Building a Racially Just Workplace

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work is challenging, rewarding, never-ending and absolutely essential. This year surfaced a lot of important conversations that helped define this work, especially on racial equity. Here’s an inside look on our DEI journey.

By Julian Gutierrez

Earlier this year, we celebrated a major milestone at Segment. We had reached 500 employees across the globe. It was a moment of joy for the team. For longstanding members, there was awe and pride in being the architects of a flourishing tech company. For newer teammates, there was a deep sense of excitement in joining a thriving community.

That moment was also one of reflection for us. As we celebrated this milestone, we were also in the midst of developing a new company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. It felt like very appropriate timing. 

We were on the cusp of growing exponentially, so it was vital we grounded ourselves on a shared vision of what our culture and team should look like. With our newly formed DEI Task Force, a committee of representatives from across the company, we developed a strategy that we believe puts us on the right track.

We agreed on two primary objectives.

The first was to diversify our hiring pipeline and welcome more teammates from underrepresented groups, with a focus on women and racial minorities. The second was to teach our managers how to be more inclusive leaders, enabling them to foster safe and empowering spaces for every single person on their team. We then devised actionable DEI plans that would support these high-level objectives.

In March, as we quickly adapted to a remote world, our executive team hosted our first-ever company-wide virtual meeting to present our new DEI strategy. Hundreds of teammates logged in and would learn about our new DEI commitments and hear directly from our CEO that this work requires everyone.

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Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt announcing our new DEI strategy

Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt announcing our new DEI strategy

Two months later, the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others placed a much-needed spotlight on the horrifying violence and injustices that Black communities experience in the U.S.

This weighed incredibly heavily on our team, especially our Black teammates. We felt an obligation to pause once again and reflect on who we wanted to be. While our existing DEI strategy included meaningful steps to build a diverse culture and community, we had to ask ourselves, “Are we doing enough?” The answer was that we could and should be doing more to build a racially just workplace.

First, we needed to address what was happening. Peter, our CEO, stepped in with a Slack message to the entire company:

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Shortly after, we shared this same sentiment externally:

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In the weeks to follow, we took steps to better understand how to approach racial equity work from the team. While we prioritized space for healing for our Black teammates, we were grateful to them for sharing their voices, concerns, and ideas. We also welcomed a representative from Afrolytics.js, our Black Employee Resource Group, to join our DEI Task Force. 

Emotions understandably ran high during this difficult period (and we know that for many, they still do today). Thanks to the resilience and integrity of our team, we walked away from these conversations with a renewed commitment to DEI and, more specifically, racial equity.

Fast forward to today, we want to recognize the countless teammates who are mobilizing around DEI. We particularly want to recognize our teammates from underrepresented groups. We know this is emotionally heavy work and we cannot express how grateful we are for your leadership and commitment. While we know that there is much work to be done, we are humbled to be doing it with you all.

Below are the actions we have taken so far around DEI and racial equity this year.

  • We made Juneteenth a company holiday.

  • We made Election Day a company holiday (and encouraged everyone to vote).

  • We hosted several Anti-Racism Open Forums to better understand our responsibility as allies and advocates.

  • We supported the signing of legislation AB 979, which requires California publicly held corporations to meet new requirements to ensure that there is representation from minority groups at the director level.

  • We collectively donated $10,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and to rebuild Black businesses in Oakland.

  • We established a partnership with New Door Ventures to support transition-age youth in the Bay Area through educational and career development programs.

  • We rolled out inclusive leadership programming to Segment managers.

  • We implemented an Onsite Approval Email policy, inspired by the Rooney Rule, to establish accountability measures for hiring teams to ensure that we are sourcing from underrepresented communities for all manager-level positions.

Lastly, we are proud to share our new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion website, where you can learn more about our company-wide objectives and how DEI shows up at Segment.

Of course, this doesn’t stop here. We know that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we intend to make DEI a growing part of our culture and identity. We must, if we want to work towards our shared vision of a company that is diverse and makes everyone feel that they belong. 

Thank you again to our amazing team and community for being on this journey with us. We look forward to sharing more progress about this in the future!

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