I want to start with why I care so much about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
There is a big part of me that cares about the human side of why this is important; because people should feel included, because racism is wrong, because making people of a certain color, age, or sexual orientation feel anything less than amazing and important, is horrible.
Then there is the part where I want to stress that by being incredible at DEI, you’re more likely as a business to succeed. By tapping into all types of talent out there, by making more people feel welcome, by making them feel like they can unleash their potential, and succeed at your organization—you’ll win. Great talent will want to work for you, and the people already working for you will want to stick around and develop their professional skills within your organization. By being great at DEI, you’ll hear more voices and have better conversations, and if your organization makes decisions based on open conversation rather than rank, you’ll make better decisions, again and again.
DEI is important for our business, not so we can check a box to prove that our team, C-level executives or board is diverse. This is yesterday’s way of thinking, DEI is key for us to succeed.
I’m constantly asking myself, “how can Taboola become a company where every employee feels they’re a part of a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture?” and, “how do we get our own employees to feel safe and inspired, and replicate that feeling all over the world and extend it to our partners, clients and everyone around us?”
DEI is an important, impactful, and urgent matter, and one that needs to be answered with fervor, because today, there are many areas I’m proud of, but many we need to improve.
Diversity, Safe Space, and Education
Our first shortcoming is the fact that we have work to do when it comes to diversity.
41% of Taboolars are women, but not nearly enough are in senior leadership roles today—four of our 20 VPs are women, one of eight on our senior executive team, and none on our board of directors of five. When it comes to racial diversity, we haven’t tracked this data globally in the past. We will begin to do so this year, and while we expect changes to start now, our goal is to improve these numbers by the end of 2022 materially. More on that in part two, my follow-up blog post.
To show where we are today in the region where we have tracked these numbers, the US, 35% of our workforce is non-white, which is not enough:
Looking at our diversity challenges from another lens, the majority of our company is Israeli and/or Jewish because of our roots, and we need to acknowledge the impact that may make on other groups.
Our second shortcoming is that we haven’t actively created a safe place for people of diverse backgrounds to say what they feel, what they’ve experienced, and what we can do better. We’ve learned that this is a direct result of our first shortcoming—when you don’t see someone that “looks like you” in a leadership role, you might be concerned about being yourself. We have since taken immediate steps (outlined below) to listen and create that safe space.
Our third shortcoming is that we need to do a lot of work to educate ourselves internally on issues pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion so that we can continuously work to foster a culture of belonging, acceptance and support. I’ve never walked the street as a woman, as a person of color, as a 50-year-old; and I can’t imagine all the feelings and experiences they have, and being educated on that feels like it’s really important. We need to bring that education to Taboola, and learn how to not be biased, whether we intend to do it, or not.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is not just about race—it also includes gender identity, sexual orientation, religious identity, nationality, ethnicity, cultural background, language, physical abilities, physical appearance, neurodiversity, health status, family status, and age.
At the beginning of this year, we made a three-year commitment to create a diverse environment and we were reminded of its urgency in the months since George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests.
We’ve begun taking active steps to improve.
Personally and professionally, I feel fortunate to be in a position, and part of a company that I believe can do a lot more. That means working in ways to make sure voices are heard internally, and using our platform to make a difference in the work and in the world.
Here is where we started:
- A donation of 500,000 clicks, and tens of millions of impressions to educate people in the US about the countless factors that have led to the Black Lives Matter movement, powered by our Taboola employees. We asked our employees to submit news articles and content about the history of systemic racism in America that helped them better understand the origins and purposes of the #BlackLivesMatter protests. Then, to help educate our communities and US audiences, we drove traffic to those articles for free, with clicks donated by Taboola. These campaigns ran for more than two weeks, and the recommendations were viewed by more than 50 million people in the US.
- The terms ‘Blacklist’ and ‘Whitelist’ are in the process of being removed from our lexicon. We now call these ‘approved lists’ and ‘blocked lists.’ We have committed to eliminate the terms from formal and informal uses at Taboola and to educate our workforce about the ways they perpetuate damaging racial stereotypes.
- We started a global employee DEI taskforce to ensure that all Taboolars feel valued in our global community and represented in a safe and inclusive work environment. This includes a new channel to ensure that the voices and concerns of our employees are given a clear avenue to our C-Levels. The DEI taskforce has also kicked off an ongoing education series to ensure that our employees, management, and board of directors all keep learning.
- Additionally we started specific resource groups, a subset of the taskforce, that are employee-led to help foster an inclusive workplace and particularly focus on welcoming minority groups. Resource groups host events, engage employees with common experiences, increase visibility, and create safe spaces for discussions, for everyone to talk and learn about these issues. We have four resource groups as of now: Taboola Black, Taboola BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnicities), TEA (Taboola Equality & Acceptance), and Women at Taboola.
- We created an anonymous mechanism, an internal form, for employees to voice concerns. It’s really important that every Taboola employee can share any experiences, statements, or general feelings related to DEI that may be on their mind, and that those thoughts reach our leadership, completely anonymized. We want to listen, learn, acknowledge, and correct.
What you should expect next.
While this will be a journey of many iterations—nothing will happen overnight—I don’t want to just be good enough. I want us to be great.
I want to be challenged and challenge ourselves to do more, both internally and externally, to build a community that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
In January 2020, I was on stage at our yearly sales kickoff, sharing with our sales organization our three year goal to create a diverse, inclusive and ambitious environment where every Taboolar could discover and unleash their potential to achieve individual and collective success. I want every talented person in the world to feel great being part of Taboola, to want to join.
It’s an important goal, and now more than ever as the globe grapples with issues of racism and acceptance, we focus on improving ourselves and the world for the better.
This quarter, we’re working on defining the exact goals we’ll set for ourselves, and in part two of this post, we’ll share those goals with you.
I’m very proud of Taboola for being a transparent company, for rallying together so quickly and for a team of 1,400 people who are open to discussing issues, challenges and opportunities.
We’re a technology company, but we are humans first.