Lyft unveiled its second annual diversity report detailing the gender and racial-ethnic makeup of their workforce. The report is the first one the ride-hailing company has released under the leadership of Nilka Thomas who was hired the VP of Talent and Inclusion in March.
According to the report, 40 percent of Lyft’s overall workforce is female, down from 42 percent reported last year. While the findings demonstrate a slight decrease in Lyft’s female workforce, the company saw an increase in racial-ethnic diversity. Overall, 10.2 percent and 9 percent of Lyft employees identified as Black and Latinx, respectively, an increase from 6 and 7 percent in the previous year.
“We’re going out in the community and really being proactive to attract talent,” Thomas told AfroTech. “We are making sure that our culture is really receptive of people of all backgrounds so that we’re are able to get talent through the door to progress their career, and stay.”
Lyft is in a year of exponential growth, something Thomas notes when reflecting on the improvements demonstrated in the report. “Sometimes you lose diversity in a year of high growth,” she said. “We’re being really proactive by going out in the community to attract talent.”
The company is dedicated to building a sufficient pipeline to source and retain talent by implementing a number of programs designed to foster an inclusive work environment.
“It takes intention and it takes resources,” said Thomas who spent 13 years at Google working on the global leadership team, and most recently as its director of global diversity, integrity, and governance. “Our numbers around racial minorities are improving. Though they’re not where they need to be and reflective of the communities were operating in.”
With a focus on long-term success and early pipeline development, the company created roles dedicated to building out programs with historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic serving institutions (HSI). Currently, the percentage of Black and Latinx employees in tech roles at Lyft is 2.8 percent and 5 percent. The percentage of women in tech roles is 21 percent.
Thomas—who was brought on to ensure the seamless integration of diversity and inclusion efforts—spent some of her time Google working in Seoul and in London as a technical recruiter, where she says she learned crucial lessons on the implication of culture and the importance of understanding cultural context.
This year, Thomas piloted a program called R.I.C.H.—Race, Identity, Culture, and Heritage—a dialogue workshop designed to give Lyft employees the tools to have difficult conversations surrounding race in the workplace.
“We’ve been trying to help managers and leaders have really sticky conversations,” she said. “Some of the divisive commentary going on in the world can bleed into the workplace.”
The company also supports nonprofit organizations like Black Girls Code and others with a mission of empowering the next generation of technologists. Last month, Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in computer science, announced it had raised $1 million through Lyft’s Round-Up & Donate program.
“We have a lot of ground to cover in terms of reconstituting our workforce,” Thomas said. “It’s going to take time to course correct, it won’t have happen overnight.”