• For the second year in a row, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman published a blog that disclosed gender, race and salary information.
  • Kelman ended the post with a number of initiatives the company is using to become one "of the most diverse tech employers in technology."

Would you be willing to show the world how many female managers you’ve employed, or the racial/ethnic mix of your workforce?

That’s what Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman did this week when he published a blog digging into race, ethnicity and gender at his company.

When it comes to women, we need more managers, tech leaders

According to this year’s report, the percentage of Redfin engineers, product managers and designers who are female increased 5 percentage points to 30 percent in 2016 — which is 14 percentage points higher than Facebook and 8 percentage points higher than Apple’s technical teams.

Although Redfin is ahead of Facebook and Apple, Kelman notes they still have plenty of catching up to do.

In fact, the company’s continuing goal is to have half of their 2020 technical hires, which includes software developers, designers, product managers, operations engineers, and quality assurance engineers, be women.

On the other hand, women dominate business operations and field operative (what Redfin calls its real estate agents) roles, with 58 percent and 62 percent representation, respectively.

When it comes to management roles, women account for 44 percent of the managers in the overall business and field operations, 53 percent in business operations and 30 percent in research and development.

Kelman notes they need more representation in management, but he doesn’t offer a specific goal as seen for the technical team.
Just like last year, there was no significant difference in the way men and women in similar roles were paid.

Kelman does note the number of markets included in the comparison varied, depending on where the company had at least two men and two women in the same role.

To give better service, we need more employees of color

This is the first year Redfin has reported on the racial and ethnic makeup of its employees. Seventy-seven percent of the company’s field organization is white, 6 percent is black, while approximately 7 percent to 8 percent is Hispanic. Asians and Pacific Islanders are the only demographic of color who cracked the 10 percent mark.

“In an industry that’s always recruiting new agents, the pool of untapped talent is massive,” says Kelman.

Furthermore, the lack of diversity in the real estate industry is tied to the racial disparities seen in homeownership.

“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, he says.

“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.”

Kelman notes Redfin’s ‘internet-powered’ model lowers the hurdle that newbies of color face when building a network of clients.

For example, he says, the majority of Redfin customers ask for service via the Internet without seeing the agent’s photo. And, whenever the customer sees the potential agent’s photo, it’s paired with reviews to help them make a more objective choice for their homebuying experience.

The CEO also highlighted the work that needs to be done in the R&D department — only 1 percent of the department is black, and 2 percent is Hispanic.
screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-9-58-15-amAlthough Kelman notes the importance of diversifying each of his departments, he says his greatest concern is the lack of people of color in managerial roles.

“Where the challenge is most serious is in developing and promoting people of color to management positions,” he says. “Eighty-two percent of our managers are white, well above the 73 percent of employees who are white.”

What now?

Kelman ended the post with a list of current and future initiatives to make Redfin “one of the most diverse employers in technology,” and “reflect the diversity of the U.S. as a whole.”

Redfin has already begun the process by publishing yearly diversity reports, establishing a diversity council, training to address unconscious biases, intense skills training, formal R&D career ladders that outline objective criteria for promotion and quarterly reviews of employees up for promotion to determine if those promotions will improve management diversity.

The company’s future initiatives include:

  • “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.”

“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,” says Kelman.

“But this is where we’re starting.”

Email Marian McPherson

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