For brevity, this report doesn’t detail our support for other types of diversity, in age, political opinions, sexual orientation, military service, mental health or physical ability, but it’s important for us to attract talent of all types to Redfin.
Each December, Redfin reports on the composition of our overall workforce and our managers, by gender and by race and ethnicity. In April, we compare pay for women and men at the company in the same role. We’ve also published case studies on projects run by diverse teams, to highlight how diversity has led to more nuanced solutions to our business problems, and hosted an event on race and real estate, to talk about how agents and lenders can encourage communities to become more integrated.
The good news this year is that women’s representation increased across the board, and we made strides in hiring more Black and Latinx employees. For this analysis, we divide the company into three groups:
- Tech is comprised of software engineers, product managers and product designers.
- The field is comprised of agents, closing specialists and support staff.
- Business operations includes all the other functions, from marketing to finance to mortgage to program management.
In 2018 as in years past, there were more women than men at Redfin. In the field, this is unremarkable, as two thirds of Realtors nationwide are women. But we also have more women than men in business operations, and an unusually high proportion of women in our technology department.
About a third of our technologists are women, compared to 22 percent at Facebook and 23 percent at Apple. It’s nice to see the proportion of women technologists at Redfin increase from 31.7 percent in 2017 to 32.9 percent in 2018, but we’re still far from our goal of 50 percent, and making progress will get harder as the percentage of new hires in most headquarters departments slows.
We were also glad that the percentage of women in management grew modestly across the company overall and more sharply in technology and the field. We still expect to see women’s representation in management reflect their representation at the company, which will require us to be more disciplined about soliciting women to apply for management positions, making sure promotion criteria and processes are free from bias, and developing management training that gives everyone more opportunities for career advancement. We also want to keep working to make sure our culture is welcoming to women.
In 2018, we’ve prioritized racial and ethnic diversity over gender diversity. This is in part because we’ve made more progress over the last few years on gender diversity rather than racial and ethnic diversity. In part it’s because we believe our growth depends on delivering good service to people of all races and ethnicities.
Redfin’s proportion of Black and African-American employees increased modestly, from 7.1 percent to 7.8 percent, with a similar-sized gain for Latinx employees, from 6.9 percent to 7.7 percent. The proportion of Asians at Redfin declined from 10.3 percent to 9.9 percent.
We compared Redfin’s diversity to that of the U.S. population, to the population of licensed Realtors, and to the people buying and selling homes in the markets we serve. A market research firm hired by Redfin identified this latter group.
Our field organization has significantly more Asian-American and Black employees than the real estate industry overall, as represented by membership of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and more Black employees than the population of homebuyers and sellers. But neither the company nor our field organization is representative of the U.S. overall.
One of our most significant diversity challenges is recruiting Black and Latinx software engineers and product managers. We’ve focused our early-career recruiters on academies, schools and industry associations favored by people of color, and also developed training programs that let folks from a wider variety of backgrounds succeed based on their talent, not just expertise in the libraries and coding languages we use here. As a result of these efforts, this summer we had the most diverse class of interns we’ve ever had at Redfin; we expect many of them to come back for long-term employment.
But people of color are still underrepresented in management, challenging us to develop more people of color into leadership positions, to re-evaluate whether our promotion criteria and processes are fair, and also to recruit more people of color from other companies for those positions.
So that’s the state of affairs in 2018; there has been some improvement but it’s still slow. To do better in 2019, we plan to focus on four areas:
- Career Development: We’ll finish documenting career ladders, which set the criteria for promoting employees in each department. These have long been finished in departments like engineering, products and marketing, but are only available for some roles in the field, and still under development for other departments. Career ladders are part of the basic infrastructure of fairness that any company our size has to invest in, which is why we’ve increased the size of our people organization by 85 percent since August.
- Slating and Focus Requisitions: We’ll recruit more people of color, especially for management roles. We’ve piloted programs for making sure that the slate of candidates for a role includes a person of color, and also for focusing recruiting efforts on candidate pools likely to include people of color; this focus can be exclusive for the first 30 or 60 days that a job is open. This approach has been used for only a handful of roles so far, but we’re now ready to roll out these programs to a wider range of roles in 2019, with recruiters who have become familiar with where to look for people of color.
- Leadership Programs: We’ve hired a leader to create training programs for developing talented employees into managers. We don’t want anyone with ability and ambition to feel stuck in his or her career at Redfin, but have relied for too long on informal mentorships that are more likely to spring up between white men. This training should beef up the management training and mentorship programs we already have, so that Redfin becomes a better place for all people to advance their careers.
- Ally Training: We’ve long required employees to attend an online class on unconscious bias, but will be upgrading this class to train employees on how to stick up for folks who are in the minority at many meetings and work events because of their race, age, military status, sexual orientation or gender.
Of course, there’s always much more we can do, and plenty that we are doing but which we haven’t listed here. Our challenge is just finding time to do it all when we also have plenty of houses to sell, and lots of software and marketing programs to create. Career ladders, recruiting, ally training and leadership development are what we think we can do well in 2019.