Inclusion & Diversity

Workforce Data Report 2019.

We focused our 2019 report on key data points and our corresponding efforts in those areas. We maintain that while data is important, our commitment to ongoing learning and improvement will ultimately drive meaningful change. Published September 2019.

Beyond the numbers

We launched this blog because we think external diversity reports can be a more effective force for progress if they go beyond the numbers. We want to share our inclusion and diversity (I&D) work: programs we’re trying, what is and isn’t working, and—most importantly—what we’re learning. Our hope is that this will encourage others to share their learnings and promote deeper conversation about I&D so all of us can improve.

To provide context for our programs and learnings, we want to share high-level data. Square employees are 40.0% women and 20.9% under-represented minorities¹ (URM). These figures have grown 5.8% and 15.4%, respectively, year over year, but are still short of our U.S. Census benchmark target of 50% women and 30% URM. We’ve also included a breakdown of key diversity metrics at the end, including the percentage of women and URM in tech and leadership roles. While they don’t capture all the facets of our diversity, we believe they provide an important signal of our ability to broadly attract and retain underrepresented talent.

To keep the focus on the actual work of I&D (reporting is an important but only small facet of the job) and lessons learned, we’ll concentrate here on a couple of data points in particular, and the corresponding work that successfully—or not-so-successfully—is effecting change in these areas.

Success in increasing diversity among entry-level engineering hires

Before 2016, our campus recruiting strategy for engineers was pretty standard for a tech company of our size. We targeted 15-20 universities with strong computer science programs, participating in school career fairs and conducting on-campus interviews. While we made efforts to attract students from underrepresented backgrounds by engaging student groups and ensuring diversity among representatives from Square, it did not result in a pipeline with strong gender and racial/ethnic diversity.

To broaden the diversity of entry-level talent we were connecting with, we shifted our strategy from focusing on campus activity to also include the growing number of conferences and organizations created for underrepresented groups. Accordingly, we increased our presence and interviewing capacity at conferences such as Tapia, the Grace Hopper Celebration, the annual conventions for National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. We also expanded our relationships with organizations including Tech Ladies and Rewriting the Code, and improved our focus on hiring talent from our Code Camps and other bootcamps. These efforts increased the number of candidates from underrepresented groups in our talent pipeline, and we were thrilled to see a corresponding increase in the diversity of entry-level engineering hires.

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Looking ahead, we’re exploring new channels and tools to connect with diverse talent. We’ve had some recent success by working with platforms that are focused on college students and recent grads, especially as they expand to include more women’s universities and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Additionally, we’re always looking for new ways to let prospective candidates know about Square’s focus on innovation and economic empowerment, as well as the vibrant community here that our employee resource groups help foster.

A work in progress to enhance the diversity in our Atlanta office

Building diverse teams that mirror the local community is not just the right thing to do—it also makes good business sense by setting us up to better reflect, understand, and support our customers. Our Atlanta office is an area where our team is considerably less diverse than local demographics. Our Atlanta technical workforce is currently 16.7% women and 14.8% URM. The diverse makeup of Atlanta tells us we can do better: According to the U.S. Census, 50.9% of the Atlanta population are women and 52.6% are URM.

So earlier this year we tried something new. To augment our existing Atlanta pipeline with underrepresented talent, for eight weeks we exclusively focused our outbound sourcing efforts on outreach to women and underrepresented minorities. The objective of this pilot was to diversify our pipeline for technical roles, not to put our thumb on the scale for specific hires.

Ultimately, the pilot did not shift the make-up of our tech talent pipeline or hires as much as we had hoped. Within our pipeline, we did increase the number of women, but we could not clearly identify an increase in the number of URMs. (This is because candidates do not have to report their race before they are hired.) And within our hires, we did not increase women or URMs. This demonstrated to us that we need to take a multifaceted approach to bringing underrepresented talent into our recruitment pipeline that extends beyond internal sourcing efforts. We are starting by dedicating more resources to identify local recruitment partnerships, engage in community events to increase Square visibility, and source talent from local networks and surrounding cities.

Since closing out the pilot, we hired a dedicated recruiter and diversity sourcer for Atlanta. We also expanded our partnership with /dev/color (a non-profit whose mission is to empower Black software engineers to become industry leaders) to build relationships with their Atlanta-based members, and we are initiating new partnerships with HBCUs and other associations for underrepresented groups in the area.

In June of this year, we started hiring for business roles (vs. strictly technical roles) in our Atlanta office. By broadening the skillsets we recruit for in this market, we’ve had early success building a diverse pipeline on the business side, which has increased the diversity of the Atlanta office. That being said, we still have work to do to improve the representation of women and URM in technical roles. Our current focus is to expand brand awareness in the Atlanta community through local recruiting events and on-site networking events, and establish local partnerships focused on developing technical talent.

Looking forward

Numbers are important as they enable us to measure progress, identify areas in need of attention, and inform decisions as we work toward the ultimate objective of our I&D efforts: to build the best possible teams and create an inclusive workplace. At the same time, we must always remember that our employees are much more than numbers—they are individuals who contribute in unique and meaningful ways.

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¹We define URM as racial/ethnic groups that are underrepresented at Square and in the technology industry more broadly with respect to US Census data. These groups include, Black / African American, American Indian / Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander, Hispanic / Latino, and Two or More Races.