How ConsumerTrack has created one of the most diverse startups in LA

by John Siegel
April 5, 2017

The people that make up LA's startup community don't necessarily represent our local diversity. 

Over the past few years, a number of tech startups have instituted diversity programs to help even things out, but few have had as much success as El Segundo-based ConsumerTrack. Founded in 2004, the company strives to maintain a balanced roster, something difficult to do in an industry dominated by men.

The company recently revealed its employee breakdown, reporting a leadership group that included 50 percent men and 50 percent women. Additionally, the company reported that their roster breakdown sat at 62.3 percent women and 37.7 percent men, the opposite of what most tech companies maintain.

Built In LA caught up with five employees at ConsumerTrack to discuss how the company's diversity initiatives were implemented, and what they wish other companies would learn.

 

ConsumerTrack's Chief Operating Officer Caitlin Barber has been with the company for six years. For her, the company's diverse workforce is all she's known, and it's something they will continue to maintain.

As a tech startup, it's not always easy to create a diverse workplace in just a few years, but ConsumerTrack has. How?

ConsumerTrack has made it a priority to hire and promote the best people for the team. Brett [Rossmann, CEO] and Jeff [Bartlett, President] are not only good at finding the right people, but they have told me that we should look for people that are better than us at whatever role we are hiring them for. Removing the ego from the hire and looking for the best person for the job, ideally someone we can learn from, has created the incredible team we have today.

When did ConsumerTrack develop its workplace diversity initiatives? 

ConsumerTrack has been full of diversity for all 6+ years that I have been here. I was hired by a female director and have worked alongside people from all backgrounds.

How important was workplace diversity to you when you joined the company?

As a female in the workplace, I look for places that promote based on talent and truly give a fair shot to everyone. Seeing my boss (a female director) rise through the ranks at ConsumerTrack was part of the reason I was so excited to join this company. It has also always been important to me to work with people from diverse backgrounds because when surrounded by differing perspectives we can come up with more creative solutions to problems. 

What role does diversity play in ConsumerTrack's core values?

The core values are based on the Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz). These agreements — by their nature — teach how to work more effectively with a diverse group of people. "Don't make assumptions" helps remind employees that co-workers may be approaching something from a completely different perspective and therefore coming to a different conclusion. It rolls into another agreement to "be impeccable with your word." As all of these diverse perspectives come together, we have to over-communicate to make sure that everyone stays aligned.

What do ConsumerTrack's efforts to make the workplace an inclusive environment say about the company?

It shows that ConsumerTrack is smart. As a company, the wider breadth of backgrounds and perspectives you are open to, the more likely you are going to find the best person for a given role. In this day and age, if you are not making the workplace an inclusive place where anyone is allowed the same opportunity to thrive, then you are going to be left behind. People don't stay at jobs for their entire career the way that they used to, so it is up to the company to create an inviting culture that employees care about and want to be a part of. I think ConsumerTrack has done a very good job doing just that.

According to UI Engineer Betsy Rubie, working on a team as diverse as the one she's on means that solutions come quickly, and the ideas being presented are always fresh.

How do you feel about ConsumerTrack's commitment to a diverse workforce?

I love it! We are a place where we need ideas and the talent to adapt to ever-changing technologies and markets. If we only hired people just like ourselves, we’d end up with an echo chamber where our solutions aren’t challenged and innovation stalls. Having the luxury of working on a diverse team allows me to solve problems faster and smarter. 

Was it something that contributed to you joining the team?

Absolutely. While interviewing as a front-end developer, ConsumerTrack was the first place I interviewed with a woman in leadership (Caitlin, our COO). I had been part of an incredibly male-dominated company previously and was searching for a new place where I could thrive and build cool applications with a talented team. Needless to say, I’ve never been asked here to take notes for someone else, provide office supplies or refill the company’s first aid kit. (Yes, all those happened, although it was other men in the company asking me and not my team.)

What's something that really stands out to you about the company's mission to make its workforce as diverse as possible?

We hire the best person for the job. I don’t feel like there’s a ceiling here. If you work smart there will always be more opportunities ahead. Because we are open to diversity and ideas, it’s a level playing field where we all can succeed. 

As the LA tech scene continues to diversify, what do you think the company can do to continue to maintain the workplace it has?

We need to constantly evaluate to ensure we have an environment where our employees feel they have the tools to succeed. Everyone has had their own obstacles to get where they are, and more will come up. Continuing to be flexible and aware of our employee’s needs will help us attract and retain top talent and creative solutions. 

According to ConsumerTrack's Director of HR, Tanya Bustamante, the company's ability to think outside the box can be attributed in part to the number of backgrounds represented in the office. 

How did the company start to develop its workplace diversity initiatives?

About three years ago, we discussed building hiring practices that put talent and culture fit at the top of our must-have list. We made our jobs and benefits more compelling by emphasizing details that attracted a more diverse candidate pool. We offered benefits such as flexible schedules, parental time off and transformed an office into a private mother’s room.

How important was workplace diversity to you when you joined the company?

It was important for me to trust that my ability to move up and be a part of the leadership team didn’t depend on my gender, age or national origin. I’ve been given a great opportunity to showcase my skills and be evaluated on my performance and my results that directly impacted the team and company. I’m glad that this was more important than the number of years of experience I had in my role, or didn’t have.

What role does diversity play in ConsumerTrack's core values?

As a tech company, we recognize ideas and innovation come from a diverse way of seeing things. Our core values are not only business focused, but can be applied to people’s personal lives. This opens our core values to similar but not quite the same interpretations based on people's background, upbringing, and culture. This is an example of how our core values attract a diverse group of people and allow them to connect to our culture.

What do ConsumerTrack's efforts to make the workplace an inclusive environment say about the company?

Our efforts to create an inclusive workplace say that we strive to have an environment where everyone feels valued and everyone has access to the same opportunities for growth. I think I can say that most people want to experience the same sense of belonging to a group, and we do our best to hire people that care about growth and share similar attitudes and behaviors. 

Junior QA and Ops Analyst Sierra Chen said she is particularly inspired by the balance of the company's leadership team.

How do you feel about ConsumerTrack's commitment to a diverse workforce?

I've never worked at a company that had so many minority groups, including racial, gender and sexual orientation. I feel like I fit in here instead of feeling like an "other" where I'm the only minority. I also think it's great that diversity is found in all departments. It shows the company is committed beyond token representation and cares about bringing in many different perspectives.

Was it something that contributed to you joining the team?

Diversity wasn't something that I noticed during the interview process, but it was something I noticed as soon as I began to meet more people. I actually talked about it with some friends because I was so surprised. Most places I've worked at had few minority employees, which I always thought was weird in a city as diverse as LA. Tech companies, especially, have a reputation for being very male dominated, so I was pleased to see that wasn't the case here. It goes a long way in making me feel welcome and comfortable speaking with people in upper management. Now it's something that keeps me here, even if it wasn't something that made me join.

What's something that really stands out to you about the company's mission to make its workforce as diverse as possible?

One of the biggest things here is how many women and minorities are in leadership and management positions. Some companies I'm familiar with diversify their entry level positions, but their managerial, director and C-level positions are predominantly filled with white men. I think it says a lot about CTI that they believe women and minorities are deserving of equal consideration at all levels of employment.

As the LA tech scene continues to diversify, what do you think the company can do to continue to maintain the workplace it has?

I think one area we want to keep an eye on is age. I enjoy working in a "young" company but I've been hearing reports in the news recently about age discrimination in LA, especially at tech companies and especially against women. I think we should be careful to make sure we don't wind up as a statistic in one of these reports, or worse, in an exposé. But otherwise I think CTI is much more diverse than all other companies I've worked at, and I didn't realize how much it adds to the overall culture at a company before.

For ConsumerTrack's Manager of Talent Acquisition, Kacey Hays, the diversity in the workplace was one of the reasons she decided to join the company.

How do you feel about ConsumerTrack's commitment to a diverse workforce?

Diversity – whether it be race, experience, age or tenure — increases diversity of thought which leads to creativity and innovation. As a talent acquisition manager, I am tasked with finding the best talent in Los Angeles. Having a diverse team not only helps me think of new and creative ways to recruit talent, but also helps with retention because everyone has a seat at the table at ConsumerTrack.

Was it something that contributed to you joining the team?

Yes, ConsumerTrack's commitment to diversity absolutely contributed to me joining the team. The first thing I did when ConsumerTrack reached out to me about the role was research the company. I immediately noticed that a majority of the leadership team was female, even though LA tech has a reputation of being a male dominated industry. After interviewing with a portion of the leadership team, three out of four managers/executives being female, I knew ConsumerTrack was going to be my next employer.

What's something that really stands out to you about the company's mission to make its workforce as diverse as possible?

Equality. At ConsumerTrack, when someone poses a question to the group, leadership listens for the solution that is going to best help the business — not necessarily the solution from someone who has been at the company the longest or someone who comes from a specific background.

As the LA tech scene continues to diversify, what do you think the company can do to continue to maintain the workplace it has?

In order to maintain the commitment, the company has to create a culture of awareness and inclusion. I would recommend the company put together training to educate employees on why having employees with diverse backgrounds increases productivity. Additionally, the company needs to understand the needs of the employees to ensure inclusivity.

Images via ConsumerTrack. Some responses were edited for clarity and length.

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