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Asana’s approach to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

Team Asana contributor imageTeam Asana
September 24th, 2020
7 min read
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Diversity and inclusion are critical elements of how we work, build products, and navigate our society. Global and local events have highlighted pervasive racial injustice and inequity that exist in our global community. We have strengthened and reinforced our commitment as a company to ensuring that diversity and inclusion are core to our organization and our culture

At Asana, we are advocates for doing the work to build a more equitable and inclusive environment for everyone, even when it is difficult. We continue to ground our efforts in a strategy that centers on building a framework for fostering transparency and trust; channeling intentional and strategic efforts toward recruiting the best talent, knowing that the best talent comes from diverse populations and backgrounds; and creating an environment where everyone at Asana can feel respected, valued, heard—and that they belong. 

In the spirit of sharing our learnings with the broader community, we’re sharing how we’ve co-created our programming over the last year, made progress as a team, and prioritized our commitment to being an inclusive and anti-racist company. 

Looking back

In the last year, we’ve selected specific actions and initiatives to focus on: Moving toward an integrated and data-driven recruiting strategy to meet our representation goals, and upholding a culture where all employees feel connected to one another and our mission, in an environment where they can thrive.

Strengthening our recruiting muscle

Diversity and inclusion requires a “team of everyone” approach, which extends to our recruiting efforts. It’s about ensuring that everyone knows that they have a role to play in building a diverse team and creating an inclusive environment. We’ve enhanced our recruiting program to ensure that we are attracting and sourcing candidates from underrepresented groups, creating an inclusive candidate experience, and equipping our Talent Acquisition team to be advocates for diversity and inclusion. 

In service of these efforts, last year we shifted ownership of our representation goals from our Diversity & Inclusion team to our Talent Acquisition Team. This shift further enables us to hire talent from diverse populations and backgrounds who have the passion for our mission, as well as the drive to make a positive impact. Our work in this area has included: 

  • Building a Diversity Talent Programs and Early Career Talent Acquisition team. This team is responsible for our global early career and apprenticeship programs, inclusive talent mapping, pipeline development, and engagement programs across our Talent Acquisition team.

  • Iterating on our approach to IDEAL (Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity for Asana Leadership) interviewing—our version of the Rooney Rule— to ensure that we’re building a more diverse leadership team. 

  • Partnerships and sponsorships that support groups typically underrepresented in tech, including Techqueria, Grace Hopper, and AfroTech.

Each year, we review both qualitative and quantitative data in order to track our progress, and we’ve recently updated our representation data on our website. Our latest data shows that we continue to trend positively in female and non-binary representation. Globally, 43% of Asanas identify as female or non-binary. We’ve seen growth in our global female or non-binary representation in Engineering (21%, +2% YoY), and all of our other teams have more than 44% female or non-binary representation, including our people managers, as a group. Our commitment to gender diversity was punctuated by our recent recognition as #8 on Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Women, up from #11 last year and #66 in 2017. 

While we’re starting to see some minor gains in racial/ethnic representation for minorities, we still have far to go. In the United States, 4% of U.S. Asanas identify as Black or African-American (+1% YoY), and 5% of U.S. Asanas identify as Hispanic or Latinx (no YoY change). 

Expanding internal communities 

Focus time

Over the last year, we’ve continued to ensure that we’re building thriving internal communities. In these inclusive spaces, every single person feels that they can have and share their own unique perspective. 

Inclusive internal communities are especially important in remote work environments. Different groups are disproportionately affected by remote work, including underrepresented minorities and parents and caregivers. In the current remote work environment, we are extra committed to inclusion to ensure that everyone has ways to speak up and share their perspectives. 

At Asana, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are an important part of our culture, with over two thirds of our employee base belonging to one or more groups. ERGs support various communities and allies to create safe, positive, and inclusive spaces for our employees to come together across different functional groups. Our ERGs host monthly events and experiences that create a space for people to safely express themselves and engage in open discussion. As we’ve shifted into working away from the office, these events have continued, with an intentional mix of candid conversation and delight. 

Allies are encouraged to join many ERG events, including our Real Talk internal and external event series, which focuses on topical issues pertaining to underrepresented groups. Allies’ participation helps forge deeper empathy for the experiences of others and has been especially pivotal during recent news cycles centered on stories of injustice. 

We’ve continued to invest in our ERGs, with the launch of a leadership development program to develop and strengthen the skills of our ERG leads, and building a professional framework to support these groups. 

Beyond our ERGs, leaders have a critical role in modeling inclusive behaviors and leading on inclusion for their teams. To that end, we developed custom trainings for managers that establish standards for inclusive leadership. Our goal is to uphold our “team of everyone” approach to diversity & inclusion, where everyone understands their role, supports our commitment, and has the tools to contribute to building an inclusive workplace. 

Asana Acts Against Racism

As a company, we are clear that we will not tolerate racism and hate. Racism suppresses opportunity and ignores humanity. It is clear to us that this must change and that we need to be an active part of that change.

In the days and months following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, and so many others, companies have been challenged to lead with action, not only words. Being more physically distant from each other as a result of the pandemic has only made us more acutely aware of the glaring inequities that afflict our society.  

For us, the recent spotlight on racial bias and inequity cemented the need for us to become more focused on doing our part to combat racism and promote inclusion. In June, we launched Asana Acts Against Racism, a formalization of our efforts through new and existing programs that already exemplified how we want to prioritize an anti-racist culture. This body of work is the culmination of a co-created effort with one of our most important stakeholder groups—our employees. We listened to wide-ranging suggestions and selected the initiatives that we knew we could commit to with full integrity and awareness that if everything was important, nothing was important. We’re taking action along these three lines: Take Care, Take Responsibility, and Take Action. 

Take Care

Take Care centers around holding space for and embracing our internal communities. Since May, we’ve grown and evolved our support for our employee communities in the following ways:

  • We have made clear internally and externally that we do not tolerate racism and hate. This position is reinforced in our product terms that ban hate groups from using Asana.

  • We have created private spaces and conversations for our Black community at Asana, where they can process and engage together. 

  • We have chosen to amplify voices of individuals and organizations from underrepresented groups through our social media platforms, to assist in extending their reach and audience. Beginning with organizations that are actively supporting the Black community, some of these efforts include: 

    • A social media roundup focusing exclusively on nonprofit customers who dedicate their work to justice reform including the ACLU, Impact Justice, and the National Urban League. 

    • Spotlighting our incredible Black Asanas and their work, perspective, and creativity. 

    • Content on our blog featuring the stories of Black and Latinx founded customer organizations.

  • It has also been necessary to hold space for all of our employees, and we have hosted several town halls serving many internal audiences, including parents and caregivers, managers, and all Asanas. These town halls embody our approach to Real Talk—open and honest discussions that challenge beliefs and approaches. To be sure, these conversations have been uncomfortable at times. Yet they are also grounded in a shared understanding that these conversations are natural extensions of our long-established commitments to diversity and inclusion. They have been opportunities to learn, lean on each other, mobilize for change, and determine actions and initiatives. 

  • With the shift to remote work, uncertainty of the pandemic, and news cycles and actions of racial injustice happening daily, mental health and wellness are more important than ever. In order to make our mental health benefits more accessible to all employees during this time, we have expanded our offerings to add free therapy and coaching through Modern Health. We also continuously encourage Asanas to take time for themselves through paid time off, which is particularly important while we are all remote.

Take Responsibility

Take Responsibility is rooted in our value of give and take responsibility, and means facilitating self-learning and inviting participation in allyship work and other activities. Being open to difficult conversations is a continuous practice for us. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and we have always encouraged and organized discussions around challenging and important topics. These conversations have been critical to facilitating introspection as a company and as individuals to focus on building the systems that we think are right for our product, our culture, our community, and our people.

  • In observance of Juneteenth, we held an open dialogue on allyship and fragility. As part of this program, we amplified the educational allyship work of our own Asanas, including Learning and Development Lead, Joanna Miller and Asana’s Dedicated Customer Success Manager, Terri Burden, who both used their personal platforms to discuss race, racism, and allyship. We shared this thought-provoking content with our customer community as well.  

  • In addition to open discussions, we continuously make available readings, recordings, opportunities for action, and other resources to support Asanas in our underrepresented communities, and Asanas in all stages of their allyship journey.

Take Action

Take Action is an evolution and expansion of our internal and external programs, policies, and hiring practices. While some of these initiatives aren’t new at Asana, they all have seen increased commitment and support across all levels of our company. Our plans include: 

  • Reinforcing our commitment to representation by enhancing our candidate assessment process. This step further promotes objective evaluation practices, expanding our apprenticeship program, developing our internal mid-career Black and Latinx talent, and outlining goals to build a diverse leadership team. 

  • Strengthening our commitment to inclusion by launching required allyship workshops for our senior leadership and managers, as well as to all Asanas.

  • Fortifying our commitment to equity by regularly evaluating key compensation-related metrics by gender and race, conducting a rigorous pay equity analysis by the end of this fiscal year, piloting an employee-donation matching program with 501(c)(3) organizations engaged in anti-racist and equity initiatives, and enabling select 501(c)(3) organizations supporting this work to move their missions forward even faster with free business licenses through our Asana for Nonprofits program. 

Committed to being the change we want to see in the workplace

Our “team of everyone” approach to diversity and inclusion at Asana means that it’s up to all of us to be the change we want to see in the workplace. As a company, we’re in this for the long term. Together, we’re building a better way to work by creating both a product and a corporate culture that support transparency, trust, and inclusion. 

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