How diversity is driving innovation at these 3 LA tech companies

by Hannah Levy
January 30, 2019

Like in many tech scenes, the question of diversity looms large over the LA startup community — only 2 percent of VC partners identify as African-American or Latino, and 11 percent are women. Race and gender aside, LA is ranked the seventh most economically unequal regions in the country.

But with every challenge comes an opportunity. In signing Pledge LA in late 2018, over 80 companies and VCs joined the city of LA to dedicate time, energy and resources toward making the city’s tech scene a more equitable one.

We’ve talked with countless LA tech leaders on the topic of diversity, enough to venture the following: D&I efforts aren’t always easy, but inclusion is an opportunity and diverse teams build better products.

Don’t take our word for it. Here are three LA companies that prove the point for us.

 

e Los Angeles company MatchCraft on how diversity makes all the difference.jpg
photo via matchcraft

MatchCraft’s adtech platform is complicated. Their approach to diversity and inclusion, on the other hand, couldn’t be simpler. The company has amassed a remarkably diverse workforce, spanning offices in Europe, Asia, South America and the U.S. and has made an ongoing commitment to nurturing this diversity with local partnership programs, youth mentorship and hyperlocal charity initiatives. Senior Marketing Specialist Avni Agrawal joined us from MatchCraft’s Santa Monica office to discuss the company’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion in the adtech space.   

 

Pointing to specific examples, how does having a diverse team shape your work at MatchCraft?

At MatchCraft, diversity and inclusion are part of our DNA. We have offices in the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, India and the U.S., all of which are home to diverse communities.

In 2018, for the second year in a row, we partnered with the Fulfillment Fund, an organization that empowers underserved youth through education. We hired three first-generation college students to participate in our internship program that worked with our marketing, engineering and finance teams. Having these Gen Zers working on our teams gave us a fresh perspective. We had them review our products and give us feedback on what features they thought would resonate with our clients, and they were especially helpful in reviewing our social products.

We’re also very passionate about supporting the next generation of STEM professionals and are involved with UCLA’s Society of Women Engineers. Networking with all those aspiring female techies has been very inspiring.

 

This has led to enhancements in our benefits including sabbaticals, interest clubs and educational reimbursement programs to help support healthy living in and out of the office. 

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Since diversity is a natural part of our growth, we don’t take our talented resources for granted. We have committed to partnering with multiple diversity strategy firms, which focus not only on diverse talent acquisition but also on the unique factors involved in the retention of women and minority groups in technology.

This has led to enhancements in our benefits including sabbaticals, interest clubs and educational reimbursement programs to help support healthy living in and out of the office. We’ve also instituted flexible work from home schedules to help retain talent by helping them balance all of life’s demands.

 

Los Angeles company Relatable group shot
photo via relatable

With offices in Stockholm, London and Venice Beach, Relatable’s multinational team is united by one lofty goal: to fundamentally change the way global ad dollars are spent. The influencer marketing company is proud of its “quirky” Swedish traditions and encourages employees to bounce between offices — their own form of cultural exchange. We caught up with April Himel from Relatable’s people operations team to learn more about how the company’s diverse team plays a role in the success of their product.

 

Pointing to specific examples, how does having a diverse team shape your work at Relatable?

At Relatable, our mission is to unleash the potential of every creator we work with. Our collaborations would simply fail if we didn’t believe in this. But before we can get that right, we have to embrace this same belief on the inside by encouraging our teams to push their limits and challenge themselves — or else, we as a company would fail.

 

As a global company, we rely heavily on the various perspectives and ideas that come from teams in our different markets. We won’t be able to innovate or thrive without that kind of diverse input.

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

As we continue to grow, we’re addressing diversity not only at a company level but, most importantly, at the team level. If Relatable is 60 percent women, yet all of those women are on one single team, they’re still clearly underrepresented. You won’t feel the true impact of diversity unless all groups are distributed and able to influence the decisions across the whole company.

 

How does your company ensure that everyone is empowered to share their perspectives?

It's very important that we build an environment where people can truly be themselves. As a global company, we rely heavily on the various perspectives and ideas that come from teams in our different markets. We won’t be able to innovate or thrive without that kind of diverse input.

 

Los Angeles tech company Honey is hiring in December.jpg
photo via honey

Who is the average Honey user? According to the company, it’s anyone with a browser extension who likes saving money shopping online. That represents a broad and diverse customer base — one that Honey has made an effort to replicate in its own internal team. The DTLA company, which started up back in 2012, has launched a number of D&I initiatives and partnered with outside groups to promote ongoing conversations around inclusion. Here’s what Talent Director Holly Rockwell shared about the company’s efforts.

 

Pointing to specific examples, how does having a diverse team shape your work at Honey?

We have a product that anyone can use to save time and money when shopping online. When you have a product that’s used by such a large and diverse member base, it’s essential to have a team that’s reflective of that. That’s how we get the different perspectives required to meet our member needs, problem solve and drive innovation in product development.

 

As we grow, it’s important that we not consider diversity and inclusion as simply an 'initiative' but as foundational to how we build our company and work with one other.

 

How will your company continue to strengthen its diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Internally, we’re launching diversity employee resource groups that create a space for employees to connect, promote professional development and drive the continued conversation around inclusion with everyone at Honey.

Externally, we’re working with a diverse set of associations — at both the university and industry level — to identify talent, provide technical mentorship, and promote awareness about opportunities in tech to people who haven’t traditionally had access to the industry.

As we grow, it’s important that we not consider diversity and inclusion as simply an “initiative” but as foundational to how we build our company and work with one other.

 

How does your company ensure that everyone is empowered to share their perspective?

We create different ways for employees to share their perspective, whether that’s through employee engagement surveys or weekly meetings with the whole company where people can submit questions online or ask them in person. One of the values we champion most is the ability to continually question things, which creates a culture where different perspectives are not only valued but a core element of our success.

 

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