Amping up Diversity & Inclusion at Spotify

New year, new inclusion steps to be taken! To make sure we put our focus where it needs to be, our starting point is the result from the Spotify Inclusion Survey. 2017 was the second year we ran the survey and we can’t wait to dig in where the data says it will count the most in 2018.

When it comes to diversity, we’re doing pretty ok at Spotify. Our diversity hiring is getting better every day. For example, the number of employees in the company who identify as women has increased from 27% to 37% in just over two years.

But diversity is nothing without inclusion. There is no point in hiring all kinds of great people and then not make them feel included or allow them to reach their full potential. So our inclusion survey doesn’t only have questions about who our employees are, how they identify, and what inclusion means to them. We also measure how included people feel on three different levels (company, leadership, and team) so we can really see what is what. An employee may feel that our leaders and company culture are inclusive, yet not feel included in their particular team or vice versa. This segmented data is vital for the work to increase our inclusion further.

So here are our main takeaways from the survey data and how we are acting on it.

Spotifiers’ sense of inclusion has improved since last year

We use an inclusion index to get a single overall figure for how included Spotifiers feel. That figure is 72% right now, an improvement from 65 % last year. We also note that 86% of Spotifiers are satisfied with our inclusion efforts and that 91% of the Spotifiers who answered the survey say diversity and inclusion really matter to them. These are good figures. We’re happy about all this, but we’re not content!

Representative insights

We know so much more about our employees now. We love this survey because it gives us a comprehensive and global record of aspects like ethnicity, amount of people who identify as LGBTQ or observe a religion or belief, just to name a few data points of what we collect. There is no other way to get that data than to actually ask people and for them to feel safe responding. And because the survey is anonymous and global, we now have representative insights that cover our operations all over the world. About half of our employees answered the survey which is great and makes the result statistically significant. We are definitely looking to increase response rates next year though, to ensure even greater representation and insights.

We need to continue work on increasing the workforce diversity

The data says we still have populations that are underrepresented and those differences between populations need to be reduced. That means working even harder on increasing the number of candidates from underrepresented groups, focus on hiring for both hire for merit and potential, and work even harder on removing bias in the hiring process. Knowing exactly which groups we need to work harder to bring on board helps us focus this work.

Some groups need more attention

We had a hunch about this one already, we had been getting signals about some groups not feeling included like they should be. But it’s hard to act on guesses and rumors of feelings. Now, we have the data to back up the anecdotes so we can find the right solution. The survey helps us pinpoint the groups that need action right now. To some extent, the fact that we are getting even better at diverse hiring is going to help. Because feeling like “I’m the only one like me here” can be discouraging even when the people around you respectful. We have also started focus groups with leaders and employees from both underrepresented and majority groups to get a shared understanding and find solutions. And we have allocated greater resources to our Employee Resource Groups so they can both support and become more visible in the organization.

These efforts don’t just benefit the targeted populations, we believe everyone benefits from this work. Every single action to increase inclusion makes the Spotify community healthier, safer and more innovative for everyone, not just our underrepresented communities.

This is what inclusion means at Spotify

Diversity and inclusion mean different things in different settings, so you can’t just copy and paste what someone else does in this area. We need our own data and insights so we can do what works for us, in our company, culture, and business. That is why one of the most interesting outcomes of our survey is the qualitative data analysis of the answers to the question “What does it mean to feel included at Spotify?”. This is what came out, unequivocally, as the top five:

  • To feel accepted/like part of a team
  • To experience no discrimination or bias
  • To have a voice and a sense that people listen to you
  • I can be myself here
  • I am respected here and taken seriously

This now makes up the base for our actions to make Spotifiers feel more included according to what they themselves say they need.

This is how we’ll get even more inclusive in 2018

With these insights, we have decided on a set of actions and focus areas where we think we can really make some good things happen:

  • Emotional wellbeing for everyone
    Seminars, training and resources around mental health, substance dependency and self-care, open to all employees
  • Inclusive Leadership
    Managers and other leaders can have a great impact on inclusion, so they need tools for supporting everyone in bringing their best to the table, and creating a share of voice within and across teams.
  • Inclusion Ambassadors
    Our annual Inclusion Summit does wonders to empower inclusion ambassadors and spread the word in the entire organization
  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
    We will continue to support and elevate our ERG activity to help develop stronger communities within Spotify.
  • Welcoming, inclusive office space
    Together with our workplace services team, we will continue to make sure our offices are welcoming and inclusive.
  • Diversity!
    We can’t be truly inclusive without having more diversity to begin with, so we are more focused than ever on attracting more talent to Spotify from typically underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Platform and product
    Our product plays a huge part. It’s what we do! So the product and platform will continue to be tweaked to reduce bias and send the positive message to the world that we take diversity and inclusion very seriously.

Inclusion is at the core of the Spotify culture and values

We all have the best of intentions, but that is never enough. Because inclusion doesn’t come easy or by itself even when you want it to. We all have to work for it, and this data helps us figure out how. So we can move further into the sweet spot where everyone can contribute on equal terms.