Building Inclusivity at 1904labs

Author: Elena Iglesias 

Since our founding, 1904labs has focused on our people. Our teammates are the foundation of our business, our culture, and the value we bring to our clients. As we’ve evolved over the last four years, so has the way we ensure that our workplace is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. That evolution is largely driven by our employees.

Employee-Led Change

Our employees have come together to create the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Group (DEI Group). This employee-led team consists of Labs members who volunteer their time to brainstorm, prioritize, and drive initiatives to carry out change. They saw a need to foster diversity and help become more inclusive of underrepresented groups. The goal of their initiatives is to develop and cultivate an inclusive workplace in the Labs. Individuals in the group are empowered to take ownership of tasks to advance those goals. 

“At 1904labs, we have a very self-directed culture, which is why I thought it was important to use my privileges to help build the most inclusive workplace possible. When you have a welcoming and accepting workplace, you can build teams as diverse as the community around us.” 

– Andrew ‘Doc’ Bell, DevOps Engineer 

Eighteen more employees like Bell have joined this group. “Recent events seem to have inspired more visibility and interest across the Labs. It’s incredible to see coworkers bringing new ideas and inspiration to the group,” says Alexandra Haefele, Marketing. 

A Culture Supporting Change

The DEI Group works with our Leadership Team for feedback and implementation. Our company’s horizontal organization allows for involvement and empowerment from all members of the organization. The Labs emphasizes the importance of challenging one another’s ideas and including different perspectives. We believe that having a wide variety of people in the room leads to better solutions created as a team. “At the Labs, individuals have a lot of power,” says Jocelyn Matsuo, Full Stack Developer. “The company is very employee-driven and team-driven. Because of this culture, the company can evolve.” 

Our culture promotes teamwork and feedback. Team members can rely on each other to give honest, candid advice in order to learn. These characteristics make change by the DEI Group possible because leadership wants to hear – and implement – their ideas. 

Diversity Initiative Highlights

The DEI Group has three areas of focus: support (through inclusive policies and processes), awareness (through training and visibility), and growth (by creating an equitable path for advancement within 1904labs). The following are three of the group’s largest recent projects. 

Added a new core belief

Updating 1904labs’ core beliefs was one of the DEI Group’s first projects. Words matter, and at 1904labs, the core beliefs are not just empty platitudes but guidelines for how we work. They sought to make the company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion readily visible. To determine what this new belief would say, they surveyed employees on why they wanted the core beliefs changed. The answers included supporting diversity, lifting people up in the tech industry, and helping underrepresented groups have a voice. 

The new statement reads: 

Inclusion Inspires Innovation

We strive to foster an inclusive, equitable workplace that reflects the diverse people who use technology. Our teammates depend on one another’s feedback and differing viewpoints to innovate together. When we include and listen to diverse voices, great innovation follows.

Advocated for Family Leave Policy

1904labs takes a genuine interest in its employees and especially understands the importance of family time. To build on this core belief, the DEI Group advocated for an expanded policy for new parents. The new policy, called the Family Leave Policy, was created by the 1904labs’ Leadership Team. It grants two weeks of paid time off for full-time employees whose spouse or domestic partner has given birth to a child or the family has adopted a child. Now, regardless of your gender or how you became a parent, employees can take time to be with their new child. 

Built transparency in job postings 

Another area the group has focused on is internal transparency in job postings. “Go-getters are gonna go-get, and the Labs allows people to do that easily. This is wonderful, but there are some people who do not have that trait but are just as capable for the job. So now, we are trying to help give everyone an equal chance,” Jocelyn Matsuo, Full Stack Developer. For internal job postings, there’s now an open application process with specific criteria on what would make someone qualified. 

More Focus on Diversity to Come

While the DEI Group helps drive initiatives, other areas of the business are also bringing greater focus to diversity and inclusion. Our talent acquisition team is implementing new practices to recruit more diverse candidates, and our training team has a program planned around unconscious bias to help us challenge our paradigms. 

Partnership with these teams is the key to success for the DEI Group. “I appreciate 1904labs’ emphasis on our core beliefs and self-directed culture, and I want to bring aspects of equity, diversity, and inclusivity that positively contribute to our workplace to make us a better company,” said Glo Kim, Human-Centered Designer. “I am grateful to the people who are part of this group. We don’t call ourselves experts in this space, but we are learning and doing this together.”

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