who will do all of the work. The council spins up interested groups of people who actively work on different problems, initiatives, or topic areas, like Apprenticeship, Recruiting, Retention, and more.

Hiring

Job Postings

In our job postings, we highlight that: - Well-qualified candidates value diversity, equity, and inclusion, and contributing to an inclusive working and learning environment. - We especially appreciate candidates that demonstrate commitment to valuing DEI and contributing to an inclusive working and learning environment. We also understand that not everyone has had the opportunity to commit to this work, and that's okay.

We encourage candidates to apply even if they don’t match 100% of the requirements.

We encourage candidates to let us know if they need any specific accommodations during the interview process.

The text of our job postings have all been run through https://textio.com to assure the job description is not subtly gender-coded. New job postings will be run through Gender Decoder.

In our job postings, we are transparent about the benefits we provide and they are listed in full at https://benefits.thoughtbot.com.

Our job website at https://thoughtbot.com/jobs shows a variety of people. We try to do this in an authentic, truthful way.

Recruiting

We avoid working with outside recruiters, as we've found they don't present us with people that would be a good fit for our team. Over the last few years, we experimented with a few recruiting organizations and job boards that specifically focus on diversity. The results we've seen so far from these organizations were on par with our previous experience with recruiting organizations or job boards.

The most reliable avenue we’ve found for ensuring a diverse talent pool is the events we run and attend, our own networks, and actively seeking people out who are potentially a good fit for our team and asking them whether they would like to have a conversation about joining.

We don't simply direct these people to apply. Often these people never will, or will put too much effort into preparing, lengthening the process considerably. Instead, we either start a conversation with them or connect them with a Director to continue the conversation.

Interviewing

Our strong preference is to have gender diversity involved in the technical portion of the hiring process (either the technical interview or the final stage pairing). This is for all candidates regardless of gender, but especially for under-represented candidates.

It is a recognized practice that structured interviews are more effective at reducing hiring bias than non-structured interviews, and that score cards and skills tests help interviewers rank candidates more consistently. Our technical interview is quite structured and uses a rubric for both technical and non-technical skills in an effort to further reduce the chance of bias in the interview process.

When making a decision on a candidate, they must get a unanimous “yes” from all the teammates with whom they interacted. We do this to give voice to everyone in the process and to ensure that if anyone is uncomfortable with someone joining the team, they can have the confidence that their assessment will carry weight and not be overlooked.

Initial Compensation and Changes

All initial salary levels and compensation changes must be reviewed and approved by the Chief People Officer to ensure equity in compensation.

Apprentices

Our Apprentice position has been a big source of increased diversity of our team. Previously, the base Apprentice pay was set at $500/week and then varied based on location or candidate. This rate was not adjusted for many years and, therefore, it was no longer inclusive of candidates without significant savings. To help with this, in 2017 we increased the minimum pay for the Apprentice position to $1000/week. For a long time now, the position has also included full benefits.

In addition, there is a risk that people who are underrepresented will self-select into Apprenticeship, or our biases will put them into Apprenticeship. We expect that the using the skill rubric mentioned above will address this risk.

Every candidate goes through the same interview process and is bucketed into an Apprenticeship based on the rubric, regardless of what level they applied for.

Promotion

Most management positions are filled by people who were already at the company, so having an inclusive hiring process is important for having a more diverse leadership team. When a new leadership position opens, it is important that the process of filling that position is inclusive.

There are a number of components to the promotion process that we’ve explicitly designed to make it as inclusive as possible:

  • We will open a position both internally and publicly to fill that vacancy. We don’t yet have representative diversity on our team, and this will make it even harder to ensure that we’re promoting in a way that is reflective of our diversity ideals. To help counter this we advertise the position publicly to have the opportunity to attract new candidates into the leadership position.
  • A company-wide message will go out detailing how to apply for the role. We do this to ensure that everyone is aware of the vacancy and that it’s not just circulated among the few people who are "in the know." We also do this so that the position can potentially be filled by the best candidate across the company, and so that everyone has access to all opportunities.
  • The hiring team may reach out to existing team members they think should be considered for the position and encourage them to apply. Like in Hiring, we cannot simply wait for people to volunteer. Those particularly in underrepresented groups are less likely to do this.
  • The hiring team may also recruit external candidates they think would be good for the position. Even though we’re advertising the position publicly, we know that we can’t rely on candidates to come to us. Therefore, we take the opportunity to actively recruit candidates for the position.
  • The hiring team interviews the candidates. This process is monitored by People Operations to ensure inclusivity. We have People Operations monitoring the process to ensure that everyone qualified for the position is considered and that bias is not playing a role in the decision making process.

Apprentices

For promotion of Apprentices to Designer or Developer, we have been working to reduce bias in the promotion decision making process and to make sure that people who join us as Apprentice are successful in the role and beyond.

We introduced internal documentation to help clarify the expectations we have for team members. Our aim is that this change makes it more clear when someone is ready for promotion from Apprentice.

In addition, we have introduced a mid-level position that we believe will help people be more successful post-Apprenticeship.

Our Community

We have internal and community codes of conduct that attempt to stop both obvious and subtle transgressions, and help us positively reinforce the kind of company and community we want to have.

Meetings

We strive to have inclusive and productive meeting environments. Our list of guidelines is to ensure that employees, clients, and any guests feel respected and heard within those meetings.

Meeting rooms include a double-sided printed version of the guidelines.

Education

All employees complete sexual harassment prevention and unconscious bias online trainings. These trainings are selected to be modern and inclusive, with a focus on how to be better teammates instead of a focus on avoiding lawsuits. Our DEI Council periodically evaluates available training material to improve their focus and positioning.

Talk to one of our product experts about building success into your process.