Company

Inclusion & Diversity Report July 2021: Cultivating Inclusion

By Dalana Brand
Thursday, 15 July 2021

Unfortunately, 2021 hasn’t brought the global reset that we all thought it would. Despite progress with vaccines in some countries, the pandemic still rages in others, exacerbating inequality. We have seen a surge in antisemitism, Arab hate and Islamophobia following violence in Israel and Palestine. We were rocked by revelations of unmarked grave sites of indigenous communities in Canada, and we continue to grapple with racial justice and abuse, most recently spotlighted in the aftermath of the Euros, and protecting the right to vote in the US. 

These challenges remind us of the importance and urgency of our work. At Twitter, that’s how we’ve approached 2021, and I’m pleased to share that we've made good strides––especially in Tweepforce representation. In fact, the first half of 2021 saw significant gains for representation of global women and US Tweeps from under-represented communities. Check out the latest numbers here

We’re determined to keep up the momentum. We’re also mindful that diversity without inclusion doesn’t work. What’s the point of investing deeply in hiring great talent from underrepresented backgrounds if you don’t create an environment that constantly empowers them to share and leverage their unique perspectives and insights at your company? 

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Our Business Resource Groups (BRGs) - central to driving inclusion across the company

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We receive a lot of questions about the work we’ve done with our BRGs over the past few years, so I’m sharing an overview here.

We kicked off a company-wide listening tour with the leaders of our BRGs in 2018 and learned a lot from them. The most common theme was around resourcing and support: Tweeps were struggling to balance their full time role with their vast BRG responsibilities, their managers didn’t have visibility into their BRG work or the tools to empower them, and there was confusion about where to go in the business for resources or support. We also heard a lot about the desire to be more globally inclusive and intersectional in the work–– but they already had too much on their plate. Here’s how we responded:

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  • Expanding BRG leadership: In 2019, we expanded the leadership team of each BRG from two co-chairs to a global team of five co-chairs, adding an events chair, a marketing/comms chair, and a recruitment chair. The new guidelines initially required that at least half of the team be based outside of San Francisco and at least a quarter outside of the U.S. We’ve since replaced the recruitment chair with a social chair, and are moving towards a goal of at least half of each BRG leadership team being based outside of the U.S.
  • Defining roles and responsibilities: Next we introduced job descriptions for each of the global chairs––and for their executive sponsors. For the BRG leaders, we provided guidelines for approximately how much time they should spend on BRG activities throughout the year, and tips for how to represent the work to their managers during 1:1s and in performance evaluations. For BRG executive sponsors, we provided recommendations for the cadence of regular meetings with the leadership teams, how best to engage in BRG events throughout the year, and ways to amplify BRGs in their roles as executive sponsors.
  • Dedicated resources: We also introduced a strategic planning process for the BRGs to align on OKRs and prioritize intersectional programming, a centralized dedicated budget within I&D, a full-time BRG program manager, and dedicated support across the business to assist with company-wide BRG activations within or beyond our walls.
  • Supporting managers: In 2020, we interviewed the 60+ Tweeps who manage our BRG leaders 1:1 to understand the challenges they face. Based on what we heard, we designed and launched a Manager Toolkit to provide more visibility into the work of the BRG leaders they manage, guidance for how they can engage and support their Tweeps throughout the year, and how to acknowledge their leadership as part of annual performance reviews. Later, we launched the #GoodForTwitter initiative so that all Tweeps had the opportunity to list their involvement with BRGs as one of their annual performance goals and have it be part of annual performance reviews.
  • Documenting our process: We often get the question: “can I start a BRG for ______ ?” We launched an internal New BRG Checklist with our criteria which involves the following questions: 1) What identity-based community would this BRG serve and is it currently represented by one of our already existing BRGs? 2) Is this community underrepresented at Twitter and/or in the world? 3) Is this a global community (e.g. is it relevant to Tweeps around the globe and not limited to a specific region)? 4) Has this community faced marginalization, oppression, discrimination or other barriers historically or presently that require dedicated support and resources from the Inclusion & Diversity team? 5) Will having a BRG for this community benefit Twitter’s I&D efforts?
  • Formal compensation: Also in 2020, we introduced a formal compensation program for our BRG global leadership team. The work they are responsible for driving is central to our journey to becoming the world’s most diverse, inclusive, and accessible tech company. It is not a “side-hustle” or volunteer activity. To ensure fairness, we introduced term limits, a transparent election process, and FAQs for BRG members to ensure everyone knows what’s involved.
  • Launching new BRGs: Earlier this year we launched @TwitterArabs and #TwitterIndigenous with the goal of connecting and uplifting more under-represented communities around the world. Moving forward, we have work to do to ensure our BRGs are just as impactful in countries outside of the US by investing more in leadership infrastructure and resources for regional programming.
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    We also know there’s work to do beyond BRGs. As we continue to build momentum in our diversity hiring, we are redoubling efforts across the business on inclusion.

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Cultivating an inclusive culture

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Core to belonging is ensuring that Tweeps who are most impacted by traumatizing world events get the support they need from us, while also ensuring allies can learn about the complex issues at hand and how to help. As the ground beneath us shifts, we continue to refine our approach. With each step we learn and grow, and appreciate the support of our Tweeps along the journey.

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  1. We’ve expanded #FlockTalks around the world–– Tweep-only sessions to hold space for those who’d like to come together in community to share how they're feeling during difficult times.
  2. We’ve built on our #TakeCare programming to deliver even more culturally-competent and trauma-informed mental health resources to Tweeps. Recently, we brought in an Asian licensed therapist to help Asian Tweeps process the rise in anti-Asian hate and racism, and a Black licensed therapist (@drmarielbuque) to help Blackbirds process the murder of Daunte Wright and the Derek Chauvin trial.
  3. Our #AllyshipRightNow series has expanded to provide more tools for practicing allyship and reducing the emotional burden of asking marginalized tweeps for resources, for example, #StandForAsians
  4. Our #TwitterTogetherTalks are company-wide conversations fostering open dialogue about racial equity, anti-racism, and social justice here at Twitter. We recently hosted Professor Erika Lee (@prof_erikalee) for a conversation about the history of Anti-Asian hate and discrimination in the US.
  5. We launched Mentoring@, a mentorship pilot program that intentionally centers underrepresented and underserved communities. The program also takes the traditionally hierarchical nature of mentorship into consideration, and ensures that mentees feel empowered and supported throughout. So far, we have over 250 mentors and mentees participating.
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We recognize the challenges distributed teams have in building an inclusive and collaborative culture. We’ve recently updated our onboarding resources to provide managers and teams with more support and guide best practices for fostering team unity and inclusion. We also launched a new initiative for all people managers to drive participation in existing company-wide I&D programs that help build an inclusive mindset. Starting this year, all Tweeps who manage people are required to get their #InclusiveManagerBadge🏅 by:

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  1. Completing all I&D skills-building courses: “Allyship 101,” “Healthy Conversations,” “Words Matter” (on microaggressions) and the soon to launch “Anti-Racism 101”
  2. Maintaining a “Inclusive Manager” minimum score of 67 in our two annual employee engagement surveys
  3. Attending at least four BRG events throughout the year.
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For 2021, we are also developing Twitter’s principles of Inclusive Leadership, which we’ll integrate into our manager onboarding, and launch as a stand-alone e-learning module so anyone, anywhere can take the training, regardless of role, tenure or location.

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We've also deepened our collaboration with the Employee Relations (ER) team as they are on the front lines of fielding concerns when underrepresented Tweeps feel excluded. For example, our I&D Health Check Up program (a monthly customized report for each member of our leadership team) now includes information about the prevalence of gender and race-related complaints raised to ER. This helps our executive leadership better understand the types of issues that adversely impact Tweeps' experiences, including the extent to which underrepresented Tweeps feel fairly and respectfully treated, as well as the best way to address root causes.

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We were honored to receive a top score on the Disability Equality Index® (DEI) for 2021 and be recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion”. We also recently joined The Valuable 500, a coalition of companies and leaders committed to putting accessibility front and center. We have work to do and are determined to accelerate progress on our journey to be one of the world's most accessible tech companies.

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What’s next

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Despite all this progress, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re especially mindful that the changes we’re making to scale across the business don’t always reach regions around the world with the same impact. We’ve recently expanded our International I&D team including @Olivia_McEvoy, our new I&D International Lead who is based in Dublin. We are excited for what the future holds, including in tailoring regionally relevant solutions as well as programs for the hiring, retention and promotion of Tweeps around the world.

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We also know we don’t have all the answers. We’ve heard from our peers that many companies are piloting new approaches to drive progress on inclusion. Have you seen something in your company that stands out for its impact in cultivating a more inclusive culture? We want to hear from you–– let’s continue the conversation! Find us @TwitterTogether. We’re in this together #UntilWeAllBelong.

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@d_lux_brand

Dalana Brand

‎@d_lux_brand‎

Vice President, People Experience; Head of Inclusion & Diversity