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Creating and fostering diversity and inclusion at Asana

July 27th, 2017
3 min read
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At Asana, our mission is to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly. To achieve this mission, we strive to create an empowering and welcoming culture where people from all backgrounds can thrive.

We know that the more diverse our company is, the more creative we’ll be, and the more empathy we’ll have for our customers, enabling us to create a product that is representative of their needs. Our diversity aims are reflective of both the workplace culture we’d like to work in and the business strategy that best leads us to achieve our mission.

Our diversity aims are reflective of both the workplace culture we’d like to work in and the business strategy that best leads us to achieve our mission.

In 2015—before we reached even 200 full-time staff—we turned even our earliest commitments and ideas into action by welcoming Sonja Gittens Ottley to the company to focus on our diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs, goals, and measurements full time. Our D&I strategy consists of three main pillars:

  • Build: establish a supportive and inclusive culture

  • Recruit: attract and hire diverse talent from underrepresented backgrounds

  • Thrive: sustain an environment where all employees know they are supported

Each pillar is grounded in a data-driven approach, which ensures that our decisions are influenced and validated by research and by data.

Many of the programs and initiatives that support this work are outlined in detail on a new webpage that just went live today: Diversity and Inclusion at Asana. For example:

  • We share that 66% of our Asanas belong to one or more of our employee resource groups, which exist to not only build a trusted, safe community among those who identify as members of that community and allies, but help us all learn, build skills, and grow through new viewpoints;

  • We outline some of our key partnerships with organizations that challenge us and help us to think critically so we are constantly able to learn new approaches to our work;

  • We talk about our revised approach to recruiting, including our implementation of a Rooney Rule requirement, and our expanded university-recruiting strategy; and

  • We identify our key inclusion drivers from our third-party employee engagement survey.

Most notably, today we are also posting the first-ever look at our diversity demographic data from inside Asana.

When it comes to D&I, like any other aspect of business, metrics allow us to understand where we are, ensure that we set meaningful goals, and hold us accountable. This data, in addition to qualitative information on how Asanas feel about our organizational culture, helps to foster mindfulness — one of our core values. We view this as a prerequisite to our objective of creating and supporting a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

When it comes to D&I, like any other aspect of business, metrics allow us to understand where we are, ensure that we set meaningful goals, and hold us accountable.

We collected demographic data through our human resources information system; more than 95% of our full-time employees participated. Asanas self-selected to share data on a wide spectrum of markers including religion, socioeconomic background, and countries considered home. We’re reporting publicly on 5 areas: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Age, and Disability.

Most diversity reports from tech companies combine Product and Engineering under the label of ‘technical.’ In order to give a clear picture both internally and externally, we’ve distinguished between Engineering (all Engineering teams and Data Science teams) and Product (Product Management, Design, and User Research). Technical roles that support Sales or Web Development are captured in our Business function.

Some key takeaways:

  • Women or non-binary genders: While 42% of our Asanas identify as female or non-binary, this is primarily in our Business (54% female), Operations (56% female), and Product (42% female) teams. Our Engineering team has the lowest representation with 12% self-identifying as female. The percentage of female people managers or program leads is 38%, which is lower than total representation.

  • Race/Ethnicity: 3% of our Asanas are Black or African-American, and 3% of our Asanas are Hispanic or Latino/a. This representation is mainly in our Operations and Business teams. The percentage of Black or African-American people managers or program leads is 5%, which is higher than total representation.

  • Disability: 5% of Asanas identify as having or previously having a disability.

While many of the practices we outline have been underway for less than a year, we have mixed emotions about the results so far. We want to be better and we believe some of the long-term efforts we have in place will make a positive difference over time. But we know some of the steps we need to take immediately in order to have even greater impact and progress, including continuing to improve our sourcing and recruiting processes, even more rigorous tracking of our applicant data, and training our managers on how to create and support an even-more-inclusive team culture.

We want to be better and we believe some of the long-term efforts we have in place will make a positive difference over time.

We also continue to hold a mirror up to our own efforts. We’ve had to confront our own biases, be honest with ourselves, articulate what we needed to be doing better, and also be clear that — like all our company objectives — this requires everyone in the company to play a role.

It’s probably getting tiresome to hear from yet another tech company that “we’ve got work to do,” but this statement accurately reflects the reality of where we are today. We hope that our future results will continue to show our commitment. This requires real effort, transparency, tangible goals, and support from the entire leadership team. We are committed to these principles, and while we’re still just getting started on our efforts, we intend to continue sharing what we’re learning and providing updates on our progress.

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