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Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Asana

November 1st, 2021
8 min read
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Since last year, the way the world works has continued to evolve. Organizations—including our own—have been navigating how and when to return to in-person collaboration, as well as the challenges that come with a hybrid work environment. Coupled with the context of what’s happening outside our office and virtual walls around social justice and equity, it’s more important than ever for us to ensure we’re building an environment that continues to be intentional around inclusion for everyone—no matter where people are working. Our focus on culture, as a key tenet of our business strategy, helps to fuel our business results and support our sustainability as a mission-driven company.

As we continue to grow and pave our way through the pandemic—with more than 53% of our global employee base hired and onboarded remotely —we’ve focused on ensuring everyone feels connected, supported, and that they belong. Last year, we detailed our commitment to becoming an anti-racist company with a three-pillar approach: Take Care, Take Responsibility, Take Action. Since then, we’ve invested in expanding our culture of belonging, growing a diverse team, and building a foundation for equity. 

We know that prioritizing inclusion and belonging are essential for driving connection, wellbeing, and impact. Take a look at the programs our team co-created, the results of our strategic initiatives, and our long-term commitments that ensure everyone at Asana feels that they belong.

Expanding our culture of belonging

Diversity and inclusion have long been core tenets of our business strategy, and in the past year we’ve formally expanded to include belonging as a dedicated pillar of our work. We want people to feel confident showing up at work in a way that’s authentic to them in order to thrive. That means every person feels comfortable sharing the aspects of themselves that allow them to work effectively. This looks different for everyone, and that’s the point—our goal is to build a culture so inclusive that everyone feels they belong at work, no matter what parts of them they choose to share or not share.

Growing and investing in our internal communities

Over the last year, we’ve launched programs to uplevel ERG leadership and impact, created more employee-driven safe spaces, and invested in Real Talk and allyship.

Upleveling our Employee Resource Groups

ERGs have been a core part of Asana’s culture since our first one launched in 2016. This past year has shown the power and importance of human connection and belonging in the workplace. Our expanded Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have risen to the occasion by demonstrating the commitment to taking care of themselves and each other, and putting their communities first. As our ERGs have grown, so has our support. 

This year, we developed an ERG leadership development program designed to strengthen leadership skills and build community among the leads themselves. We’ve intentionally focused on shifting our ERG leads from seeing themselves as event creators to being diversity, inclusion, and belonging champions. 

As part of this work, we doubled the number of Asana ERGs this year with the launch of Blacsana, Asanapac, and AsanaWomen EMEA. We now have six ERGs at Asana: 

  • Blacsana: According to our Blacsana co-leads, Blacsana was created “to forge a community to celebrate and uplift Black voices while at the same time fostering deep connections among Black Asanas.” One of Blacsana’s first initiatives was leading Black History Month internal and external programming with the theme, Celebrate & Connect our Community: Asana’s Diaspora–Past, Present, Future.

  • Asanapac: As our ERG for Pan Asian & Pacific Islander communities and allies, Asanapac dove right in to support each other during the escalation in violence toward the API community earlier this year. They led Real Talk discussions and held safe spaces for the API community to be vulnerable, express themselves, and support each other. Asanapac also hosted API Heritage Month with the theme, Fostering Community: Connecting, Celebrating & Building Solidarity.

  • AsanaWomen EMEA: As Asana continues to grow all over the world, we saw a need to scale our ERGs to better reach our global team more directly. We launched AsanaWomen EMEA as our first regional ERG and partner to AsanaWomen. Their mission is to create an inclusive space in which women are empowered, valued, respected, and connected to each other across our EMEA region, by cultivating their skills and leadership potential to further advance their career opportunities both at Asana and beyond.

  • AsanaWomen: AsanaWomen’s mission is to showcase the work and passions of women in the tech industry by providing a platform to celebrate their talents and spotlight role models. This past year, the group led Women’s History Month, complete with guest speakers, a Real Talk discussion on fertility, and community building events. 

  • Gradient: Recognizing the intersectionality of our employees, and with the addition of Blacsana and Asanapac, we’ve evolved Gradient from being a community for people of color and allies to being our first multicultural ERG. Gradient’s mission is to honor and celebrate multicultural and intersectional identities, striving to engender a multicultural perspective at Asana through initiatives that promote empathy, cultural competence, and allyship.

  • Team Rainbow: Asana’s ERG for LGBTQ+ employees and allies, Team Rainbow leveraged Pride Month to support their community, the organizations that have helped our queer community navigate the pandemic, and other marginalized populations that continue to be plagued by injustice. 

Creating more employee-driven safe spaces

In addition to ERGs, we were proud to support the employee-driven communities that took shape this year and have provided a welcome safe space: 

  • Thrive: A community for Asanas navigating their own mental health, as well as allies supporting others with their mental health. Thrive seeks to create space to speak candidly and decrease stigma around mental health and mental illness, and provide Asanas with skills and resources to support their own wellbeing and that of others. 

  • Asanable: A safe space for Asanas with disabilities, together with allies, to share thoughts, experiences, and resources. 

  • Parents: At the start of the pandemic, our Parents community rallied to support each other and create the space needed to connect. This group continues to grow and their collective efforts were punctuated with recognition by Great Place to Work as one of the Best Workplaces for Parents.

Commitment to Real Talk 

As part of our commitment to Real Talk—an event series to encourage authentic discussions on issues that are important to our communities—these groups hosted several impactful events throughout the year, including: 

  • Real Talk: Coming Out: During Pride month, a group of Asanas from our Team Rainbow ERG demonstrated vulnerability, authenticity, and strength in a panel on their intersectional experiences coming out.

  • Mental Health Awareness Month: At Asana, we know that mental health plays an indispensable role in your overall wellbeing. With that in mind, we hosted a panel discussion with Asanas from across the organization as they shared their experiences around how to stay resourced for optimal wellbeing. 

Investing in allyship across the organization

Allyship and the development of robust allyship behaviors and expectations are a priority for us in supporting our commitment to anti-racism. We’ve partnered with Merging Path Coaching to develop customized content to support allyship practices at Asana. To start, we’ve launched this content to our management team, and we will continue to roll out allyship enablement to all Asanas over the next year. We’ve also continued to provide inclusive leadership training and support to our managers, so everyone understands their role and has extensive tools to support an inclusive environment.

Growing a diverse team Asana

We believe the best teams are diverse in identity, backgrounds, and perspectives. At Asana, building a diverse team is a shared responsibility that everyone owns. The impact of this shared responsibility has grown in the last year with the addition and expansion of our Diversity Talent Programs team. This team works across the organization and includes a sourcing function to reach underrepresented groups, early career and returnship programs, and establishing best practices for ensuring that our hiring process is equitable and inclusive. 

We review qualitative and quantitative data to track the progress we’ve made, and we recently updated our representation metrics on our website—with data taken from August 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021. This year, we expanded our demographic data categories in our HR system to allow for multi-selection of gender identity and race / ethnicity. Recognizing the intersectionality of our current and future employees, this change better reflects our population, creates a more inclusive employee experience, and ultimately supports more accurate representation metrics and goals.

Growing diversity in representation

Over the last year, we’ve made some progress in our Black, Latinx, and Women, Transgender, and Gender non-conforming (WTGNC) representation, and we will continue to focus and build on these areas. Our intentional efforts to connect with these communities in the past year resulted in a year-over-year increase in both U.S. Latinx representation from 5% to 8%, and in U.S. Black representation from 4% to 5%. Globally, we’ve continued to see growth in our WTGNC representation at the leadership level, with 47% of managers globally identifying as WTGNC. 

The diversity of our leadership team has also grown in the last year, as we welcomed a new board member, Andrew Lindsay, and a new COO, Anne Raimondi. We will continue to invest in building representation, particularly in leadership. As we do so, we’ll be growing our team in our newest U.S. regional hub, Chicago, with the intention of providing more opportunities to underrepresented communities looking to enter the tech space.  

Closing the opportunity gap with AsanaUP

Asana is committed to creating opportunities in tech for individuals from historically marginalized communities through a variety of programs. This year, our focus has been on closing the opportunity gap: creating economic opportunity for individuals from historically marginalized communities by developing programs that enable participants to gain skills, experience, and a pathway into Asana. Partners like The Marcy Lab SchoolYearUp, and JVS allow us to invest in and create opportunities for communities that have been systematically disenfranchised.

Our apprenticeship program, AsanaUP, provides a pathway to roles at Asana for individuals with non-traditional backgrounds, with an emphasis on engaging individuals from marginalized communities. AsanaUP apprentices are building industry experience through their work on real business problems, supported through programmatic enablement, mentorship, and feedback. 

Since AsanaUP launched four years ago, the program has grown significantly. This past year, we expanded across 10 of our departments, with plans to launch AsanaUP for each of our regions by 2023. This past year we hired 20 full-time Asanas through the program, and will continue growing AsanaUP through this coming year.

Fostering connections 

As we’ve grown and cultivated our internal community, we’ve also been intentional about supporting organizations building products that serve their communities and beyond, building relationships, and amplifying their work. Here are some examples of how we’ve done that over the past year: 

  • Spotlighting our customers and their stories: Throughout the year, we put our customers at the forefront, providing a platform to share their unique stories. We kicked off the year with Level Up, an event featuring Black creators from our customer community. We also shined a light on the work of Black founders, Latinx founders, female entrepreneurs, and leaders building products that serve parents and caregivers.

  • Developing deeper partnerships with our customers: Our customers are at the heart of our mission, and we aim to forge lasting relationships to support their missions. This year will be our third year sponsoring AfroTech, and we were honored to host Morgan DeBaun, founder and CEO of Blavity—the organization that runs the event, as a featured speaker at our Focus & Flow Summit. During Pride month, we were thrilled to sponsor the Frameline Film Festival, connecting our Team Rainbow ERG to our customer doing important work in the queer community.

  • Investing in communities of color: Meeting underrepresented communities where they are and investing in them has been an important part of our community engagement strategy. Over the past year, we’ve partnered with organizations—and in some cases, customers—like Hue, POCIT (People of Color in Tech), and Techqueria to connect with, engage, and invest in communities of color.

  • Taking a stand against inequality and hate: We are a regular signatory to Amicus Briefs that promote inclusion. Since last year, we’ve signed on to oppose anti-transgender laws, support the Voting Rights Act, and oppose restricting access to reproductive care

Building a foundation for equity

In addition to the work being done in support of inclusion and representation, we’ve also focused on equity initiatives in order to support our commitment to being an anti-racist organization. We launched the following initiatives to promote equity at Asana: 

  • Employee donation program: We launched an employee donation matching program with 501(c)(3) organizations engaged in anti-racist and equity initiatives.

  • Pay equity study: We regularly evaluate key compensation-related metrics by gender and race and conduct rigorous pay equity analysis on a biannual basis. We report on these results internally to all Asanas.  

  • Partnerships with 501c3 organizations: We enable select 501(c)(3) organizations to move their missions forward even faster with free business licenses through our social impact program, in addition to our Asana for Nonprofits program. By partnering with organizations that are dedicated to increasing access to resources, education, and opportunities in tech, we aim to create a world where everyone has the skills and opportunities to participate in and thrive in today’s digital landscape. Some of these organizations include Hack the Hood, The Hidden Genius Project, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Looking ahead

Everything we do at Asana is in service of our mission, and we are committed to maximizing the long-term benefit we offer to our customers and to society. We know that growing a diverse team Asana, and an environment where everyone can thrive, is essential to our success as a company and our enduring impact on the world. As the way the world works together continues to evolve, we will continue to ensure that every Asana—no matter where they are working—feels included, heard, and that they belong.

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