While workplace diversity training first emerged in the mid-1960s, many businesses have recently made diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a priority by rethinking hiring practices and company culture and even enlisting the help of specialists to lead the effort. At Olo, we recognize that meaningful change takes time and dedication.
That’s why our team regularly analyzes company data, surveys employees, and creates policies and resource groups that celebrate our differences, support underrepresented individuals, and foster a community of belonging.
Before we provide specific examples of how we put DEI into action at Olo, let's break down the acronym:
Diversity refers to acknowledging, understanding, and appreciating individual and social differences (age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, physical abilities, socioeconomics, etc.). In the workplace, it means giving everyone a seat at the table and celebrating differences.
While equality ensures each person or group receives the same resources or opportunities, equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and provides the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. In the workplace, this means ensuring every employee can succeed.
In the words of Vernā Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” In other words, inclusion is the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported, and valued as a team member. This type of environment requires people from diverse backgrounds to communicate and work together, and to understand one another's needs and perspectives.
Olo’s Journey To Becoming a DEI-Focused Organization
Olo has made DEI a core component of our business. To foster a culture of inclusivity, we believe it’s important to look inward, listen, and take concrete action. We started with these three steps:
To become a DEI-focused organization, Olo’s leadership first made the commitment. Our team recognized that only if leadership set the tone and clearly communicated expectations and goals, could the rest of the company engage and help see it through.
Next, we needed to evaluate the current state of DEI at Olo, from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. To establish a baseline for measuring progress and to identify areas of improvement, we had to do a bit of self-reflection.
For one, we had to find out how employees viewed the company. Do they feel like they belong? Do they feel like there’s a safe place for conversation between teammates and leaders? Understanding the core data (e.g. the breakdown of men and women, race, and ethnicities at the company) was key.
Finally, we had to be willing and able to take action. Reporting data and taking the pulse of employees is great, but unless we were prepared to take concrete steps to address areas of improvement, the rest wouldn’t really matter.
How Olo Puts DEI Into Action
The work began with the creation of our Diversity Statement and the enhancement of our recruiting efforts. We created a dedicated DEI function within the People + Culture team, expanded our Talent Acquisition team to actively source diverse candidates, implemented ongoing DEI training for all employees, helped launch Employee Resource Groups, and more.
By the end of 2024, Olo aims to have a team composed of at least 42% women and 18% underrepresented ethnicities (employees who voluntarily self-identify as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Two or More Races, Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander). And thereafter, we hope to set additional targets to continue our efforts.
Here are some of the ways we’re moving toward our goal:
Annual DEI Survey
We have an annual DEI survey that asks employees questions like, “Do you feel like you belong?” and “Do you feel like your voice matters?”, in addition to capturing demographic information like age, ethnicity, department, and gender identity. By analyzing the responses, we can compare the experience of different groups and develop a plan to address areas in need of improvement.
Composed of a group of diverse employees from across the company, the DEI Committee’s role is to raise a voice for all Oloites, advise the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director, and create and facilitate events and initiatives to increase DEI at Olo.
To increase representation across the company, we’ve taken a number of steps, including:
- Pre-screening all job descriptions to ensure we’re using inclusive language
- Posting on diversity job boards
- Proactively sourcing diverse candidates
- Including our diversity statement in our job descriptions
- Anonymizing profiles when reviewing assessments
- Removing college degree requirements where possible
- Training hiring managers on interview strategies to reduce bias
- Forming a diversity hiring committee to evaluate every step of the process and identify areas for improvement
We’ve also expanded our recruitment efforts at diversity-focused events, such as the National Society of Black Engineers and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, to hire more junior engineers and interns.
We have a robust training curriculum that includes guest speakers, panel discussions, and leading inclusively training specifically targeting managers and leaders.
We launched Olo Ties, a mentoring pilot program that gives women and underrepresented minorities at Olo an opportunity to work with mentors at the company and get help in their career paths.
Employee Resource Groups
We encourage employees to create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and provide support when they want to bring in guest speakers and hold events. We currently have six: Olo Women’s Network, Oloites of Color, Olo Pride, Olo Green, Vets @ Olo, and Olo Parents.
Job Leveling and Compensation Calibration
We regularly review our job leveling—the systematic method of objectively and actively assigning value to positions—and compensation across the company to ensure that we’re being equitable and consistent across all departments and positions.
Every month we look at our statistics across gender, ethnicity, and racial demographics across the company and track our progress with consideration to hiring, acquisitions, and attrition.
Publishing DEI Data
Many businesses are hesitant to publish DEI data because the numbers aren’t ideal. To help hold ourselves accountable for improving our stats, we publish our DEI data on our website.
Allies play an important role in building an inclusive workplace by recognizing their own privilege and using their skills, knowledge, and position to drive real change.
At Olo, we encourage individuals who want to show support for underrepresented groups to demonstrate their allyship by listening, being receptive to feedback, having a willingness to change behavior to be respectful and inclusive, challenging inequities and attempts to marginalize individuals, as well as letting them know that they care and stand by them.
Companies don’t become DEI-focused organizations overnight. But, everyone wins when leadership makes a public commitment to positive change and actively works to build a culture that promotes growth and equity for underrepresented groups. The key is empowering employees to take action and help move the company forward.