Measuring Diversity: How Wattpad is Approaching Employee Diversity Head-on

The following post comes from Allen Lau, Wattpad's co-founder and CEO.

I often say that building Wattpad in Toronto was the best decision I ever made. Since our early days, more than 10 years ago, our community of story-lovers has been international and multi-lingual, and diversity of users and stories has been a core value for us. I wanted to build a team that reflected those values, and Toronto, home to talented developers, creators, and professionals from all across the spectrum of identity, gender, ethnicity and language, is exactly where I envisioned building the platform to power the world’s stories. That’s why diversity is such an important topic for me, and it’s why I’m so eager to further the conversation about diversity in tech.

It’s easy to say “diversity is important” but how does a company like mine measure how well we’re doing in that area? To answer that question, Wattpad founded a Diversity & Inclusion Committee. We knew that addressing any underlying barriers to true diversity would require taking an honest look at where we were at as a company. Did our employees feel that we valued diversity? Were they confident that we were creating teams that benefited from diverse perspectives? We needed data. So the Diversity & Inclusion Committee deployed a comprehensive survey to our 100+ employees.

The survey asked employees about concepts like voice, belonging and contribution to a broader purpose and representation. We received a 66% response rate to the survey, and the results were illuminating. Around 85% of employees feel that Wattpad values diversity—that number was slightly lower on our engineering team. When we looked more closely at the data, we noticed that respondents whose first language was not English had significantly lower scores, especially around questions with regard to voice. For example, when we asked whether employees agreed that “when I speak up, my opinion is valued” there was a 30% difference in the favorable response from Native English Speakers to Non-Native English Speakers.

So, why come out and share the results of our internal survey with our industry and community? Well, diversity in tech is important to me, and it’s important to our team. The first step forward is creating transparency around the conversation. I am proud that Wattpad is built by a talented and diverse team that can, in turn, support our diverse, international community. Our survey also measured the actual breakdown of individual teams at Wattpad and found that, for example, 100% of our product team is female, and 62% of our leadership team identified as persons of color. But there is still work to do. Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee is digging deep into our results to deliver an action plan to move us forward. With their guidance, Wattpad will set new objectives and key results in areas of focus including hiring and recruitment practices, employee culture and community outreach. We’ll keep pushing. And I’m committed to measuring those results again and sharing them right here. Because honest dialogue—and yes, sometimes admitting you’ve got work to do—is the first step to creating a truly diverse tech sector.

Wattpad Employee Diversity Results

66% of Wattpad Employees Participated in the Survey

66% of Wattpad Employees Participated in the Survey

85% of respondents agreed with the statement: “My company values diversity.” For Engineering, Product and Data that number was 78%

85% of respondents agreed with the statement: “My company values diversity.” For Engineering, Product and Data that number was 78%

78% of respondents agree with the statement: “My company builds teams that are diverse.” For Engineering, Product Data that number was 70%

78% of respondents agree with the statement: “My company builds teams that are diverse.” For Engineering, Product Data that number was 70%

Gender Breakdown by Department

We also took a look at the balance of gender by departments. Here’s how we did:

Gender breakdown by department

Gender breakdown by department

People of Color (PoC) representation at Wattpad was measured both company-wide, and within the leadership team.

People of Color (PoC) representation at Wattpad was measured both company-wide, and within the leadership team.

WATTPAD ANNOUNCES COLLABORATION WITH HARPERCOLLINS CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Today we announced a collaboration with HarperCollins Children’s Books, one of the leading publishers of children’s and teen books.  

As part of this partnership, we'll work closely with HaperCollins Executive Editor Sara Sargent to select teen stories already shared on the platform and bring them to market via traditional publishing.

“I’m excited to leverage Wattpad’s market insights and continue their success of bringing bestsellers to bookstore shelves,” says Sara Sargent. “Wattpad—which is like a publishing-centric social network—helps us organically connect with new writers and readers, and I am confident this collaboration will lead to the publication of some incredible new talent.”

HarperCollins expects to publish several books based on Wattpad stories within the first year.

“In the last 30 days, people have spent the equivalent of 1,700 years reading YA stories on Wattpad,” says Head of Partnerships for Wattpad Studios Ashleigh Gardner. “We have insights no other company has and are eager to help HarperCollins discover some of the best YA storytellers and the most viral content on the internet.”

With over 375 million original story uploads, Wattpad is home to fresh voices and content that can’t be found anywhere else. Since the launch of Wattpad Studios last year, we've partnered with several leading entertainment companies to co-produce Wattpad stories across a variety of formats, including print, digital, film, and television.

WATTPAD ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH HACHETTE ROMANS

We've teamed up with French fiction publisher Hachette Romans, a division of Hachette Illustrated Books France, to bring Wattpad stories to life as books, in print and digital formats. Three titles have already been selected and will be published in French language by Hachette Romans starting September 2017 including: Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, Mr. Popular and I, and She’s With Me.

Since the launch of Wattpad Studios last year, Wattpad has partnered with several leading entertainment companies to co-produce stories for print, TV, film, and digital. This new collaboration represents the most extensive partnership between Wattpad and a European publisher.

“Wattpad writers and their stories are loved the world over. Through Wattpad Insights, we have the ability to help partners identify stories that will entertain readers in local markets,” said Head of Partnerships for Wattpad Studios Ashleigh Gardner. “Our partnership with Hachette Romans builds on our existing relationship with Hachette Audio, the US audio division, but it’s the very first time we’re adapting stories specifically for the French market.”

“Content development is an important initiative for Hachette Romans, so this partnership comes at a perfect time. We are excited to be working with Wattpad to amplify the audience and broaden the discovery for their unique brand of storytelling via various publishing formats,” said Isabelle Magnac, EVP of Hachette Illustrated Books France.

Introducing Wattpad Labs

We’re excited to announce the launch of Wattpad Labs, an innovation lab for emerging products involving a 3-month paid residency at Wattpad HQ in Toronto. Wattpad Labs offers people outside of the company, who are just as passionate about entertainment as we are, a chance to work with us to develop the next breakthrough storytelling product.

We live in exciting and disruptive times. The nature of entertainment continues to evolve as emerging platforms and technologies hatch new ways for the world to create and enjoy stories. We want to work with ambitious and entrepreneurial teams to produce next-generation storytelling products that will transform the entertainment landscape.

During the 3-month residency, teams will develop, validate and iterate on their storytelling product under the supervision and mentorship of the Wattpad Labs leadership team. Not only will they receive mentorship, but teams will gain the ability to test concepts against Wattpad’s community of 55 million people and access to IT infrastructure. There’ll also be significant upside opportunities for teams that successfully graduate from the program, as well as a chance lead the charge on scaling the new business as full-time Wattpad employees.

Interested in applying to Wattpad Labs? Check out this website to learn more about the program and the application process.

Over a decade ago, Wattpad reinvented storytelling for the mobile and social age. Wattpad Labs is how Wattpad is powering next-generation products that will set even more stories free.

We can’t wait to see what product concepts your team dreams up!