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