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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.