Our company is changing the world, all while growing at hyper speed. In order for us to stay ahead, both our people and the company must develop faster than the world changes. This puts very special demands on us, the HR department, to create that environment where a diverse crowd of innovative and passionate people can work together and be their very best.
Right now, most of the People Analytics industry is focusing a lot on Talent Acquisition and straight up data reporting. Those are both good and important things, but we have all been doing them for a long time, and neither will help us activate and retain the people who are already recruited, predict the future, or take the right business development decisions.
What we need in order to improve business outcome is not just numbers, but genuine insights and business critical forecasts.
You will hear lots of consultants offering their time and solutions for business advantage analytics. But most of us already have the data we need, and using it to resolve challenges requires a deep understanding of your organization’s challenges, experience, and knowledge. These are all things that you already have more of than any external consultant can have. What you need is just to get down and link the sets of data you already have, combine them with your experience and apply a mindset of always wanting to go deeper and understanding better.
Unlock the barriers between the data sets, combine them for both teams and individuals, learn, act on your learnings and adopt. Don’t just report data, work with your insights and act on it! Adapt to what you’ve learned, embrace the factfulness, and learn more as you go along.
Set your data free, let it work for you and help you tell your own organization’s story. You will have a greater and much more relevant impact than any consultant could or should.
This is how we collect people data and put it to work
At Spotify, we take data very seriously and we try to make every decision data-informed. When it comes to people data we have collected all the relevant components in one team, to make sure all sources and analysis can feed into each other and nothing falls between the cracks.
Our HR Insights team includes the People Analytics team, but also the teams that own our HR and Compensation & Benefits systems. Together, they build our data and insights foundation, they manage dashboards, make predictions and merge data from different systems to find patterns that are not possible to discover when each source is looked at separately.
When the rest of the HR professionals go about their work, they base their actions on data and “intuition” (also known as experience). Most of the time they take it from a dashboard or an existing source, or by setting up a new analysis that they share with the rest of the organization for best practice reuse. If they need support they turn to the HR Insights team for specialist help.
We bring the people data into all types of meetings and projects, it’s an integrated part of what we do whether it’s an HRBP managing long term strategic challenges with a lead team, or a Talent Acquisition partner looking to automate a process and improve the candidate experience.
We predict that any remaining lines between HR, HR Systems and People Analytics will keep getting more blurred over the years to come. We already see that the insights from combining our different systems and data sources make our HR work more efficient and effective.
Data point + Data point = More than two data points
Here is a concrete example of how combining data sources makes the result much more interesting than each piece on its own: When we get the results back from our employee survey we can see that engagement is higher in some parts of the organization. That’s good to know. But the figures get SO much more interesting when we combine them with information on to which extent managers have regular 1:1 meetings with their employees. It turns out that skipping these meetings too often is a dealbreaker for engagement. This is crucial information, and for every such data combination, we learn more about what works well and what needs to change.
The action is everything
We figure that one project where we can follow the data to determine the right action is better than ten projects where there is no analysis and thus no conclusions on what the right way forward is. This is the journey we are on. We go one data point at a time, making changes towards simplifying and automating everything that can be simplified and automated, so we can focus more on the things that can’t.
Understanding, analyzing, and making use of people data will be an increasingly important part of the HR contribution over the years to come. Does this mean that in the future, HR will be led and mostly replaced by people whose main skills are in the data and analysis sector, rather than within HR? No, we don’t believe so. The HR profession is complex, with its 184 skills (yes, someone counted them). Having people with education and experience in behavioral science on the team will be more important than ever. But our job role is about to change, we will need to become more data-informed and develop our analytics skills and use them more than ever to stay relevant, develop the business, and stay competitive.
The road to data-informed HR (and business) is not a magical change that happens when you put a couple of data-savvy analysts in a corner to do their thing. The magic will not happen until we transform our profession into one where people analytics is integrated.
“People Analytics need a seat at the table”
We’re always surprised when we hear someone saying that People Analytics “need a seat at the table so they can understand the business’ data need”. Because HR does have a seat at the table in all modern and successful organisations (if you don’t, you have a couple of other very important steps to take before you deep-dive into People Analytics). And if HR has a seat at the table, and People Analytics is properly integrated, then that means they do too.
People Analytics need a wide scope within HR, we need to let the analysts inspire and teach us so we can combine our expertise.
How to apply People Analytics successfully
We’re always working on improving our analytics setup, and these are our three most important learnings so far:
People data can’t be a nice-to-have pile of statistics for “when someone asks how many XXX we have in YYY”. While that’s sometimes helpful, the real benefit is when you apply the data in your dealings with concrete business issues. Like when you decide at what locations your company should grow. Knowing your current staff numbers per location won’t guide you at all. But an analysis of education, compensation, housing, and other trends for the locations you are considering, that will help big time.
If you want to help your business managers take the best decisions, you need to secure that they understand the relevance of people data and analytics.
If you manage to do the first point well, the second one will follow automatically.
Our job as HR is to make sure our leaders get access to and understand the people data for their organization, for the entire company, and for the world around us, so we can all take the right decisions and be successful. And the way to get that done is to be data-informed, and apply our HR knowledge on that information.
We’ve written about failing before on this blog. How it’s not the opposite of success, but rather part of the path to success. We’ve also shared how we encourage people to dare and try (and then sometimes fail), how we celebrate failure as a learning opportunity and do retrospectives and “fail-fikas”. Read more about that here.
This time, we’ll walk the talk and share an example of our own. Because it’s easy to talk beautifully about daring to fail, learning from it, and then moving on to new better ways of doing that particular thing. It all sounds hunky dory in words, quite painless. But the truth is that most of the time, failure really hurts when it happens. If it doesn’t hurt, you probably weren’t giving it your best anyway. Because if you have put in lots of energy, hard work, and even a piece of your heart in a project, of course it’s going to hurt when the outcome isn’t what you hoped it would be.
Honestly, who loves failures at that moment when you realize your project fell flat? We’re all entitled to a little bit of cursing when that happens, or even a indulge in a tiny bit of self-pitying. But once we have gotten up again and brushed off the dust, we DO love failure. Because we know that if we don’t try we will never get anywhere. Never try, never fail AND never win. Think about that.
There is so much to learn from your trials even when they don’t work the way you anticipated.
The trick is to get up after a fall, see it as an opportunity to learn, do better next time and don’t make the same mistakes again. As small kids that is what we’re doing all the time, because it’s the only way we will learn how to walk, talk, build relations and learn how to ride a bike etc. If we wouldn’t dare to fail, where would we be?
Shooting for the stars..
Our team had set out to build a new development initiative. This particular initiative was rather high profile, so we decided to partner with a leading vendor in that particular area, one that came with great recommendations. The learning needs were clear, we’d done a thorough analysis to know what our target group’s development needs were, and then we worked with the vendor who is an expert in these areas. We decided to pilot it, as we usually do with new initiative so there is a chance to iterate and improve before launching for real. But we had time constraints, so we decided to pilot with a full group of people from the target audience.
..and not quite reaching the treetops
The pilot did not go as well as we had hoped for, sometimes pilots don’t and that’s why we have them. But as we are all for learning from mistakes we decided to keep the good parts as a takeaway and adjust the segments that weren’t working so well. So we iterated with the vendor, and though we weren’t sure it was the right way to go we decided to give them another shot at an updated initiative with changes based on the pilot results. It was quite disappointing when the second iteration didn’t go according to plan either, and this time we decided to pull the plug and declare failure.
Well, once we had gotten over the immediate pain, we sat down to reflect on what we should have done differently, and what our learnings were.
Some of what we learned:
We should have piloted on a smaller set of people to minimize impact, as we usually do (this time we didn’t because we were blinded by our timeline)
Don’t be blinded by your timeline
A strong brand and impressive track record do not guarantee great quality or the right output in every case. A vendor delivering development initiatives is never better than the individuals they provide at each point in time (turns out the people they deployed were great people, but not very strong on the one experience we would have needed)
Always have the courage to pull the plug when you are not seeing the results that were expected. Don’t throw good money after bad.
Be data-informed, not data-driven. Looking back, we wish we would have listened a little more to our own guts and experience, that would have meant ending the initiative it earlier.
Always do things your way, as in what makes sense for your own company culture and ways of working. What works well “in most other places” may not be what works in your environment.
On the bright side, we could also confirm:
We did nail the learning needs, in this case, our analysis was spot on.
Our culture of seeing failure as a path to success is for real. We got heaps of great feedback from colleagues and stakeholders in the organization. We were applauded for taking the uncomfortable decision to pull the plug and for being open about it. The support from within was massive and it gave us courage for the future.
We got a ton of new ideas on how to do things differently going forward.
Moving right on
In the end, we decided to not continue with the partnership and rethink the entire set-up. This has given new energy to the initiative. The plans that are now taking form are so much better than the initial ones, and truly – we are not sure we would have come to this conclusion without the initial failure.
The pain of failing was real, but it was short. And with the learnings we got, we actually feel a bit richer now, we have more experience and new ideas. Bring on the next inning!
PS “Failing Gloriously” is also the name of an open enrolment development session we offer to all of our band members. Here you will learn how to fail in the most glorious way, and love it! DS
Every year LinkedIn hosts Talent Connect conference – an event that aims to bring HR-professionals from across the globe together for a couple of days to be inspired, network and discuss what the future of work will look like.
This year, a couple of us from the Spotify HR team headed to Anaheim, CA, to attend the 3 day conference along with 4000+ attendees from all over the globe. The theme for this year’s event was ‘From Insights to Impact’ which was evident across all keynote speeches and breakout sessions.
And now, it would be easy to go into “here’s all the speakers”-mode and review the sessions we saw, but instead, we thought we’d give you a look at the main takeaways from the theme and what the common messages from the stages really was.
Big Theme #1: Becoming personal in the age of AI
We were inspired by Tim Leberecht’s talk on integrating more romanticism into the world of business. Now, this isn’t something you hear often but Tim provided a thought-provoking outlook on the future of work in the age of AI. In a pragmatic world where we are always connected, he explained that human beings are actually looking for more personal and shared experiences. And when we say we want more time, what we really want is more memories. This sentiment was also shared by psychotherapist Esther Perel in her talk on ‘Relational Intelligence’ where she claimed that quality of our work relationships is becoming a top determinant of business success. We also heard Dr. Rand Hindi speak about why human-like AI may never exist since machines lack emotional intelligence which comes from humans’ consciousness and senses. Now, when we hear talks on AI, it is often painted with a dystopian picture where humans won’t be necessary. But according to Dr. Hindi it would actually be a stress-free experience where employees are enjoying the work that they are doing because we will have delegated to machines the things we humans don’t want to do. When machines do machine work, and humans do human work, not only can we potentially work less but also feel happier. This is the real promise of AI in the future of work!
Big Theme #2: Being authentically YOU
On day 2 we heard from Carla Harris – an exceptional speaker who shared her pearls of wisdom with funny anecdotes and passionate stories on her path to success. Carla used her personal narrative to describe why bringing her authentic self to work allowed her to create a distinct competitive advantage in her career journey because being yourself when you show up allows you to build trust with those around you. Furthermore, to get the best out of your employees, organizations must be intentional around authenticity and building trust, soliciting many voices to build a culture of diversity, inclusion, and innovation and being clear on their values. At Spotify, we believe strongly in our values and this talk resonated deeply with us.
Big theme #3: The data hype
Many of the breakout sessions happened to be around data – but! It wasn’t the usual “HR needs to better understand and use data” conversation that has been happening over the last couple of years. Instead, we heard industry experts talk about challenges around data integrity and data exhaustion. There seems to be an awareness that while data is important, it doesn’t quite tell the entire story and you do need to add context and analysis to get the real value from it. It was quite refreshing to hear a new perspective emerging in the HR-data space!
All in all, we left the conference energized and excited about what’s new in the talent space, so here’s a Big thank you to LinkedIn for hosting a great conference!
Most companies measure at least some aspects of their talent acquisition activities. The number of hires made, time to hire, or conversion rates between different steps in the recruitment process.
We do that at Spotify, and then some. But that’s just our own data, and we also need information about the talent world around us. Until today, insights like that have been available to buy, packaged and second-hand, but that is not the way we prefer our data. So for the longest time now, our team has been hoping for LinkedIn to share some of their macro data, and now they have! With the new talent analytics solution called LinkedIn Talent Insights that will be launched on September 25, the world of talent data is opening up.
Understand the talent pool
It’s impossible to set growth targets without understanding the market limitations.
Organizations usually have a clear image of what they need, a focus on demand. But a clear view of the supply side is more uncommon so that’s a gap that most HR professionals work in today. Without data, it’s hard to explain this gap to your hiring managers and your CEO. Talent Insights can help you out here, it allows you to slice and dice through a number of different verticals to define and understand the supply for the specific segment of talent you are looking for, so you can make informed decisions and plans.
Most of these data points also come with trend charts, historical insights that can – sometimes – be helpful to predict the future. Some of the available slices are what skills the talent has (the holy grail for many HR functions!), what industries and locations they’re in, how in demand they are, what degrees and titles they have, and which companies are hiring them.
Where to grow is a huge deal
We love the report on talent pool because that pool is a major factor when you make decisions about the company growth planning. In the past, we have spent quite a bit of external and internal resources on getting talent pool figures, to plan where we will grow and where we won’t. These are multi-billion plans and moves, you can’t just rely on your gut feeling. Also, if you believe that you and your business will last for 10 years or more, you can’t just go where the talent pool looks good enough right now. You need to be thinking talent lifetime value (TLTV) and you need to know you are planning your growth for locations with a sustainable talent future. The future is data-informed, and you’d better be too!
Fresh insights, hot off the database
We’re in a business where change is the only constant. So we appreciate the fact that macro talent data is now served every day, updated and ready to go, and for a fraction of the price it used to be. You can make an updated custom report 10 minutes before the meeting with your CXO or hiring manager. And it will be well packaged, ready to use.
Simple reports mean you don’t have to be a data junkie to understand the reports and use them well. And this is important because most HR professionals are not data experts, they’re HR experts. But we all need the insights, so a tool that gives it to us without hassle is a huge step and an educator in itself.
What will this mean for sourcing?
Well, the gap between the most progressive recruiters and the less sophisticated ones will probably shrink. Everyone will benefit from this tool, but the difference will be bigger for the less savvy, who will get much better results for the same effort as before. And we will all be able to connect talent segments with individual profiles and approach the right candidate with just one click. Advanced boolean strings* can now be replaced with LinkedIn filters that are much easier to use, and we foresee huge time savings.
Get to know your own company better, and compare too
But it’s not just the view of talent that’s been opened up. The new tool can also be used to generate company insights and benchmark. Companies that are progressive already have strong quality HR data inhouse, through their own HR systems, but that’s not the case for everyone. And the direct comparisons everyone can do now is like a brand new world of data where you can get (almost) live talent information for both your own company and your competitors. You can deep dive into talent flows (where talent in a company come from and move to), see the distribution between job titles compared to your competitors, do inventory of skills, attrition or education, and you can see where in the world your competitors have operations. And you can compare with your competitors and adjust your strategies accordingly, All very helpful things, that just became possible.
So what are the downsides?
Well, the value of the on-demand insights that come out of the system depends on the data that goes into it. The data pulled for the Talent Insight reports is aggregated and shared based on what’s happening on the LinkedIn platform. It’s from the company pages and from the updates that the LinkedIn members have provided (to the extent that individual member choices and privacy settings allow). And sometimes people don’t update or even complete their profile. Of course, some of these issues can be bridged with a sophisticated search algorithm, but that won’t always be enough. So in some areas, the information you get will be “indicatory” rather than “statistically significant”. Also, LinkedIn cannot, most of the time, filter out consultants from full-time employees. In many companies, FTEs and Consultants sit in different budget buckets and aren’t calculated the same way. So there’s still need for some manual work to complement the data from LinkedIn with.
Lastly and perhaps needless to say; the future value of this tool will depend on how the LinkedIn network grows. The more relevant LinkedIn become in parts of the world where they have yet to have a dominant market position, the more value the tools will provide in the future.
What else do we need?
Access to real-time, actionable insights and analytics at our fingertips goes a long way. But decisions like “where to grow” will still have to be complemented by other information like urbanization trends, labor law or university landscape. This is all part of the due diligence you need to do both when you grow organically and when you acquire companies. Some of this information is easily accessible from governments or through open internet pages. But if we could have one wish for the future, it would be getting all that relevant data needed for strong talent decision taking, in the same interface.
If LinkedIn doesn’t do that, the management consultants from the Big Four accounting firms will. And if so they will continue to be the ones putting those data sets together, selling once-off reports at a price level at 5-10 times the cost of an annual Talent Insights license.
The future is transparent
Either way, we believe we’ll have a new level of transparency. The price of understanding the talent market will continue to go down as we get more technologically advanced, and as data becomes more accessible. It is just a matter of time and of what companies that will follow LinkedIn – as the front-runner – and lead the way in that direction. The new transparency will translate to more effective recruiting, and a better candidate experience. And the talent acquisition team that understands how to make use of the new insights will level up. If they didn’t already have a strategic role in the organization, they will now.
* A Boolean search is a structured search process that allows the user to insert words or phrases such as AND, OR, NOT to limit, broaden and define the search results. … By using Boolean search, employers can narrow down the pool of candidates they are presented with by specifically looking for what is required in that role.
Spotify’s take on mental health and emotional wellbeing
A couple of weeks ago, we launched a new long-term strategy and plan for mental health and emotional wellbeing. We call it “Heart & Soul” and we do it to support a culture where employees look out for themselves and each other so that everyone can thrive and be their whole selves at work, even on days when life doesn’t feel all that peachy.
Less stigma, more heart and soul
Mental disorders, anxiety, and addiction affect most of us, either directly or through someone we love. And when we’re not doing well emotionally in our private life, we can’t do well at work either. One of our main objectives with the broad approach of this initiative is to create awareness, acceptance, knowledge, and sensitivity to issues like this. Sometimes we struggle and that’s ok. Increased levels of knowledge in this area means we’re all better equipped to both handle when we’re affected ourselves and be supportive when someone else is.
The best possible support and resources
The other half of our objective is to provide the best possible support and resources for employees when they need it. We have set up a broad program, covering all the bases and levels of support an employee may need during their career.
Awareness and training
We have a wide range of training for both employees and managers, on subjects like inclusion, unconscious bias, warning signs for substance abuse and how to support someone who suffers from it. We also kicked this initiative off with a whole week of seminars on different mental health and emotional wellbeing themes. Everything from yoga on the rooftop to an important look into what it means to live with bipolar disorder.
Professional support and treatment
Our Employee Assistance Program “All the Feels” is open to all employees, we use it to seek professional support and treatment, and stay anonymous when we wish to. Substance abuse requires its own take and we have another program for that.
We have Heart & Soul ambassadors all over the organization who both drive awareness and take their organization’s perspective back to the steering group so we can scale and improve as we go along. These ambassadors, and other engaged employees, have also taken lots of initiatives like start up activities, employee resource groups, and forums to reach out in. We encourage and support all of this, and part of the initiative is to build on and enable organic support like this.
We also have a large and live database of different tools and resources for self-care, most of it is assembled and managed by our employee ambassadors.
We have seen an amazing engagement from our employees on this subject, which feels promising for the future. The entire initiative can be scaled and localized as we move along. So all employees can feel included, thrive, and be their best authentic selves in life and at work.
We believe we can make a difference here, so we’ve set this up for the long term.
The work environment matters for both creativity and employer brand
We’ve written before about building a benefits and perks strategy that is true to the company culture, and how important that has been when it comes to making employees feel at home. But what about the actual company home, the office environment? How does that become an integrated part of the employer brand strategy?
Being in hyper-growth, like Spotify is, means facing fierce competition for the most passionate and promising candidates, the ones that will make the company successful. It also poses the very real challenge of making space for the constantly growing team. But this is a challenge that also presents an excellent opportunity.
Because the working environment isn’t just an address and enough desks. It determines how teams interact together, how they can collaborate with other teams, how efficient their meetings will be, how they can connect globally and make use of the great diversity a global team adds. In short: the right work environment will make it easier for your employees to make great things happen. The wrong environment will… not.
The way your work space is set up can also go a long way in attracting new talent. It’s true what they say about first impressions, so you want to make sure that when a candidate or new employee walks into your office space, they feel the company’s identity running through its walls, floors and in the air. The company values should be vibrating from the surroundings. And what the company stands for – its mission – should be crystal clear by a simple glance at the lobby.
This is how we do it
They key is to always be true to the company culture. Focus on the experience as a whole and always choose what reflects your company values and mission. It doesn’t matter if we’re choosing furniture, wall placement, bathroom set-up or office snacks. Without connection to the company culture, the office and its amenities will be a shallow offering that won’t do much to attract and retain a candidate in the end.
At Spotify, for example, we are all about innovation. So our workplace needs to allow for creativity and collaboration for a very diverse set of people. We believe that the foundation for innovation lies in stepping out of routines old familiar thinking patterns, that we need some chaos and unpredictability around us to spur innovative thinking with unexpected connections and new ideas. This means that in our office environment, we need spaces that allow for collaboration and stepping out of routines, other spaces that allow mental relaxation from desk-tasks, spaces for discussion and thinking time away from the day-to-day environment to fuel both innovation and collaboration.
What about office perks?
Where there’s competition, there are usually many ideas on how to stick out, keep up, and add a wow-factor. But beware of random perks, and jumping at the latest cool feature everyone is talking about. Just like the rest of your office environment, the extras need to stay aligned to your company culture and be natural parts of the working environment, not something arbitrary or disconnected. And definitely not something that just competes for employees time without adding anything to your mission. Your team is there to create and achieve things together, not just hang out and have snacks.
Free food, in-office gyms, and games rooms just as a show-off don’t add much to the total package or set you apart. Lots of companies have these things, and there really is no point in offering them if you don’t offer the goodies that people really want:
Great learning and development opportunities
Ability to have an impact on the company’s mission
A work environment that allows everyone to be their true selves at work
The sustainable choice is always the perk that make sense for your company culture and people – not what the latest trend says will look most appealing to a mass of candidates looking for new jobs.
Spotify workplace must haves
We have offices in many sizes all over the world and regardless of the size and location, there are a couple of main themes we always put first when we refresh old offices or build new ones:
Spaces where employees can network, socialise and collaborate
Making music a part of our everyday life
At a Spotify office you can always expect to find an event space that can host artists and stage live concerts. This is always a shared space for entertainment and appreciation, a place where both the artists visiting and the employees working at the office can feel at home. Having artists visit and share their viewpoints and talents with us is a core part of our business and our culture, so this is not only an amazing and popular perk, but one that makes sense for us.
We love to nurture employees hobbies too – especially if they are related to music. There is plenty of research which shows that learning to play a musical instrument is good for your brain. Plus we love music, so we make space for this in our offices in the form of employee jam/rehearsal studios, spaces to have music lessons, and musical instruments for employees to use.
Both physical activity and space for reflection are also good for your brain, body, and creativity. So you can also expect to see space for arts and crafts in our offices, and you can catch a in-office yoga or workout class.
Not just the icing on your employer branding identity cake
Fundamentally, our approach to our office environment is the same as our approach to benefits and perks: never add stuff just for the sake of it. The office environment is not just the icing on your employer brand identity cake, it’s one of the fundamental layers of it, so make sure it radiates the very essence of the company.
Displaying the company’s culture to candidates, visitors, and new employees when they walk into your space is paramount to employer brand identity. And whatever people experience when they step into your space, it should be something based on the company culture, something that enables productivity, learning and development, and always puts the health and wellbeing of the employees first.
Two weeks into my new role as Spotify’s APAC Head of HR, I was asked to present at the 2017 Sydney HR Innovation and Tech Fest conference, where HR leaders and innovators from a wide range of industries come together to share knowledge, experience and HR innovation. This event was a great opportunity to start building a strong peer network of HR leaders in the APAC market. We got to hear from HR leaders and innovators from companies like Amazon, Quantas, Workday, Oracle, Cathay Pacific to name a few! Also, it was a great platform to showcase Spotify’s people strategy and culture to the APAC region.
I presented our people strategy and discussed the impact it has had on our entire company. How it’s our philosophy to be data-informed rather than data-driven, and how this has been fundamental in the design of successful programs like our parental leave policy or the flexible public holidays. These programs are bespoke, made to fit us and our unique culture, as well as making a change in the world outside our walls. I talked about working in a hyper-growth environment, and how we as an HR team work to overcome those challenges, always adapting and looking for scalability. The point that inspired the most questions and discussion was my “call to action” about the need to constantly disrupt, experiment, and continue to innovate the landscape of the HR industry. The traditional “HR playbook” is quickly becoming outdated. If we want to stay ahead and foster an environment where innovative and passionate people can be their very best, we need to test the boundaries of the HR industry, and continue to innovate and adapt within HR just like we do in our business.
We are very pleased to tell the world that our Diversity Data Report is finally in a place where it makes sense for us to publish it. As Spotifiers, we are always striving for transparency and accountability, and we believe this is another step in that direction.
Like many other companies before us, this is not a ‘shout it from the rooftops’ event but rather a way for us to get real about our current status, what we’ve been working on to get there and where we’re headed with this data. Nonetheless we are proud of the strides we’ve made, and even more committed to changing the areas we need to do much better in.
This is how we are faring
All these figures are from our June 2018 Diversity Data Report.
Collecting the data
Being a Swedish born and globally raised young company, one of the challenges when it comes to collecting and sharing diversity data has been the differences in both regulations and context between all the different parts of the world where we operate. What makes sense to measure and report on in one part of the world may not make sense, feel honest, or even be legally possible in another.
We set out to collect this data in the most respectful way possible, through self-identification via our HR data tool, and anonymous self-identification via our annual Inclusion Survey. Both of these methods mean that we simply ask our employees very nicely to share this information. And we have had a great response by any comparison, but we still have 14 – 20% blank or missing data (depending on the demographic category). So improving the self-identification rates is one thing we will keep pushing for next year – we want all of our people to feel comfortable to share this information, as this data is vital input to all the diversity and inclusion work we do.
Digging into the results
It’s always a big day when you get your survey numbers back and this year we got a little bit of everything. Some results were expected for example our global representation of females (38.7%). Some are encouraging, for example increasing our US black employee representation by 3.6%. This is exactly why we need this data, to know where to direct our efforts!
“Our greatest asset is our people and we want to treat them all fairly”
Daniel Ek, CEO
But Diversity is still nothing without Inclusion
Diversity data aside, over the past two years since this collection began we knew the work is so much more than just the numbers for us. We want deep meaningful change and inclusion activities that seed both diversity and inclusion ubiquitously into everything we do as a company. Having the most diverse and included workforce is vital to our innovation, success and for having a lasting impact on the world. With that in mind, we have launched and run over 100 Respectful workplace and Unconscious Bias workshops in offices across the world. We’ve grown our Employee Resource Groups from 6 to 13 and they act as a critical vehicle for amplifying our culture and belonging. We’ve also held over 100 talent outreach programs in partnership with a vast array of talent experts to help us identify underrepresented talent we want to see at Spotify. We have developed unique diversity programs to attract top talent, like our US fellowship program and AMP Development (Business Marketing rotational program) initiative just to name a few. We have also taken very intentional steps to reduce bias at every stage of our candidate evaluation process.
In addition, we have also launched a number of prominent campaigns on Spotify (the service) to voice matters that impact us, our employees, the creator community and our users (Pride, Women’s History, Black History, Latin Heritage, the list goes on). Our focus was never just on reporting or even improving our diversity numbers, it’s on making sure that all diversity matters. That’s why we also measure inclusion yearly. Watch this space, we will share this year’s inclusion findings next month along with our planned actions!
This is just the beginning
While we are very happy to finally have published our data, this is really just the beginning. Our grand plan for the future is to step up as a leader in this space. We want our band members’ diversity to reflect that of the world around us, on all levels. And we want our employees to report a strong sense of belonging, regardless of which group they belong to. We want a climate in our organization and offices where everyone can feel welcome and valued; employees, guests, partners and creators alike.
Yet, for now, we have some serious work to do specifically around increasing the share of senior female leaders and focus on female representation in our technology organization, diversifying our racial landscape in the US, investing in the intersectional experiences of our employees, and ensuring our service is welcoming to all. That’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, so we’d better get back to it. Read more about the numbers here, where we will keep publishing diversity numbers annually from now on, and stay tuned for the results of our inclusion survey next month.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, or what music you love. We depend on our diversity for innovation, progress and a great environment for everyone.