Last year, Redfin published data on the gender of our workforce and how we pay women and men, promising to broaden our analysis to account for race. Today, we’re publishing data on the representation of different races and ethnicities at Redfin, in management and as individual contributors. We can’t yet make pay comparisons for people from different races, just because most departments don’t have a significant number of employees of each race holding the same job, but we hope to do this over time, as our size permits it.
For now, let’s start where we left off in 2015, with the representation of women and men at Redfin. The percentage of Redfin engineers, product managers and designers who are female increased from 25% in 2015 to 30% in 2016, as compared to 16% of Facebook’s technical workforce and 22% of Apple’s. The other headquarters employees, collectively known as business operations, are 58% female and Redfin overall is 58% female. Our real estate organization is 62% female, whereas 58% of the National Association of Realtors is female.
The department where we have most actively sought to recruit women is in research and development, which includes software developers, designers, product managers, operations engineers, and quality assurance engineers. Our goal is for half of our 2020 technical hires to be women.
We also want to see more women represented in management. The percentage of managers who are female is 44% in the overall business as well as in field operations, 53% in business operations, and 30% in R&D. Overall, we expect women’s representation in management to be proportional to their representation within that department.
As in 2015, we saw no significant difference in the pay of women and men in similar roles:
[redfin_table file=”https://14av231vas55424hmywyupd1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Redfin-Diversity.csv” footnote=The number of markets included in the comparison varied, depending on where we had at least two males and two females in the same role. ][/redfin_table]
The number of markets included in the comparison varied, depending on where we had at least two males and two females in the same role.
Race and Ethnicity at Redfin
But now let’s turn to race and ethnicity. The data show that the number of black and Hispanic folks in research & development as well as in real estate operations are lower than in the U.S. population. This is even more true among managers. First, let’s look at the overall composition of Redfin compared to the nation and to the real estate industry:
Where diversity may be most important is in our real estate organization, which supports our customers’ search for homes in neighborhoods that may have historically been more welcoming to people of one creed or color. Technology will over time contribute to the desegregation of American cities, simply by empowering anyone to see all the homes for sale, in all the neighborhoods, but Redfin can pair that technology with a diverse agent population too.
Redfin’s field organization is 77% white; the National Association of Realtors is 85% white. Only 1% of U.S. Realtors are black, compared to 6% of Redfin agents. In an industry that’s always recruiting new agents, the pool of untapped talent is massive.
The Internet’s Impact on Diversity in Real Estate
Our hope has been that the Internet, and Redfin in particular as an Internet-powered real estate broker, can be a major force for diversifying the real estate profession. Jobs that traditionally rely on having the broadest social network for recruiting customers often favor members of the ethnic majority: even setting aside overt racism, white people tend to know more white people, and there are still more white people, and especially more white homeowners, in the U.S.
Since traditional agents typically spend a year or more cultivating customer relationships before collecting any significant commissions, all while maintaining the car and clothes of a successful agent, the profession often favors folks with financial support. Then finally the catch-as-catch-can mentorship model in real estate can make it hard for new minority folks to last in the industry.
The Internet can change all of that. Redfin’s customers, for example, ask for service via the Internet often without seeing the picture of the agent who will deliver that service; whenever we do show a picture of an agent, we also include his or her reviews, so the customer has an objective basis for deciding whom to hire. The entire Redfin system seeks to distribute equitably the number of customers each agent works with, and to generate closings for the agent within months of her first day. Our performance reviews focus on customer-service metrics.
And then of course we invest more in developing newcomers into top producers. Our recruiters have a program called Redfin Agent Development for bringing newcomers into the field, and a set of managers for training those folks. Our salary and benefits tide over newcomers until their first customers close.
With the Internet driving demand and customers making data-driven choices, an Internet-powered brokerage should in short do much better — better than other brokerages, but also better than Redfin today — at bringing Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other folks from underrepresented groups into the real estate profession. The impact should be better service for folks of all colors, and more integrated communities.
Getting More Redfin Agents from Underrepresented Groups
Redfin’s progress on this front so far is promising, but we need to keep pushing ourselves to do more. We are now working hard to recruit more agents from underrepresented ethnic groups. That the race and ethnicity of Redfin’s top producers are virtually an exact reflection of our overall real estate team tells us that the higher proportion at Redfin of agents from underrepresented groups has broadened our talent pool while maintaining its strength. It also tells us that Redfin’s customers are just as happy working with blacks or Hispanics as whites.
Diversifying our R&D Team
We also need to do better at diversifying our technology and business operations teams. These two groups have a higher proportion of Asians than the field organization, but our R&D team is only 1% black and 2% Hispanic. With an R&D department that is 54% white, we are comparable to the R&D teams of other technology companies, especially private companies; Slack is one of the only private technology companies to publish diversity data, which show that that company is 72% white. Facebook is 51% white and Apple is 53%. Our initial goal is to be be one of the most diverse employers in technology, but we also view our current level of diversity in absolute terms as unacceptable, and so have a long-term goal that is more ambitious: to reflect the diversity of the U.S. as a whole.
Where the challenge is most serious is in developing and promoting people of color to management positions. Eighty-two percent of our managers are white, well above the 73% of employees who are white.
Now the question is what are we going to do about this? Here’s what we’ve already done:
- With this post, published data on the diversity of our employee population. We expect to revisit this topic every year.
- Assembled a diversity council to review initiatives to diversify Redfin, of which I am a proud member.
- Required every employee to participate in a training session on the unconscious biases that affect how we evaluate people.
- Developed training for folks to acquire the skills needed to advance in their careers, which should benefit all employees but especially those new to the business world.
- Established formal R&D career ladders so everyone can understand the objective criteria for promotion.
- At quarterly reviews of all the employees up for promotion, evaluated whether the effect of the proposed promotions will make management more or less diverse. This began last week.
Here’s what we’re doing next:
- A department-by-department review of job descriptions and recruiting plans to improve our outreach to people of color. The R&D team has already started this process, with other departments following over the next three months.
- An evaluation of our annual review process for bias.
- Executive mentorship for mid-level up-and-comers.
- A review and update of our R&D interviewing best practices, to uncover and address bias.
- An expansion of People of Color in Tech from our San Francisco office to our Seattle office, and a commitment from me and our chief technology officer, Bridget Frey, to emphasize the importance of being open to all voices in our culture.
- A more systematic approach to determining who is invited to strategic meetings.
There is much more to do on this front, especially in adopting some of the tactics now being pioneered by our R&D department, and much more to say, but this is where we’re starting.