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Diversity and Inclusion at Patreon (2018)

At Patreon, we’re passionate about changing the way art is funded across the web in order to help artists and creators harness their creative freedom. Building a diverse and inclusive workplace is critical to our mission of funding the creative class, because different views and backgrounds spur creativity on our teams and enable us to better support our creators. To that end, today we’re releasing our employee demographic report for the first time.

While we’re excited about this step towards being more transparent about our efforts and holding ourselves accountable for diversity and inclusion, our data also reveals that we have work to do. Understanding where we are now has helped us determine how we want to improve as we continue to grow. As a result of these learnings, we’ve identified several goals we’re working to achieve by the end of 2020:

1. Gender parity across departments and level (50% women and gender minorities)

2. Racial and ethnic parity across departments and levels (50% racial and ethnic minorities)

3. Promotion parity for all employees

Achieving these goals will enable us to empower a greater number of creators, and to build an even stronger platform for creators to find the support they need to do their best work.

Before we dive into what we’re working on and where we’re going, here’s a look at where we are.

Where We Are

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Note: Operations teams at Patreon include: Marketing, People Operations, Legal, Trust & Safety, Creator Care, Creator Partnerships, and Community Happiness. Technical teams at Patreon include: Product, Engineering, and Data Science.

53% of our team identifies as men, and we have the largest opportunities for improvement on our technical teams, where only 36% of our employees identify as women and gender minorities. Increasing the diversity of our executive team, which is all male, is especially important for us because we know that having role models in leadership helps boost employees’ sense of belonging, which can impact whether they see a future for themselves at Patreon.

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Note: Operations teams at Patreon include: Marketing, People Operations, Legal, Trust & Safety, Creator Care, Creator Partnerships, and Community Happines. Technical teams at Patreon include: Product, Engineering, and Data Science.

We’re committed to achieving 50% racial/ethnic minority representation across each of the above groupings by 2020 end of year (EOY). Increasing the representation of Black employees, especially on our technical teams, is one of the biggest gaps we need to address to achieve this goal.

What We’ve Done So Far

We’ve got work to do to achieve our goals by EOY 2020, and we’ve already started designing our employee experience with diversity and inclusion (D&I) in mind. Over the past year, we’ve kicked-off several new initiatives to further our efforts.

Recruiting Our D&I efforts start with our candidate pipeline. To hold ourselves accountable to building diverse teams, we’ve developed sourcing standards around the percentage of underrepresented candidates that recruiters find for each role. In order to meet these expectations, we’ve brought on recruiters to focus on finding and reaching out to candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, we’ve leveraged diversity-focused job boards, and we’ve attended job fairs at Lesbians Who Tech and Alterconf.

Once people enter the hiring process, we strive to create experiences where everyone has the opportunity to do their best. For example, after finding that some of our interview teams were fairly homogenous, we instituted a shadowing program to help folks who hadn’t interviewed before learn about the process and ease into the role. This helped us increase the percentage of our team that could rotate into interview spots, which increased the diversity of our interview panels¹. With the help of Atipica, we also conducted detailed reviews of our hiring process to determine if candidates from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to receive an offer.

Onboarding Our onboarding process provides us an opportunity to introduce new hires to our D&I philosophy. During this process, we share our gender pronouns and discuss the diversity of physical and mental abilities of our team members to raise awareness around identity and inclusion.

We also share our culture, communication norms, and preferred collaboration tools so folks know what to expect and can quickly begin connecting with their teammates. In engineering, our largest team, we go a step further and partner folks with a buddy (in addition to their manager), who focuses on helping them find their way around, make friends, and get comfortable in their new surroundings.

People who join Patreon as managers also learn about our expectation that managers be committed to making Patreon a diverse and inclusive environment. During onboarding, new managers learn that this expectation means committing to help diversify our team through recruiting and through devoting time to having conversations about inclusion, marginalization, and identity.

Immersive Events & Conversations Our D&I Steering Committee works closely with our People Team leaders to deliver immersive events and facilitate conversations across Patreon to raise awareness about the experiences of marginalized groups. Our D&I Steering Committee is a cross functional team with rotating membership (quarterly) and at least one Patreon executive. Members of the team share inclusion discussion topics with our full team every month, which serve as conversation starters that invite folks to share their experiences, foster feelings of inclusion, and establish greater trust with each other. In collaboration with People leaders, our Steering Committee also schedules quarterly events with external speakers to educate and motivate our team. Some of the organizations we’ve partnered with over the past year include Somos Familia, Blue Heart, Awaken, and Paradigm.

immersionAn example of a conversation planned by our Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee.

People Policies We’ve also built career development and compensation policies that support diversity and inclusion. Our department leaders meet with VPs regularly to discuss development opportunities, performance feedback, and the promotion readiness of all team members. These quarterly conversations, called Organizational Review Meetings, provide an opportunity for us to regularly track whether leaders are giving equal support to teammates who are less vocal or work on teams that lead less visible work streams.

To promote fairness in promotion processes, our diverse, cross-functional promotion committee is tasked with ensuring that our teammates have equal opportunities to advance. By evaluating the merits of promotions based on how employees’ work aligns with job-level expectations and directly addressing possible biases, the committee helps hold all team members to equitable standards. Additionally, we regularly analyze our compensation data to ensure that team members are being paid equitably across similar roles. To improve transparency across the company, we’ve also made the results of these analyses available to our full team through presentations and one-on-one meetings.

We’re excited to see that our efforts to incorporate a D&I lens into our employee lifecycle — from recruiting and onboarding to our events and people policies — have already made some impact. Our representation of women and other gender minorities in technical roles has increased significantly since 2016, when we began most of this work.

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Our teammates are also starting to feel our commitment to D&I. In our most recent company-wide engagement and inclusion survey, the percentage of respondents who agreed that Patreon builds diverse teams increased by 28 percentage points from the year before, and we saw a 9 percentage point increase in the number of respondents who agreed that Patreon values diversity.

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Beyond just feeling our commitment to D&I, our employees have helped turn our commitment into action through the creation of employee resource groups (ERGs). Our Intersections ERG, which is focused on women and gender minorities, has helped shape new people policies and created new learning and development opportunities for all of our team members since their formation in 2016. In the past few months, our employees have created three new ERGs: Represent, for people of color; Greytreon, for teammates over 40; and our LGBTQ+ group. We’re excited to support these groups as they continue to grow and look forward to working with them closely to further increase our diversity and strengthen our efforts to bring our core behavior of cultivating inclusion to life.

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Note: The sexual orientation chart on the left sums to more than 100% because this view splits out identities if teammates selected multiple sexual orientations. 4% of teammates identified with more than one sexual orientation. The chart on the right shows the age distribution across our teams. Both demographics are shared only at the team level to maintain teammate anonymity.

What’s Next?

While we’re energized by some early signs of progress, we’re also reminded that consistent, systematic efforts are required to meaningfully move the needle on D&I. As we continue our efforts already underway, we will dedicate resources to building and adopting tools to measure our impact. To achieve our goals by EOY 2020, we’re also prioritizing these additional efforts:

  1. Focus on diversity at the top: Taking inspiration from the Mansfield Rule, we’ll reinforce efforts to create diverse candidate slates for our executive roles. Going forward, the majority of candidates we bring to onsite interviews for executive roles will be from underrepresented groups. To meet this standard, we will work with a D&I-oriented third-party executive search firm for each opening.

  2. Forge new partnerships: We’re creating a university recruiting program to build relationships with minority-serving institutions. Through these and other partnerships, we hope to strengthen our candidate pipeline and increase the diversity of expertise we’re bringing to our teams.

  3. Fight bias systematically: We’re currently reviewing our internal processes and plan to integrate systems that detect and combat bias into all our core people policies by the end of 2018. This includes collecting data about our equity, promotion, and development programs and analyzing these across demographic groups. To keep our workforce up to date on our efforts and increase transparency internally, we’ll be providing snapshots of these analyses during future all-hands meetings.

As we continue our journey, we look forward to working with other organizations to share knowledge and best practices. We’re also excited to partner with our ERGs to identify additional opportunities for improvement and ways to further increase the diversity of our team. By sharing this first report, we aim to help our community see our commitment to D&I in how we interact with candidates, onboard new hires, and support teammates as they learn and grow with us. Our hope is that if we’re strategic, persistent, open and willing to challenge ourselves and each other in the way that we embed D&I into our culture and processes, we’ll have the best chance of driving lasting change


¹ Because research has found that people from underrepresented groups can underperform relative to their true potential when their identity is particularly salient, we created interview teams that reflect the diversity of our broader organization.

*We collected the demographics shared here through an onboarding survey that asked employees to self-report their identities, which 95% of our team completed.