SAN FRANCISCO -- Slack, the $2.8 billion startup that has been busy tackling the enterprise chatting market, is now setting its sights on hiring more women and underrepresented minorities, releasing its first diversity report on Wednesday.
In releasing a workforce breakdown report, the San Francisco company is answering the calls of critics, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and joining the small group of billion-dollar tech startups that have given consumers a window into the diversity of their teams. That group also includes Dropbox, Airbnb and Pinterest.
In its report, Slack shows it is dominated by white and Asian employees, which make up 89 percent of its workforce. The company is also 61 percent male and just 39 percent female. African-Americans hold 4 percent of Slack jobs while Hispanics make up less than one percent. The silver lining in Slack's report is that women hold 45 percent of manager positions at the firm.
Although Slack's figures are disappointing and mimic the rest of the tech industry, the two-year-old company is doing a good job prioritizing diversity and tackling it early on. In the past year, Slack has grown tremendously in popularity and in headcount, growing from 75 employees last year to 230 now, the company told International Business Times.
"Some people here believe diverse teams produce better business results. Others see the issue in terms of social justice and addressing inequality of opportunity," Slack said in a blog post. "And some just don’t want to work at a place where the population is overwhelmingly homogeneous."
Although Slack did not set firm diversity goals for 2016, as many diversity experts recommend companies should, the company did outline a number of ways it hopes to become more diverse and inclusive. Among those strategies, Slack said it is working with diversity experts and diverse employees to make the company welcoming to women and underrepresented minorities. It is also working with groups like Code2040 and Hack the Hood to get more underrepresented minorities into the tech talent pool.
"The industry is paying attention to tech unicorns like Slack so releasing their diversity data demonstrates their commitment to seeing the numbers improve, and it also helps to make this process an industry standard among tech companies," said Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code.