A few weeks ago, I attended a roundtable with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted by Marc Benioff, with other Silicon Valley business leaders, on the topics of diversity and equality. What brought us together was the conviction that there needs to be more cross-industry discussion and that everyone benefits when there is more transparency about diversity and inclusion efforts.
Given Planet’s ethos of “using space to help life,” it would be ironic if we did not also care a great deal about doing good internally too. For the most part, we’re a group of idealistic, compassionate, equality-loving people that want to make the world a better place, which is a start. But to make any meaningful progress on equality and inclusion, we need to take action and be transparent about our results.
Thus, over the past three years, I personally took the action to increase diversity on Planet’s Executive team and Board. I was particularly focused on gender diversity – a key area where we’d been failing. To start, we began actively seeking female executives and board applicants to apply to these posts. A key first achievement was the addition of Ann Mather to our Board of Directors in 2015. In the last couple of years, our Board of Directors’ female to male ratio went from 0:5 to 2:4, and our executive team went from 1:6 to 3:5.
Over that same period, our People team, led by Cara Brennan Allamano, focused on two key metrics where we needed to improve across the company: 1) women in technical roles, and 2) non-white employees in technical roles. We hired a full-time person to work on these goals. In the past year, we have accelerated our rate of hiring women in technical positions to more than 30%, setting us up for continued growth. In addition, we’re releasing our diversity metrics for the first time – to be transparent about where we stand and where much more work needs to be done.
Of course, it’s not just within the tech companies that’s the challenge. That’s a topic I’ll discuss later.
By sharing our efforts to become more inclusive and diverse at Planet, we do not intend to pat ourselves on the back and “check the box” – but rather motivate ourselves and others to do more. In 2018, we plan to focus on increasing women and non-white employees in technical roles, and women in leadership roles. And I would like to work on further diversity in the executive team and board.
Diversity and Inclusion at Planet
Over the coming months, we’ll share how Planet restructured its recruiting and hiring processes, supported new employee resource groups and programming, and elevated more women into leadership positions. You’ll also hear about where we’ve struggled and what has surprised us.