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Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Patreon (2019)

When Patreon was founded back in 2013, our goal was simple: to build a platform that allowed all creators to make a living through their art. Since then, we’ve sent almost 1 billion dollars to creators and as Patreon continues to grow, funding more and more creators, we have an amazing opportunity — we get to scale our growth with diversity and inclusion as a core principle.

Diversity and Inclusion Goals & Commitments

We want to be a company that’s as diverse as the creative class it serves. One of our core behaviors is “Cultivate Inclusion” as demonstrated in our dedication to building a diverse and inclusive workplace, and we are passionate about hiring teammates whose unique experiences and expertise make us smarter and stronger. It’s those different views and backgrounds that spark creativity and promote the real world, creator-first solutions we’ve dreamed about since day one.

Last year, we set the following goals to reach by the end of 2020, so that Patreon will be healthy, independent, and continue to fund creators for years to come — and we can’t do that unless everyone has a seat at the table.

Here are the goals we set for Patreon last year:

  1. Promotion parity for all employees

  2. Gender parity across departments and levels (50% women and gender minorities)

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

The Progress We’ve Made so Far

Setting goals and tracking progress is critical in understanding not just how we are doing, but where there are opportunities for improvement.

We’ll get into the stuff we need to work on later in this post, but when we’re clear on what’s working, we can learn what efforts to double down on going forward. So, with that caveat, here are some numbers that we’re excited about.

Racial Diversity in leadership roles: At Patreon, 12% of people in senior leadership roles are black. Many tech industry giants see black leadership percentages around the 3% range.

Diversity on our technical teams: People of Asian descent on the technical team grew from 15% to 23%. And, in general, our technical teams saw a 3% increase of people of color.

Patreon’s executive team: Previously, Patreon’s executive team was made up entirely of men. But in 2019, several women joined the team, increasing female representation on the executive team to 43%.

Promotion parity: In 2019, 32% of promoted employees at Patreon were people of color. It’s not the 50% goal we set last year, but we’re getting closer (more on what we’re doing to reach these goals below). Also, In 2019, 65% of promoted employees were gender minority, which exceeded our current goal of promoting females at the same rate as males by 2020.

We’ve Met Our Gender Minority Hiring Goals: In 2019, we increased the representation of women and folks from underrepresented genders across the company by 6%, bringing us to a 50/50 representation of men and women or gender minorities across our full team. Check out the details of our company make-up in the chart below.

Gender by Team and Year

Where We Plan to Improve

When it comes to making Patreon more diverse and inclusive, what isn’t working is as important as what is. There’s no way to reach our 50/50 goals by steering clear of hard conversations, learning experiences, and teachable moments which help change our culture, our processes, and ultimately lead to a better Patreon.

So in the spirit of progress and owning our areas of growth, here are some places where Patreon could do better.

Technical teams and gender: 50/50 isn’t just a goal to reach for across teams. It’s a start, but that’s not the finish line. Equity means that each individual team (technical, leadership, etc.) should have 50/50 representation, as well. That way, we can make sure that we are getting a diverse array of voices across the entire organization.

While we’ve hired more women across Patreon, we need to get better gender representation within each team . For instance, in 2019, technical teams saw a 9% increase in women and underrepresented genders, but we still need to close an 8% gap by 2020 to reach our goals. Also, currently, our senior leadership is 56% male and 44% female, so we still have work to do there as well, as shown in the chart below.

Senior Leadership (Director & Above) Gender

Racial Diversity across Patreon: While in 2019, Asian and black representation increased across Patreon (by 4% and 1%, consecutively), white representation increased by 3%, and hispanic representation decreased by 1%. These changes set us back by 12% from our goal of having white representation by 50% of our total employee population. See the chart below for details.

Ethnicity by Team and Year

Gender Reporting of Nonbinary, Agender, or Trans folks: Currently at Patreon, we don't have the capability in our data collection to provide information about folks who are nonbinary, agender, or trans. We know that tracking data about nonbinary or underrepresented genders is important and this is something we need to get better at in the future.

Tracking race/ethnicity at Patreon: In 2019, we learned a lot about how we could do better tracking diversity within Patreon. We removed the category of “Other” from our reporting to align with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO), which shifted some of our teammates to different racial categories. We also saw an uptick in the number of employees who did not disclose their race/ethnicity. These types of reporting changes shift our employees to different categories, making it more difficult to track diversity at Patreon. As we evolve, we’ll be better at tracking these kinds of reporting changes, so that we can be more certain about what’s working to benefit diversity (and what isn’t).

Promotional Parity Across Race: Lastly, in 2019, 32% of promoted employees were people of color. Since 38% of employees are people of color, this data point shows that we're near promotion parity across groups. So we can keep this trending up, we’re implementing a structured performance management processes around promotion and calibration in 2020. See the chart below for details.

Promotions by Ethnicity

What We’re Doing Going Forward

We are excited to see the numbers are trending up across leadership, hiring, external partnerships, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and more.

However, to make sure that we reach the diversity goals we set for the end of 2020, here’s what we are going to be hyper focused:

  1. Invest in hiring teammates to improve our leadership gender parity. We'll also be diversifying the gender representation on Patreon's board.
  2. To make up for declines in particular groups, we’ll be working hard to recruit more persons of under represented groups, and getting them into the hiring pipeline.

Those are the goals, but what about the nitty gritty? Here’s an overview of some of the things Patreon is doing going forward to accomplish these goals:

Leadership Training Across Patreon: Diversity and inclusion isn’t just about hiring, though that is an important part of the puzzle. It’s also about making sure that people at Patreon feel welcome and heard so that everyone can thrive. That’s why we’re investing heavily in trainings across teams at Patreon. We’ve had harassment trainings for all teams, and inclusive leadership training for the executive team, so that they can ensure that all employees are set up for successful careers at Patreon

Continue to Scale Our Recruiting and Hiring With Diversity In Mind: We’re proud of the work we are doing to make sure the recruiting process at Patreon is effective, efficient, and equitable. We’re getting under-represented folks through our process with more regularity than our industry standards1 — however, we’re still not converting recruits at the same rates as white employees.

We don’t think industry standards are “good enough,” so “beating” them doesn’t feel sufficient. This is both a hit and a miss, and while we know we’re on the right track, we still have work to do.

To get better, we’ll continue to invest in the following::

  • Work with diversity sourcing consultants to help us get underrepresented groups in the hiring pipeline at Patreon
  • In addition to working with outside consultants, all members of the recruiting team are trained to perform diversity-focused sourcing to ensure that hiring pipelines are as diverse as possible
  • Use Atipica for data analysis to measure diversity in pipelines
  • To ensure diversity in leadership at Patreon, we’ll continue to implement the Rooney Rule when interviewing for management roles and above

Continue to Invest in Employee Resource Groups (ERGS): Diversity and inclusion advocacy doesn’t just trickle down from Patreon’s leadership — it happens organically within the organization, as well. We have multiple ERGs, which were started by members of our teams, that allow our teammates to find solidarity and strength at work.

ERGs help Patreon more inclusive by:

  • Setting up private Slack channels for open discussions about diversity
  • Giving in-person or virtual support meetings to Patreon team members
  • Creating recreational opportunities outside of the office so deeper team relationships can be fostered.

We’re extremely proud of these employee-led groups, and the range and representation within them, and we will continue to provide these groups the support, resources, and training they need to be successful.

Since Patreon was founded six years ago, we’ve taken pride in being ambitious, innovative, data-driven, and relentlessly focused on building a diverse team and an inclusive environment. Our results in diversity, equity, and inclusion don’t yet match our ambitions, but we continue to make positive progress towards our goals. With the scale and speed of growth in the tech industry, we understand that our continued focus on innovative recruitment alone will never fully solve this problem. That’s why in 2020 we continue to challenge ourselves, and others, to think differently so that we widen pathways to truly building a healthy and independent Patreon for both our creators and our teammates.


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