Slack Releases Diversity Data, Reports Higher Percentage Of Black People In Engineering Than Company-Wide

Team communication startup Slack just released its diversity data, becoming the fourth Unicorn startup after Airbnb, Dropbox and Pinterest to do so.

Here are the stats around the racial and ethnic identity of Slack’s employees: 70 percent “Non-Hispanic Caucasian” aka white, 4 percent African-American, 19 percent Asian and 7 percent “Mixed-Race/Other.” Meanwhile, women make up 39 percent of Slack’s employees, with 18 percent of them in engineering roles. Another fun fact: 10.3 percent of Slack’s employees identify as being part of the LGBTQ community.

What really stands out is the fact that Slack has a higher percentage of African-Americans in engineering (7%) than it does company-wide. The same cannot be said for other Unicorn startups: Airbnb’s staff is 3% black, and drops to 1 percent when just looking at technology jobs. Dropbox’s staff is 1% black, with just 30% of its tech jobs held by black people. Over at Pinterest, its workforce is 1% black, and drops to less than 1 percent when only taking into account engineering jobs.

Slack’s not entirely sure why it has a higher percentage of black engineers than other tech companies, saying that “it’s impossible at this early stage to point to a clear reason why we have a higher percentage of African-American engineers than other companies,” Slack VP of Policy and Compliance Anne Toth told TechCrunch. Though, Toth did point to Slack’s work on minimizing unconscious bias in hiring through adopting practices like getting rid of whiteboarding exercises in engineering interviews.

“These exercises have beens shown to disadvantage candidates of color in the interview process,” Toth said. “It’s far too early to say that there is a causal relationship between this practice and our current data for engineering specifically, but I hope that we can demonstrate over time that these practices are having a the positive impact we hope for across the board.”

Regarding people of diverse backgrounds in leadership roles, Slack notes that 41% of its employees have a female manager “who help set their priorities, measure their performance, mentor them in their work, and who make recommendations that will impact their compensation and career growth.”

Slack’s doing a variety of things to foster diversity, like working with experts to build fair and inclusive processes and being cognizant of decisions around hiring and promotions, Slack VP of People & Policy Anne Toth and CEO Stewart Butterfield wrote on the Slack blog.

“Perhaps the single most important thing we are doing right now is addressing this issue in the infancy of our organizational history,” Toth and Butterfield wrote. “Slack has fewer than 250 employees worldwide today and our product has existed in the market for less than two years. We began reviewing our workplace policies with an outside diversity consultant when we had only 75 employees on our books.”