Solutions Driven

{Podcast} David Cancel on Diversity: No Programme or Hashtag is Going to Fix This

David Cancel Interview Diversity Inclusion and Culture

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We’ve been doing a lot of work on diversity and inclusion recently (you can read about it here), and one of the things we keep pushing is how important it is to not just talk about diversity, but to actually do something about it.

When Drift CEO and Co-Founder, David Cancel came on our podcast, he echoed this sentiment, but pushed the point further.

David grew up as a Latinx man, surrounded by white people. In fact, the first person he worked with who looked like him was his Drift Co-Founder, Elias.

Elias and David are part of just 2% of VC-backed startups led by Latinx founders. This tells us that the processes and people aren’t yet in place to ensure that underrepresented minorities get the information and access others do.

Just 8% of Latinx-owned businesses operate in the technology sector too… but David and Elias are out to change that.

David strongly believes that businesses who want to be more diverse need to do more about it. Rather than talking about setting up initiatives, they need to start hiring more people from a diverse background.

“It won’t change until you put in the work.”

But How Do You Put in the Work?

We all put black squares on our Instagram and lots of companies have set up diversity panels, added diversity pages to their websites, and appear on podcasts and webinars discussing diversity.

But, as David points out, this means nothing until you start making a conscious effort to hire a diverse workforce.

“Most of the real stuff is the hard work […] and trying to move the ball forward every day. No programme, no hashtag is going to fix this”.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are issues that you need to work at every day.

And for Drift, their hiring policy seems to be working.

A quick glance at the Comparably Awards for 2020 tells its own story. Winner of ‘Best CEO’, Winner of ‘Best CEO for Women’, and winner of ‘Best CEO for Diversity’ (and that’s just the awards David Cancel won personally). Drift are also the winners of ‘Best Company for Diversity’, ‘Best Company Culture’ and ‘Best Work/Life Balance’.

The awards are central to the success of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Drift. As David notes:

“Every employee sees them, they’re the highest-level goals we have as a company. We don’t just look at backgrounds. We look at pay gaps. Seniority levels. We’re crazy focused on this. It takes a lot of energy. It’s easier to not focus on it in the short term but we believe it will pay off long term”.

What Does This Mean for The Future?

More recently, there have been significant movements in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Movements that are inspiring change. What David noted however, is that these changes are long-term, multi-generational changes that can’t be rushed.

If we zoom out and look at the bigger picture, we can see that some amazing changes have happened, but…

“We can’t get too upset that progress isn’t happening fast enough, we don’t evolve that quickly”.

Furthermore, fundamental change (that lasts) is the aim of the game here. Patience, education, and progressive conversations are what will insight lasting transformation.

It’s important to remember too that, contrary to the popular saying, the grass is greener where you water it, not always on the other side.

To listen to the podcast we recorded with David, click here.

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