Welkin has taken a proactive approach towards building an inclusive culture and diverse team from a very early stage. From establishing and publicly sharing company values to investing in hiring an in-house People leader (me!) who is passionate about Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), Welkin understands that the key to continued company success is to build a diverse team and a culture that attracts, develops, and retains talent.
In this post, I will detail how Welkin has focused on improving the diversity of the team through capturing demographic data and will include the full results from Welkin’s most recent demographic survey.
Collecting demographic data is one important step that Welkin has invested in over the past two years, and given the fact that it’s played a key role in our broader D&I efforts, I hope to encourage other companies to take this step as early as possible in their company’s development.
Welkin is committed to creating an environment where everyone’s perspectives are encouraged and heard. We work to understand how inclusion is experienced at Welkin; we set goals to improve team diversity, ensure a supportive culture that impacts retention, and put initiatives in place to increase feelings of inclusion. We keep our efforts and results transparent, while building a space for this to be an ongoing conversation team-wide.
We’ve made diversity and inclusion integral to the structure of the company we’re building, and scale our team and our values from that framework. Welkin’s leaders are deeply involved in our D&I initiatives, which is necessary for making it an enduring priority at every level of the company.
We are constantly learning, as well as doing the research and experimentation necessary to nurture our D&I efforts—and Welkin as a whole—in the right direction.
One of the first areas that Welkin invested in regarding our D&I efforts was measurement. We believe in making decisions that are driven by data and that we can’t improve what we’re not measuring. We also understand that capturing quantitative demographic data is not enough; we also need to be looking at data around feelings of engagement and inclusion, which we do through a people and culture platform called Culture Amp.
Done in isolation, collecting quantitative data about the demographics of the team would most certainly not be enough to build a strong team and company that values and cares about D&I. So much of the work is also done through measuring feelings of inclusion and engagement, having clear paths for career growth and development for employees, and a continued focus on the many ways culture plays out in the workplace; checkbox diversity is never enough on its own.
In June 2017, we sent out our first demographic survey. This anonymous 10-question survey was designed to gather demographic data from all employees such as gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
We had 100% participation in our first survey and have been fortunate to have at least 90% participation since then. Because of the fast pace of growth at an early-stage start up, it’s important to gather this data frequently. At Welkin, we’ve settled on an every-six-months cadence.
We use the data that we’re gathering to better understand and celebrate the diversity of our team, compare ourselves to other tech companies, drive decision-making around D&I goals, and pair this with the CultureAmp data that we’re gathering to better understand how different demographics are feeling with regards to engagement and inclusion.
We’ve always been transparent with our survey results internally. However, this will be the first time that we’re sharing our results externally. We’re excited to be public about this information because we’re extremely proud of the team we’ve built, we want to help other companies grow their diversity efforts through learning what has and hasn’t worked for us, and being public about our results and what actions we’re going to take is a necessary and healthy push towards accountability.
What we’ve learned
One of the things that I realized early on in my D&I-focused work is that we all still have a lot to learn and with any initiative, program, or policy that you might try to roll out, you’ll never get it 100% right the first time. Since sending out the first demographic survey in 2017, I’ve learned quite a bit, not just about the demographic makeup of Welkin, but also about how to implement an inclusive survey. Below are some of those learnings and the ways that I included them in subsequent versions of the survey:
People identify in so many different ways! And as your company grows, this is going to continue to increase. From the start, I made it a point to include an open-ended question at the end of our survey that says, “Thoughts, questions, concerns? Any suggestions for additional questions that we should include?” Through gathering this feedback, I’ve made the following changes to the survey:
- Including a question about neurodiversity.
- Including a question about mental health diagnoses.
- Adding age as an explicit question in the survey. Previously we were pulling this data from our internal HRIS, but this led to a perception that this area of diversity wasn’t being captured or didn’t matter, so I decided to include it.
- Adding “Gender non-binary” as a gender option.
- Next survey I’ll include a question about family economic status.
People don’t fit into one box. In the same vein of there being many ways in which people identify, from the outset I decided to allow for multi-select on all of the questions. Additionally “I prefer not to answer” is an option on all of the questions as well.
It’s important to be transparent about the results while maintaining anonymity. Given the small data set for some of the responses on the survey, we aggregated them to protect the identities of the respondents.
It’s important to take action. The reason we tend to get such high participation in our surveys is because we take action on the information that we gather. It’s important to not only be transparent about the results, but to also share actionable takeaways from the information you’ve gathered.
Here’s a copy of the most recent survey that was sent out.
Where we stand
Our most recent survey was sent out in September 2019. Welkin had 41 employees and had 100% participation. When reviewing results, please keep in mind that our survey allows for multi-select for all questions, therefore the percentages may not add up to 100%. Also some categories will be aggregated to protect the anonymity of the respondents.
At the time of the survey, the entire Welkin workforce was 44% women, 51% men, and 4% gender variant and/or non-conforming and/or non-binary.
- 54% of the management team (employees with direct reports) identifies as a woman or other gender minority
- 50% of the department leads are women or other gender minorities
- 41% of Welkin Tech (Engineering, Product, Design) identify as women or other gender minorities
The racial and/or ethnic breakdown of our team is as follows:
- 56% White
- 24% Asian
- 15% Hispanic / Latinx / Spanish origin
- 7% Black / African American
- 5% Multi-racial
- 2% Middle Eastern
- 2% American Indian / Alaska Native
- 2% Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander
The Welkin Tech team is majority White (68%) and Asian (36%), with smaller percentages identifying as Multi-racial (5%). 62% of Welkin’s management team identifies as White, 15% Asian, 23% Hispanic / Latinx / Spanish origin, 8% Black / African American, 8% Middle Eastern, 8% Multi-racial. Of the department leads, 63% identifies as White, 25% Asian, 13% Black / African American, 13% Asian.
In addition to measuring gender and race / ethnicity, Welkin also measures several other axes of diversity, including veteran status, religion, sexual orientation, and many others.
Primary Caretaker of a Minor
Highest Level of Education Completed
Mental Health Diagnosis
What we’re doing
With each data set that is collected through the demographic survey, it’s important to celebrate the ways in which your company is doing really well, and also evaluate the areas that can be improved. This will change each time you send the survey as the demographic make up of the company and specific teams changes.
When we sent out the first survey in 2017 and reviewed the results, we decided to implement a small number of goals targeted at increasing the gender and racial / ethnic diversity of Welkin, with a focus on the tech teams and the leadership team. These goals have remained fairly consistent over the past 2 years:
Spend 50% of outbound sourcing time on diverse candidates. The recruiting team spends 50% of outbound sourcing time focused on finding candidates from diverse backgrounds. To help with these efforts, I put together a diversity sourcing cheat sheet with suggestions on how to find talent within specific demographics. This goal has helped the recruiting team fill the pipeline with talented candidates from all backgrounds.
Apply the Rooney Rule for specific roles and teams. Currently this rule applies to all of the roles we’re currently hiring for. The Rooney Rule as it relates to diversity hiring states that a hiring decision won’t be made until at least one qualified diverse candidate makes it through the entire interview process. In this case, Welkin is defining “diverse” as a woman or other gender minority and/or an under-represented minority, which we’ve defined as:
- African American / Black
- South East Asian: Filipino, Hmong, or Vietnamese
- Hispanic / Latinx
- Native American / Alaskan Native
- Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander
- Two or more races, when one or more are from the preceding racial and ethnic categories in this list
Offer referral bonuses. Welkin currently offers an additional $1000 referral bonus for URM hired into any roles and women hired into tech or leadership roles.
So what’s next?
It’s important to remember that attracting and hiring diverse talent is only the starting point of D&I work. Companies have to also be proactive in nurturing and retaining the talent that they attract through building an inclusive culture that allows for all employees to bring their best and most authentic selves to work. The goals listed above are just one aspect of the work that Welkin is doing to build such a strong and inclusive culture of talented individuals from all backgrounds. In future posts, we’ll do a deep dive into more of the work Welkin is doing.
Our team will be putting together a series of blog posts called, Welkin Shares. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect and we hope you’ll stay tuned in!:
Founder’s View: giving perspective from a co-founder on the creation of Welkin, our culture, and our industry
Nuts and Bolts: the tangible systems we’ve put into place to improve culture and the data that we’ve gathered
Values: a deeper dive into each of our company values
In My Voice: gives perspective on Welkin’s culture from the voice of an employee regarding an aspect of Welkin’s culture that they find important and impactful
Employee Spotlight: interviews with current Welkin employees about their experience working at Welkin and interacting with Welkin’s culture
About the Author:
Olivia Williams is the Head of People at Welkin Health and has been with the company for almost three years. Her favorite Welkin value is Inclusivity. She loves house plants, condiments, and can probably back squat more weight than you.