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2020 was—well, it was such an unprecedented, often tragic, sometimes momentous year it’s pretty hard to come up with the right way to describe it. Last June, in the midst of the social upheaval that followed the murder of George Floyd, we committed to a series of changes at Wealthsimple. We made promises to ourselves and to our clients to change the composition of our team and the creative partners we work with; to change how we make products, who we make them for, and which products we decide to make to begin with.
As part of our commitment, we are periodically checking in to account for the progress that we’ve made on those promises. We published our first checkup at the end of August. This is our second update on what we’ve accomplished, what we hope to accomplish, and the places we’ve fallen short.
We made a commitment to make Wealthsimple a more diverse and inclusive place
84% of Wealthsimple employees participated in our fall Diversity & Inclusion Survey—an optional survey meant to measure the composition of the team and how employees feel about our culture. That, itself, is an improvement; in April 2020 only 75% of people participated. And the results were encouraging, too. 90% of respondents believe we are making progress toward diversity, and almost as many—85%—believe we are making progress toward inclusion.
One area of focus has been increasing the gender diversity of teams where women tend to be underrepresented, both at Wealthsimple and the industry at large, such as Engineering, Data Science, and Portfolio Management. Today, 23% of members in those teams self-identify as women, compared to 18% as of August 31, and 39% of new full-time hires in those departments identify as women.
As part of our pledge, we also signed on as a member of the BlackNorth Initiative, which means a series of commitments dedicated to the removal of anti-Black systemic barriers.
We made a commitment to work with more diverse voices
We work with a lot of great writers and artists for our Magazine. Our goal is that 20% of Magazine contributors be people of colour. We made significant progress in the past few months. For the second half of 2020, 20% of stories we published were written by BIPOC writers, and 34% of illustrations were by BIPOC artists.
We made a commitment to build our products for a diverse world
Our User Experience (UX) team is a group of writers, designers, and researchers who work together to develop and improve our products. We have launched a “UX + Product mentorship” program to connect people from under-represented groups, both those just starting their career as well as seasoned professionals transitioning to a UX or product role, with members of our team to create one-to-one relationships.
The team also launched an annual client survey that will measure the diversity of our clients and help us better understand and serve the full range of people who use our services. Finally, the team organized and led "Designing for Diversity" training workshops to help product teams across the company assess how inclusive our products are and identify areas for improvement.
We committed to making our leadership more diverse
On our Board of Directors, 40% of board members identify as BIPOC, up from 25% at the beginning of 2020. 25% of board members identify as women, up from 20% last year.
On our executive team, 40% identify as BIPOC and 40% as women, both up slightly from 37% a year ago.
We committed to changing our internal systems so they are more fair and less biased
Across the company, we’ve reviewed and revamped our internal processes and practices with a focus on diversity and inclusion. This has included: revamping our hiring practices (referrals, interviews) to ensure fairness; mandatory anti-racism training for all managers; and education on diversity and inclusion as part of on-boarding for all new hires. We’ve also updated our internal discrimination and harassment policy, and have engaged an external firm to undertake a compensation benchmark and pay equity study, to ensure everyone is being paid fairly for the work they do.
What we haven’t done yet
Making Wealthsimple an inclusive environment for everyone who works here is an ongoing process, and while we’re proud of the progress we’ve made, we still have lots more work to do. Here are a few of the priorities for 2021:
In 2020 we focused on training managers. Next, we want to bring that training to everyone, because we all have a role in creating an inclusive environment.
Our efforts to date have focused primarily on improving gender and racial diversity, and anti-racism training. We plan to broaden our focus to include other types of inclusion, such as ableism and disability training, specifically around mental health. Our goal will be to provide more training and resources around mental health for all employees.
While we increased representation of women at the company, our survey found women have a less positive workplace experience than men. The next step is to conduct internal research to understand why this is, and develop tangible solutions to address it.
We'll share an update on our progress in July, including the results of our next employee Diversity & Inclusion survey.
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