How Companies Are Driving Their DEI Efforts Forward in 2023

People leaders from two LA-based companies shared what their commitments to DEI look like in action.

Written by Lucas Dean
Published on Feb. 10, 2023
How Companies Are Driving Their DEI Efforts Forward in 2023
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A focus on diversity, equity and inclusion has a decades-long history in U.S. workplaces, but recent social movements have led companies to reassess whether their DEI initiatives are doing enough. Many are making more significant investments. 

According to a Sapio Research survey conducted in late 2022, three-fourths of companies surveyed had a budget for DEI initiatives and over half increased their budgets from the previous year. 

But Built In’s 2022 report on the state of DEI in the tech industry indicated that much progress is yet to be made — and job seekers are taking notice. 

Of the employees Built In surveyed, 30 percent said their companies had no DEI goals or were making poor progress toward their goals, while only 42 percent of companies said they had set diversity hiring goals.

As job seekers increasingly prioritize DEI in their searches, companies that embrace transparency and openly communicate how they are working to create more inclusive, equitable workplaces will stand out from the pack.

LA-based companies Exploding Kittens and Snap are working to ensure their commitment to DEI is more than just lip service. They’re taking action.

At Snap, for example, leaders commissioned The Action to Catalyze Tech Report, an initiative that encourages tech companies to make DEI a top priority. In 2023, the company is investing in educational programs that help people from underrepresented communities become computer scientists, alongside other initiatives. 

Elsewhere, Exploding Kittens is creating a full-time position that is solely focused on supporting and achieving its DEI goals. “We believe that a strong culture is essential to the company’s success; without it we could not make such fun and innovative games,” Head of People Lisa Boatman, said. “Therefore, even with cost savings on our minds, DEI was something we chose to prioritize and invest in for 2023.”

 

Sterling Summerville
DEI Program Manager II • Snap Inc.

Snap is a social media platform that allows more than 200 million daily users to share photos and connect. 

 

What’s one meaningful way you’re driving Snap’s DEI efforts forward this year? What impact do you hope this will have?

We want to help transform DEI outcomes not just at Snap but also across the whole tech industry. That’s why Snap commissioned The Action to Catalyze Tech (ACT) Report to bring together experts on DEI who can provide all companies with a clear path forward. We want to open source that knowledge because we know from experience how hard it can be to make progress on DEI. We also know that DEI work is collective work. No single company or leader will solve the DEI challenge. 

Above all, we have to take a long-term approach that tackles the systemic inequity that locks out underrepresented talent from tech. Yes, we spend a lot of time working out how to make Snap’s workforce more diverse and our culture more inclusive — as outlined in our Diversity Annual Report. But we believe it’s also our responsibility to help widen access to careers across tech for underrepresented talent.

We have to take a long-term approach that tackles the systemic inequity that locks out underrepresented talent from tech.”

 

Why did you decide to make this a priority in 2023?

At Snap, we’ve been asked to think about “Cathedral Thinking.” This is a “far-reaching vision, a well thought-out blueprint and a shared commitment to long-term implementation.” Most of those who built cathedrals never saw the finished result, but what they built benefitted generations to come. So we ask how we can think beyond the status quo and influence life chances for future generations. In 2023, we’re funding new pathways for underrepresented groups to become computer scientists, aiming to bring high-quality CS education to children in underrepresented communities. 

In the future, we want a world where someone’s chance to work in tech isn’t influenced by their identity or background. Over 30 influential tech companies have now signed up to the ACT Report, and our collaborative cross-industry action was recently highlighted by the White House Office for Science and Technology in December 2022. Internally, in 2023 we are redesigning our systems from employee resource group governance to hiring, L&D and product development. Externally, we are funding the creation of the Tech Accountability Coalition to hold everyone — including ourselves — accountable.

 

How are you holding the leadership team accountable to this goal?

We hold our leadership team accountable for delivering the DEI goals outlined in our Diversity Annual Report. We do this by conducting quarterly DEI business reviews with our CEO and leadership team. This tracks the comparative progress of individual executive members and their teams on hiring and retention metrics for underrepresented groups. We link part of our executive team’s compensation to progress toward those DEI representation goals. These quarterly reviews give our leaders the opportunity to both share learnings and demonstrate how their efforts result in tangible DEI gains.

 

 

A look inside the Exploding Kittens’ office.
Exploding Kittens

 

Lisa Boatman
Head of People • Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is a game and entertainment company that has created nearly 30 person-to-person games. 

 

What’s one meaningful way you’re driving Exploding Kittens’ DEI efforts forward this year? What impact do you hope this will have?

One of this year’s key DEI initiatives is inclusive management training for our people managers and leaders. To execute this, we’ve partnered with leading DEI and workplace transformation expert Nicole Sanchez from Vaya Consulting. Nicole will lead this training over the course of three 75-minute sessions and will cover everything from how to effectively build trust and psychological safety to how to show up as both a coach and an ally to your team members. We hope these efforts create a more inclusive environment and help us better navigate change at Exploding Kittens.

 

Why did you decide to make this a priority in 2023?

We believe that a strong culture is essential to the company’s success; without it we could not make such fun and innovative games. Therefore, even with cost savings on our minds, DEI was something we chose to prioritize and invest in for 2023. 

It’s unfortunate that DEI program funding is one of the first things many companies cut during the budgeting process, but we were prepared to protect this, even when that required us to get creative with our resources this year.

It’s unfortunate that DEI program funding is one of the first things many companies cut during the budgeting process, but we were prepared to protect this.”

 

What tools, resources and strategies are you leveraging to support these efforts, and why?

In past years, DEI was driven by passionate employee volunteers alongside HR. In 2023, rather than this being a side job, it will be a full-time, paid position. In April, we’ll onboard our first DEI manager to drive strategy and run programs and initiatives going forward. 

For tools, we’re leveraging Culture Amp to gather employee feedback, measure the success of our initiatives and set targets for improvement. We’re also partnering with our talent acquisition team to implement a Diverse Slate Hiring program, with a goal to increase the number of underrepresented candidates in the final interview stages to hire top talent across the organization. We’ll be utilizing a data collection tool, Lever, in our applicant tracking system to measure our success.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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